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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2013
NAPABA Contact: Emily Chatterjee (202) 775-9555
AAJC Contact: Kimberly Goulart (202) 499-7027
DERRICK KAHALA WATSON CONFIRMED TO HAWAII DISTRICT COURT
Watson becomes only person of Native Hawaiian descent to serve on federal bench
WASHINGTON - Today, leaders of the Asian Pacific
American community applaud the confirmation of Derrick Kahala Watson to
the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. With a Senate vote
of 94-0, he becomes the only person of native Hawaiian descent to
currently serve as an Article III judge, and only the fourth in American
"Derrick Kahala Watson’s confirmation to the U.S.
District Court for the District of Hawaii is an important step forward
for our nation," said Wendy C. Shiba, president of the National Asian
Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). "With Judge Watson’s
well-deserved confirmation, the federal bench will be further
diversified. Of note, the District of Hawaii will become the first
federal court in U.S. history with a majority of Asian Pacific
Americans, as Judge Watson joins Chief Judge Susan Oki Mollway and Judge
Leslie Kobayashi on the bench."
"Judge Watson’s confirmation brings with it much
needed diversity to the federal bench," said Mee Moua, president and
executive director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), member
of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. "He brings with him
not only a history of government service to the bench, but also a
personal story that inspires all members of our community."
Until his confirmation, Watson served as chief of the
Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of
Hawaii. He has deep roots in Hawaii, growing up 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. Judge Watson attended the Kamehameha
Schools, Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and is the first person
in his family to attend college.
NAPABA and AAJC applaud President Obama for
nominating Judge Watson to the bench and thank the late Senator Inouye,
former Senator Akaka, and Senators Schatz and Hirono for their
recommendation and support of Judge Watson’s nomination.
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 63 local
Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include 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 the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for
equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and
anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of
people of color 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).