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Hawai`i Legal History: Cases

A guide to materials that were formative in the legal history of Hawaii.

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Kamehameha III (1814-1854) promulgated Hawaii's first constitution in 1840, which established the first chief judge of the Supreme Court, a position Kamehameha III then filled. He decided on a new land division in 1848, which became known as the Great Mahele.

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Chief Justices of the Hawaii Supreme Court

Chief Justices

    1.  Kamehameha III 1840-1848

    2.  William Little Lee 1848-1857 (Died in office.)

  • Acting - George M. Robertson 1855-1856

    3.  Elisha Hunt Allen 1857-1877 (Resigned.)

    4.  Charles Coffin Harris 1877-1881 (Died in office.)

    5.  Albert Francis Judd 1881-1900 (Died in office.)

    6.  Walter F. Frear 1900-1907 (Resigned.)

    7.  Alfred S. Hartwell 1907-1911

    8.  Alexander G.M. Robinson 1911-1918

    9.  James Leslie Coke 1918-1922 (first term)

   10.  Emil C. Peters 1922-1925

   11.  Antonio Perry 1926-1934

   12.  James Leslie Coke 1935-1941 (second term)

   13.  Samuel B. Kemp 1941-1950

   14.  Edward Armstrong Towse 1951-1956

   15.  Philip L. Rice 1956-1959

   16.  Wilfred Chomatsu Tsukiyama 1959-1965

   17.  William S. Richardson 1966-1982

   18. Herman T.F. Lum 1982-1993

   19.  Ronald T.Y. Moon 1993-2010

   20.  Mark E. Recktenwald 2010-

Case Citation

Cases prior to 1847 were published in The Polynesian, a government owned newspaper.  It has been digitized (1844-1864) at the Library of Congress' website Chronicling America.  URL:  http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn82015408/issues/  

Kingdom Cases 1847-1893 (Haw. King 1847-Jan. 16, 1893)

  • Hawaiian Reports (Haw.) (Vols. 1-8)                        1847-1893
  • Citation exampleCase Name, 1 Haw. 1 (Haw. King. 1847).

Provisional Government 1893-1894 (Haw. Prov. Gov.)
(Jan. 17, 1893-July 3, 1894)

  • Hawaiian Reports (Haw.) (Vol. 9)                              1893-1894
  • Citation example: Case Name, 9 Haw. 1 (Haw. Prov. Gov. 1893).

Republic of Hawaii 1894-1898 (Haw. Rep.)
(July 4, 1894-July 6, 1898)

  • Hawaiian Reports (Haw.) (Vols. 9-12)                     1894-1898
  • Citation example: Case Name, 10 Haw. 1 (Haw. Rep. 1894).

Territory of Hawaii 1898-1959 (Haw. Terr.)
(July 7, 1898-Aug. 20, 1959)

  • Hawaiian Reports (Haw.) (Vols. 13-19)                   1898-1919
  • Citation example: Case Name, 13 Haw. 1 (Haw. Terr. 1898).
  • Hawai'i Reports (Haw.) (Vols. 20-43)                       1920-1959  
  • Citation example: Case Name, 20 Haw. 1 (Haw. Terr. 1920).

Supreme Court 1959-date (Haw.): Cite to P.2d or P.3d, if therein. 
(Aug. 21, 1959-date)

  • Pacific Reporter (P.2d; P.3d)                                        1959-date
    (begins 352 P.2d 329)
  • Citation example: Case Name, 352 P.2d 329 (Haw. 1959).
  • West’s Hawaiʻi Reports (Haw.) (Vols 76-date)         1994-date
    (begins vol. 76)
  • Citation example: Case Name, 76 Haw. 1 (Haw. 1994).
  • Hawaiʻi Reports (Haw.) (Vols. 44-75)                         1959-1994
    (begins vol. 44)
  • Citation exampleCase Name, 44 Haw. 1 (Haw. 1959).

Intermediate Court of Appeals (Haw. Ct. App.): Cite to P.2d or P.3d, if therein.
(May 6, 1980-date)  Note: The Intermediate Court of Appeals (sometimes abbreviated I.C.A.) began May 6, 1980.  For the next 14 years this court had its own reporter, Hawaiʻi Appellate Reports (Haw. App.).  On Sept. 19, 1994, the Intermediate Court of Appeals began reporting all of its decisions in West's Hawaiʻi Reports and the Pacific Reporter.

  • Pacific Reporter (P.2d, P.3d)                                             1980-date
    (begins 611 P.2d 117)
  • Citation exampleCase Name, 611 P.2d 117 (Haw. Ct. App. 1980).
  • West’s Hawaiʻi Reports (Haw.)                                       1994-date
    (begins vol. 76)
  • Citation exampleCase Name, 76 Haw. 1 (Haw. Ct. App. 1994).
  • Hawaiʻi Appellate Reports (Haw. App.)                      1980-1994
    (Vols. 1-10) (May 6, 1980-Sept. 19, 1994)
  • Citation exampleCase Name, 1 Haw. App. 1 (Haw. Ct. App. 1980).

CURRENT Statutory Compilations: Cite to Haw. Rev. Stat., if therein.  When citing a statute online, use Bluebook R. 18.3.2 to create the parenthetical.

  • Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes in print                         Haw. Rev. Stat. § x-x (<year>)
    (1968-date)
    Although it does not say it in the title, this, the official statutory compilation, is annotated.
  • Michie’s Hawaiʻi Revised in print
    Statutes Annotated (LexisNexis)             Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § x-x (LexisNexis <year>)
  • Citation to Lexis Advance:  Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § x-x (Lexis Advance through <R18.3.2 language>).
  • West’s Hawaiʻi Revised in print
    Statutes Annotated                                     Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § x-x (West <year>)
  • Citation to WestlawNext:  Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § x-x (WestlawNext through <R18.3.2 language>).

Note:  The Bluebook, Table 1.3 for Hawaiʻi does not take into consideration the historical materials prior to statehood in 1959.  Local courts, however, prefer to use the various historical governments in their citations to cases during those times.  Given that numerous researchers and writers continue to use documents from pre-statehood, the Hawaiian jurisdiction needs substantial revision before the next edition of The Bluebook is published.  Also, the statutory compilation by West did not include “Ann.” in its abbreviation, which seemed to be not in keeping with other unofficial codes in other jurisdictions and was most likely an oversight by the Editors of the 19th edition of The Bluebook. – Roberta F. Woods, J.D., Reference & Instructional Services Librarian, William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.  Sept. 14, 2012.