mafia_by_Mafia_SuitHello Angels! 

On November 24, 2010, the Judiciary issued, "Judiciary's response the The Angel Group's Nov. 20 news release".

There are quite a few material errors, as well as deflective statements.  For starters:

  • AngelGroup published the Press Release (and then passed it along), it did not issue it. 
  • At no place in the press release did Ms. Carlin mention AngelGroup or that she was issuing the release "on behalf of The Angel Group" (ps Judiciary - AngelGroup is one word and there is no "The")
  • The survivor's name is "Marquez", not "Martinez"
  • The advocate's name is "Dara" not "Dana"

Angels, you might also find it interesting that even though the Judiciary "responded" to AngelGroup, it never sent the response TO AngelGroup...Go figure...

The most basic facts are wrong so it's no surprise we take issue with portions of the rest.  AngelGroup will be issuing a statement shortly, but in the meantime read their "response" after the jump (click Read More).

Their Response:

You may have received a November 20, 2010 news release from Ms. Dana Carlin on behalf of The Angel Group. The release alleges that Maui Family Court Judge Keith Tanaka violated HRS Sec. 571-46(9) prohibiting persons convicted of family violence from gaining full or joint custody when, in a particular case, he awarded sole custody of a child to the father instead of the mother. The following paragraph explains why this premise is wrong.

Judges are required to make decisions in accordance with applicable laws. In child custody disputes where family violence is an issue, HRS Sections 571-46(1) and 571-46(9) are two of the laws that apply. HRS Sec. 571-46(1) requires the court to consider the best interests of the child when deciding custody. HRS Sec. 571-46(9) says that, when family violence has been committed by a parent, the court may assume it would not be in the best interest of the child to be placed in sole or joint custody with the perpetrator of family violence, unless it is proven otherwise. Therefore, the law allows a judge to award joint or full custody to a father even though he is a perpetrator of family violence if the evidence proves that awarding custody to the mother is not in the child's best interest.

Ms. Maria Styke-Martinez is involved in a paternity case and paternity cases are confidential by law. Paternity issues are often complicated, emotional and embarrassing, and the law prohibits case details from becoming public to help shield parties and their children from censure or ridicule. Because this case is confidential by law, I cannot access or reveal the evidence upon which Judge Tanaka made his decision. An appellate court will be able to review that evidence if Ms. Styke-Martinez takes an appeal.

The release quotes Ms. Styke-Martinez as saying, her "...last and only to call public attention to what's going on..." Fortunately, the justice system provides several ways to review complaints about a judge's decision. Parties who believe a judge's decision is inconsistent with the law may file a motion for reconsideration or appeal to a higher court.

Those who believe a judge has committed an unethical act may file a complaint with the Commission on Judicial Conduct and comment on the judge's suitability for retention before the Judicial Selection Commission.

It is not unusual for parties to criticize the judge or characterize him or her as unfair or ineffectual when they are dissatisfied with the outcome of their case. Family Court cases are highly emotional and Family Court judges, in particular, are often blamed when the parties don't "win."

Criticism of judges and their rulings are welcomed by the Hawaii State Judiciary as long as the criticism is based on fact and law, not misrepresentations, and is constructive and reasoned. This type of criticism is appropriate and useful to the Judiciary for per diem judges and to the Judicial Selection Commission when it assesses full-time judges
seeking retention.


Marsha E. Kitagawa
Communications & Community Relations Office
Hawaii State Judiciary


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