Hawaii State Supreme Court

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The Hawai‘i State Supreme Court is the highest court of the State of Hawaii in the United States. Its decisions are binding on all other courts of the Hawaii State Judiciary. The principal purpose of the Supreme Court is to review the decisions of the trial courts in which appeals have been granted. Appeals are decided by the members of the Supreme Court based on written records and in some cases may grant oral arguments in the main Supreme Court chamber. Like its mainland United States counterparts, the Supreme Court does not take evidence and uses only evidence provided in previous trials.

The Supreme Court is housed in the historic Aliiolani Hale.



The Hawai‘i State Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to answer questions of law that have been passed to it from trial courts or the federal court, hear civil cases submitted to the Supreme Court on agreed statements of facts, and decide questions coming from proceedings of writs of writ of mandamus, writ of prohibition and writ of habeas corpus. The following chart entitled, Tracking Appeals in Hawai'i's Court System, showing the interrelationships of the various courts is from the Honolulu Advertiser, published on November 23, 2003:



The Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice and four Associate Justices, all of whom are appointed by the Governor with Senate consent from a list of nominees presented by the Judicial Selection Commission. Candidates must be U.S. citizens, Hawaii residents, and have been licensed to practice law for at least 10 years prior to nomination. Justices serve for terms of ten years and may be retained by the Judicial Selection Commission. Justices and judges of all courts must retire upon attaining the age of seventy years. Statutory provisions relating to the Supreme Court are set forth in chapter 602, part I, Hawaii Revised Statutes.

As administrative head of the Judiciary, the Chief Justice exercises exclusive authority over the budget and court operations; makes judicial assignments; and prescribes a uniform system of keeping and reporting statistics.

Judicial Selection Commission

Article VI, section 4, of the State Constitution provides for a Judicial Selection Commission. The Commission is a non-partisan selector of judicial nominees. Commission members are prohibited from taking active roles in political management or campaigns and are ineligible for appointment to judicial office for the duration of their term on the Commission and for three years thereafter. The Commission consists of nine members: two appointed by the Governor, two each by the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, one by the Chief Justice, and two by members in good standing of the State Bar. Of the members appointed by the Governor, no more than one may be an attorney. Not more than four of the Commission members may be licensed attorneys. [1]


External Links

  • Hawaii State Supreme Court Justices (Hawaii State Judiciary)
  • Supreme Court of Hawai`i Blog (Unofficial)
  • Top jurists represent diverse backgrounds (Honolulu Advertiser, 11-23-03
  • Supreme Court struggles as cases, criticism pile up (Honolulu Advertiser, 11-23-03)
  • Justices must juggle reviews, administrative tasks (Honolulu Advertiser, 11-23-03)
  • Chart: Tracking appeals in Hawai'i's court system (Honolulu Advertiser, 11-23-03)
  • Manslaughter conviction overturned - fetus not “person” (Poinography, 11-30-05)
  • Editorial: Ruling in case of newborn's death raises other issues THE ISSUE: The Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that a woman may not be prosecuted for prenatal conduct resulting in her newborn son's death. (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 12-1-05)
  • Top judge 'concerned' about state court -- Justice Kennedy says Hawaii's high court should find time to hear oral arguments By Mary Vorsino (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 2-9-06)
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