January 19, 2007
Judiciary accepts bids
on new courthouse as lawyers protest
Controversy over moving family court to Kapolei isn't
slowing the Hawaii Judiciary's efforts to break ground
on the $131 million project in the coming months.
It has started accepting bids for a project that more
than 100 lawyers have signed a petition against.
The ambitious project calls for moving everything from
divorce matters to child-custody battles from Honolulu
Those bids from contractors will be opened Feb. 15,
said Walter M. Ozawa, deputy administrative director for
the Hawaii Judiciary.
Then a contract will be awarded by the end of June for
the project expected to be completed in 2010.
"We're fully committed to it and are moving ahead,"
The project is aimed at easing overcrowding at the
Judiciary's Punchbowl Street complex by moving family
court to an 11-acre site in Kapolei, near the
Plans call for building a 120,000-square-foot court
building and a 70,000-square-foot juvenile detention
Features of the courthouse include 13 courtrooms for
family court and the Waianae District Court. The complex
is expected to serve more than 4,000 people weekly and
bring about 350 jobs to Kapolei.
But some family court lawyers remain opposed to the
plans. They continue to dread the likelihood of an extra
30-minute commute from Honolulu to Kapolei, saying that
it doesn't make sense to relocate the entire family
"What we're saying is, don't put it all out there," said
Adrienne S. King, chairwoman of the family law section
of the Hawaii State Bar Association.
King has gathered about 130 protest signatures from
family court lawyers who agree with her and has
submitted them to state legislators.
"I'm being called a troublemaker," King said. "But I
think there's a lot of trouble that needs to be made."
Ronald T.Y. Moon, chief justice of the
Hawaii Supreme Court,
has previously acknowledged all of the anxiety over
longer travel time to Kapolei, calling it amusing that
some lawyers would consider a 30-minute drive to Kapolei
He is betting that travel time and traffic congestion
actually could be reduced because of teleconferencing
and other technology now used by the courts in certain
proceedings to accommodate lawyers and their clients.
At the same time, he suggested that concerns about the
planned move don't outweigh the critical need for more
courtroom space. For example, some judges are sharing
Moon summed up his feelings on the controversy over the
project this way: "We must not let shortsightedness get
in the way of moving forward to meet the future as we
are in Kapolei."
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