Kim appointed Circuit Court judge

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KAILUA-KONA — Gov. David Ige Wednesday appointed Kealakekua-based Attorney Robert D.S. Kim as judge of the 3rd Circuit Court in Kona.


KAILUA-KONA — Gov. David Ige Wednesday appointed Kealakekua-based Attorney Robert D.S. Kim as judge of the 3rd Circuit Court in Kona.

Kim’s appointment fills the vacancy created when Judge Ronald Ibarra retired this past June.

“I just want to give back to the community and serve the public,” Kim, 63, said yesterday.

The appointment is one of two announced yesterday for the Third Circuit Court, which covers Hawaii Island.

Ige also appointed District Family Court Judge Henry Taro Nakamoto to the court in Hilo, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Glenn S. Hara last December.

Kim, a graduate of Hilo High School, received his law degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law before getting his law license in 1986 and began practicing in Honolulu.

But Kim said he wanted to come back to the Big Island, which led him to move to Kona for a job in 1990. He’s been practicing solo since 1996. He is also a former West Hawaii Bar Association president.

Kim said he plans to continue to uphold the high expectations Ibarra set for attorneys in his courtroom.

“I think that Judge Ibarra, he held us all to a very high standard,” Kim said. “And I don’t plan to change that.”

Ibarra, the attorney said, “made us practice at a better level,” and was as prepared for any case as any attorney coming into the courtroom.

There’s also a need to be fair and practical, Kim added, and ensure that the public believes the court is responsive and efficient when it comes to moving cases through the system.

“It’s important for us … to maintain that respect so that the citizens feel that justice is being done,” he said.

Kim’s and Nakamoto’s appointments are subject to evaluation by the Hawaii State Bar Association and state Senate confirmation.

“This is a different chapter,” Kim said. “And I’m really looking forward to it.”

West Hawaii Bar Association President Michael Schlueter noted Kim’s qualifications for the post.

“We absolutely wish Bob the best of luck,” said Schlueter who was also a nominee for the post. “I hope that he does well at confirmation and that the Legislature would be well-suited to approve this appointment because he’s unquestionably qualified.”


Nakamoto has served as a Family Court and a District Court judge since June 2014. Prior to his service on the bench, he practiced law at Nakamoto, Okamoto and Yamamoto where he was a partner and director, and Goodsill Anderson Quinn and Stifel, where he was an associate. He was born and raised on Hawaii Island and practiced law there for 23 years, focusing on family and civil law. Nakamoto completed a bachelor’s degree in economics at Cornell University before earning his J.D. at Hastings College of Law.

“I would like to thank Gov. Ige for giving me the opportunity to serve as a circuit court judge. I appreciate all the support I have gotten from friends and family and will strive to continue to serve the community,” said Nakamoto in a prepared statement.

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