WAILUA — Kauai County Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said in addition to the long list of accomplishments, Judge Alfred Laureta was one of her father’s best friends Thursday during the Hawaii State Bar Association board meeting at Smith’s Tropical Paradise.
Yukimura was one of the presenters who honored Laureta’s “spectacular career and outstanding service” to the island of Kauai.
“He was the first Filipino judge,” Yukimura said.
In 1967, Laureta became a judge and presided over the 1st Circuit Court in Honolulu until 1969 when he accepted the position as the 5th Circuit Court Judge on Kauai. He was nominated by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, and others, and appointed by President Jimmy Carter to become the first United States District Court Judge of Filipino descent for the newly-established Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Saipan where he remained until retiring in 1988.
Judge Randal Valenciano said as members of the HSBA, everyone in the room should be jealous of Laureta, who enjoys federal and state retirement benefits.
“Even in retirement, Judge Laureta continued to serve the community as a volunteer mediator for the Kauai Economic Opportunity,” Valenciano said, citing an example where he thought a case would surely end up in court, but following Laureta’s mediation, the case was settled. “Even in retirement, Judge Laureta had it.”
He also served as a reference for Valenciano’s application for appointment as a judge.
Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said he always remembered Judge Laureta and Evelyn with their chairs at their children’s soccer games.
“Although his beloved wife Evelyn has since passed on, Judge Laureta retains a zest for life, and his legacy continues on through his children and grandchildren,” Carvalho said.
Judge Laureta, in acknowledging the honor, said his greatest compliment came from a guy who meets the bus at the Regency at Puakea where he resides.
‘“Is the judge there?” he would ask,” Laureta said. “‘He threw me in jail.’ That has to be the greatest compliment I have heard.”