Justices Levinson and Foley


Vision Without Limits 2020 Honorees: Retired Associate Justice Steven H. Levinson & Associate Justice Daniel R. Foley.

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Retired Associate Justice Steven Levinson

Steven H. Levinson was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended Stanford University (from which he graduated “with distinction” with a B.A. in Political Science) and the University of Michigan Law School (from which he received a J.D. in 1971).

Retired Justice Levinson’s 48 years of legal experience include a one-year clerkship with the Hawai`i Supreme Court, seventeen years in private practice, three years as a circuit court judge (Criminal Division) of the Hawai`i First Circuit Court, and seventeen years as an Associate Justice of the Hawai`i Supreme Court, from which he retired at the end of 2008.

During his tenure on the Court, he authored 271 published opinions, of which 231 were published opinions of the court, including Baehr v. Lewin (1993), which was the first appellate decision in American history to hold that a state’s marriage laws were presumptively unconstitutional for discriminatorily prohibiting same sex couples from marrying.

He also authored numerous opinions addressing the lawful limits of governmental intrusion into the private affairs of individuals, the legitimacy of police interrogations and searches and seizures, and other related subjects. He was the Court’s liaison to the Hawai`i State Bar Association and the Hawai`i Justice Foundation and served as chair and member of various commissions and task forces pertaining to the Hawai`i Penal Code, the Code of Judicial Conduct, drug policy, and jury innovations.

He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Temple Emanu-El for ten years and has been actively involved in the Hawai`i Speech League and the Center for Civic Education’s “We the People” program. He received the 2006 Allies for Justice Award from the American Bar Association’s Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities and the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association, the 2010 Champions of Justice Award from the Hawai`i State Bar Association, and the 2013 Equality Hawaii Lifetime Achievement Award and Hawaii United for Marriage Advocacy Awards.

From October 2009 through May 2017, he served as a board member of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii and was a board member of Equality Hawaii, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, from 2010 through 2013. Since September 2014, he has been a member of the board of directors of The Actors’ Group (TAG), a local community theatre company. On December 2, 2016, he was sworn in as a member of the Honolulu Police Commission and served as the Commission’s Vice Chair during 2018.

Associate Justice Daniel R. Foley

Justice Daniel R. Foley has been a litigator, negotiator, mediator and judge during a legal career that began in 1974. As a judge and litigator, Justice Foley has handled nearly every kind of civil and criminal case but is best known for his groundbreaking civil rights litigation. He currently serves as a nonresident Justice of the Palau Supreme Court.

Daniel Foley spent 16 years (1984-2000) as a prominent civil rights lawyer, doing trial and appellate work in state and federal courts. He was a partner in Partington and Foley for 11 years, spent two years in solo practice and worked as the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i for three years. In 1993 Foley represented the plaintiffs in the groundbreaking Baehr v. Miike (originally Baehr v. Lewin) case filed against the state of Hawai`i, challenging prohibitions on same-sex marriage.

From 2000 to 2016 Foley served as an Associate Judge of the Hawai‘i Intermediate Court of Appeals, handling thousands of appeals from Hawai‘i circuit, district and family courts, and administrative agencies. During his tenure, Justice Foley chaired the Hawai‘i Access to Justice Commission and co-chaired both the Hawai‘i Appellate Task Force and Committee on Equality and Access to the Courts. He also drafted the rules and regulations of the Hawai‘i Civil Rights Commission and taught civil rights litigation at Williamson S. Richardson School of Law.

A graduate of the University of San Francisco, where he obtained his B.A. and J.D. degrees, Justice Foley has been admitted to practice before the courts of Hawai‘i, California, the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the US Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Hawai`i District Court. Most recently, Justice Foley has completed mediation training at the Mediation Center of the Pacific and at Pepperdine School of Law and is a Fellow with the American College of Civil Trial Mediators.

In recognition of Justice Foley’s groundbreaking work in civil rights and access to justice, he has been honored by Volunteer Legal Services Hawai‘i, Japanese American Citizens League Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i State Bar Association, Hawai‘i Women Lawyers, Hawai‘i Justice Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union Hawai‘i, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and Honolulu Magazine.