Hawaii earns ‘D’ for judicial financial disclosure

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The Center for Public Integrity evaluated the disclosure rules for judges in the highest state courts nationwide. The level of disclosure in the 50 states and the District of Columbia was poor, with 43 receiving failing grades, making it difficult for the public to identify potential conflicts of interest on the bench. Despite the lack of information in the public records, the Center’s investigation found nearly three dozen conflicts, questionable gifts and entanglements among top judges around the country. Here’s what the Center found in Hawaii:

Strengths:

Despite receiving a “D”, Hawaii’s financial disclosure law ranks as sixth best out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The state earned full credit in the accessibility category because it posts financial disclosure records online. Hawaii judges must also report household income beyond their judicial salaries. The state has strong gift-disclosure requirements, as well. In addition to reporting the source of gifts, judges must describe each gift and estimate its value.

Weaknesses:

While the Aloha State requires judges to report their income, they need to do so only in broad dollar ranges, rather than exact amounts. Additionally, judges in Hawaii aren’t required to report reimbursements for travel or other expenses.

Highlights:

Hawaii, unlike most other states, requires judges to report investment transactions. As part of the requirement, judges must disclose the date when they transferred ownership of the investment, as well as the value of the transfer. Hawaii’s disclosure forms also include a section in which judges report the amount of hours they spent attending state-approved judicial education courses.