Retired appellate chief judge, late law professor to be honored

William Richardson School of Law
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William Richardson School of Law

Retired Intermediate Court of Appeals Chief Judge James “Jim” S. Burns and Jon M. Van Dyke, the esteemed late UH law professor, will be honored along with Hawai‘i Supreme Court Associate Justice Simeon Acoba at a fundraising dinner November 1, when the American Judicature Society Hawai‘i Chapter recognizes their outstanding contributions to the justice system.

Burns will receive the chapter’s Lifetime Achievement Award that recognizes his career-long contributions to improving the justice system in the state, as well as serving as an inspiration to many others.


Van Dyke, who passed away two years ago, will be posthumously honored with the national Herbert Harley Award. This award, named for the society’s founder, is the premier state award that can be bestowed on individuals who make outstanding efforts and contributions to improve the administration of justice in their states.

Acoba is also being presented with a national award – the Ninth Annual Dwight D. Opperman Award for Judicial Excellence. In his nomination letter, Hawai‘i Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald said, “Justice Acoba has been a sitting judge in Hawai‘i state courts for nearly 35 years, and has served at every level of the state court system . . . His extensive judicial experience, commitment to public service, and leadership in the area of access to justice makes him an excellent candidate for this award.”

Both Van Dyke and Burns have deep connections to the William S. Richardson School of Law. Van Dyke served most of his career as a professor at the UH Law School, becoming a recognized international authority on the Law of the Sea and international human rights law, as well as Native Hawaiian law. Burns has been associated with the Law School for years as a mentor for law students who often seek him out because of his wealth of knowledge of and experience in Hawai‘i’s judicial system.

Law Dean Avi Soifer applauded the society for its recognition of all three men and their innumerable contributions to improving the quality of life for Hawai‘i’s people.  “These exceptional individuals truly have made a huge difference within our state and beyond our shores. It is striking that such different personalities have combined to advance the search for justice and to improve our legal system in diverse but ultimately very consistent ways.”

The event, to be held Friday, November 1, 2013, at the Waialae Country Club, starts at 5:30 p.m. with no-host cocktails, to be followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m.

The banquet is co-chaired by Ivan M. Lui-Kwan, National Board Member of AJS, and Russell J. Lau, AJS Hawai‘i Chapter treasurer. For ticket information, email or call (808) 537-6100.