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Judge Sam King’s papers, memorabilia are on display at special UH Law Library exhibit

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Nov 10, 2015

Sam King, second from left, during his years in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Sam King, second from left, during his years in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Memorabilia from Sam King's run for governor.
Memorabilia from Sam King's run for governor.

A unique historical archive covering items and papers from the life of the Honorable Samuel P. King, once a Hawai‘i gubernatorial candidate and a legendary state and federal judge, will be on display in the UH Law Library through December 14 during regular daily library hours.

The new archive is one of two involving federal judges now housed at the UH Law Library at 2525 Dole Street. The other archive includes collected papers of the Honorable Myron H. Bright of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

The William S. Richardson Law School Library is a natural repository for the personal and professional papers of significant Hawai‘i legal and political figures, notes Law Library Director and Associate Professor Victoria Szymczak. She is already planning further expansion in this area.

“Because of the very close legal community, personal archives have a special place in people's hearts and are viable research collections as well as historical collections,” she said.

With the papers of both King and Bright as the beginning, Szymczak envisions adding other collections that have historical significance.

King’s life alone spanned Hawai‘i’s pre-statehood and early statehood years through 2010, the year of his death. The archive reflects a leading citizen of Hawai’i with a multitude of interests, and includes such things as photos of him as a young World War ll Navy officer, copies of notebooks in which he recorded the 2,200 marriages he performed as a judge, and elaborate diagrams for "Go" strategies. King was an expert at the game and translated the seminal book on the subject from Japanese to English.

“Sam was born in China when his father was stationed on a U.S. gunboat on the Yangtze River,” says Szymczak. “There are even some pictures of him as a baby in China, and one very old photo of his grandmother.”

The archive begins in 1933 when King won an oratory award in his senior year at Punahou that included a free "reporting" trip to Europe.  It extends through his involvement in politics, his role as a pioneering state Family Court judge and his long history as a federal judge. He was involved as a judge in some of the thorniest issues of the time, including H-3 litigation, a mysterious Palmyra murder case, and even the legal maintenance of the habitat of an endangered native honey-creeper.

The King items on display, including a 1940/1950 era movie projector and camera equipment, are just a tiny portion of the thousands of items and documents donated by King’s widow, Anne, and her family, to the UH Law Library. The gift also included Judge King’s extensive law library.

Said Law Dean Avi Soifer, “Many of us greatly admired Judge King and it has been a treat to get to know the King family better as we arranged for this wonderfully generous gift to the Law School.”  Law Professor Randall Roth, an authority on trust law and a close friend of the King family, was instrumental in having the King collection reside at the UH Law Library.

Both Roth and King were involved in developing a document known as “Broken Trust” that helped bring to light some of the questionable operations of the former Bishop Estate in the late 1990s. Its publication played a key role in a change of trustees and a renewal of the mission of what is now known simply as Kamehameha Schools.

Memorabilia from the King archive, which will not be fully available to the public for research purposes until a year from now, are displayed in four cases near the library entrance.

Fall hours for the UH Law Library are Sundays to Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m, and Fridays and Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Closed on state holidays.

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