judge

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAIʻI
Assisted Community Treatment

 

Additions to an existing law are designed to make it easier for state judges to order homeless people with mental illness into treatment. How does the law work, and does it protect civil liberties? Join the discussion on Assisted Community Treatment on INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAIʻI. You can phone in, or leave us a comment on Facebook or Twitter. INSIGHTS is also streamed live on pbshawaii.org and PBS Hawaiʻi’s Facebook page.

 

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462-5000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.

 

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LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Courage in Captivity: Three POWs’ Stories

 

Revisit stories from Bill Paty, Frank Padgett and Jerry Coffee and their harrowing experiences as prisoners of war.

 

Bill Paty, who served as Director of the Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources, landed in German hands in Normandy, right before the D-Day Invasion.

 

On the other side of the world, retired Associate Justice Judge Frank Padgett parachuted into enemy territory during World War II and was held prisoner for eight months by the Japanese military.

 

Navy Captain Jerry Coffee spent seven years in captivity in North Vietnam.

 

These three stories of fortitude and faith are a testament to the strength of the human spirit and dedication to one’s country, even in the darkest of times.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 4:00 pm and 11:30 pm.

 

Courage in Captivity: Three POWs’ Stories Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

I became a POW, and that was a very humbling, frustrating experience for me. One of the worst things that could have happened, that I was taken out of combat while the great men I’d been training with all this time, and they’d go on into combat without me. And I never got over that for many, many years.

 

You didn’t want to be in a Japanese military prison. So, you know, you lose weight very quickly when you’ve got maybe dysentery, and malaria, and beriberi. Beriberi … the water accumulates in your lower extremities; they swell up. You can take your thumb and put it in, and see a puka. You know. You can’t walk very far. But then again, I wasn’t doing any walking. I couldn’t walk at all; I was in the damn cell.

 

My prayers changed from, Why me, to Show me. I quit saying, Why me, God, and I started saying, Show me, God. How can I use this positively? Help me to use it to go home as a better, stronger, smarter man in every possible way that I can. To go home as a better naval officer, go home as a better American, a better citizen, a better Navy pilot, a better Christian. Every possible way, God, help me to use this time productively so that it won’t be some kind of a void or vacuum in my life. And after that change in my prayers, every single day took a new meaning.

 

Former State Land Director William Paty, retired Hawai‘i Supreme Court Associate Justice Frank Padgett, and retired U.S. Navy Captain Jerry Coffee all survived ordeals as prisoners of war. On this compilation edition of Long Story Short, we look back at these previous Long Story Short guests and see how they never really stopped believing that they would come home alive. Courage in Captivity, next on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawai‘i’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. While prisoners of war may be valuable commodities to their captors, that does not mean they’ll be well treated or survive. Sir Winston Churchill observed that courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because it is the quality which guarantees all others. This can mostly certainly be said about three Long Story Short guests. We begin with William Woods Paty, Jr., better known as Bill. In 1945, he left college to join the Army and become a paratrooper. He soon found himself on the ground in Normandy, France on D-Day, fighting in one of the most famous battles of World War II.

 

We dropped six miles further inland than we were supposed to. And then, on top of that, we dropped right on top of a German parachute regiment that had been training right in that area. Yeah; it wasn’t a comfortable landing. Yeah.

 

What happened when you landed?

 

Well … I ran into a French milkmaid early on. And some of you heard that story. D-Day morning, all this firing is going on, we’ve had skirmishes all night long from midnight. And you could hear the big shells from the Navy cruisers offshore coming in. The Spitfires and all were all over the place. She’s milking a cow in the middle of the hedgerow. And I walk over. I told my sergeant. . . We didn’t know exactly where they were, where the Germans were, and I go to give them my best Punahou French. Which is supposed to mean, Where are the Germans around here? She doesn’t say anything; she milks the cow. But she moved her head like this, and I look, and there’s a German patrol coming down the road just above us. So, I jump up, and jump back over the hedgerow. But I think I told my sergeant that I’m gonna get us a date tonight. I said, Captain, you didn’t do too good, did you?

 

Have a date with a German regiment.

 

Yeah. And I became a POW, and that was a very humbling, frustrating experience for me. One of the worst things that could have happened, that I was taken out of combat while the great men I’d been training with all this time, and they’d go on into combat without me. I never got over that for many, many years.

 

What were conditions like for you as a POW?

 

Nothing’s good about being a POW. The Germans, in terms of handling their officers, POWs, were more lenient than they were with the enlisted. By and large, if they went hungry, we went hungry. But it could have been worse. I think the worst part was being transported in forty box cars. Forty box cars, all jammed in together. And then, they shipped us up across France and into Germany. And every time we were at a marshland yard, they changed engines. And then the Spitfires or the B47s would come down, and the sirens would go off, and there you are locked in this boxcar. That got to be a little wearing.

 

Did you worry that they’d kill you, as a POW? Or torture you?

 

No, we didn’t get any treatment like that. But if you tried to get away, they don’t get very happy about that.

 

You tried to get away.

 

Yeah.

 

What’d you try?

 

Well, first of all, coming down, actually, I was wounded. They put me in an ambulance, and the Spitfires came down and shot up the buses we were in, the wounded. And so, the Germans would jump out and get in a ditch. If you tried to get out of the bus, you’d get shot. If you stayed there, you’d get strafed. So, in the process, the bus caught fire, and I scrambled out somehow. I was ambulatory, and got away, and got to a French farmer. And they took me up and they put me way up in their little attic they had up there. But they were gonna get the French Resistance guys to come in and help take me out. But as it turned out, the German artillery unit came in there and set it up as a command post, and they searched the place, and there I was. So that wasn’t too bad; they put me back into the bus.

 

They didn’t discipline you?

 

No. No, not then. They were too busy doing that. After that, the second time was kind of a bad one.

 

What happened the second time you tried to get away?

 

Well, the second time I got out was on a discharge from the German hospital. And they had a compound there, and they had the barbed wire around the walls.

 

And what had you been treated for?

 

I had a Smizer bullet in my groin. It’s still there, by the way. And they never took it out. But be that as it may, we wanted to try to see if we could get out. And I guess there were several dozen, fifty or sixty were in the compound that had been pulled together. We had an idea that four of us would get out and make a break for it. And well, when the time came, there were only two of us, an Englishman and myself. So, we went out with blankets at night, and they had the watchtower, but the lights didn’t go on all the time. We threw the blankets over, climbed over the barbed wire, got down the and over the next one. And it gets kinda touchy there, because you’re not sure if the lights are gonna come on, they’re gonna use the machine guns. So we got over, and it was getting close to dawn by then.

 

Were you cut up by the barbed wire?

 

We had gloves we had gotten, and we also had blankets, so they were not too bad. So we hightailed it off across the field. And I guess after we’d gone a few miles, we decided we’d better try to hole up. And so, we holed up in a cowshed, and again, a French lady came by, and we gave her our best, charming Punahou French again. She said, No, wait, wait, wait. She comes back with four Germans and two police dogs.

 

So far, that Punahou French …

 

Didn’t work out too well. But we got solitary time for that, you know.

 

But solitary was the worst of it?

 

Solitary—no, they didn’t try. The Geneva Convention was observed quite well by them. But we got bread and water, and no lights. Gives you a lesson. Yeah.

 

Bill Paty didn’t give up trying to escape, and on his third try, he succeeded and made his way safely back home. On the other side of the world, Frank Padgett, a U.S. Air Force pilot, was captured and held prisoner for eight months by the Japanese military police. After losing an engine to enemy fire, he and his crew had to bail out. He was twenty-one years old.

 

When we bailed out, we weren’t sure where we were, because the navigator, when we were on the deck, he hadn’t take times and stuff because the engine was wind-milling, that propeller, he couldn’t use his instruments. So, we didn’t know where we were. Turned out, we were northwest of Hanoi.

 

So, did you fall into friendly hands at first, or not?

 

No. Well, yes and no. I was trying to walk out to China. You know, I didn’t know what the hell to do. We didn’t know that the French were alerted. The French had a thing that when they found an American plane was down, they’d go and walk up and down the roads whistling Tipperary. Nobody ever told us that.

 

That was a sign that there was a friendly person.

 

Yeah, yeah.

 

Come show yourself.

 

Okay; okay.

 

Did you hear Tipperary, and not respond?

 

No. No; no, I didn’t. About the second day, I was walking on a pathway between rice, and I looked, and there were all these Vietnamese following me. So, I stopped, and I spoke enough French, and they spoke enough, so that they asked me if I was hungry, and I went back to their village and they fed me. And the Japanese arrived, and I tried to run out of the village. I got outside, but it was surrounded. Fortunately, I’d laid down my pistol while I was resting, and I didn’t have it, so I didn’t try to shoot it. That’s why I lived.

 

You can laugh about it now. You not only got captured by the Japanese, but you were put in the control of the Nazi gestapo equivalent of the Japanese forces.

 

Yeah. That’s the Kempeitai. The Kempeitai was a combination of military police and gestapo, which is kind of a bad combination. Fortunately, the jail in Chalon was really military police, and the jail downtown was regular Kempeitai. That’s where you’ll see the name Nix and the other name in July of ’45. And in the French prison camp, B-24s from the 7th Air Force raided Saigon. A plane got hit; you could see it. You know, you’re out in a trench watching your American plane go over, and listening to the bombs whistle. You know, they whistle when they come down. Anyway, these two guys bailed out, and the Kempeitai got them, and they cut their heads off.

 

And I’m being treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. They beat you, and you’re back in the cell. And you know they’re coming back, and they’re gonna do it again. And it really bothers you, you know. And then, they take you out, and they take you back, and the first time they hit you … that’s it. They’ve done it, and you know they’re gonna hit you some more. That’s it; that’s it. There’s nothing you can do about it.

 

I was really intrigued by this quote in your book, with your son. It’s from an unknown person. But it says: To a prisoner of war, the enemy is everywhere; he controls your fate, your future, even your bodily functions. You’re at war at every second. You’re never given leave, and you can never leave the combat zone. Is that what it felt like?

 

Well, in a Kempeitai jail, yes.

 

You’re always on alert.

 

Well … yeah. It was a little different. They were starving us to death; okay? We wore a breech cloth, we had a blanket. The tatami pillow on it, had a six-by-eight cell, the lights were always on. They came and stared through the thing. But, you know, human beings are human beings. One of the guards was from a dairy farm in Japan, and the only thing he was interested in was getting back to Japan. So, they would come and talk to you, and they weren’t supposed to in that jail. They were not supposed to, but they did anyway.

 

So, that was a nice bit of humanity you could share. I notice when you talk about being a prisoner of war, as awful as it was, you laugh. Did you have that sense of humor when you were there?

 

Yeah. Yeah.

 

Kind of a dark humor?

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

But I think that might be resilience, too.

 

Well, probably. But, you know, what are you gonna do? You can’t do anything about the circumstances, so you know, try to see if you can find anything good, okay; you know. There wasn’t in that jail. The best thing that happened was, every two or three days, you got to carry the chamber pot out and dump it in the sewer.

 

That was your excursion; right?

 

Yeah.

 

Now, you had become a Catholic when you were thirteen or fourteen. Did that faith kick in, or was that helpful to you at this time?

 

I said the Hail Mary; I said the Rosary on my knuckles every day, and I prayed that I’d get released. God apparently moves at His own speed; it took a while.

 

Frank Padgett was released from prison and sent back home when the war ended. He later served as a justice in Hawai‘i’s highest court. Just over twenty years later, the United States was involved in another overseas war, this time in Vietnam. Navy Captain Gerald Coffee, better known as Jerry Coffee, also was a pilot. He spent seven years and nine days in a North Vietnamese prison after his plane was shot down.

 

I had to eject at a very, very high speed, and the airplane was totally out of control, rolling rapidly. So, when I pulled the face curtain, it was about six hundred and eighty miles per hour. And you can kind of imagine the impact hitting the airstream at six-eighty. I say, you know, it was like going down H-1 in your convertible with the top down and standing up in the front seat. At six hundred miles an hour. And I was knocked unconscious immediately, but regained consciousness floating in the water. And already, some small Vietnamese boats and militia men, and army guys were there, and I was captured immediately. Right after I was captured, some airplanes from the Kitty Hawk, the carrier that I was operating from, showed up and they see the boats there, and they see my life preserver and the dye marker out here, and they think the boats are still on the way out to pick me up. And so, they figured, well, if they strafed the boats, they won’t be able to get me. But they didn’t know I was already in the boat. So, these two A-1 aircrafts strafed the boats that we were in, and I’m watching the bullets whack at the side of the boat. The Vietnamese stood up in the boats and returned their fire with their own weapons. And we got to the beach finally, and jumped out and ran across the wide sandy beach and dove behind a rice paddy dike to take cover just about the same time that an A-4 Skyhawk from the Kitty Hawk rolled in and fired a pack of rockets, which blew all those beach boats to splinters. That was my introduction to North Vietnam. Sometime in that battle, my crewman was killed. He was my navigator, and I never saw him again, and kept asking all through the prison experience, you know, about him. Have you seen him? Have you seen my crewman? And nobody ever had. And his remains were returned here through Hickam in the late 80s, as a matter of fact. And I found myself a prisoner of war, a POW. And it takes a while to, we used to say, get to know the ropes. But the ropes were how they tortured us.

 

Yeah. You know, I think people are very interested in the torture part, ‘cause we all think, Could we have withstood that? What would that be like? I mean, just the mental agony of never knowing when it was gonna happen, or what it was gonna entail. And early on, there’s this really vivid scene that you describe in your book, where you were with your broken arm and, I think, a shattered elbow, you were tied up with your arms in back.

 

That’s right; to a tree. Yeah.

 

And to a tree, and essentially, you became a game of tetherball to some Vietnamese on the ground.

 

Yes; exactly. The tree was on a hill, and the guards kept pushing me downhill, and all the weight was on my arms. I was tied to an upper branch of the tree. And I was so naïve. I mean, I was a professional naval officer, military officer, and I didn’t even realize, it didn’t really register to me that I was being brutally tortured at the time. It wasn’t until I had a chance to kinda catch my breath, and laying on a stack of hay in this stable, which was in this little village in Central North Vietnam, and I just realized, Oh, god, I’ve just been tortured.

 

Well, you mentioned that at one point, your broken arm was sort of encased in inflammation, swelling which acted like a sort of cast.

 

It was.

 

It was an untreated broken arm.

 

It was an untreated broken arm. And my hand swelled up, and I couldn’t get the red hot ring I was wearing on my finger off. So, they put me in interrogation one night, and sliced my finger open, and pulled the ring off, squeezed the blood in the lymph out. And then the next night, they took me to a military hospital and set my arm, and all the swelling went down. And they could have just taken the ring off. And they did a reasonably good job on my arm. That’s about as good as they did for their own people. But they wanted to keep us in presentable shape, at least, to be propaganda vehicles.

 

You had to be so strong, though. I mean, you were in this tiny little cell. It was just filthy, and unsanitary, and you never knew when you were gonna get called into the next session.

 

Exactly. And as you described that cell, everything that happened to you got infected because of the environment in which we were living.

 

An infection could have killed you.

 

Yeah; it could have, and did kill some men.

 

The toilet was a bucket without a cover.

 

A bucket right there; yeah.

 

In this very small space.

 

Right; right.

 

And you exercised in that tiny little space.

 

Right.

 

How many miles a day did you walk, at three steps at a time.

 

Three miles day, three steps at a time. One of the first things you do when you’re moved into a cell—and the cells did vary sometimes in size. But you’d walk it off and see how many laps it had to be for a mile. And you’d go get your exercise, and you’d do pushups on on those concrete bunks, and stay in as good a shape as possible. ‘Cause you never knew what the next day was gonna require. In some cases, guys were forced to march northward towards the Chinese border to a new prison. They weren’t hauled up there by trucks; they had to march. And images of the March of Corregidor in World War II in the Philippines comes to mind, where if you fell behind, you got killed. And so, we’d try to stay in as good a physical shape as possible.

 

What are some of the attributes that you think made each of those who survived, and later did well in life; what were of the common attributes that you all shared?

 

I think optimism. And it costs no more to be an optimist than it does a pessimist, and it’s a lot happier way to live your life, I think. But those who were the most optimistic and could translate that optimism to faith, or through faith, I think that they were the ones that were able to make the most of the experience, and learn the most, and be able to make the biggest contribution because of the experience after we returned. I think that guys who were mechanically-minded also, that could be inventive, and guys can do some of the most remarkable things, not the least of which was learning how to put our sandals, to balance them on the edge of the top of the bucket, to sit down on the sandals instead of the edge of the bucket and made a toilet seat. How come I didn’t figure this out earlier? You know.

 

Veritable luxury.

 

Oh, what a breakthrough. You know. And also because most of us were aviators. I have to say this; there’s something about military aviation that is kind of a winnowing process. And we were all college graduates, because you had to graduate from college to get your wings, whether it be Air Force or Navy. So, we were all better educated and had an appreciation for the things that you could learn by yourself, by just going inward and thinking about yourself, and thinking about the world, and thinking about what the future might hold.

 

You couldn’t be afraid to face yourself, and a lot of people have trouble with that.

 

Exactly; exactly.

 

Jerry Coffee wasn’t released from prison until the end of the war in 1973. He stayed in the Navy until he retired a dozen years later. He became a national commentator on political and military issues, a motivational speaker, and a columnist. Despite lingering health problems for their captivity, Bill Paty, Frank Padgett, and Jerry Coffee went on to have full lives. Mahalo to these men for their heroic service to our country, and for the inspiration and life lessons we gain from your courage in captivity. For PBS Hawai‘i and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, a hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

They call our name, you walk across in front of this guy, and he said, You know, you do not need to accept repatriation, you may stay in our country if you like. What? Get out of here, you know. Walk away and salute Colonel Abel, and shake his hand, and then this big Air Force major put his arm around my shoulder and said, Come on, Commander, I’ll take you out to the airplane. And we walk up. And we’re going up the ramp of the C-141, and at the top of the ramp there’s four, I’m sure, hand-selected gorgeous Air Force nurses. Go up there and hug them, and you know, they smelled so good. Got magazines and newspapers, and hot coffee, and donuts, and so on. And we’re all chattering away there, and finally we get the last guys aboard. And the pilot comes up on the intercom and he says, Come on, guys, let’s strap in; we’re ready to go. And it got quiet. And we’re all thinking, Wow, is this gonna be it? So, we strap in, and he cranks up those engines on the airplane. Cr-r-r. We’re taxiing out toward the runway. He gets on the and revs up the engines to full throttle, and pulling the brakes back, and he finally releases the brakes, and we’re rolling down this kind of rough runway. And we’re all straining against our straps saying, Come on, you beast, get airborne. Get airborne; come on, let’s go. And then they pick up speed and the nose comes up, and then we hear that hydraulic whine of the wheels going up into the wheel wells and clunk up in there. And we’re climbing on out, and the pilot comes up and says, Congratulations, gentlemen, we’re just leaving North Vietnam. And then, we believed it. And then, we cheered.

 

[END]

 



INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
Does Our Local Criminal Justice System Work?

 

Our criminal justice system is a unique balance of moving parts – forces tasked with protecting the community, as well as the rights of the accused. INSIGHTS convenes representatives of these multiple forces, including American Civil Liberties Union Hawai‘i, the Prosecuting Attorney, the Public Defender and the probation system, for this live discussion. Does the system work?

 

Join us during our live discussion by phoning in, or leaving us a comment on Facebook or Twitter. INSIGHTS is also live streamed on pbshawaii.org and Facebook Live.

 

Phone Lines:
462-5000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.

 

Email:
insights@pbshawaii.org

 

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Visit the PBS Hawai‘i Facebook page.

 

Twitter:
Join our live discussion using #pbsinsights

 

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
William “Yama” Chillingworth

 

William “Yama” Chillingworth served as a state judge on Hawai‘i Island for 25 years. After retiring from the bench, he traced his Native Hawaiian heritage, discovering a familial connection to the rare Hawaiian hawk and an urgent calling to photograph it.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, March 16 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, March 20 at 4:00 pm.

 

William “Yama” Chillingworth Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

I had a retirement luncheon on the day I retired from the courtroom in Hilo, and the clerk who was kind of in charge introduced me that afternoon as, the judge who said I hear you. And so, I left the Big Island court job taking with me the understanding that if the staff had heard me that clearly, that the people who were in court had heard me as well. And so, that was the best I could do.

 

William “Yama” Chillingworth racked up a lot of mileage in his twenty-five-year career as a State judge on Hawai‘i Island. He traveled widely throughout the Big Island to hear cases, and he retired content that he gave voice to every defendant who came through his courtroom. William “Yama” Chillingworth, next, on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawai‘i’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. He was known in courtrooms throughout Hawai‘i Island as Judge William Chillingworth; but to family and friends, he is “Yama”. While that may sound like a Japanese nickname, it’s based on the Hawaiianized version of William, Wiliama; Yama. He is very proud of his Native Hawaiian heritage. Chillingworth’s family line includes Princess Victoria Kailulani, who was next in line to the throne when the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown in 1893. Kaiulani was sister to Chillingworth’s great-grandmother. It was while researching part of his Native Hawaiian ancestry that Chillingworth discovered he comes from a family of Native Hawaiian bird collectors on Hawai‘i Island, and that’s where he spent most of youth and most of his career.

 

I was born in Honolulu in 1943. My dad was in the Army in New Guinea when I was born, and he was with General MacArthur. And my mother was from Hilo, and having no family in Honolulu after I was born, she returned to Hilo and stayed with my maternal grandparents. And then, after the war, my father came back, and we lived in Hilo, and I grew up there. My grandfather was the proprietor of the Hilo Drug Company, and it was this wonderful 50s fountain and drugstore on what they described as the busiest corner in Hilo. And it was.

 

Back when pharmacies had fountains.

 

Absolutely. It was a 50s fountain.

 

So, there were the stools.

 

The stools.

 

And the milkshakes.

 

The straw containers that you lifted up and pulled. It had everything. And my grandfather was a pharmacist. He came to the Island of Hawai‘i after he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, and settled in Hilo and met my grandmother, who was half German, half Hawaiian. My grandfather was Harry Arthur Wessel.

 

How many pharmacists were there?

 

There was one, and that was my grandfather. He was it. And so, growing up in Hilo at the Wessel’s Drugstore and having my grandmother, who was a public school teacher, and my mother, who followed in her footsteps as a public school teacher, it was a mixed blessing. They were both rather strict about using proper English. You were not able to mess around with Pidgin.

 

In Hilo, you couldn’t speak Pidgin?

 

Absolutely not.

 

How did that go over with the boys and and the girls?

 

Completely forbidden it was easy. But when were in school, especially junior high, it wasn’t so easy, because most of the kids we were in with were not speaking English; they were speaking whatever it was they were speaking. And my brother was better at socializing that way than I was. I was kind of stuck. And until I got to Punahou, I was having a very hard time in school, because I had to hide that I was interested in doing well.

 

You went to schools in Hilo.

 

Right.

 

Public middle.

 

Public schools.

 

You went to elementary school and then intermediate school as well in Hilo?

 

Right.

 

And did you really not speak Pidgin during that time?

 

Well, when my mother and my grandmother were around, I wasn’t speaking Pidgin. But quite frankly, in in a classroom where you were having to deal socially with kids who were not on your scholastic level, it was difficult; it was difficult. There was liable to be recrimination and, anger.

 

Because you were showing them up with grades?

 

Exactly. I was doing better than they were. And so, I had to hide that.

 

How’d you hide it?

 

Just pretend that I didn’t care about what I was doing, and you know, not answer questions in class, et cetera, et cetera.

 

So, what was it about Hilo; was the social norm to pretend you didn’t hear? Or did you people really didn’t care?

 

It was tough; it was tough. My friend, Stanley Roehrig refers to the aama crab syndrome, where the crab that is climbing out of the bucket gets pulled down by the crabs that are underneath. Stanley is that way, and he talks about that. There was an element of that in what was going on.

 

Mm. So, what do you think would have happened if you stayed in the public school system in the area?

 

Good question; good question. I’m not sure. I’m glad I didn’t have to make that decision myself. I’m awfully glad I ended up where I did.

 

Where William “Yama” Chillingworth ended up was Honolulu, in a top private school, Punahou. His family moved to the city at the start of his tenth graded year. For the first time, he says, he felt at home in the classroom.

 

Getting into Punahou was like going to Heaven. I mean, because I was in a classroom environment with equals, and everybody was in there.

 

People who wanted to do well in school.

 

Doing the same thing that I wanted to do. And it was heavenly. I mean, I had the best time.

 

So, you had to make a social transition to Punahou. And was it hard in class?

 

Only in math and science I was terrible in math and science. I sucked. I was fabulous for the rest of the way out, so you know, that made it fairly easy. I wasn’t going into science, and I wasn’t going into any field that required mathematics.

William “Yama” Chillingworth received that political science degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Next, he earned a law degree at the University of Denver Law School.

 

And of course, I’m sure it was expected that you would go to college. Had your parents been to college? Your mom was a teacher.

 

My mom was accepted to Stanford, and then they couldn’t send her because they didn’t have the money at the time, and she went to University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. And my dad had been headed in that direction, and then he got into the National Guard after he graduated from high school. My grandfather was the CEO of the Territorial National Guard in the 30s; he was the head man. And my father was the best soldier in Punahou ROTC program his sophomore year. So, my father was being groomed for the Army, and got into the Territorial National Guard with my grandfather, and was actually in charge of a detachment that was tasked with going down the Koolaus and refurbishing the pillboxes that were on the top of ridges just before the war started. And so then, he was in the war.

 

New Guinea; that was rough fighting, wasn’t it?

 

Oh, it was one of the worst theaters in the war. They talk about that theater as being a knife fight from the Stone Age.

 

But then, you became a lawyer, which you know, you don’t have to know a lot about great English literature.

 

The best part about law school was, I learned how to be specific in the use of language. I hadn’t intended to be a lawyer in private practice. I graduated from law school in June of 1968 and within a week, I’d gotten an induction notice, and I reported, so I was off to Vietnam. And I’d broken my arm in an accident the year before, and the doctor in the induction center looked at it and said, I’m sorry, son, we can’t take you. And I was completely stunned. Completely stunned.

 

You wanted to serve?

 

There was no Plan B. You know, my grandfather was an infantry captain, my father an infantry captain. I was going. And all of a sudden, I wasn’t going. And then, it was, what now? You know. What now? And I’d just graduated from law school, so obviously, it was, decide where to take a bar exam and at least have a license. So, I went …

 

Back home.

 

Came back to Honolulu, got in a bar exam review course, and took the bar exam. And then, things started to happen in a hurry.

 

William “Yama” Chillingworth became a law clerk for the late Federal Judge Martin Pence. He credits Judge Pence for showing him how to command respect in a courtroom.

 

I passed the bar exam, I got a call from Judge Pence’s office. We want you here next week Monday and it was a dream job. It was my perfect job out of law school, going to work for Judge Pence as a clerk, and a bailiff, because he was so good at what he did, and so willing to teach the clerks who came to work for him. He was in control; he told you where you stood. He was extremely good at controlling the courtroom and inspiring confidence in the people who were coming to hear him and coming to the court. Even, you know, as I did as the lowly clerk who was opening up the court sessions, he taught me so much about the courtroom process.

 

How did he gain the respect of people who came before him?

 

It was by demonstrating respect. Demonstrating confidence, demonstrating respect, and you instill it, you inspire it in the people you’re with.

 

So, that was your first job out of law school. And then, what?

 

Well, then I went to work for a law firm in Honolulu, a guy who’s turned out to be a really good friend of mine, Allen Wooddell. And I worked for Allen’s firm in Honolulu for about a year, and they had talked about opening an office on the Big Island. It didn’t quite come together, and I had an opportunity to talk to Judge Pence about it. And he said, you know, my law partner in Hilo would be really happy to join forces if you’re interested in going back to work in the in the Hilo courtroom setting. I did; I did. I went to work with Ron Nakamoto, who was Judge Pence’s former law partner, and spent twelve years there, and was a trial lawyer, and got to go to court every day. So then, one day, I was in the office and got a call from Judge Kubota in Hilo. He says, Come on in, I want to talk to you. I figured I’d done something wrong. Judge Kubota was kind of a curmudgeon that way. And he called me in, and he was with someone I didn’t know, and they had called me in because Judge Mark had retired from the District Court bench in Hilo and they were looking for a replacement, and they wondered if I was interested. Of course, I was. After I was sworn in as a family and district court judge by Chief Justice Richardson, the Chief Justice said, I gave you the job because you were the only one who got a unanimous vote from the commission.

 

And so, for twenty years, you rode circuit on the Big Island.

 

I did.

 

You went to all the courts.

 

I did.

 

And heard cases which took you … I mean, high level legal argents to you know, probably assault and battery stuff.

 

High level, low level; I heard everything that came in the door.

 

Divorces.

 

I put three hundred thousand miles on my cars at the rate of a hundred and twenty miles a day. It was a bit arduous, but there were moments. There were moments. I heard so many stories. So many stories. And all I had to do was, be able to distinguish fact from fiction. And sometimes it was easy, and other times it wasn’t. And there were moments, there were moments. And those moments, for a long time, they kept me going back. One day in the traffic court, I guess it was in Honokaa, and a sixteen-year-old boy had been charged with a seatbelt offense, and I was hearing the sergeant who had issued the citation. And the sergeant was talking about how he had seen the event occur. And then I heard from the boy, and the boy told me he was wearing the seatbelt. And what you do in that kind of a circumstance? And so, I asked about the configuration. Well, it was a convertible, and most cars have the seatbelt coming down a post which is above the shoulder of the operator. This one didn’t; it came off the back of the seat and came around like that. So, this officer probably had a difficult time seeing whether it was being used or not. I found the young man not guilty. And about that moment, I see a hand going up in the gallery, and I’m going, Uh-oh. And turns out that the boy’s father is back in the gallery and is wanting to talk to me. And I’m going … he came up and he said, you know, after my son got the citation, he came home and said, Dad, I was wearing my seatbelt. And I looked at Dad and I said, I’m really glad I got it right. And he looked at me and he said, I’m really glad you got it right too, because it taught my son a lesson about how justice is administered here.

 

That you can trust the system.

 

And I said, Thank you, Dad. Those were the kind of moments that kept me going back. You know.

 

You probably saw the worst common denominator in people’s character, as well.

 

There were difficult days. There were enormously difficult days, and they were hard to leave behind at the end of the day. I found myself getting into canoe paddling, I found myself getting into yoga, I found myself getting into distance running; anything to get rid of the acculation of courtroom emotions. And most of the time, they were negative; extremely negative. The grief, the desperation, the hurt, especially in the family court setting.

 

‘Cause you’re not in a position to do rehab with them. This is, yes or no, here’s the ruling, and off you go.

 

Right. And half the time—well, I wouldn’t say half the time, but a lot of the time, the ruling would be significant enough and emotional enough so that I’d reserve it. You know, otherwise, if I issued it, there would be a fistfight going on in the courtroom on the way out the door. So, I would withhold the ruling. I’d say, Okay, I’m gonna look at this a little bit more and I’ll have my clerk call the attorneys. And then, as soon as we were finished, I’d tell the clerk, call the lawyers. Tell them this, tell them that.

 

Because you really you really did think violence would erupt?

 

I didn’t want any more emotion than was already piled into that courtroom to come out of the decisions.

 

And of course, in courts, you know that a lot of times, whatever you rule, one side’s gonna be angry or distraught. What was that like to live with?

 

That was one of the difficulties of the job. I knew that no matter how I ruled, somebody was gonna come out of the courtroom unhappy with the ruling.

 

Did that make it hard to go to shopping centers and parties?

 

No; and for this reason. I made sure that if I couldn’t do anything else, I let everybody know that I heard them. And I made sure that when they were finished presenting whatever they wanted to present, I looked them in the eye and I said, I hear you, what you’re saying is this, so that even I couldn’t always rule in their favor, they came out of the courtroom with the understanding that they had been heard.

 

Did you get that from Judge Pence?

 

I got that from Judge Pence.

 

After William “Yama” Chillingworth saw the last of his three children off to college and retired from the bench on Hawai‘i Island, he tackled something his mother always wanted him to do; and that is, to trace his Native Hawaiian ancestry on her side of the family. This research led Chillingworth to an unexpected family connection, and a new passion: capturing images of the Hawaiian Hawk.

 

We had two names, and the ahupuaa where the old family home was located, the family home that was the the grass hale’s. I started with the location of the ahupuaa, the translation of the ahupuaa name, and the fact that it was located between Hakalau and Ninole. Hakalau is well-known bird center. One of the translations is, many perches, so it was a bird center in old Hawai‘i. My great-great-great-great-grandfather and his brother, his name was Kanehoalani, and it was the most auspicious name; it was the name that had me sitting down where I was living in Kohala and saying … Great-great-great-great-grandfather, how in the world did you come by this auspicious name?

 

Which means?

 

It’s the Hawaiian Zeus; it’s the ruler of the heavens, the grandfather of Pele. I had a feeling that an answer was coming, and in fact, it was. I’d always had a love of landscape photography, and I’d invested in some rather good equipment. Began taking it out, and one morning, I’m out in the eastern Kohala valleys, and this great bird comes over and screams at me. I mean, literally screams at me, you knowAnd it’s this enormous Hawaiian Hawk, and he’s looking right at me. And his wings are spread, and he is the most incredible thing I had ever seen. And there was this immediate connection.

 

Did you know what it meant?

 

Not at that moment. All I knew was, I had made a connection, and I wasn’t going to be doing any other photography than that bird up there. And I started coming back every day after that, and waiting for the arrival of my royal friend. You know, there was no understanding the connection that was happening with the need to get myself out of bed in morning, get the camera, and go to where the hawks were and begin collecting the images. It just went on, and on, and on. And then, there was just that one final piece which had to do with my mother giving all of her children a copy of the book that Isabella Bird wrote.

 

Oh, Bird.

 

Right.

 

Somebody you never met; somebody from England.

 

Miss Bird, who was here in 1873 on the Island of Hawai‘i. Oh, she loved Hilo. So she describes, Miss Bird describes how she went off to Waipio with my great-great-grandmother as her eighteen-year-old guide. My great-great-grandmother spoke Hawaiian, spoke English, rode, and had been on the Hamakua Coast for her entire life, and guided her up to Waipio, and then came back. And on the way back, they went off the trail and went mauka a mile to where my great-great-grandmother had a family ancestral home. They went up there because my great-great-grandmother was receiving a wedding gift; she had just been married to Ben Macy from Nantucket. And the wedding gift turned out to be a feather lei. And not just any feather lei; lei hulu mamo melemele, a yellow feather lei of mamo feathers. And then, when I finally read that, everything came together. It was as if I finally understood that Miss Bird had met my ancestors, Kanehoalani and his brother Manohoa. And from what she said, I was able to clearly identify that we were from a family of bird collectors and feather workers, and that Kanehoalani is one of the most auspicious names you can give to a male Hawaiian son of a family of bird collectors, the ruler of the heavens. And his brother got the name Manohoa, the friend of the birds. Of course; it all fit together.

 

A friend urged William “Yama” Chillingworth to have his collection of Hawaiian Hawk photographs published. The result is a book titled Io Lani, the Hawaiian Hawk. It won a 2015 Ka Palapala Pookela Award from the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association. Post-retirement, Chillingworth, a divorcee, married again. His wife is a former Punahou School mate who is a New York Times bestselling author, Susanna Moore. Mahalo to William “Yama” Chillingworth of North Kohala on Hawai‘i Island for sharing your story with us. And thank you, for joining us. For PBS Hawai‘i and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes store, or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

So, next, feather making?

 

Feather lei making?

 

No more mamo’s, I’m afraid.

 

Capes?

 

The mamo are gone.

 

Yeah.

 

Aole, unfortunately.

 

And how are the Hawaiian Hawks doing?

 

The Hawaiian Hawks are doing pretty well. They’re estimated at twenty-five hundred or thereabouts, and I’m seeing more of them, which is very, very rewarding. I so enjoy seeing them.

 

[END]

 

THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW
Alternative Ingredients

 

Follow amateur bakers as they don aprons and head for the tent in the British countryside, hoping to be named Britain’s best. Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood have created new challenges to test their baking prowess, creativity and skill.

 

See how the remaining contestants bake without sugar, gluten or dairy. In the Signature challenge, they create a variety of sugar-free cakes. Gluten-free pitas are in store for the Technical, and the Showstopper features dairy-free ice cream rolls.

 

THE GREAT BRITISH BAKING SHOW
Pastry

 

Follow amateur bakers as they don aprons and head for the tent in the British countryside, hoping to be named Britain’s best. Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood have created new challenges to test their baking prowess, creativity and skill.

 

Pastry
Enter the competition tent to see the bakers prove their pastry skills, first with frangipane tarts in the Signature. The Technical throws them into uncharted territory with a mystery pastry: flaouna. The Showstopper demands bite-sized vol-au-vents.

 

POV
The Return

 

In 2012, California amended its “Three Strikes” law, shortening the sentences of thousands of “lifers.” See this unprecedented reform through the eyes of freed prisoners, disrupted families and attorneys and judges wrestling with an untested law.

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Karen Radius

 

Growing up in Chicago, Karen Radius learned values from her working class parents, neither of whom attended high school. After passing the bar exam in Hawaii, Radius’ first job was with Legal Aid, serving some of the poorest people in Hawaii. As a Family Court judge, Karen Radius learned that juvenile girls who haven’t succeeded on regular probation needed a different type of juvenile justice system. So she created Girls Court. “Girls Court is all about…working on the relationships…within the family,” Radius explains. “(it’s) not just, ‘Did you comply with the court’s order and what the court told you to do’ … but let’s figure out your life and let’s come up with a life’s plan for you.”

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Oct. 28 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, Nov. 1 at 4:00 pm.

 

Karen Radius Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

You know how bad things can be.

 

And I also know how good they can be. If we only focus on the things that have gone wrong, life gets to be pretty heavy and unhappy. And if you don’t see the potential in things, it’s just not right. I still get, when I’m out in the shopping center, I’ll get a girl who will come and say, Judge Radius! And I’ll say, Oh, how are you doing? What are you doing? And she’ll say, Oh, I’m graduating from Windward Community College next week. And so, we show up and give her a lei. Because those kinds of stories keep you going.

 

Judge Karen Radius, a resident of Windward Oahu, has spent her career seeking the potential in people facing troubled situations. Family Court Judge and the founding judge of Girls Court, Karen Radius, next on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawaii’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. Family Court is often regarded as a place of pain and anger, filled with divorces, child custody battles, families in crisis. Judge Karen Radius has spent decades there. She retired, but returned to serve on a part-time basis. The judge is no softy; she’s regarded as tough, but fair. In her juvenile cases, she tries to look past the pain, toward the potential good within the youth offenders who come before her. To help Hawaii’s troubled young people, Judge Radius in 2004 was the driving force behind Girls Court, an innovative program designed specifically for at-risk girls on Oahu. The judge and others in the field say that juvenile court is framed around boys, who tend to commit different offenses than girls, for different reasons. Judge Karen Radius knows firsthand about life struggles, having grown up on the south side of Chicago.

 

My mom is the oldest of ten. By the time she graduated from eighth grade in 1932, there were seven kids; the seventh child had just been born a couple of months before. So, her mom said to her, We just don’t have the money for you to go to high school, you need to find a job. My grandpa was a janitor, and finding a job, for him, depended on what manufacturing plants or what buildings were open, and what businesses could hire him. So, he was getting piecemeal work at about a dollar a day. So, my mother found a job being a maid and mother’s helper for a lawyer’s wife who had one son. So, after being the oldest girl of seven kids, that was a walk in the park, quite frankly.

 

But she had to be away from her family.

 

Absolutely. So, she earned a dollar a week, and she had Sundays off, so she’d come home on Sundays, bring her dollar, and her mother would give her a dime.

 

Tough times.

 

Yeah, yeah; absolutely.

 

People had to really pull together and sacrifice themselves.

 

Right; right. And so, the theory was that her younger sisters would all take a year off of high school, but it didn’t turn out that way. She stayed working at that job.

 

Never graduated from high school?

 

Nope; nope. She took a typing and a bookkeeping class at night school, but other than that, she didn’t go to high school.

 

Did she talk about that, her regrets at that?

 

Not so much her regrets. That’s the generation that doesn’t focus on themselves. But my sister and myself, there was no question; we were gonna get every ounce of education we could.

 

She was gonna do for you what she couldn’t do for herself.

 

That’s right; that’s right. My dad had been in the military, actually, here in Hawaii, and had gone back to Chicago and was a bus driver. And he saw her walk on his bus, and he said, That’s the most lovely pair of hands I’ve ever seen somebody putting fare in my farebox.

 

He said that to her?

 

To her. And she fell for it.

 

And the rest is history. Yeah; yeah.

 

Wow. And he stopped being a bus driver after that?

 

Right. When I was about three, he became a life insurance salesman, and did that ‘til he died.

 

So, he was a good salesman, charming?

 

Oh; yeah. He could tell a joke and a story. He was a schmoozer; yeah.

 

Judge Karen Radius became the first person in her family to graduate from high school. Her mother believed that Karen should receive the best education possible, even though money was scarce. She was accepted into George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and left the Midwest for the first time in her life.

 

I found George Washington. My mom said, Okay, we’ve got enough money for one semester. Go, see if you like it. We’ll do what we can; you gotta work. I went to GW ‘cause I thought I was interested in international affairs. I had read some books about Russia, and that was when the Cold War was big. And Russia seemed such a fascinating place. So, I went to study international affairs. But in my sophomore year, when you begin to think about what major you’re gonna declare, and the counselors are talking to you, I told them that that’s what I was interested in, and maybe the State Department or some kind of foreign job. And he says, Do you know what women do in the foreign service? I said, No, that’s what I’m here to learn. And he said, They stamp passports. And I was silly enough to believe him. So, I switched to political science.

 

So, that wasn’t true; he was just trying to … what was the point of that, of dissuading you?

 

I think that was probably true back then, so that would have been 1968; ’67, ’68.

 

So, he was trying to let you know that it may not be—

 

In reality, if I wasn’t willing to stamp passports for the rest of my life, which is probably what women mostly did back then, but things, as in all fields, has moved quite a bit.

 

So, you could have done it and broken those barriers.

 

Maybe. But I didn’t listen. I mean, I listened, but should have not listened. I kind of wonder what would have been, had it taken different turns. So, I went into political science. My junior and senior years, the Vietnam War booming, literally and figuratively. The protests were beginning. You know, being in campus only five blocks from the White House, there were tanks rolling down the street sometimes, and tear gas being thrown on the campus, which wasn’t fun. So, I decided, okay, I’m gonna work on The Hill, because that’s where change could come from, through senators and congressmen.

 

Who did you work for?

 

Senator Charles Mathias from Maryland; he was a progressive Republican at the time. People wrote to their senators and congressmen, and we’d get bags, and bags, and bags full of mail. And we had to respond to each piece. So, my job was, when there were over ten letters about a single topic, you’d write a form letter that sounded like you were talking directly to that person. And then, there was a machine that would … way pre-computers, but there was a machine that would match the address of the writer and the body of the letter. And then, it’d be signed, and you thought you got your own personal letter from the senator. Which he read the generalized …

 

M-hm.

 

So, he knew, and he knew how many. We kept count of X-number are in favor of this, and Y-number are against that. But it didn’t feel like democracy like I had studied it as political science, and I didn’t feel like we were making the kind of change that as a Baby Boomer, I thought we needed.

 

Oahu judge Karen Radius did not want to get channeled into a typing job, as were many women of the time. She wanted to be part of bringing change. So, she set her sights on a new career path.

 

One of the young male staffers who was an attorney said to me, Karen, just take the LSAT. Which is the law school admissions test. Don’t tell anybody you’re gonna take it, don’t send the scores any place. If you totally bomb out, you’ve wasted a day, fifty dollars to sign up for it, and two Number 2 pencils. So what? If you do well, send the scores some place. And so, I followed his advice, and here I am.

 

You hadn’t considered law school?

 

No. No.

 

That’s really open. So, you went and took the test, and did well. It’s a tough test.

 

Yup.

 

And what proportion of students in law schools were females then?

 

About three or four percent.

 

Is that right?

 

Yeah.

 

So, you were an oddity.

 

Right.

 

Did you feel like you had to prove yourself?

 

There were still professors who would do things like say, Can you please stand up as you give your answer, because I like to see the proportions of my opponent. And you walked in the library, and people closed the door as you entered. So, it wasn’t blatant. You didn’t get worse grades ‘cause you were a woman. You didn’t get worse classes.

 

It was a social atmosphere.

 

I had one young man say to me, You know, my friend didn’t get in; you’ve got his seat. But generally, people were nice, and I just stayed, and as more women came in, life went on.

 

After her second year at George Washington University Law School, Judge Karen Radius joined her college roommate Judy Sobin on a trip to Hawaii for the summer. She didn’t know it at the time, but Hawaii would become her permanent home.

 

I had come here to Hawaii between my second and third years of law school for a summer job, ‘cause there was no UH Law School at the time, and my college roommate had come here with her husband, and he was going to UH master’s in urban planning program. There was something about Hawaii. I just felt at home when I got off the plane.

 

What made you feel at home when you got off the plane? I mean, you hadn’t seen it yet.

 

I don’t know; I just did. I worked for Brook Hart’s firm the summer between second and third years of law school. They were doing a lot of law reform cases, they were doing a lot of criminal cases, but doing them very well, and lots of interesting cases. So, the work seemed exciting. I was meeting a lot of younger lawyers. The racial and ethnic makeup and background of so many different kinds of people. And the mountains and the ocean. You know, it just felt good.

 

A year later, after graduating from law school, Judge Karen Radius returned to the islands to take the Bar Exam.

 

I came here to take the Bar, ‘cause I had a federal job offer in North Carolina, and you could be licensed any place. So, I came here to take the Bar, hedging my bets that while I’m here studying for the Bar, I could still be looking for work here.

 

Because you didn’t want to go to the safe federal job?

 

I might own that horse farm in North Carolina now if I’d done that safe job. I don’t know. Oh; as opposed to my little plot.

 

But this was where you preferred to be.

 

Oh, yeah. I got offered a job two weeks before the Bar. Legal Aid called two weeks before.

 

How’d you feel about working for Legal Aid?

 

It was fine with me.

 

Yeah?

 

Yeah.

 

So, that means you served many of the poorest people in the area.

 

Absolutely.

 

Lots of family law.

 

No; actually, at that point, we were divided into divisions, and I was doing welfare law. So, I was doing your benefits were stopped, or the State wasn’t complying with the Federal laws about welfare benefits, food stamp benefits, Medicaid. So, I was doing more the keep your life and soul together …

 

So, that means you met people and saw individual stories of things that had happened which required government assistance.

 

Absolutely; yeah.

 

So, in two jobs, then, with the defense law firm, Brook Hart’s firm and with Legal Aid, you’re basically on the other side of the State; right?

 

I’m meeting the real people; yeah.

 

Yeah; yes.

 

Absolutely.

 

Underdogs, is what I would call it. How’d you feel about that? And it’s not big money jobs, either, necessarily.

 

Correct; right.

 

So, is that what you were looking for? You didn’t care about the money, and you wanted to help people who needed the help, who didn’t have much? Was that a goal, or just how that unfolded?

 

I didn’t become a lawyer to make money. I became a lawyer because … I didn’t want to type. And because I believe that some of the most resilient people I’ve met are people who have been, quote, underdogs. And they had potential, and good things to add to the state. So, doing that kind of law was perfectly fine with me.

 

You saw a lot of misery.

 

Yes; yeah. But the people who are in the midst of their problems don’t come in with, I’m in the midst of a lot of misery. They come in with, I’ve got this problem, and I gotta solve it because I’m getting evicted, because I can’t feed my kids, ‘cause … they weren’t drama queens. Let’s put it that way. So, they had resiliency, despite the fact that they lived in situations that were really challenging. When I left Legal Aid, you knew when it was time to leave. Because I used to keep graham crackers in my desk, because the people would come and they’d always bring their kids, and their kids were always hungry. So, I gave the kids coloring stuff and graham crackers while we talked about the case. And you knew it was time to leave when you just got a little bit tired shopping for graham crackers.

 

After five years, Judge Karen Radius left Legal Aid for private law practice. Along the way, she married future court administrator, Russell Tellio.

 

So, I worked for about nine months for Harriet Bouslog, who was a legend in her own right. And then, Norman Lau and Susan Arnett and I, all three of us at Legal Aid, decided we were gonna open our own firm. So, we did that January 2, 1980. And the three of us worked together for a while, and then Susan decided she wanted to do criminal stuff, and Norman and I didn’t. So, we became Radius and Lau, and stayed that way for thirteen years, until I got to be a judge.

 

Why did you become a judge?

 

This is gonna sound really silly. When my kids were born in 1985, I had twins. And Norman and I were doing a real varied civil law practice. So, you’d have to always be one step ahead of the clients, and learn a lot of different things all the time. So, having children, I knew that I needed to specialize in something, because trying to be such a generalist was … I needed time at home with the kids.

 

And you had two at once.

 

Yes. Yeah; yeah, yeah. Yeah. You know, you have to sleep once in a while.

 

In 1993, Karen Radius was appointed as a judge to the First Circuit Family Court on Oahu. She presided over cases involving divorce, child custody, domestic abuse, and juvenile law. Much like her time at Legal Aid, she matter-of-factly looked for the up-side in people facing tough situations.

 

It’s a place you could be a peacemaker. You may not be able to stop the divorce, but if you can focus the parents on the children and on preserving the assets they have for the children’s best interest, and coming up with a visitation and custody plan that’s in the kids’ best interest, you can bring peace. Or if not total peace, at least ratchet things down. If you’re doing an adoption, that’s the fun part of family law. So, you leave the stress and the sweat in the waiting room and come into the courtroom, where there’s balloons and happy people, and pictures and congratulations. The other thing about being a Family Court judge is, if the judge can portray some kind of calm and can manage the courtroom in a way that it’s not just total havoc, the people can focus a little bit better about what they need to do, and what’s next, and how to bring some kind of resolution to the problems that are there. And sometimes, you can’t bring peaceful resolutions; you just make a decision when it happens, and they’re unhappy with you, and they’re unhappy with their life.

 

While working as a Family Court judge, Karen Radius began to notice an alarming trend within the juvenile cases. The number of girls who were arrested and brought to court was dramatically increasing. In 2004, she confronted the problem head-on by creating a new program called Girls Court.

 

In the days that I was a Legal Aid lawyer in Waianae in the 70s, there was hardly ever a girl brought to juvenile court. Girls weren’t arrested. It was all boys. And over time, the programs and the method of dealing with things were built for boys, ‘cause that’s who the system was. But as time went on, more and more girls started to be arrested. And the programs weren’t built for them, and juvenile court really wasn’t helping the girls at all. So, in about 2003, I was sitting at detention home, where you go every morning for a week in a row, every four weeks. And all of a sudden, there’s just so many girls appearing in front of me. And I’m thinking, Maybe it’s just the luck of the draw, ‘cause that’s based on who got arrested. You gotta see a judge within forty-eight hours of getting arrested. And so, I went back to the courthouse and I’m saying, you know, Boy, out of thirteen kids, ten were girls. Is it just me? Am I somehow a girl magnet? What is this? And they said, No, no, no, we still have to do some research. And at that point, forty-two percent of the arrests in Honolulu were girls. Nationally, it was about between twenty and twenty-five percent, but Honolulu was forty-two percent.

 

I wonder why?

 

We arrest a lot for runaway, and we have a lot of runaway girls. And girls tend to act out not so much against other people, although there are some assaults on unrelated people, et cetera. But there’s a lot of act out against the boyfriend, act out against the mother. And then, drugs are a problem. Act out against themselves, by taking or possessing, or dealing drugs. So, I talked to Judge Wong, who was then the lead judge of Family Court, the senior judge, and she was doing some rearrangement of people’s caseloads, and so, she wanted to move some of my cases. She says, I know you’re gonna be mad. I said, No, I’m not gonna be mad if you let me do Girls Court. She said, What’s that? And I said, I don’t know, but we gotta do something. And she said, Okay.

 

So, you were convinced you couldn’t fix it by transforming juvenile court.

 

Well, it’s still a part of juvenile court. It’s a transformation of—not every girl who gets arrested in Honolulu goes to Girls Court. Girls Court is the girls who aren’t succeeding on regular probation. So anyway, we looked at what’s going on in the girls’ life, not just what she did. ‘Cause often, a sentence or a disposition is based on, You did X-crime, X-thing, and therefore, you must do the following community service, you must do the following anger management, et cetera. But what else is there going on in her life that gets her in the situation that make it that she’s acting out like this?

 

And she’s a revolving door.

 

And she’s a revolving door. You know, she’s not going to school for long periods of time. The old days, you would put her in detention home for two weeks and say, Okay, write an essay on why education is important to you. She didn’t know. And she’d write the essay, and she’d be scared for a while, and she’d go to school for maybe two, three weeks, and then the whole thing would start again. And the next run would happen or the next truancy would happen; back and forth. So, we weren’t looking at the underlying causes. So, Girls Court is all about getting, you know, the whole family working on the relationships within the family. And the probation officers are still probation officers, but they’re also not just, Did you comply with the court’s order and what the court told you to do, but let’s figure out your life and let’s come up with a life’s plan for you.

 

In 2010, Judge Karen Radius retired as a fulltime judge to help take care of her aging mother and her mother-in-law. At the time of our conversation in 2015, she’d returned to work as a per diem or part-time Family Court judge.

 

Let’s say the top three things you’ve done in your life that you really feel proud of.

 

My kids, number one. And watching them grow and develop, and lead their lives, and make the choices they make, one way or the other. Girls Court … jeez.

 

Well, top two is good.

 

We narrowed it down to two.

 

I don’t know.

 

I’m just thinking from a balance of power situation. You know, this is not the old model of husband and wife, where the wife is the judge. Was that hard to handle sometimes?

 

Not for me. No. We didn’t bring our work home. And those times that I would say something that I wasn’t happy about something, Russ would say, Slavery ended in the 1860s, if you don’t like the job, find another one. So, okay, I’m not gonna complain at home.

 

And you have twins.

 

Right.

 

Tell us a little bit about them, about how they were influenced by two parents working in the law.

 

My son’s a lawyer, although he has a sticker on his bike and it said, Born to fish, forced to work. So, in a perfect world, he might want to fish. But no; he’s a lawyer, he’s a good lawyer. My daughter, when she was probably about five or six, I said to her, You know, are you going to work when you get married and have children? Because being old school, I still felt a little bit of guilt about, I’m working. And she says, Of course, I’m gonna work. But I’m not gonna be a lawyer; that’s boring. So, at six, she already decided it’s boring. So, she’s a scientist; she’s a biomedical engineer, and smarter than me.

 

Did you think of your kids as you were in court, you know, passing judgments?

 

Yeah; I thought about my kids. Because of confidentiality of the cases, I couldn’t talk about the cases to the kids. But I’ve said things sometimes to the kids, and my son when he was little, used to say, Mom, you always know that all, and you’re all so worried about evil stuff. You know, you just don’t know the real world.

 

And I said, Oh, Andrew, your father and I have worked so hard so that you don’t know about the real world.

 

Founding Judge Karen Radius’ concept of Girls Court has now spread to several states on the continent. At the time of our conversation in the summer of 2015, she continues to be an advocate for at-risk youth inside and outside the courtroom. Judge Radius volunteers for several nonprofits, and is the president of Surfrider Spirit Sessions, a nonprofit that uses the lessons of surfing to help transform the lives of at-risk youth. Mahalo to Judge Karen Radius of Kailua, Windward Oahu for sharing your story with us. And thank you, for joining us. For PBS Hawaii and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

What did your mother say to you after she saw you become a judge?

 

She wished I’d been a beautician, ‘cause I’d be home more.

 

Truly?

 

Yes; yeah, seriously.  When I first went off to college, she said, Do this for you and for me. And I was, quite frankly, a little bit … It’s for me; what you do mean for you? But having a daughter now myself, I understand.

 

[END]

 

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