UPDATED 5/2/2011 8:15 a.m.

Retired Circuit Court Judge Victoria Marks has been appointed as the ninth member and chair of the Hawaii Reapportionment Commission.

The selection, made by all five members of the Hawaii Supreme Court in an order [pdf] filed at noon Friday, came after the commission was unable to settle its political differences and pick its own chair within a 30-day deadline.

The full commission must be assembled by May 1, per the Hawaii Constitution. Friday was the last day for the court to act.

According to the website for Dispute Prevention and Resolution where Marks has worked since leaving the bench, she retired in 2009 after 21 years as a judge. In 2003, she was named the first Jurist of the Year, an annual award given by the Hawaii Judiciary, according to her profile on the site.

Marks’ name also appears in the faculty and staff directory for the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law as a retired lecturer. She’s also listed as secretary of the Hawaii Soccer Association.

Reached by telephone Friday, Marks told Civil Beat that she has been following the commission’s actions in recent weeks, noting that “I haven’t spoken to other commission members to get their views on things, but I plan on doing that.”

She said she was aware of the commission’s rule exempting itself from the six-day hearing notice required by the state’s Sunshine Law.

On April 26, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause Hawaii and Americans for Democratic Action sent a letter to the commission expressing concerns that “some of the adopted rules would inhibit public participation in the reapportionment and redistricting process.” Read the full letter:

The commission’s decision was based on a letter from the Office of the Attorney General obtained by Civil Beat Friday:

“I have not spoken with the Attorney General who is advising the commission … but I also understand that the advice was that the Sunshine Law doesn’t strictly apply to the commisison because the commission’s working under … time constrains where other commissions might not be,” Marks told Civil Beat when asked about the applicability of the Sunshine Law to the commission’s deliberations. “Just in order to get the work done, things are under a compressed amount of time. Everyone is mindful of those time constraints and mindful of the public’s right to participate.”

Asked if she has been active in Hawaii politics, she said, “As a judge I was prohibited from participating in any of that.”

And asked if she considers herself a Democrat or a Republican, she said, “I’m not going to go there.”

“I think what I bring is that I’ve been a third-party neutral in many circumstances.”

She said Friday she will be unable to attend the commission’s next meeting, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon [pdf], because she’ll be traveling to attend her son’s college graduation.

On Monday morning, Marks emailed Civil Beat to say that she has rearranged her travel plans and will be attending Wednesday’s meeting.

Interim Chair Dylan Nonaka, who is also executive director of the Hawaii Republican Party, told Civil Beat that he’s excited to get started on the meat of the commission’s work.

“I am happy that we have a permanent chairperson, and I look forward to working with her,” he said.

The Supreme Court order included the names of all 18 applicants, sorted alphabetically:

  1. HANALEI Y. AIPOALANI
  2. RIKI MAY AMANO
  3. LANCE D. COLLINS
  4. MICHAEL J. FERGUS
  5. ROCKNE C. FREITAS
  6. GREGORY J. GARNEAU
  7. WILLIAM F. GEORGI
  8. TIMOTHY E. JOHNS
  9. ROBERT G. KLEIN
  10. VICTORIA S. MARKS
  11. LYNNE MATUSOW
  12. ABBEY S. MAYER
  13. LAWRENCE MEACHAM
  14. THOMAS J. MITRANO
  15. NIKHILANANDA
  16. WILLIAM S. PETTI
  17. RAI SAINT CHU
  18. DONN TAKAKI

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