James Burns, 'father' of Hawaii's second-highest court, dies at - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

James Burns, 'father' of Hawaii's second-highest court, dies at 79

(Image: John A. Burns School of Medicine) (Image: John A. Burns School of Medicine)
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

James S. Burns, the former chief judge of the state's second-highest court and an ardent supporter of the University of Hawaii's School of Medicine named after his father, died Thursday. He was 79.

Burns died at the Queen's Medical Center; he had for years battled throat cancer.

Burns is known as the father of modern family law in the islands and of the Hawaii Intermediate Court of Appeals, where he served for 25 years.

"As the chief judge of the ICA for most of its existence, and as a beloved colleague, friend and mentor, he shaped and nurtured the court and inspired all who worked here," said ICA Chief Judge Craig Nakamura. 

Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald said Hawaii "lost a giant of the law" with Burns' death.

"Jim Burns was a wise and humble man who was always guided by his love of Hawaii and a strong sense of fairness and common sense," Recktenwald said.

Burns was also a regular face at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, which bore his father's name.

He is survived by his wife, Emme Tomimbang, and two children.

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