FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 14, 2012
NAPABA Contact: Emily Chatterjee (202) 775-9555
AAJC Contact: Kimberly Goulart (202) 499-7027
ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN LEADERS APPLAUD NOMINATION
OF DERRICK KAHALA WATSON TO SERVE AS ARTICLE III JUDGE
WASHINGTON - Today, President Obama nominated Derrick Kahala Watson to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. If confirmed, Watson will be the only person of native Hawaiian descent serving as an Article III judge, and only the fourth in American history.
"We applaud Derrick Kahala Watson's nomination to serve as a federal district judge on the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii," said Wendy C. Shiba, president-elect of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). "Mr. Watson has deep roots in Hawaii and if confirmed, he will be the only person of native Hawaiian ancestry on the federal bench. NAPABA commends President Obama, Senator Inouye, and Senator Akaka for supporting the nomination of such a well-qualified nominee to serve the people of Hawaii."
Watson currently serves as chief of the Civil Division of the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Hawaii. Prior to joining the office in 2007, he was in private practice at two firms in San Francisco, and also served for several years in the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. Watson was a member of the United States Army Reserve and served as a Captain in the JAG Corps from 1998-2006. He attended the Kamehameha Schools, Harvard College, and Harvard Law School, and is the first person in his family to attend college. Watson was raised in a multi-generational household on Oahu that included his mother, who worked at a local bank until her retirement several years ago, and his father, who retired from the Honolulu Police Department.
"We applaud President Obama, Senator Inouye, and Senator Akaka for supporting a nominee who has devoted much of his career to government service," said Mee Moua, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. "Mr. Watson's nomination demonstrates the continued commitment of the President to diversify our judiciary."
Pacific Islanders and Native Americans remain essentially unrepresented in the federal judiciary. No Native Hawaiian currently serves as an Article III judge, and there are currently no Native Americans serving on the federal bench. NAPABA continues to work with our partner organizations to remedy this glaring omission.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 64 local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members represent solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes professional development of minorities in the legal profession.
The Asian American Center for Advancing Justice (www.advancingjustice.org) works to promote a fair and equitable society for all by working for civil and human rights and empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities, and is comprised of the Asian American Justice Center (www.advancingequality.org), the Asian American Institute (www.aaichicago.org), the Asian Law Caucus (www.asianlawcaucus.org) and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (www.apalc.org).