The Hawai‘i State Senate today unanimously confirmed M. Kanani Laubach to the District Family Court of the Third Circuit and James S. Kawashima to the District Court of the First Circuit.
Kanani Laubach is a Partner at Laubach & Frenz, AAL, LLLC in Hilo, where she focuses her legal practice on criminal cases heard in District, Family, and Circuit Courts and family law cases involving temporary restraining orders. Prior to entering private practice, Laubach served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney at the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney of the County of Hawai‘i. She also previously served as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney at the Department of the Prosecuting Attorney of the City and County of Honolulu.
In addition to her legal experience, Laubach previously worked as a family therapist for Felix assigned families and a visitation specialist with Parents and Children Together where she taught parenting skills and child development. Laubach attained her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Chaminade University. She earned her Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law and was admitted to the Hawai‘i State Bar in 2003.
Laubach will fill the vacancy created by the appointment of the Honorable Melvin H. Fujino to the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit.
“Ms. Laubach’s legal experience in the government and private sectors makes her a well-rounded practitioner with substantial trial experience. Her background in psychology, her extensive courtroom experience, and her many years of interaction with the community through her personal and family experiences will no doubt provide her with the special insight and temperament necessary for the often challenging cases brought in family court,” said Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “Her reputation for being a person of integrity who treats everyone equally and fairly and has the ability to relate to and is respectful toward everyone makes her an exceptional appointment to the court system.”
Since 2010, James S. Kawashima has received appointments as a per diem judge with the District Court of the First Circuit. He maintained a private legal practice specializing in labor and employment law, state and federal criminal defense, trust and probate litigation, commercial litigation and personal injury, although he has devoted himself to his per diem judicial appointments over the last four years. Earlier in his career, Kawashima served as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in the Special Prosecution Unit of the City and County of Honolulu Department of the Prosecuting Attorney. He went on to serve as a Deputy Attorney General in the Hawai‘i Department of the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. He also worked at private law firms in both Hawai‘i and California, handling litigation in construction, bankruptcy, employment cases, and insurance defense.
Kawashima graduated from Princeton University and received his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of Southern California Law Center. He was admitted to the Hawai‘i State Bar in 1992.
“Along with the experience he’s gained and judgment displayed during his periodic duties as a per diem judge, Mr. Kawashima brings experience and skills to the bench in areas other than the usual legal research, writing and reasoning expected,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran.
The term of office for both judgeships is for six years.