Former Hawaii Chief Justice Ronald Moon passed away Monday evening at age 81.

“The judiciary has lost a legend. Chief Justice Moon was a visionary leader and trailblazer in the legal profession,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald in a press release. “But he never forgot his roots growing up in Wahiawa, and wanted every person to be treated fairly and with respect when they came into our courtrooms.”

Chief Justice Ronald Moon_Head shot
Chief Justice Ronald Moon. Submitted

Recktenwald credited Moon’s court for deciding landmark cases ranging from same sex marriage to protecting native Hawaiian rights and the environment.

As well, under his watch the judiciary started programs which continue to this day including drug court, mental health court, and girls court programs, and a certification program for court interpreters

“He also worked tirelessly to make the judiciary more effective and accessible, and shaped us into the institution we are today,” he added.

Moon served as chief justice for more than 17 years before retiring in 2010. He was the first Korean American to become the chief justice of a state supreme court.

Before that, according to the Hawaii Judiciary, Moon served as a circuit court judge and then an associate justice of the supreme court for a total of 28 years of service on the bench.

In a statement Gov. David Ige said, “What I will remember about Chief Justice Moon, however, is his sense of humor and his lighter side, in addition to the very serious work he accomplished. I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and former colleagues.”

An Important Note

If you consider nonprofit, independent news to be an essential service that helps keep our community informed, please include Civil Beat among your year-end contributions.

And for those who can, consider supporting us with a monthly gift, which helps keep our content free for those who need it most.

This year, we are making it our goal to raise $225,000 in reader support by December 31, to support our news coverage statewide and throughout the Pacific. Are you ready to help us continue this work?

About the Author