The Hawai‘i Senate yesterday unanimously confirmed attorney Randal Grant Bolosan Valenciano — Gov. Linda Lingle’s appointee — as Kaua‘i’s newest 5th Circuit Court judge, drawing praise from Kaua‘i state legislators.
Valenciano will assume his duties later this year, replacing retiring 5th Circuit Judge George Masuoka.
Valenciano has been praised for serving with distinction as a prosecutor for Kaua‘i County and as a public defender with the City and County of Honolulu. Valenciano served on the Kaua‘i County Council from 1990 to 2002 , and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2002.
“I appreciate the help that I got from the Kaua’i legislators and from the public in general,” Valenciano said in a telephone interview from O‘ahu. “I want to thank my wife, Debbie, and my family for their support.”
Sen. Gary Hooser praised Valenciano during the confirmation process on the floor of the Senate at the state Capitol in Honolulu.
Saying he was “100 percent confident that the Kaua‘i attorney will serve with distinction,” Hooser urged his colleagues to vote in favor of the appointment, according to a news release.
Hooser also cited the dozens of letters written by individuals and businesses on Kaua‘i in support of Valenciano’s nomination.
The testimony, he said, consistently included words such as “fair, compassionate, sincere, honest, ethical.”
“I think he will make a fine judge,” Hooser said in a telephone interview yesterday. “And I have known Randal for many years, and he is a person of high integrity and competence.”
Hooser said Valenciano has demonstrated his commitment to Kaua‘i through his work and life on the island.
“He is an important part of our community.” Hooser said.
14th District House Rep. Hermina Morita said she and 15th District House Rep. James Tokioka and 16th District House Rep. Roland Sagum III attended the Senate confirmation and that she was really happy “he was appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.”
She said Valenciano’s legal experience showed him to be a well-rounded candidate for the job.
“And when they talk a lot about judicial temperament, I believe he will mature into the position and do an excellent job.”
Tokioka and Sagum were not immediately available for comment.
Retired Kaua‘i Police Chief Brian Fujiuchi spoke of Valenciano giving “unselfishly of himself in community volunteer events.”
Supervising Deputy Public Defender Edmund Acoba wrote Valenciano “has all the qualities that you would want in a judge: compassion, good temperament, and well-roundedness.”
Community leader and one-time public information officer for retired Mayor Eduardo Malapit, Barbara Bulatao-Franklin referred to Valenciano as “a role model to our youth, our community, our Filipino culture.”
Lingle selected Valenciano from a list of six candidates sent to her by the Judicial Selection Commission on March 1.
Valenciano is Lingle’s second appointment to the Kaua‘i Circuit Court. Judge Kathleen Watanabe was appointed in 2005.
Valenciano also serves as an arbitrator for the same court and is the president of Friends of Kaua‘i Drug Court, secretary of the Kaua‘i Officials Association and a member of the Pua Loke Community Association.
Valenciano also received the Kaua‘i Filipino Centennial Award last year. He is president of Friends of Kaua‘i Drug Court, former pro bono legal council for the Kaua‘i Pop Warner Football League and a Waimea High mock trial team coach, among other activities.
Valenciano was the co-captain of the Waimea High School Football team when it won a Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation championship during the 1974-75 school year. The school won a back-to-back championship in the 1975 — 76 school year.
After graduating from high school in 1976. Valenciano earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oregon in 1980, then attended the University of Washington School of Law, where he received his Juris Doctor degree.
Valenciano was born on the Westside of Kauai in 1958, the youngest of six children.
His father, Placido, immigrated as a youth in 1928 from Ilocos Norte, Philippines, with his brother and father as a proud member of the Sakada generation, the news release states.
Placido’s first job was to deliver lunches to lunas at Olokele Sugar Company, the plantation where Placido would spend his working life.
He retired in 1980 as a journeyman welder. Randal Valenciano’s mother, Maria, was a nurse at Waimea Hospital.
Valenciano’s parents taught all of the family the value of hard work and a good education, the news release states.
All six children, including Crystal Rowe, a DOE special education teacher at Kapa‘a Middle School, attended college on the Mainland.