Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced Friday the appointment of District Court Judge Dean E. Ochiai to the Hawaii First Circuit Court.
Judge Ochiai, 57, will fill a vacancy left by Judge Richard Pollack, who became Associate Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court. Ochiai’s appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.
In 2011, Judge Ochiai was appointed by Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald to the District Court of the First Circuit, where he has adjudicated criminal and civil cases relating to misdemeanor and petty misdemeanor crimes against persons, property and status offenses, traffic laws, restraining orders, regular and small claims civil matters, and landlord-tenant matters.
"Judge Ochiai has tried 39 jury trials, more than 300 non-jury trials, arbitrations, mediations and settlements, and he has also supervised and monitored more than 2,000 civil actions," said Abercrombie. "I am confident that his extensive and diverse experience will provide a well-rounded perspective to his judicial duties at Circuit Court."
"I am very humbled by the Governor’s trust in me to become the next Circuit Court judge from a strong field of candidates," said Judge Ochiai. "I will do my best to be fair, impartial, and to treat those who appear before me with dignity and respect."
Prior to being a judge, Ochiai was vice president and managing attorney for the First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Ltd. from 1991 to 2011 and senior trial attorney for the City and County of Honolulu Department of the Corporation Counsel from 1988 to 1991. Ochiai also worked as an associate attorney for Damon Key Char and Bocken from 1984 to 1988 and Honolulu deputy prosecuting attorney from 1981 to 1984.
In 2004, Judge Ochiai was appointed to the Hawaii Supreme Court Attorneys Disciplinary Board, which is responsible for conducting hearings on attorney disciplinary complaints, fact-finding, and recommending sanctions, if applicable, to the Hawaii Supreme Court. In 2007, he was appointed to the board’s executive committee.
He earned his B.B.A. degree with distinction from the University of Hawaii College of Business Administration and his J.D. from the University of California Hastings College of the Law.
Ochiai was admitted to the Hawaii State Bar in 1980, as well as the United States Supreme Court, United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States District Courts for the Districts of Hawaii and Northern California.