Hawaii State Senators Confirm Three Judicial Nominees in Special Session

In unanimous floor votes, members of the Hawai‘i State Senate today confirmed District Court judge Shirley M. Kawamura to the First Circuit Court and District Family Court judge Melvin H. Fujino to the Third Circuit. The full Senate also confirmed James C. McWhinnie to the District Court of the First Circuit.

“Each of these nominees came to us with high marks for their qualifications and character and strong testimony in support of their appointments,” said Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran (Dist. 5 -Wailuku, Waihe‘e, Kahului), chair of the Judiciary and Labor Committee. “The experience and integrity they each bring to the bench will be a benefit to our judicial system.”

Kawamura has served as a presiding District Court judge on O‘ahu since being appointed in May 2012.  She is a former commercial and insurance defense litigator at Kawashima Lorusso, LLP and previously worked as a senior felony trial deputy at the Office of the Public Defender. Kawamura is a 1994 graduate of Brown University and 1997 graduate of the Stanford Law School. Kawamura will serve for a term of ten years.

 L-R Dr. Howard Fujino, Leonora Fujino, Kelly Kitaoka, Judge Melvin Fujino.

L-R Dr. Howard Fujino, Leonora Fujino, Kelly Kitaoka, Judge Melvin Fujino.

Fujino has served as a presiding judge with the District Family Court of the Third Circuit since 2008. Since April 2015, he has been assigned to sit as a temporary Circuit Court Judge in Kona. Prior to his appointment to the District Family Court Bench, Fujino worked as Deputy Attorney General where he was a team leader responsible for the Statewide Wiretap Review Unit and Asset Forfeiture program. Fujino was also a District Prosecuting Attorney for Hawai‘i County. Fujino is a 1981 graduate of the University of Washington and 1985 graduate of the Gonzaga University School of Law. Fujino will serve for a term of 10 years.

James McWhinnie has been the Director and Attorney with Damon Key Long Kupchak Hastert specializing in civil litigation. Since being first appointed in 1998 by Chief Justice Ronald T.Y. Moon, McWhinnie has continued to serve on the Hawai‘i Supreme Court’s Special Committee on Judicial Performance. McWhinnie has served on the Hawai’i State Bar Association (HSBA) Fee Dispute Committee, been a member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, and co-founded the HSBA’s Lawyer Kokua Program, which was developed to assist new members of the Hawai`i Bar. McWhinnie is a graduate of St. Mary’s University and has an MBA from the University of Hawai‘i, College of Business Administration.  He is a 1983 graduate of DePaul University College of Law.  McWhinnie will serve for a term of six years.


Governor David Ige transmitted the appointments of Kawamoto and Fujino to the Senate on October 21, 2015.  Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald transmitted the appointment of McWhinnie to the Senate on October 22, 2015.

Pursuant to Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Hawai‘i, the Senate had thirty days to consent to the appointments, or reject them.

Community Meeting with Lawmakers Draws Large Attendance in Puna

Representative Joy San Buenaventura (Puna) and leaders from the Hawaii State House of Representatives held a Lawmakers Listen session at the Pahoa Community Center last night where they heard a wide range of concerns from residents in the area. Puna Meeting

Discussions at the meeting were on a number of topics including managing invasive species, the rat lungworm parasite, homelessness, medical care, the public hospital system, infrastructure concerns, and the lack of broadband internet service in the region.

Puna Meeting 3Members of the community were invited to share their questions and concerns directly with Rep. San Buenaventura, Speaker of the House Joseph M. Souki, Majority Leader Scott Saiki, and House Finance Chair Sylvia Luke. The group was also joined by Hamakua Representative Mark Nakashima. Puna Meeting 2

‘Lawmakers Listen’ is an ongoing series of community town halls across the state with district Representatives, members of the House Leadership, and Committee Chairpersons.  The purpose of the meetings is for legislators to listen to the concerns of area residents and to discuss solutions.