Law firm attorney appointed Circuit Court Judge

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

private attorney and a federal prosecutor await confirmation by the state Senate

By Debra Barayuga

dbarayuga@starbulletin.com

Two new appointments to the state bench say they are committed to help shrink the backlog of cases in the appellate courts.

Gov. Linda Lingle yesterday appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Nakamura to the Intermediate Court of Appeals and private attorney Patrick Border, of the law firm Cronin Fried Sekiya Kekina & Fairbanks, to the Honolulu Circuit Court.

Nakamura fills one of two newly created seats on the Intermediate Court of Appeals. Border replaces Circuit Judge Marie Milks, who is retiring in March. Both appointments are subject to state Senate confirmation.

"I'm extremely excited about both nominees because they bring a long track record of positive experience in the law, both in government and the private sector, and they will continue our desire to bring integrity and character to the bench," Lingle said.

Nakamura, 47, a graduate of Harvard School of Law, has prosecuted federal crimes involving complex legal schemes, tax offenses, environmental crimes and public corruption in his 17 years as federal prosecutor. He said he specialized in appellate work and called his appointment to the appeals court a "dream job."

"It's the area of law that particularly excites me and for which I have a distinct passion, so I'm looking forward to the opportunity to serve the people of the state and to contribute to the development of the law in the state of Hawaii," Nakamura said.

Mark Recktenwald, director of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and a former assistant U.S. attorney who worked with Nakamura, called his colleague the "finest appellate advocate and legal writer in the state of Hawaii, bar none."

When anyone in the U.S. Attorney's Office was confronted with a tough issue, ethical or otherwise, Nakamura was the one they went to, Recktenwald said.

Nakamura was highly respected by his peers and defense attorneys, including those in the Public Defender's Office, as someone who was fair and honest, Recktenwald said.

Border, 55, who has spent more than 20 years representing plaintiffs and defendants in the state and federal courts, calls his appointment to state judge "a logical step for me."

An attorney with Cronin Fried since 1984, Border has served as mediator and arbitrator in divorces, real estate transactions, civil rights claims and business disputes. He is currently on a panel made up of private attorneys appointed by the federal courts to help mediate cases before they get to trial.

Border said he hopes to bring his knowledge of the litigation process and mediation to help parties in criminal and civil matters resolve their cases early and reduce the number of appeals.

"The number of appeals has been significant and I hope to be able at the trial level to be able to whittle that down," Border said. "I think by doing that we can give the appellate courts more breathing room to decide cases."

Attorney Gerald Sekiya, one of the founding members of Cronin Fried, said Border has excellent demeanor for a judicial role and praised his extensive experience and interest in alternative dispute resolution.