With last week’s Senate confirmation of Michelle Drewyer to the Circuit Court for the Second Circuit of Maui County, the number of sitting state court judges and justices is now an even 40-40 split of women and men for the first time in Hawaii’s history.
A pending decision on the appointment of solicitor general Kimberly Tsumoto Guidry to the Intermediate Court of Appeals could give female judges and justices an arguably more historic share of judicial positions in the state.
Drewyer was appointed to fill the seat vacated by Richard Bissen, who retired last year to run for Maui mayor. Her confirmation gives the Maui Circuit Court full gender parity with two female and two male judges.
“Judge Drewyer was prepared and able to effectively communicate how her experience as a per diem judge and private practitioner will benefit her as a full-time judge,” said Sen. Karl Rhoads, who chairs the Senate judiciary committee. “I am confident that she will be a strong addition to the Second Circuit.”
Drewyer, Gov. Josh Green’s first judicial appointment, served as a deputy prosecuting attorney and deputy public defender before entering private practice. She has worked in district, family and circuit courts in both criminal and civil law. She most recently worked as a per diem judge in the family and district courts of the Second Circuit.
Drewyer holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and a juris doctor from Thomas M. Cooley School of Law in Michigan.
While emphasizing her individual qualifications, Green, at the time of Drewyer’s appointment in March, acknowledged the significance of nominating a woman to replace Bissen.
“Justice may be blind, but meeting our society’s needs for diversity, equity and inclusion must be pursued with open eyes,” Green said.
After the failed appointments of Ikaika Anderson for director of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Chris Sadayasu for director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and Scott Glenn for director of the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development—each of which was marked with contentious and high-profile hearings—Gov. Green’s long list of appointments appears to be moving more smoothly through the review and recommendation process.
In addition to Drewyer last week, recent Senate confirmations include Tommy Johnson for director of the Department of Public Safety and Katie Ducatt for deputy to the chairperson for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.