United States District Court for the District of Hawaii

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United States District Court for the District of Hawaii
(D. Haw.)
Hawaii Locator Map.PNG
Appeals to Ninth Circuit
Established June 1900
Judges assigned 4
Chief judge Susan Oki Mollway
Official site

The United States District Court for the District of Hawaii (in case citations, D. Haw.) is the principal trial court of the United States Federal Court System in the state of Hawaii. It is located at the Prince Kuhio Federal Building in downtown Honolulu, fronting the Aloha Tower and Honolulu Harbor. The court hears both civil and criminal cases as a court of law and equity. A branch of the district court is the United States Bankruptcy Court which also has chambers in the federal building. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has appellate jurisdiction over cases coming out of the District of Hawaii (except for patent claims and claims against the U.S. government under the Tucker Act, which are appealed to the Federal Circuit). The United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii (currently Florence T. Nakakuni) represents the United States in all civil and criminal cases within his district.


When the Territory of Hawaii was formed in 1900, jurisdiction was placed in the Ninth Circuit. On March 18, 1959, when the State of Hawaii was formed, the district had two judgeships for the court. On July 10, 1984 a third judgeship was added, and a fourth added on December 1, 1990.[1] ,.

Current Judges[edit]

# Title Judge Duty station Born Term of service Appointed by
Active Chief Senior
10 Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway Honolulu 1950 1998–present 2009–present Clinton
11 District Judge John Michael Seabright Honolulu 1959 2005–present G.W. Bush
12 District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi Honolulu 1957 2010–present Obama
13 District Judge Derrick Kahala Watson Honolulu 1966 2013–present Obama
7 Senior Judge Alan Cooke Kay Honolulu 1932 1986–2000 1991–1999 2000–present Reagan
8 Senior Judge David Alan Ezra San Antonio, Texas[Note 1] 1947 1988–2012 1999–2005 2012–present Reagan
9 Senior Judge Helen W. Gillmor Honolulu 1942 1994–2009 2005–2009 2009–present Clinton
  1. ^ Judge Ezra has sat with the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas since taking senior status.

Former Judges[edit]

# Judge State Born/Died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Tavares, Cyrus NilsCyrus Nils Tavares HI 1902–1976 1960[2]–1972 1960–1961 1972–1976 Eisenhower, Eisenhower death
2 Pence, MartinMartin Pence HI 1904–2000 1961–1974 1961–1974 1974–2000 Kennedy, Kennedy retirement
3 King, Samuel PailthorpeSamuel Pailthorpe King HI 1916–2010 1972–1984[3] 1974–1984 1984–2010 Nixon , Nixon retirement
4 Wong, Dick YinDick Yin Wong HI 1920–1978 1975–1978 Ford, Ford death
5 Heen, Walter MeheulaWalter Meheula Heen HI 1928–present 1981[4] Carter, Carter not confirmed
6 Fong, Harold MichaelHarold Michael Fong HI 1938–1995 1982–1995 1984–1991 Reagan, Reagan death

Succession of seats[edit]

Judges of the former United States District Court for the District of Hawaii[edit]

Prior to 1959, the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii was an Article IV tribunal. The following is a partial list of Judges for that court.

# Judge State Born/Died Active service Chief Judge Senior status Appointed by Reason for
1 Estee, Morris M.Morris M. Estee HI 1833–1903 1900–1903[5] McKinley, McKinley death
2 Dole , Sanford B.Sanford B. Dole HI 1844–1926 1903–1915[6] Roosevelt, Roosevelt retirement
3 Vaughan , Horace WorthHorace Worth Vaughan HI 1867–1922 1916–1922[7] Wilson, Wilson death


  1. ^ "History of the Federal Judiciary: U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved December 10, 2010. 
  2. ^ Recess appointment; formally nominated on January 10, 1961, confirmed by the United States Senate on September 21, 1961, and received commission on September 22, 1961.
  3. ^ Gary T. Kubota; Ken Kobayashi (December 8, 2010). "'Great judge,' 'great man'". Honolulu Star Advertiser. Retrieved December 9, 2010. 
  4. ^ Recess appointment made by President Carter; President Ronald Reagan later withdrew the nomination before the United States Senate could act.
  5. ^ Oscar Tully Shuck (1901). History of the bench and bar of California: being biographies of many remarkable men, a store of humorous and pathetic recollections, accounts of important legislation and extraordinary cases, comprehending the judicial history of the state. The Commercial printing house. pp. 827–828. 
  6. ^ "Dole, Sanford Ballard office record". state archives digital collections. state of Hawaii. Retrieved September 9, 2010. 
  7. ^ Ben R. Guttery (March 2, 2008). Representing Texas. p. 153. ISBN 978-1-4196-7884-4. 

See also[edit]