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Reifurth, Kubo sworn-in as judges

Hawaii County Police Chief Harry Kubojiri, Senator Mike Gabbard, Tammy Kubo, Judge Ed Kubo, Deputy Planning Director Margaret Masunaga, Deputy Prosecutors Mitch Roth and Carol Kitaoka. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7 courtesy Margaret Masunaga)


Gov. Linda Lingle attended a swearing-in ceremony for two of her judicial appointees, former U.S. Attorney Edward H. Kubo, Jr. and Lawrence M. Reifurth, to serve as a Circuit Court judge of the First Circuit (Oahu) and Associate Judge of the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals, respectively.

“Ed Kubo has dedicated his career to upholding the law and defending the public against crime,” Lingle said in her nomination last month. “He has a well-rounded legal background that includes extensive experience as the United States’ chief federal law enforcement officer and principal litigator in Hawaii, a prosecuting attorney for the city and a private practice trial attorney. Ed has been an exemplary public servant and an outstanding citizen who is committed to improving our community and I am confident he will continue to serve the public well as a Circuit Court judge.”

Tammy Kubo, Ed Kubo, Gov. Linda Lingle

Kubo served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii from 2001 to October 2009, and prior to that was Assistant U.S. Attorney for 11 years. During his tenure with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Kubo focused on major federal criminal investigations such as white collar crimes, mortgage fraud, civil rights violations, tax evasion, corruption, crimes on government installations and violent crimes.

He also covered federal civil areas including fraud against government, employment discrimination, medical malpractice defense and defense of military initiatives. Other key areas Kubo focused on involved federal criminal narcotics enforcement and organized crime, including international drug trafficking, court-approved wiretaps, complex conspiracies, financial investigations and forfeiture of property, and racketeering prosecutions.

Kubo previously worked as a deputy prosecuting attorney in the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of the Prosecuting Attorney from 1980 to 1983 and 1985 to 1990. He also was an associate trial attorney with the law firm Carlsmith and Dwyer and a law clerk with the law firm Kobayashi and Watanabe.

Also sworn-in during the ceremony was Larry Reifurth as Associate Judge of the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals.

Reifurth served as the director of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) since March 2007, and was the department’s deputy director for the previous four years.

Larry Riefurth

As director, he oversaw state programs that focused on business regulations, enforcement and registrations of industries including insurance, securities, cable television, financial institutions, and 46 different professional licensing boards and programs. He also is responsible for consumer protection, including licensing enforcement and public utility consumer advocacy.

In 1994, Reifurth served as the state’s insurance commissioner. He also represented the Division of Consumer Advocacy as a deputy attorney general from 1989 to 1992. Both the insurance and consumer advocacy divisions are located within the DCCA.

“Larry has been an outstanding and dedicated public servant who has worked to support the interests of Hawaii businesses, while fighting to protect consumers from fraud and unfair business practices,” Lingle said in her nomination. “He has been a valuable member of my Administration for the past seven years and I have great confidence that he will serve on the bench with integrity and fairness.”

Since taking office in December 2002, Lingle has appointed six judges to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, 14 judges to the Circuit Court and two justices to the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Big Island attorney and deputy planner Margaret Masunaga attended the swearing-in ceremony and sent in this report:

“The Hawaii Supreme Court was overflowing with supporters and standing room only both inside and outside the courtroom. Chief Justice Ronald T.Y. Moon presided over the ceremony, and Gov. Lingle spoke, as well as Sen. Mike Gabbard, Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu, Shelton Jim On for the Judicial Selection Commission, Judge Steve Alm for the Hawaii State Trial Judges Association, and Hawaii State Bar Association President Hugh Jones.

Among the spectators were Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Prosecutors Peter Carlisle, Jay Kimura, Attorney General Mark Bennett, Harry Kubojiri, and U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii Flo Nakakuni.

When it came to the speeches by Judge Reifurth and Judge Kubo, the audience cried after hearing Reifurth’s mother passed away two months ago, before Lingle made her selection from the list. His father traveled from the mainland.

I shed more tears after hearing Reifurth talk about my friend Corlis Chang’s mother, Irma Chang, who was Larry’s “Popo,” or adopted mom, who passed away last month.

Although I’ve never met Lawrence Reifurth, I felt I knew him after his speech. He jokingly told Ed, “thank you for taking all the bullets,” referring to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings and the vote before the full Senate, and thanked Lisa Ginoza, (who was nominated to the ICA subsequently) for applying later.

Kubo personally thanked Hannemann and Mayor Billy Kenoi and the Big Island supporters. I also got choked up when he thanked his parents and his wife Tammy.

We also shared many laughs about how much Ed likes food. Everyone laughed when he said he found a new place to hide his food in his judicial robe!

It was worth my trip from Kona to Honolulu (on my own dime) to attend this memorable swearing -in ceremony for Judge Kubo and Judge Reifurth.

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