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New 3rd Circuit Court Judge Robert Kim sworn in; heavy caseload ahead

Updated: 
November 22, 2017 - 12:05am

KAILUA-KONA — So much for easing into the job.

New 3rd Circuit Court Judge Robert D.S. Kim won’t spend his first day meeting co-workers, mingling and filling out HR paperwork — quite the opposite.

Today, Kim’s first day presiding over Kona’s circuit court, he has 10 cases. Then he has 10 more cases Friday, the first day back after the holiday.

“So we’re just jumping right into it,” Kim said Tuesday shortly after he was sworn in at the courthouse.

Every Big Island judge was a part of the packed ceremony.

Kim, 63, was appointed to the post to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Ronald Ibarra in June. Ibarra retired after serving 28 years.

It’ll be a challenge to fill that void, Kim said, but one he is looking forward to fulfilling.

“Everybody noted I had big shoes to fill” with Ibarra’s retirement, Kim said. He added he’ll draw on his 30 years of legal experience to guide him. “I just want to make sure I do the right thing.”

Kim as a litigator concentrated in the areas of criminal defense, family law, civil litigation, personal injury litigation and administrative proceedings. He has served as the president of the West Hawaii Bar for many years.

Kim graduated from the University of Hawaii at Hilo with a bachelor of arts in political science and earned his law degree at UH’s William S. Richardson School of Law in Honolulu.

“I was very honored that all the judges on the whole island appeared at the ceremony,” Kim said. His ceremony speech noted the importance of law and judicial independence.

“I look forward to working with my judicial colleagues in West Hawaii,” he said.

Kim was appointed to serve until 2027, but can only complete seven years as the age limit will cap the judge out at 70.

“I’ll use those seven years wisely,” he said.

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