Judiciary Committee gives nod to Hawaii Supreme Court nominee

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Mar 06 2014 07:41:34 PM HST
Updated On: Mar 06 2014 08:01:21 PM HST

The state Senate Judiciary Committee is recommending that state Supreme Court Nominee Mike Wilson be approved for the position after Wilson faced opposition to the appointment.

HONOLULU -

Allegations of harrassing a Miss Universe contestant, public drunkeness and involvement in an illegal rental on the North Shore.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's report.

Those are among the things that threatened to derail the nominee as he faced the Senate Judiciary committee.

Judge Wilson took the thorny issues straight on. 

"There has been no complaint filed against me. I have never been arrested. I have never been publicaly intoxicated that I have been aware of," said Judge Wilson.

Wilson testified that he felt the process by which the bar association rated him not qualified to serve on the high bench, was unfair.

He said the pageant contestant even wrote a letter clarifying the situation.

The support of Wilson’s nomination was overwhelming.

It came from his former bosses.

"He is very intelligent. I would say he is the most intellectual of the six (nominees).  He is a very principled person. He knows the law very well," said Gov. Ben Cayetano.

Enviromentalists recalled Wilson's pro bono work to protect the Ka Iwi shoreline, when all the big law firms in town said no.

”I know how dedicated he is. I know what a good public servant he is. He is respectful of other people’s options, He is compassionate. He is fair, said Phil Esterman of the Save Sandy Beach Coalition.

Community leaders who recalled his work on Kahoolawe and as well the Waihole water rights case.

“Judge Wilson proved to be very judicious in his knowledge of native rights and access,” said Molokai resident Daviana McGreggor.

 A long list of former partners and close friends testified on his character.

One of whom cleared up Wilson’s interest in the North Shore vacation rental .

"I had a transient accommodation tax number, and I was the one handling the money for the hui. Mike did not have anything to do with this," said former law partner Judith Pavey.

In the end, it was the Hawaii Bar Association who lawmakers took to task over an  internal process that many see as unfair, and whose explanation for its secrecy fell  on deaf ears.

"They are not afraid of retribution on themselves personally. We have an upstanding and brave and intelligent member ship, but they are afraid of retribution for their clients,” said Hawaii Bar Association President-elect Greg Markham.

The committee unanimously supported Wilson’s confirmation which is to go the the full senate for a final vote.

The committee is looking into a call from a former client who complained that Wilson was incompetant.

The woman claimed that Wilson mishandled a sexual harassment case and even lost evidence.

No formal complaint was ever filed with the Disciplinary Council.

The committee says the Senate has until March 18 to confirm Wilson, noting the public could still come forward with additional testimony.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Wilson testified before the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee Thursday.

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