Full Senate says no to Judge Leonard - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Full Senate says no to Judge Leonard

Judge Katherine Leonard Judge Katherine Leonard
Sen. Fred Hemmings Sen. Fred Hemmings
Sen. Rosalyn Baker Sen. Rosalyn Baker
Lane Hornfeck Lane Hornfeck

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - One senator called it the last inning and the last at bat.

Friday was the last day in Judge Katherine Leonard's bid to be Hawaii's next Chief Justice.

Like the rest of her confirmation process, the final vote was an uphill fight.

"I respectfully rise to speak in opposition," said Sen. Clayton Hee, (D-Kahuku, Laie).

Leonard needed 12 of 22 senators to vote "yes."

The arguments went on for two hours.

"What an honor for the state of Hawaii to put aside politics and have a woman lead the judicial branch of government," said Sen. Fred Hemmings (R-Kailua, Waimanalo).

Supporters touted Leonard's work on the Intermediate Court of Appeals and her rise up the legal ladder.

Opponents harped on the "unqualified" tag put on her by the Hawaii State Bar Association.

"I cannot just trust that she will grow into this position. I cannot just trust that she will become a good leader and administrator," said Sen. Rosalyn Baker (D-Kapalua, Lahaina, Kihei).

Governor Linda Lingle picked Leonard, 50, to succeed retiring Chief Justice Ronald Moon.

In the end the vote was 14 to 8 against Leonard.

She was gracious in defeat.

"Right now I just want to go hug my son and reflect on all the things that happened here today. But I'm very grateful for this opportunity. That's how I feel," she said.

Her supporters were disappointed.

"We hope that this won't discourage other qualified women from applying and seeking appointment on the bench," said Lane Hornfeck of Hawaii Women Lawyers.

Leonard thanked her mentors, colleagues, and whom she called the "courageous senators" who supported her bid to become Hawaii's first female Chief Justice.

That bid has now officially ended.

More about this story on HawaiiNewsNow.com:

Senate committee says no to Judge Leonard

Leonard addresses Senate Judiciary Committee

Hawaii Bar Association to reconsider privacy policy

Hawaii State Bar: Leonard, Tootoo unqualified

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

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