Leonard addresses Senate Judiciary Committee

Judge Katherine Leonard
Judge Katherine Leonard
Elizabeth Jubin Fujiwara
Elizabeth Jubin Fujiwara
Mark Bennett
Mark Bennett
Eric Seitz
Eric Seitz

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "My name is Katherine Grace Leonard. I was born in a small town in Wisconsin."

That's how Judge Katherine Leonard opened her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

She said her upbringing as the daughter of a factory worker and a stay-at-home mom taught her the value of hard work.

She applied the lesson as a lawyer and then as a judge on Hawaii's Intermediate Court of Appeals.

"Four hundred decisions on the merits is a large body of work," she said.

Over a hundred attorneys testified at Leonard's hearing before the committee. Most were in favor of confirming her as Chief Justice.

"We support the nomination of Judge Leonard to the Supreme Court," acting prosecuting attorney Douglas Chin told senators.

But some lawyers oppose her nomination, saying she lacks experience.

"As the person in a position where we have to look to her as a leader and for inspiration, my questions surround her ability to perform that role," attorney Eric Seitz said.

Leonard talked of her commitment to the law and her vision for leading the judiciary.

She also told the committee who she is outside the confines of a courtroom.

"I have helped prepare and serve meals at the Institute for Human Services. I have cleared invasive species from an area in Kaaawa Valley," she said. "I teach about citizenship in the community. I take boys down for public hearings to talk to their representatives about issues they're interested in."

Leonard said anyone would be hard pressed to challenge her impartiality as a judge

"You can read my opinion in the Stop Rail Now versus DeCosta case and you will never know what I personally think about rail transit in Hawaii," she said.

Leonard said she believes she has the skills needed in a Chief Justice and what she needs now is the chance to prove it.

More about this story on HawaiiNewsNow.com:

Hawaii State Bar: Leonard, Tootoo unqualified

Lingle nominates Katherine Leonard to be Hawaii's first female chief justice

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