Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Rain Over Hanalei
(Photo courtesy of my son)

The incessant rain on Kauai underscores the need for improvisation and flexibility.

Last night, I made plans with my family to attend a Monday morning session in the Fifth Circuit courtroom of Judge Kathleen Watanabe in Lihue, the county seat of Kauai.  Judge Watanabe, the first female to hold that position on Kauai since Hawaii became a state, was appointed to the judiciary by Governor Linda Lingle and confirmed by a Senate vote five years ago.

Judge Watanabe also happens to be my sister.

Understandably, her appointment was a huge event for all of our family members.  I looked forward to someday sitting in her courtroom gallery and witnessing her preside over legal procedures.

Today, I realized my goal and thoroughly enjoyed watching my sister in action.

Because I've followed several of the cases in The Garden Island's online version, some of the courtroom players' names were familiar to me.  It was interesting to witness the interplay between judge, attorneys, defendants, and deputy sheriffs.  Although it was only a short morning session, maybe an hour and a half in length, I found the proceedings intellectually challenging and socially rewarding.

Judge Watanabe demonstrated fairness, firmness, compassion, and respect with all parties in the courtroom.

Behind the scenes, I witnessed how well she treats her staff.  I met the three principals who provide her with tremendous support-- her court clerk, law clerk, and judicial assistant.  Their warm greetings and friendly banter with my sister were evidence of their aloha and appreciation for her.  I am very grateful for the significant help and moral support they've given Kathleen.

I was privileged and awestruck to be invited to join my sister in her chambers.  Family photos adorned   a good portion of the magnificent judicial office.  In addition, I noticed a large and beautifully framed photograph of a sea turtle that one of our brothers had given her.  Another brother's floral picture was mounted on another sectiot of the wall.  Almost every square inch of her chambers was a tribute to loved ones.

A spirit of aloha fills Judge Watanabe's chambers.  Aloha for family.  Aloha for community.  Aloha for Kauai.  Aloha for the State of Hawaii.  Aloha for a Sovereign Deity who has blessed her with the opportunity to serve in a high ranking judicial position.

It was perhaps fitting that a magazine insert in The Garden Island on this very date carried a feature article on Judge Kathleen Watanabe.  Cosmic alignment never ceases to amaze me.

The experience of observing firsthand my sister at work was truly an honor for me.  The dual perspective of watching a prominent judicial official carrying out her professional responsibilities while reminiscing about our early years of growing up under humble and often challenging circumstances created huge emotional and spiritual waves within me.

I managed to surf each wave to a shore of prayerful thanksgiving.

John Grisham Courtroom Collection (The Pelican Brief / The Client / A Time to Kill / Runaway Jury)

Judges on Judging: Views from the BenchJudges on Judging: Views from the Bench

Broken Trust: Greed, Mismanagement, And Political Manipulation at America's Largest Charitable Trust (A Latitude 20 Book)

Hawaii State Court Judges: James Aiona, Nelson Doi, Steven H. Levinson, John Lanham, Walter Meheula Heen, Samuel Pailthorpe King, Ronald Moon

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