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Senate Confirms Hawaii Attorney to Ninth Circuit

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Even though he's never been a judge, Mark Bennett will be one of the most experienced among his peers when he takes his seat on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

That's because Bennett will join the panel at the seasoned age of 65. He is the oldest Trump appointee, and older than 80 percent of Obama's appellate choices.

The Senate confirmed Bennett to take the place of Judge Richard Clifton, who was almost the same age as Bennett when he assumed senior status. So it was a seamless transition in more ways than one.

Hawaii Connection

Bennett, a Honolulu attorney, becomes only the third Hawaiian judge to sit on the Ninth Circuit. Clifton, also of Honolulu, was the second.

Long involved in Republican politics in Hawaii, Bennett served as the party's general counsel and supported candidates for governor and the Senate. He opposed Sen. Mazie Hirono, who later proposed that he fill the Ninth Circuit vacancy.

"I have every confidence that Mark will put his skills and experience to good use on the bench as a fair and impartial judge, beholden to nothing but the law and the Constitution," Hirono told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Bennett was confirmed 72-27, and will maintain chambers in Honolulu.

Prosecutor to Partner

After graduating from Cornell Law School in 1979, he clerked on the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. He later became a federal prosecutor, working in Washington, D.C. and Hawaii for about 10 years.

He went into private practice in 1990, and continued until he was named state attorney general in 2003. He served in that capacity until a change in administration in 2010.

Prior to his appointment to the Ninth Circuit, Bennett was director of Starn, O'Toole, Marcus & Fisher in Honolulu. He also served as a special deputy attorney for Hawaii and as special deputy corporate counsel for Honolulu.

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