Thanksgiving with Judge Pence

My dad, Guido Giacometti, tells one of my favorite stories about Penny.? I wish I had been there:

In 1995 my wife Susan and I were invited to share Thanksgiving dinner with the Pence family and a few friends.? The dinner was at Merriman’s Restaurant in Kamuela, Hawaii, an establishment seating 60 or so guests.? Our party numbered a dozen and took two tables in the center of the dining room.? The place was full, and all were engaged in loud conversations.

Eleanor Pence, a delightful wife with great imagination and humor, handed the Judge a rolled up scroll, which was purported to be the first Thanksgiving Proclamation by Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Plantation in 1620.? (My research indicates various facts which may not be completely accurate.)? At her request, Pence stood up, cleared his throat, and began to recite, as if he were Governor Bradford.

Pence had a wonderfully deep, powerful voice.? The entire restaurant went silent.? Wait help stood still and the cooks came from the kitchen to listen.? At his finish, there was heavy applause, and strangers came up to thank him and ask for an autograph. I believe that he signed as “Gov. Bradford”.?

It was a high point in a fine evening with the Judge.

Here is the proclamation:

Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, squashes and garden vegetables, and made the forest to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from the pestilence and granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience, now I, your magistrate do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of nine and twelve in the daytime on Thursday, November ye 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Plymouth Rock, there to listen to ye Pastor and render Thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all his blessings.

Rendering a Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tavares was First

Robert “Buzz” Hines (former Pence clerk, now with Farella Braun + Martel) reminded me of something I now vaguely remember:

Of course, Judge Pence should have been the first judge appointed, but President Eisenhower appointed Judge Tavares — — before President Kennedy took office. So, Judge Pence was in fact the first Kennedy appointee, and the second federal judge in the state.

According to the Wikipedia link above, Tavares received a recess appointment on October 13, 1960.? He was formally nominated on January 1, 1961 and confirmed by the Senate on September 21, 1961.? Judge Pence was nominated on September 14, 1961 and also confirmed by the Senate on September 21, 1961.? Both Tavares and Pence received their commission the following day.???

The upshot, I vaguely recall, is that Judge Pence had seniority by virtue of the timing of the confirmation votes.??If you know, please contact me.

Fortunately, Buzz didn’t always work through lunchtime:?

my co-clerk and I were regaled with stories at lunch in the federal cafeteria (Monday – Wed. usually; Judge Pence had a lunch group he went out with on Thursday’s, and Friday’s he did not come in by the time I clerked for him ’85 – ’86).? The start of many a story went, “Boys, back then, Hilo was a wide-open town! ” (recall he moved to Honolulu in 1930 or so, and then moved to the big island about a year later (campaigning in the sugar cane fields with slogans like, “don’t let your pence down”)

As for his clerkship:

probably among the best experiences of my life, and it has certainly shaped my career and more important shaped me as a person and a lawyer.

Thanks, Buzz

Posted in Appointment | Leave a comment

Yes, 1961!

Thank you to those of you who have alerted me to an incorrect date in the header.? Judge Pence was appointed to the federal bench in 1961, not 1974 –?the year he went to senior status (is there a better way to say that?).? I would like to say that I intentionally?put in the wrong date to test you.? But the truth is that (me not being particularly tech-savvy) I?asked a friend to photoshop the dates into?the picture and was so happy with the results that I didn’t notice that I had given him the incorrect date.? A fix is in the works.? Thanks for the responses.? I look forward to receiving more material to post.? ~TG

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

90th Birthday

Suzy Hemmings, one of Judge Pence’s stepdaughters, forwarded the program from his 90th birthday celebration.? It includes a page of?pictures, a Corky cartoon, a personal history and a list of his noteworthy rulings:? Pence – Photos for 90th bday, Pence – Corky cartoon, Pence – Personal History, Pence – Noteworthy Rulings.? Thank you, Suzy.

Query for the lawyers:? should his 1986 ruling in Okada v. MGIC be on that list?

Posted in Cases, History | Leave a comment


This is a new website dedicated to collecting information and stories about Judge Martin Pence, Federal District Court Judge of the District of Hawaii.? If you wish to contribute information or stories, please contact me at

Posted in History | Leave a comment