Samuel Pailthorpe King

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Samuel Pailthorpe King
Samuel Pailthorpe King.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii
In office
June 28, 1972 – November 30, 1984
Appointed by Richard Nixon
Preceded by Cyrus Nils Tavares
Succeeded by David Alan Ezra
Personal details
Born (1916 -04-13)April 13, 1916
Hankow, China
Died December 7, 2010 (2010 -12-07) (aged 94)
Honolulu, Hawaii
Political party Republican

Samuel Pailthorpe King (April 13, 1916 – December 7, 2010) was an American lawyer and judge. Since 1972 he served as judge on the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii.


King was born April 13, 1916 in Hankow, China while his father was in the United States Navy. His grandfather was ship captain and politician James A. King (1832–1899). He lost his left eye as a child of about six. After the family returned to Hawaii, he attended and graduated from Punahou School. His mother was part Native Hawaiian Pauline Nawahineokalai Evans.[1] His father Samuel Wilder King (1886–1959), also part native Hawaiian, later became the delegate to US Congress of the Territory of Hawaii, and then Governor.[2] He attended Yale University where he received a B.S. in 1937 and Yale Law School, where he graduated with an LL.B. in 1940.[3]

He married Anne van Patten Grilk (born 1921) on July 8, 1944 in Boulder, Colorado. They had a son Samuel Pailthorpe King, Jr., and daughters Louise King Lanzilotti and Charlotte "Becky" King Stretch.[4]

Legal career[edit]

King started in private law practice Washington, DC in 1942. During World War II, he joined the United States Navy as a Japanese language translator from 1942 to 1946, and the Naval Reserve from 1946 to 1967. He returned to private practice of law in Honolulu, Hawaii from 1946 to 1961. He was a District magistrate for the City and County of Honolulu from 1956 to 1961. Governor William F. Quinn appointed him judge to the First Circuit Court of Hawaii from 1961 to 1970, and then a judge on the Family Court of Hawaii from 1966 to 1970.[5] In 1970 he resigned as a judge and ran as a Republican for governor of Hawaii, losing to incumbent John A. Burns.[3] He returned to private law practice from 1970 to 1972.

King was nominated by Richard M. Nixon on May 22, 1972 to a seat vacated by Cyrus Nils Tavares on the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on June 28, 1972, and received his commission on June 28, 1972. He served as chief judge from 1974. In 1975 he presided over the case that convicted suspected organized crime leader Wilford Kalaauala "Nappy" Pulawa for tax evasion. Although there were two judgeships authorized for the district, the other judge, Dick Yin Wong, died in 1978. King had to try all the cases except for occasional help from visiting mainland judges. Walter Meheula Heen was nominated in January 1981 via a recess appointment, but was not confirmed, so by the end of 1981 King was back to being the only judge. In 1983 King suffered temporary amnesia,[6] and retired to senior status on November 30, 1984.[5]

He continued to hear cases, including a murder trial depicted in the book And the Sea Will Tell that took place on remote Palmyra Atoll. The trial moved to California because of pre-trial publicity, and included defense lawyers Vincent Bugliosi and Leonard Weinglass.[7] He was well known as a mentor to many Hawaii lawyers and judges including U.S. District Judges David A. Ezra, Susan Oki Mollway, and J. Michael Seabright.

In 1997 he joined with other respected senior civic leaders to publish the essay "Broken Trust" in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper. Co-authors were Judge Walter Heen, Monsignor Charles Kekumano, educator Gladys Brandt, and William S. Richardson School of Law Professor Randall W. Roth. The investigation prompted by the report resulted in the reorganization of the Kamehameha Schools. He and Roth co-authored a book expanding the essay, published in 2006.[8]

On December 7, 2010, he died at Kuakini Medical Center from head injuries he received in a fall.[3] Adrienne King, married to his son Samuel Pailthorpe King, Jr. (both lawyers), ran for Lieutenant governor in 2010 but lost in the Republican primary.[9]



  1. ^ Hawaiʻi State Archives (2006). "Marriages: Oahu (1911-1929)". Ulukau, the Hawaiian Electronic Library. Retrieved December 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Transcript of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox" (PDF). PBS Hawaii. March 4, 2008. Retrieved December 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Gary T. Kubota; Ken Kobayashi (December 8, 2010). "'Great judge,' 'great man'". Honolulu Star Advertiser. Retrieved December 9, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Grilk, Anne van Patten (Mrs. Samuel P. King)" (PDF). The US Navy Japanese/Oriental Language School Archival Project: The Interpreter (142). University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries. December 1, 2009. Retrieved December 9, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Samuel Pailthorpe King at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.
  6. ^ Wallace Turner (April 6, 1982). "The Talk of Honolulu; Possible Sale of Waikiki Beach Site Rekindles Resentment against U.S.". New York Times. Retrieved December 10, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Isle judge was historic figure". Honolulu Star Advertiser. December 9, 2010. Retrieved December 9, 2010. 
  8. ^ Leila Fujimori (December 8, 2010). "King's influence vital to 'Broken Trust'". Honolulu Star Advertiser. Retrieved December 10, 2010. 
  9. ^ "About Adrienne". Adrienne King Lieutenant Governor web site. Retrieved December 9, 2010. 

Legal offices
Preceded by
Cyrus Nils Tavares
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii
Succeeded by
David Alan Ezra