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Richard Clifton, center, awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by law school Dean Avi Soifer and UH Mānoa Interim Chancellor David Lassner.

Richard Clifton, a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Hawaiʻi Board of Regents during UH Mānoa’s spring commencement on May 14. The degree recognizes Clifton’s distinguished public service as an outstanding jurist, exemplifying the highest ideals of professionalism, integrity and commitment to the well-being of the people of Hawaiʻi and beyond.

Clifton was nominated by President George W. Bush in June 2001 and was confirmed by a unanimous vote of the Senate in July 2002. He assumed office on August 5, 2002. Clifton is the second Hawaiʻi resident appointed to serve on the 9th Circuit Court.

After graduating from Princeton University and Yale Law School, he served as a law clerk for Judge Herbert Y.C. Choy, the first Hawaiʻi resident to serve on the Ninth Circuit, and then practiced law in Honolulu for 25 years.

He has taught as an adjunct professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law intermittently since 1979 and has served as an acting associate justice of the Appellate Division of the High Court of American Samoa.

Clifton is the chairman of the Judicial Conference of the United States Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction, secretary of the Federal Judges Association, a director of the Hawaiʻi Women’s Legal Foundation, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society, and the Hawaiʻi chapter of the American Judicature Society, and a member of the Ninth Circuit Pacific Islands Committee, the American Law Institute and the Pacific Judicial Conference.

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