Judges and justices are obliged to not permit personal financial interests influence their judgment. See Hawaii Revised Code of Judicial Conduct, Rule 2.4; HRS § 601-7(a). In most instances, a judge will voluntarily recuse from participating in a case when the judge’s interests or the interests of the judge’s immediate family might be affected. In other instances, a party may move to disqualify the judge. In rare instances, a "rule of necessity" will require a judge or a panel of judges or justices to hear a case in spite of a conflict of interest. See, e.g., Schwab v. Ariyoshi, 57 Haw. 348, 555 P.2d 1329 (1976).
To provide information by which a litigation party can determine whether to move to disqualify a judge for pecuniary conflict, and to provide information from which disciplinary authorities can determine whether a judge should have recused, Rule 15 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of the State of Hawaii (RSCH), requires full and part-time judges to publically disclose financial interests. The disclosures required by RSCH Rule 15 are like the disclosures required of certain Hawaii State executive and legislative officers and employees. See Hawaii Revised Statutes § 84-17(f).
To make the information readily available to litigation parties and the public, the Hawaii Supreme Court posts the disclosure statements of current judges and justices on the Hawaii Judiciary’s web page. Judges report financial amounts by letter codes as follows:
A - Less than $1,000
B - At least $1,000 but less than $10,000
C - At least $10,000 but less than $25,000
D - At least $25,000 but less than $50,000
E - At least $50,000 but less than $100,000
F - At least $100,000 but less than $150,000
G - At least $150,000 but less than $250,000
H - At least $250,000 but less than $500,000
I - At least $500,000 but less than $750,000
J - At least $750,000 but less than $1,000,000
K - $1,000,000 or more
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