HONOLULU - The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed Derrick Kahala Watson, a federal prosecutor in Honolulu, as a U.S. district judge for the District of Hawaii.
Watson, 46, will fill the judgeship vacated on June 27, 2012 by Judge David Ezra, who took senior status.
President Obama nominated Watson in November, but the Senate refused to act.The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus said at the time that Watson will be the only person of Native Hawaiian descent serving as an Article III judge, and only the fourth to serve in U.S. history.
Obama renominated Watson on Jan. 3.
Watson has been an assistant U.S. attorney in Honolulu since 2007. He was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of California from 1995 to 2000. In between, he worked at Farella Braun & Martel in San Francisco, where he became a partner in 2003.
He worked at Landels, Ripley & Diamond in San Francisco from 1991 to 1995.
Watson got his bachelor's degree from Harvard in 1998, and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1991.
Honolulu's federal bench has four judgeships and no vacancies.
There are now 85 vacant federal judgeships, and 24 nominees on whom the Senate has failed to act.
There are 16 vacancies on U.S. Courts of Appeal, with five nominees pending; 17 nominees pending for 67 vacancies on U.S. District Courts; and two nominees pending on two vacancies on the U.S. Court of International Trade.
President Obama has not made filling the understaffed federal judiciary a priority, nor has the Senate.
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