HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii State Judiciary announced the passing of former Chief Justice Ronald Moon, 81, of the Hawaii State Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald said Justice Moon was a visionary leader and a trailblazer in the legal profession.

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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. Under his leadership, the Supreme Court decided landmark cases ranging from same sex marriage, to protecting native Hawaiian rights and the environment.  He also worked tirelessly to make the judiciary more effective and accessible, and shaped us into the institution we are today.”


According to the Hawaii State Judiciary, 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.

The Hawaii State Judiciary said before serving in the Supreme Court he 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.

Justice Recktenwald said Justice Moon’s father’s quote: “Public service is the rent one pays for occupying the space here on earth,” is the reason Moon puts his “heart and soul into the judiciary.”

“He was an incredible role model, a friend, and a mentor, and always supported me in any way possible.  He genuinely cared about every employee in the judiciary and would stop to talk stories and ask how they were doing or share a joke. On behalf of the entire Hawaii judiciary ohana, I send our aloha and deepest sympathy to CJ’s wife Mariko and his children and grandchildren,” Chief Justice Recktenwald said.     

Justice Moon’s legacy includes innovative programs which continue to this day, including drug court, mental health court, and girls court programs and a certification program for court interpreters.

He was also known for working with the legislature to provide funds for new courthouses.

The state judiciary said the Kapolei family court complex which was opened in 2010 bears Justice Moon’s name.

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