Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | A Japanese American Judge for Denver: Mayor Hickenlooper and Kerry Hada’s swearing-in
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A Japanese American Judge for Denver: Mayor Hickenlooper and Kerry Hada’s swearing-in

Japanese Consul General Kazuaki Kubo, Denver District Court Judge Kerry Hada and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.
Consul General of Japan in Colorado, Kazuaki Kubo, left, and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, right, congratulate Judge Kerry Hada on his appointment at a ceremony on Dec. 3.

When Denver County Court Judge Melvin Okamoto announced earlier this year that he was retiring after two decades on the bench, the legal community offered up a handful of qualified candidates to take Okamoto’s place. Of those, three top candidates were interviewed by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and Colorado native Kerry Hada, an attorney who went to Wheat Ridge High School, served as an Army Ranger in the last years of the Vietnam War, ranked nationally as a skier while attending CU, and got his law degree from DU, was chosen for the position.

Hada deserves the honor, because he’s a mainstay of the legal community and the Asian American Pacific Islander community. That community support was obvious last night.

As Hickenlooper looked out over the hundreds of people gathered in the lobby of the city’s Wellington Webb building last night, he remarked that he’d never seen such a huge crowd for the swearing-in of any official appointment since he became mayor. He joked that everyone in the room probably sent at least two letters to his office recommending Hada; Kerry himself noted that he would not have received the nod this time (he’s tried for a couple of judgeships before, including one a couple of years ago with Hickenlooper) without the support from the community.

People from every segment of Kerry’s life and work, including friends, family, military friends, folks from the local legal community and many representatives of the local Japanese American and Asian American communities were there to congratulate him. The Consul General of Japan, Kazuaki Kubo, and his wife also both attended.

Hizzoner and Kerry both gave props to Okamoto, himself a damned nice guy, who waved happily from the side of the room. It’s purely coincidental that the Mayor chose a JA to replace another JA, but I’m glad — and proud — that he did.