House Speaker Scott K. Saiki and House leaders interviewed Circuit Court Judge Keith Hiraoka today following his nomination to the state Intermediate Court of Appeals. House leaders and Judge Hiraoka engaged in an informative and wide-ranging discussion about judicial experience and temperament, judicial philosophy, and separation of powers between the three branches of government.
“The House has taken this unprecedented step of interviewing a judicial nominee prior to his or her Senate confirmation hearing,” said Speaker Saiki. “The interview afforded House leaders an opportunity to discuss topics such as the nominee’s judicial philosophy, the role of an appellate court, and the importance of the constitutional separation of powers doctrine. Although the Senate confirms judges, the House shares an interest in ensuring that judicial nominations are fully vetted.”
“We know how important it is to select the right person to the Intermediate Court of Appeals because appellate judges play such a critical role in interpreting the laws crafted by the Legislature in accordance with principles outlined in the Hawai‘i State Constitution,” said House Majority Leader Della Au Belatti.
“In order to understand his views and qualifications, we have talked with Judge Hiraoka and may offer our input to the Senate before they debate his confirmation,” said Speaker Saiki.
Hiraoka, 59, was named a First Circuit judge in 2017. If this appointment is approved, Hiraoka would occupy one of six seats on the state Intermediate Court of Appeals, the second highest court in Hawaiʻi. His term would be for 10 years.
The Senate is expected to meet in a special session on October 24-25 to consider the nomination.