John C. Lanham, 82, Circuit Court judge
John C. Lanham, who grew up in a South Carolina orphanage and went on to become a Hawai'i state legislator, Circuit Court judge in Honolulu and chief justice of the Marshall Islands, died Aug. 14 in California, family members said. He was 82.
Lanham came to Hawai'i after serving as a gunner on a B-25 bomber in World War II and in the infantry during the Korean War, but he never forgot his humble beginnings.
"I guess it comes naturally," he once said. "The first thing I think of when I study a law is: What will be its effect on (poor) people."
Lanham put those concerns to work as a state lawmaker, first as a member of the final Territorial Legislature, then in the House of Representatives, and finally as a state senator. He worked to established an office of legal assistance for those unable to pay lawyers' fees, modernization of the criminal code, reform of the bail system and helped to create the state's Family Court system.
In 1970, he was appointed by Gov. John Burns to the Circuit Court and served for more than a decade, presiding over some of the state's most publicized criminal cases. In 1982 he was named chief justice of the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Lanham is survived by his wife, Annie; daughters, Patrice Lanham and Catherine Remely; and son, Robert Lanham.
Funeral services will be held Aug. 22 in California. The family asks that donations be sent to Epworth Children's Home, P.O. Box 50466, Columbia, S.C., 29250.