The Hawai‘i State Senate today gave their consent on Governor Ige’s nominees to the Department of Human Services, Intermediate Court of Appeals Court, and three Judges to the First Circuit Court – O‘ahu.
In a unanimous decision, Senators confirmed Pankaj Bhanot as the Director of the Department of Human Services (DHS). Bhanot received a BA in political science and a law degree from the University of Delhi. He graduated in 1991 with an LL.M. degree from Cornell University, School of Law.
His career in human and social services began in August 1998 as the Family Development Director with the Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity. Bhanot went on the serve as a program specialist with the state DHS Employment and Child Care Program Office of the Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division and the Employment and Child Care Program Administrator. He most recently served as DHS Deputy Director before being appointed to lead the department.
The Senate also voted to consent to Derrick H.M. Chan as an Associate Judge to the Intermediate Court of Appeals. Chan was appointed as a Circuit Court Judge in August 2000. Prior to this, he was the First Deputy Prosecutor for the County of Kaua‘i. He also served as an attorney for the Hawai‘i Carpenters Union, as Deputy Public Defender for the state, law clerk to Judge Wilfred Watanabe, and Deputy Attorney General for the state. Chan is a 1985 graduate of California Western School of Law. Chan will fill the vacancy created by the retirement in December 2016 of former Associate Judge Daniel R. Foley.
“Throughout his tenure, Judge Chan has cemented a reputation for diligence, hard work and integrity, as well as decisiveness, courage, and street smarts which allows him to “cut to the chase,’” said Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran (Dist. 5- Wailuku, Waihe‘e, Kahului), chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor. “With Judge Chan’s background, character, quiet passion, and even-keeled demeanor, he will be a very good addition to Hawai‘i’s appellate courts.”
Senators gave their unanimous consent to Catherine H. Remigio to the First Circuit Court. Remigio most recently served as Family Court judge after being appointed in 2011. Prior to that, she served in the Judiciary as a Per Diem District Court Judge and Circuit Court Grand Jury Counsel. Remigio has also practiced law in several private firms, including as a partner at Bryant & Remigio, LLC.
She served as a deputy public defender for the State of Hawai‘i and as a law clerk to Judges Thomas K. Kaulukukui, Jr. and Eden Elizabeth Hifo in the First Circuit Court. Remigio is a Kamehameha Schools graduate and received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and earned her juris doctorate at the William S. Richardson School of Law in 1992. Remigio replaces former Circuit Judge Steven S. Alm who retired in August 2016.
“Thoughtful, considerate, smart and well-prepared is how others have described Judge Remigio,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran. “Judge Remigio’s strong background and character, steady demeanor, and determination promise that she will be a solid addition to the First Circuit Court,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran.
The State Senate also unanimously approved the appointment of Keith K. Hiraoka to the First Circuit Court. Hiraoka has practiced law for the last 34 years, focusing on insurance coverage and defense. He has tried cases before juries, judges and arbitrators, participated in many mediations and briefed and argued appeals before the Hawai‘i Supreme Court, the Intermediate Court of Appeals and the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Hiraoka is a graduate of the University Hawai‘i at Mānoa and earned his juris doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law in 1983. Hiraoka fills the vacancy created by the retirement in June 2016 of former Circuit Judge Karen S.S. Ahn.
“Mr. Hiraoka’s background, character, professionalism, and demeanor promise that he will be a very good addition to the circuit court, the busiest circuit in Hawai‘i’s legal system,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran.
The State Senate unanimously voted to consent to Todd Eddins joining the First Circuit Court. Eddins graduated from the College of William & Mary and the William S. Richardson School of Law, where he was the executive editor of the University of Hawai‘i Law Review. He served as a law clerk to Justice Yoshimi Hayashi of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court. Eddins worked as a trial lawyer at the Office of the Public Defender for more than ten years. In private practice he has concentrated on complex civil, criminal, and appellate litigation. Eddins fills the vacancy created by the retirement of former Circuit Judge Richard K. Perkins in June 2016.
“Mr. Eddins brings to the bench nearly 25 years of experience from the criminal bar and as a trial lawyer, where he has distinguished himself as one of the top defense lawyers in our state,” said Sen. Keith-Agaran. “Clearly, he has the background, character and demeanor to be a very good addition to the first Circuit Court.”
The term of office for the judgeships is for ten years.