'Courthouse Al' a fixture in Honolulu courtrooms for over 20 years - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

'Courthouse Al' a fixture in Honolulu courtrooms for over 20 years

Al Chamizo Al Chamizo
Deputy Public Defender Nathan Roehrig Deputy Public Defender Nathan Roehrig
Judge Michael Town Judge Michael Town
Leilani Tan, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Leilani Tan, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

by Sisto Domingo

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Attorneys, clerks and judges, there's one person who spends more time that probably anyone else in Honolulu courtrooms. He's a guy often spotted in many of our court coverage right here on KHNL and K5. But, who is he?

For years he's been hanging out in the backgrounds of our courtroom camera's, behind prosecutors, in the back of interviews. His mug is broadcast into your homes three or four times a week, but you may have never noticed him. And no one knows exactly when he started to appear

"Al was just always there" said Judge Michael Town, Circuit Court Judge.

"He's been here for years" said Nathan Roehrig, Deputy Public Defender.

Al Chamizo has been walking the halls of circuit court every weekday for more than two decades. The retired aircraft sheet metal worker first came here because of his fascination with the courts, but has become much more than an observer.

"Everybody knows him to some degree" said Roehrig

 "He's definitely a part of the courthouse ohana" said Leilani Tan, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney.

"He's kind of like a guardian angel of the court. You come here dealing with such grim subject matter and Als like a bright light" said Roehrig.

Al Chamizo has somehow managed to get into the hearts and minds of everyone here, and has uniquely positioned himself as the courthouse guru.

"My staff tells me when they want to find somebody, ask Al. When they want to know the verdict, ask Al. I think the first thing is, ask Al. He knows all the clerks and he takes a good personal interest, he knows where they went to high school, college, law school, and he's watched them all go from law clerks to attorneys and some of them to judges" said, Judge Town.

"One of the first things that we learn when we come to the courthouse is not necessarily how to please the judge or how to do your job but the first thing you have to do is go look for ‘Courthouse Al', cause ‘Courthouse Al' is the one who knows where everybody is, where to go, how to find them, sometimes he knows about things before we even know about them" said Tan.

Al does it all. He gives directions, warns people of hazards and even shares vital information with the media.

"Sometimes when I see something that needs attention I let the janitors know, and when I see something that don't look right I notify the sheriff" said Chamizo.

Last month the Judiciary of the 1st Circuit Court awarded Chamizo with a certificate of service.

" We had a special recognition that the Chief Justice gave Al for just being here for the amount of time he has, and the role he does. We kind of call him, the honorary mayor of the court house" said Town.

Amazingly Chamizo has been front and center for 20 years of Hawaii's most infamous court cases. Before his eyes reporters would become judges and politicians would become convicts.

"I've seen it all put it that way and sometimes it can be very, very sad;  but very educational. I've learned a lot watching and I can say one thing, I'm glad I'm on the other side of the fence" said Chamizo.

"Be like Al is what I like to say, he's dignified, he's courteous, he's very collegial, he's a good role model I hope for all of us" said Town.

"Everyone from the judge down to the janitor they treat me like I was one of them, that's what makes me feel like I want to come more and more. To be honest with you I think this is what's keeping me alive."

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