Senate Confirms Micah W. J. Smith for Federal Judgeship in District of Hawaii
News Release from Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, Nov 29, 2023
SAN FRANCISCO – The United States Senate today voted 57-41 to confirm President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s nomination of Assistant U.S. Attorney Micah W. J. Smith to serve as a U.S. district judge for the District of Hawaii.
“The President, in consultation with our two Senators, could not have selected anyone more qualified — and humble — than Micah Smith. We look forward to working with him for years to come,” said Chief U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson.
Smith was nominated for the judgeship by President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Sept. 11, 2023, and had his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on October 4. His nomination was placed on the Senate Executive Calendar on October 26. Following his oath, he will fill a judgeship that will be vacant when U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright assumes senior status on Jan. 30, 2024. Smith will maintain chambers in Honolulu.
Smith has served since 2018 as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Criminal Division in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii, where he currently is the chief of appeals and legal strategy since 2022, the criminal civil rights coordinator since 2021 and the deputy chief of criminal division since 2019. He served as the project safe neighborhoods coordinator in 2019 and was co-chief of Violent Crime and Drug Section in the office from 2018 to 2019. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Hawaii, he served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he was co-chief of the Violent and Organized Crime Unit, 2017-2018; a member of the Department of Justice Human Resource Review Committee, 2017-2018; a DNA liaison, 2017-2018; the deputy chief of Violent and Organized Crime Unit, 2016-2017; and the acting deputy chief of appeals, 2016-2017. Previously, Smith lectured at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, William S. Richardson School of Law, in fall 2020 and at Columbia Law School in fall 2017. He engaged in private practice as an associate then as counsel for O’Melveny & Myers LLP in Washington, D.C., from 2008 to 2010 and from 2010 to 2012, respectively.
Born in Mill Hall, Pennsylvania, Smith received his Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania in 2003 and his Juris Doctor in 2006, magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School, where he was the notes editor of the Harvard Law Review. He studied for a semester abroad at Universidad Nacional in Costa Rica in 2002. Following law school he clerked for the Honorable Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 2006 to 2007 then clerked for the Honorable David H. Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court from 2007 to 2008.
Smith has been a board member of the Hawaii Justice Foundation since 2019 and a board member since 2022 of the African American Lawyers Association of Hawaii, where he served as vice president from 2021 to 2022.
Smith was recognized for his outstanding service and received awards, including the Director’s Award, Outstanding Investigation, in 2022 from the U.S. Department of Justice, Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces; the Distinguished Service Award, U.S. Attorney General, in 2019; the David Margolis Award for Exceptional Service, U.S. Attorney General, in 2017; and the Federal Prosecutor Award, Federal Law Enforcement Foundation, in 2017.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii had 659 new case filings in fiscal year 2023. The court is authorized four judgeships, which includes a temporary judgeship and currently has one future vacancy.
Appointed under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, federal district court judges are nominated by the president, confirmed by the U.S. Senate and serve lifetime appointments upon good behavior.
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UH law school alumna appointed to federal judgeship
UH News, November 30, 2023
The first Native Hawaiian woman federal district court judge, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law graduate Shanlyn Park, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on November 30.
Born and raised in Hawaiʻi, Park also served as an adjunct professor at the UH law school, and as president, vice president and secretary of the school’s alumni association board.
Camille Nelson, dean of the UH law school, lauded Park and her exemplary professionalism and service.
“We are incredibly proud of Judge Park and are excited to see her serve on this level of court as a federal judge. We know she will continue her stellar service on the federal bench,” Nelson said. “She is a true reflection of the activation of our mission at the law school—to cultivate a strong ethical, professional community among our faculty, students and alumni that serves a greater purpose.”
Park was recommended by U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz, as well as a merit-based federal Judicial Selection Commission. She has served as a First Circuit Court judge on Oʻahu since 2021. Prior to that, Park worked in private practice and as an assistant federal public defender.
“With decades of experience practicing law in Hawaiʻi, Judge Park has led a distinguished career dedicated to public service. She has exhibited a commitment to justice, fairness, and impartiality throughout her career and is highly qualified to serve on the U.S. District Court,” said Hirono and Schatz in a statement. “As the first Native Hawaiian woman to serve as a federal district court judge, Judge Park’s confirmation reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to building a federal judiciary that reflects the diversity of our communities. We were proud to support her nomination and know that she will serve Hawaiʻi and our country with honor.”
She joins a host of other Richardson alumni who have been recently tapped to serve as judges.
Lisa Ginoza, a 1989 graduate, was confirmed by the state Senate to serve as an associate justice on the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court on November 21. Her confirmation means that three of the five justices on the state’s high court are Richardson alumni. The other two are Sabrina McKenna and Todd Eddins.
Alumni David Hayakawa, Erika Ireland and Robert Brown were also sworn in on October 23 to serve as judges on the District Court of the First Circuit (Oʻahu).
SA: 2 newly named federal judges have Hawaii ties | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)
CB: Park is a current state court judge and former federal public defender.
HNN: US Senate confirms Hawaii’s newest federal judge (hawaiinewsnow.com)
CB: US Senate Confirms Miske Prosecutor To Federal Bench - Honolulu Civil Beat
L360: Senate Votes In New Hawaii District Judge - Law360