JUDGE DOUGLAS MCNISH (RET.)
AREA OF EXPERTISEFamily/Matrimonial
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The Honorable Douglas S. McNish (Ret.)
Family Court of the Second Circuit
State of Hawaii
Judge Douglas S. McNish is a consultant for judicial programs and a professional mediator. From 1984 through 1999 he served as a family court judge in Maui County. His leadership on the bench resulted in the establishment of various court connected services, including a first-in-the-nation, mandatory-attendance education program for separating families; a multi-venue custody dispute mediation program with independent screening by court staff; and a facility for interviewing alleged victims of child maltreatment that is dedicated to improving the quality of the interviews and to increasing the justice system’s sensitivity to the needs of children.
After graduating from Willamette University (BA Political Science and Economics 1966, JD 1969), Judge McNish served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru. In 1973 he was a Law Clerk for Second Circuit Court Judge S. George Fukuoka. From 1974 until his appointment to the bench in 1984, he practiced law on Maui.
Judge McNish has been an active member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), an international association of judges, lawyers, and mental health professionals with a mission to improve the family court services that complement the judicial process. He served on the Board of Directors from 1989-1996, as president in 1994, and as a member of the Editorial Board of the Family and Conciliation Court Review from 1997 until 2001. He has been a member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), The American Bar Association Family Law Section, and the Hawaii State Bar Association.
While serving on the bench, Judge McNish convened and served on numerous committees, task forces, and inter-agency boards dealing with family violence. In March of 1995, he was one of ninety people invited by President Clinton to the White House for the signing ceremony of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
His work on education programs for separating parents dates from 1988 when he initiated a program on Maui called “They’re Still Our Children.” That program has been replicated throughout Hawaii and is currently known as “Kids First.” He proposed and helped draft both the authorizing legislation in 1987 and the legislation creating a dedicated source of funding for these programs in 1997. He envisioned and spearheaded the production of the award winning video, The Purple Family. In 1994 he served as co-chairperson of the ABA Family Law Section/AFCC Joint Task Force on Parent Education Programs.
Judge McNish was the primary writer of the Hawaii State Bench Book for Child Protective Services Cases, completed in May 2000 and a co-author of the HawaiiVolunteer Guardian Ad Litem Training Manual. He also authored A Guide To Maui Family Court For Separating Parents, September 1996, and The Judge Decides, Family Advocate, Vol. 18, No. 4, American Bar Association 1996.
He has served on many judicial improvement committees including the Plan Review Committee, whose responsibility it was to make specific recommendations to Chief Justice Moon for restructuring the judiciary. Currently he is in one of nine members of a panel established to review performance evaluations with individual trial judges. He is also a mediator for Hawaii’s Appellate Court Mediation Program.