The Senate voted unanimously on Friday to confirm the appointment of longtime Maui attorneys Chris Dunn and Jim Rouse as Circuit 2 Judges.
Dunn will serve as the District Court judge while Rouse will serve as the District Family Court judge.
“I’ve found my career as a community defense attorney here very rewarding.” said Dunn, who has had a private practice in Wailuku for 18 years. “I think it was a kind of public service, especially the ability to represent needy defendants on a judicial basis.
“When you represent individuals, you can ultimately only serve the community in an individual context. I am nominated and appointed and will ultimately be confirmed as a judge. I am very much looking forward to serving the Maui community in a more expansive way. “
Rouse is now serving as the assistant attorney general handling family court matters, after nearly 15 years as assistant public defender and after a stint in private practice.
“I hope to perform my duties with the courage, compassion, independence, and integrity necessary to be an effective judge.” he said after the confirmation vote. “I always hope to be open. I pray for patience and I look forward to serving our church in this way. It really is the highest honor of my life. “
All statements filed for both Dunn and Rouse supported their appointments, Senator Karl Rhoads, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said at the Senate session Friday morning.
Dunn, who has 25 years of attorney practice, has practiced private law since moving from Massachusetts to Maui in 2002. He has a large number of cases in which privately held and court-appointed clients are represented in district, family and district courts as well as in administrative proceedings.
“During the validation process, he spoke strongly of his commitment to the civil service, including spending a significant portion of his criminal defense work on clients in need.” Said Rhoads.
He said that those who testified spoke of Dunns “Legal literacy, genuine concern for clients, outstanding professionalism and the ability to develop close working relationships with judges, clerks and staff as well as opposing attorneys.”
Dunn is a graduate of George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC and was admitted to the Hawaii bar in 2002. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY
He replaces Judge Kelsey Kawano, who is now a Second Circuit Judge.
Rouse will replace retired Judge Lloyd Poelman.
Rouse graduated from Golden Gate University in San Francisco and was admitted to the Hawaii bar in 1994. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Chico State University in California.
“He has dedicated his legal career to public service for the state of Hawaii.” Rhoads said during Friday’s session.
He said Rouse was active in the legal community, serving on the board of directors of the Maui County Bar Association and as a judge in mock trial competitions.
Those who testified related to Rouses “Legal literacy as well as his professional and compassionate attitude” Said Rhoads.
“Numerous Witnesses praised his respectful openness, integrity, and profound care for the most vulnerable members of the community.” Said Rhoads.
The 25th “Yes” The votes for Dunn and Rouse on Friday came four days after the Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously on Monday to recommend both appointments to the bench for six years.
Rhoads said the committee found both men “Well qualified to serve.”
Senate President Ron Kouchi said he enjoyed meeting Dunn and Rouse.
“Your enthusiasm and passion for wanting to serve really came into its own” Said Kouchi.
Dunn and Rouse videoconferenced for the session – Dunn with his wife, Pualani Enos; and Rouse with his wife Mona, their 6 year old grandson Kua, and 2 year old granddaughter Lili.
Rouse said it was “Incredibly heartwarming” read the dozen of letters written in support of his appointment.
He confirmed Dunn, whom Rouse has known for 18 years.
“After this experience we are like brothers” Said Rouse. “I can’t wait to have him as a colleague and friend in our new jobs.”
* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at [email protected]
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