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Copyright 2019 Hawai`i Senate Majority

Hawai`i State Capitol
415 South Beretania St.
Honolulu, HI 96813

  • Hawaiʻi State Senate

2019 Jurist of the Year and Judiciary Employees Honored


First Circuit Court Judge Gary W.B. Chang receives the 2019 Jurist of the Year Award from Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald.

HONOLULU – First Circuit Court Judge Gary W.B. Chang was presented with the 2019 Jurist of the Year Award by Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald, at the Hawaii State Judiciary’s Statewide Incentive Awards Ceremony on September 30.


“Judge Chang is an outstanding trial judge, mentor and leader, who is a tireless proponent of professionalism in the courtroom,” said Chief Justice Recktenwald. “His role in the launch of electronic filing for circuit court civil cases across the state has been vital to the project’s realization. The many challenges he encountered were faced head on with a positive mind-set and a strong determination to work collaboratively to ensure the success of the new system.”


The Jurist of the Year is selected annually by the Chief Justice from nominations submitted by Hawaii attorneys and Judiciary personnel. The Jurist of the Year Award recognizes a full-time trial judge who exhibits exceptional judicial competence, evidenced by decisional quality; significant extra-judicial contributions to the administration of justice; and active participation in public service to the community at large.


Judge Chang was appointed to the Circuit Court of the First Circuit on June 1, 1999 and reappointed on June 1, 2009. He presides over civil cases as well as the Land and Tax Appeal Court. Prior to his appointment to the Circuit Court, he was a partner with the law firm of Matsui Chung Sumida & Chang. He previously served as a deputy attorney general with the State of Hawaii Department of the Attorney General. Judge Chang received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1976 from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and law degree from the University of Gonzaga Law School in Washington in 1979. He is a graduate of McKinley High School and was inducted into the McKinley Hall of Honor in 2013.


In addition to honoring the Jurist of the Year, the Hawaii State Judiciary presented individual and group awards to employees who have distinguished themselves through exceptional service and accomplishments. The recipients of this year’s awards are:

Yee Nin Evelyne Luk, Court Administrator of the Legal Documents Branch in the First Circuit’s Honolulu District Court, is congratulated by Associate Judge Derrick H.M. Chan (left) and Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald (right) on her receipt of the Distinguished Service Award, the Hawaii State Judiciary’s highest employee award.

Distinguished Service Award (the Judiciary’s highest incentive award): Yee Nin Evelyne Luk, Court Administrator, Honolulu District Court Legal Documents Branch, First Circuit (Oahu); and Denise Villanova, Court Administrator, Court & Operational Support Services Branch, Second Circuit (Maui, Molokai, Lanai).

Denise Villanova, Second Circuit (Maui, Molokai, Lanai) Court Administrator of the Court & Operational Support Services Branch, receives the Distinguished Service Award, the Hawaii State Judiciary’s highest employee honor, from Associate Judge Derrick H.M. Chan (left) and Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald (right).

Meritorious Service Award: Danette Fujii, Court Documents Clerk, Court and Operational Support Services Division, Legal Documents Branch, Fifth Circuit (Kauai).

Danette Fujii, Court Documents Clerk in the Court and Operational Support Services Division of the Fifth Circuit (Kauai) Legal Documents Branch, receives the Meritorious Service Award, the Judiciary’s second highest employee honor, from Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Randal G.B. Valenciano.

Spirit of the Judiciary Award: Mary Cook, Clerk IV, Juvenile Client Services Branch, Specialized Services Section, Kids First, Family Court – Kapolei, First Circuit (Oahu); Lori Tamanaha, Social Worker IV / TRO Court Officer, Adult Client Services Branch / TRO unit, Family Court – Kapolei, First Circuit (Oahu); Dawn Fernandez, Circuit Court Clerk, Family Court – Kona, Third Circuit (Hawaii island).

Mary Cook, Clerk IV, Juvenile Client Services Branch, Specialized Services Section, Kids First, Family Court – Kapolei, First Circuit (Oahu), accepts the Spirit of the Judiciary Award from Associate Judge Derrick H.M. Chan (left) and Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald (right).

Certificate of Commendation: Natalie Ragmat, Judicial Clerk V, Honolulu District Court Legal Documents Branch 2, First Circuit (Oahu); Jamie Takimoto, Judicial Assistant, Circuit Court Division 4 – Kona (Hawaii island); Amber Maile Telles, Secretary, Office of the Deputy Chief Court Administrator, Fifth Circuit (Kauai).


Group Certificate of Commendation: Hookele Court Navigation Program for the Circuit, District, and Family Courts of the First Circuit (Oahu): Constance “Ui” Arroyo, John Hausler, Glori-Jean Kamealoha, Nicole Kaumaea, Grace Ono, Elizabeth Ramirez, Dollyann Sione, Sonia Soriano, Jonina Tagalog, Ann Takeuchi, and Adele Marie Tangjian.

Natalie Ragmat, Judicial Clerk V, in the First Circuit (Ohau) Honolulu District Court, Legal Documents Branch 2, accepts the Certificate of Commendation Award from Associate Judge Derrick H.M. Chan (left) and Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald (right).

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