Judge Who Halted Trump Travel Ban Is Native Hawaiian

Lawyers say Watson is 'super fair'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 16, 2017 12:05 AM CDT
Judge Who Halted Trump Travel Ban Is Native Hawaiian
This December 2015 photo shows US District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu.   (George F. Lee)

The judge who halted President Trump's revised travel ban is the only Native Hawaiian serving on the federal bench. US District Judge Derrick Kahala Watson, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama in 2012 and confirmed by the Senate with a 94-0 vote, is the fourth Native Hawaiian federal judge in US history, the AP reports. "I am confident he will continue to serve our country well, and with Native Hawaiians being underrepresented on the federal bench, his confirmation is a big step in the right direction towards diversifying the court," US Brian Schatz said in a statement when Watson's confirmation was announced in 2013.

But Watson, a former partner at a San Francisco firm and assistant US attorney in the Northern District of California, isn't fixated on being a Native Hawaiian jurist, says Keith Lee, corporate counsel for the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. The judge is a "super fair," play-by-the-book kind of man and isn't influenced by politics, Lee says. "He doesn't have a big ego," he says. "If anything, he's kind of understated." Honolulu defense attorney Michael Green has had numerous cases before Watson. "The man is extremely strict and principled," Green says. "He can be deemed a very tough sentencer," but "if you look between the lines, there's compassion," Green says. (Read more Trump travel ban stories.)

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