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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, July 11, 2009

Obama nominates Nakakuni as U.S. attorney for Hawaii

By Jim Dooley
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Florence Nakakuni

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Longtime Hawai'i federal prosecutor Florence Nakakuni has been nominated by President Obama to serve as the first-ever female U.S. attorney here.

Nakakuni, 57, has been an assistant U.S. attorney in Hawai'i for 24 years and now serves as chief of the Drug and Organized Crime section of the office.

Her name will be forwarded by the White House for confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

"I'm honored and humbled by the president's announcement today," Nakakuni said yesterday.

And she thanked Hawai'i Sens. Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel Akaka "for their confidence in me" in submitting her name to the White House as a potential U.S. attorney for Hawai'i.

"I am very pleased with the White House selection of Florence Nakakuni," Inouye said yesterday through spokesman Peter Boylan.

"I have no doubts that her vast legal experience will serve us well," Inouye said. "Sen. Akaka and I will work toward a speedy Senate confirmation."

Nakakuni is the first career federal prosecutor in recent memory to be nominated to serve as U.S. attorney here. The outgoing U.S. attorney for Hawai'i, Edward Kubo, was a federal prosecutor when selected for the job by President George W. Bush in 2001, but had worked much of his career as a Honolulu deputy prosecutor.

Before joining the U.S. Attorney's Office, Nakakuni worked as a counsel at the Navy Office of General Counsel in Pearl Harbor and spent two years as an attorney-adviser in the Office of Information and Privacy Appeals at the Justice Department.

Nakakuni is a 1975 graduate of the University of Hawai'i and received her law degree from the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH in 1978.

Following law school, Nakakuni was a law clerk for Justice Thomas Ogata of the Supreme Court of Hawai'i.

Nakakuni's name was included in a group of names announced by Obama to serve as U.S. attorneys in different parts of the country.

"Through their dedication and accomplishments in both public service and private practice, these fine attorneys have distinguished themselves as some of the best and brightest their profession has to offer," the president said.

"I am honored to nominate them as United States attorneys and know that they will faithfully and tirelessly pursue justice on behalf of the American people."

Before the nomination, Nakakuni had been consistently mentioned as a contender for the job, along with former state legislator and defense attorney Thomas Waters.