Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
William S. Richardson
William S. Richardson, formally William Shaw Richardson (born 1919) was the former Chief Justice of the Hawai'i State Supreme Court, serving in that capacity from 1966 to 1982. Previous to his service as the top jurist in Hawai'i, Richardson was lieutenant governor under John A. Burns. Before that, he was chairman of the Hawai'i Democratic Party from 1956 to 1962.
A native Hawaiian, Chinese American and of caucasian ancestry, Richardson termed himself "just a local boy from Hawai'i." Richardson graduated from Roosevelt High School and the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa . He earned his law degree from the University of Cincinnati. Richardson served in World War II with the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment.
William S. Richardson's tenure as chief justice irritated many but others proclaimed him a hero for native and local rights. He despised commercial overdevelopment, especially at the coastlines and beaches. Richardson's court expanded Native Hawaiian rights. He allowed the public to have rights to Hawai'i beaches. He ruled that land created by lava flows belonged to the state, not nearby property owners. Richardson is most famous for declaring, "The western concept of exclusivity is not universally applicable in Hawai'i." His most controversial decision came about in consideration of a case between two sugar plantations fighting over a water source. Richardson reached back into the judicial history of the Kingdom of Hawai'i and declared that the water belonged to neither of them but to the state.
Before his retirement from the bar, Richardson was memorialized with the naming of the state's only law school in his honor. The William S. Richardson School of Law was his crowning achievement, having fought for its establishment for decades. Richardson is still involved with the development of the law school.
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