Whatever you think about Gov. Neil Abercrombie, you must admit he’s consistent.

Abercrombie continues to stubbornly stick to his guns when it comes to protecting potential judges from public scrutiny. He announced Monday that Deputy Public Defender Karen Tooko Nakasone is his pick to serve on the First Circuit Court — and just like he did when he named his first appointee to the Hawaii Supreme Court, Abercrombie is keeping the short list of finalists secret.

Abercrombie’s predecessor, Linda Lingle, as well as Supreme Court Chief Justices Ronald Moon and Mark Recktenwald, released the names they received from the Judicial Selection Commission before making their picks to get public input. Abercrombie has argued that releasing the names would discourage qualified applicants from seeking judgeships.

After the state’s information czar told him he has to share the names after making his pick, she was fired. Abercrombie said he’d be willing to go to court to defend his policy, and the new Office of Information Practices chief said continued resistance would be “futile.”

So the latest announcement of a judge without any public input is hardly surprising. But that doesn’t mean it’s right. Blogger Ian Lind, who worked for Abercrombie a generation ago and supported his campaign for governor, today characterized it as a “one-finger salute” to the public. Lind also criticized the media for giving Abercrombie a “pass.”

It’s not clear that intensifying what Lind calls “political heat” is going to do anything to convince Abercrombie he’s wrong on this one. But it’s worth noting that the governor continues to thumb his nose at the media, the Office of Information Practices, well-established precedent and, most importantly, the public.

Even if Abercrombie’s thumb isn’t the finger Lind was talking about.


Read our previous coverage: