Ousted judge sits in his office during final three weeks as sub judge handles cases
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -
Oahu Circuit Judge Patrick Border has refused to preside over criminal cases in his courtroom in the three weeks since he found out he was not being re-appointed to a second ten-year term, so the state Judiciary brought in a substitute judge to handle his court calendar.
Defense and prosecution attorneys complained to the Judicial Selection Commission that Border was "erratic," "unpredictable" and even "bizarre" in the court room -- so he was not retained.
Border abruptly canceled his court proceedings starting March 17, once he found out he wasn't getting re-appointed.
Judge Shirley Kawamura, who's usually paid at the annual rate of $175,032 a year as a District Court judge, has for the last couple of weeks been paid at the higher $185,736 a year rate as a substitute Circuit Court judge for Border.
All the while Border has also been collecting his salary, but court house sources said he's essentially been "on strike" for his final three weeks, staying in his chambers and refusing to oversee hearings, trials and other proceedings in his courtroom.
"Judge Border has been working in an administrative capacity," said State Judiciary Spokeswoman Tammy Mori in a statement. "His responsibilities include working with the substitute judge to insure continuity in his division's calendar and finalizing orders and judgments in all matters where he was the presiding judge."
At mid-morning Monday, Border's name was still posted outside his courtroom on his last day on the job.
But by 2 p.m. Monday, Border's name had been removed and a blank slate remained outside his courtroom on the fourth floor of Kaahumanu Hale, the Circuit Court building on Punchbowl Street in downtown Honolulu.
Border did not return a phone message left with his office Monday.
There will be two vacancies out of 24 Circuit Court judgeships on Oahu soon. Judge Michael Wilson, who has been appointed to the State Supreme Court, will depart his Circuit Court judge position when he's sworn in to his high court post April 17.
The other 22 sitting Circuit Court judges may have to take over some of their cases, some substitute judges may be "borrowed" from District Court or per-diem judges may be used to pick up Wilson and Border's case loads, Mori said.
It will take roughly six to eight months to replace the judges, according to lawyers familiar with the judicial search and approval process.
The last time an Oahu Circuit Court judge was denied a second term was ten years ago, when Judge Sandra Simms, who was criticized for being soft on criminal defendants, was not retained.