As has been well reported, Governor Neil Abercrombie messed up a judicial appointment. Not be refusing to make public his short list of appointments, but by actually not making the appointment in time.
On June 12, Abercrombie nominated Wailuku attorney Peter T. Cahill to be a judge on Maui’s Second Circuit Court. The only problem was that Abercrombie had missed the constitutional 30-day deadline for the appointment by two days.
Abercrombie’s office immediately sent out a press release announcing the mistake, which was duly reported by all the state’s big media outlets. Cahill didn’t really lose out, because the Judicial Selection Commission, which by law got to make the appointment in the event the governor didn’t, turned around and appointed Cahill again.
So it’s all good, except on June 15 Oahu blogger Ian Lind pointed out that no one had yet reported exactly why Abercrombie had missed making the appointment within 30 days. Lind blamed both the governor’s administrative director and the media for not reporting any explanation for the foul-up (The Maui News did ask, but did not receive any answer for their June 13 story).
I still had the original governor’s office press release in my inbox, so after reading Lind’s post I emailed Donalyn DelaCruz, Abercrombie’s Deputy Director of Communications, and asked why the appointment was made so late. After first referring me back to the original press release (which never addressed the “Why?” question) she offered the following:
“The deadline, which fell on a holiday weekend, had caused confusion by staff who believed that the business-day of Tuesday was the effective deadline,” DelaCruz wrote. “In some cases if a deadline falls on a nonbusiness-day, the deadline would fall on the following business-day. That did not apply in this case in which the Constitution prescribes the timeline as ‘within 30 days.’ Therefore, when the Governor received the list on May 11th, he had until Sunday, June 10th to make the appointment.”
Of course: it was Kamehameha Day’s fault! Yes, a month ago the governor’s staff could have asked the Attorney General’s office for a clear deadline ruling. Or Abercrombie could have simply made the appointment a whole lot sooner than what his office thought was the final day of decision. But it’s more fun to blame a holiday.
Photo: US Congress/Wikimedia Commons