Judge and private attorney nominated to Hawaii Supreme Court

A woman stands in front of the Hawaii Supreme Court in 2015 in Honolulu.

The state Senate will begin the confirmation process next month of the chief judge of Hawaii’s Intermediate Court of Appeals and a labor attorney in private practice to fill two vacancies on the five-member state Supreme Court.

In selecting his nominees, Gov. Josh Green emphasized Monday that both are products of public schools.


Lisa M. Ginoza has been chief judge of the Intermediate Court of Appeals since 2018 and graduated from Kailua High School and the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law.

Vladimir P. Devens graduated from Kalani High School and the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and runs a law firm named after him.

The Senate confirmation process is scheduled to begin Nov. 17 with a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Then the full Senate is scheduled for a floor session on Nov. 20, followed later that day by a decision-making meeting of the Judiciary Committee to make recommendations on each nominee.

The full Senate then plans to vote again Nov. 21.

“Congratulations to both Chief Judge Ginoza and Mr. Devens on their appointments to the Hawaii State Supreme Court,” Sen. Karl Rhoads, chair of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “Being a State Supreme Court Justice is an incredible responsibility, and the Senate has the vital constitutional obligation to ensure that these appointees are qualified to sit on the highest court in our State. Between now and the special session in November, the Senate, the Judiciary Committee, and I will conduct a thorough review of the appointees.”

If confirmed, Ginoza and Devens would replace former Associate Justices Paula Nakayama and Michael Wilson, who both retired this year. Supreme Court justices are required to retire at age 70.

The Judicial Selection Committee recommended six nominees to Green, who praised all of them and said some of them might be considered for the Intermediate Court of Appeals if Ginoza is confirmed.

Asked about Devens’ lack of judicial experience, Green said he was highly recommended and that Devens and Ginoza will help bring diversity to Hawaii’s highest court.

“One of my guiding principles for judicial nominations is to ensure diversity — in terms of gender and ethni­city, yes, but also in background and experience,” Green said. “These nominees have very different legal backgrounds, but the breadth and depth of their experience in different areas of law and practice were compelling reasons for me to choose them.”

The others recommended by the Judicial Selection Committee were District Judge Summer M.M. Kupau-Odo and Circuit Judge Catherine H. Remigio, and Karen T. Nakasone and Clyde J. Wadsworth, both associate judges on the Intermediate Court of Appeals.

Ginoza has been on the Intermediate Court of Appeals for 13 years after serving as first deputy attorney general from 2005 to 2010.

As a lawyer in private practice, she litigated cases including before the state Supreme Court, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court, according to Green’s office.

Ginoza serves on the boards of directors of the Judiciary History Center and the American Judicature Society and chairs the Hawaii Supreme Court’s Commission to Promote and Advance Civic Education, known as the PACE Commission.

“It is a great honor to be nominated to the Hawaii Supreme Court,” Ginoza said in a statement. “I am grateful to Governor Green for his confidence in me and thank him for this opportunity. I look forward to meeting with senators in the coming weeks as they consider my nomination. I also thank the Judicial Selection Commission for its earlier role in this important process.”

Devens is principal at the Law Offices of Vladimir P. Devens LLC and had been a partner at Meheula, Devens &Winer as well as at Meheula &Devens.

He was lead counsel in the Hawaii Supreme Court’s child abuse decision in Kahoohanohano v. DHS, has litigated constitutional privacy right cases, handled cases involving child sexual abuse and wrongful deaths and has a background in labor law, representing several labor unions, Green’s office said.

Devens serves as a member on the Disciplinary Board of the Hawaii Supreme Court and as a director for the nonprofit CrimeStoppers Honolulu Inc.

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