How Does The Hawaii Court of Intermediate Appeals Work? | Courtrecords.org
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How Does the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals Work?

Established by the Hawaii Constitution in 1959, the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals is the state’s intermediate appellate court. The court has the authority to hear appeals channeled from other state trial courts and appeals from some Hawaii agencies. It is the second-highest court in the state, next only to the Hawaii Supreme Court.’

Parties dissatisfied with a ruling of the Intermediate Court of Appeals may further appeal to the Supreme Court. Under certain conditions, these parties may apply for a writ of certiorari to have cases transferred to the Hawaii Supreme Court for further review. However, note that the Supreme Court’s decision is final.’

Upon its discretion, the Intermediate Court of Appeals may also accept cases without a prior suit. However, these cases must be a question of law at the center of a civil action or a matter heard at the Tax Appeal Court or a Circuit Court. Furthermore, all parties must agree on the case facts and the center of the dispute.

The Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals has six judges, including one chief judge and five associate judges. Each judge is selected through the assisted appointment process, after vetting by the Hawaii Judicial Selection Commission. To appoint a judge when there is a vacancy, the Judicial Selection Commission puts out advertisements for the vacant position. The Commission then accepts applicants from the general public and reviews each application. The following are conditions all judges must meet to be considered for the position:

  • Must be a Hawaii resident
  • Must be younger than 70 years old at the time of appointment
  • Must be a citizen of the United States
  • Must have received a Supreme Court license to practice law for a minimum of ten years before the nomination

In addition to the above requirements, the Judicial Selection Commission also considers other factors, such as professional skill, character, and background. Other qualities to be considered may include the following:

  • Compassion and fairness
  • Judicial temperament
  • Legal experience and ability
  • Moral courage and integrity
  • Diligence
  • Decisiveness
  • Wisdom and intelligence
  • Any other qualities the Commission may consider needed

After reviewing all received applications, the Commission then uses a secret ballot process to vote for qualified persons. Among the qualified persons, the Commission creates a shortlist and sends the list to the governor. Each list must contain not more than six names, and not less than four names. The governor then makes a nomination from the shortlist. However, the nominated person may not resume office until the Hawaii State Senate gives its consent.

The Hawaii state governor must choose an appointee from the shortlist within thirty days after receiving the list. If the Senate rejects the chosen appointee, the governor must choose another person from the list within ten days of the Senate’s rejection. Suppose the governor fails to choose an appointee within thirty days of receiving the list or within ten days of the Senate’s rejection. In that case, the Judicial Selection Commission is authorized to appoint a judge.

The Senate is also required to hold a public hearing and vote to accept or reject an appointment within thirty days of receiving the governor’s appointee. If the Senate fails to do so, the person’s appointment stands. Note that in some cases, appointments and rejections may repeatedly happen until a final choice is made. If this process proves unsuccessful, the Commission may choose an appointee without waiting for the Senate’s Consent. Note that throughout the process, the Commission’s list of nominees must be made public.

A judge of the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals may serve a ten-year term. After the tenure is over, the judge may apply for retention to serve another term. However, a judge who intends to continue serving after his or her tenure expires must indicate this intention to the Judicial Selection Commission at least six months before the expiration. After the judge petitions the Commission, an investigation into the judge’s tenure begins, to determine eligibility. If the Commission concludes that the judge is eligible, it shall renew the judge’s term. 

Note that all judges must compulsorily retire at the age of seventy. Also, no judge shall practice law, hold a position of profit, or run for any elected office while in active service of the Intermediate Court of Appeals.

The Hawaii State Judiciary runs the Commission on Judicial Conduct for addressing misconduct and sanctioning justices of the court. All complaints alleging misconduct against judges are investigated by the Commission on Judicial Conduct to determine the appropriate action.

Judges of the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals are expected to strictly follow the Revised Code of Judicial Conduct in carrying out their duties. A violation of any part of the Code is regarded by the Commission as misconduct and should be reported. 

The Commission encourages the general public to file a complaint whenever a judge is guilty of misconduct, or when a judge is physically or mentally incapable of performing regular judicial duties.

The Commission on Judicial Conduct investigates all complaints against active judges. In some cases, it may hold a hearing to determine the legitimacy of these allegations. If the investigation and hearing conclude that the complaint is valid, the Commission may recommend that the judge be reprimanded, suspended, retired, or removed. Note that the authority to enforce the Commission’s recommendation rests with the Supreme Court.

The Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals hears cases at the following address:

Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals

Kapuaiwa Building

426 Queen Street

Honolulu, HI 96813

Phone: (808) 539–4919

All Opinions and Orders of the Intermediate Court of Appeals are available online. Interested persons may find Opinions and Orders using the search function provided by the Hawaii State Judiciary. These records are also available in categories. Requestors may find Opinions and Orders from 1998 to 2009 and from 2010 to the present. Interested persons may also view applications, including applications for Writs of Certiorari, Motions for Reconsideration, and Petitions for Writs of Mandamus.

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