Catching up with:   The Honorable Lanson K. Kupau '82

The Honorable Lanson K. Kupau, a 1982 Damien graduate, is currently a sitting judge in Hawaii's First Circuit District Court (Oahu).

He earned his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from University of Hawaii at Manoa and later went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree from California Western School of Law in 1992.

He served as an enlisted member of the Hawaii Air National Guard where he earned Honor Graduate recognition and received an honorable discharge at the rank of sergeant in 1989.

Judge Kupau began his legal career as a deputy at the Office of the Public Defender where he practiced criminal defense from 1992 to 1994.  He entered private practice in 1995 while at Reinwald, O'Connor, and Playdon and specialized in general litigation, criminal and insurance defense, personal injury and medical malpractice.  In 1999, Judge Kupau joined Kobayashi, Sugita, and Goda, where he continued to practice general litigation, with an emphasis on commercial litigation and insurance regulatory issues.  He also practiced for law firms Rush Moore LLP, and Bronster Hoshibata and presided at District Court as a per diem judge.

In April 2011 Judge Kupau was appointed First Circuit District Court judge by Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald and was confirmed by the Hawaii State Senate shortly thereafter.  Judge Kupau currently presides over Family Court matters in the juvenile division and is assigned cases where the juveniles live in the Ewa to Waianae geographic district.  He also assists with the Juvenile Drug Court, a specialty court.

Judge Kupau currently lives in Kaneohe and has three children, one in high school and two away at college.


The Honorable Judge took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions:

1.  What is your most memorable moment while a student at Damien? 

"The brotherhood among my classmates which has lasted over 30 years.  The fact that DMS has had a long and well deserved history and tradition of producing Gentlemen."

2.  What was your favorite grindz at the cafeteria?  Or if there weren't any what was the worst?

"The lunches weren't memorable but from what I can remember I think they were all pretty bad (unless you cut and went to Kenny's Drive Inn at Kam Shopping's back in the day)".

3.  How have you remained in good shape after all these years?

"I work out at the gym at 5 a.m. everyday alternating between weight training and cardio, and hiking & swimming on the weekends.  I'm addicted to McDonald's caramel frappes so I try to watch what I eat."

4.  Is that really you performing on the local commercial karaoke DVD? 

"Yes, unfortunately, that is me or at least, the former me, at about 50 lbs. less with more hair.  The director needed models for a video shoot and I volunteered (no money).  I think the director used that footage for several videos from what I hear.  I still get calls or texts from friends at 1 or 2 a.m., "Eh, that's you on the Good Time Together song yeah?"  My 15 minutes."

5.  What is your favorite professional sports team?  Why?

"San Francisco 49ers - 5 rings - Joe Montana (Brady who?)" - boom Kanani!

"Chicago Bulls - 6 rings - Michael Jordan "- really?, really?

"New York Yankees - 27 rings - Derek Jeter" - ...mic drop (silence)

6.  What is your opinion that Damien has gone co-educational?

"Fantastic.  Long overdue.  We don't live or work in a single gender world and need to know how to work with, communicate and socialize with the opposite sex.  No better environment than in a Christian based school like DMS.  Now and in years to come, DMS will see that it was one of the best decisions ever made.  Having intelligent and strong young women at DMS can only enrich the overall educational experience."

7.  Was there a great life lesson you learned while at Damien?

"Yes, Viriliter Age - Act Manfully.  It wasn't only a saying but a way of life for any Damien Man.  It meant that no matter what the circumstance, always be a gentleman and be proud of who you are and where you came from.  Now it has been translated to mean Act Courageously, which to me means the same thing...have the courage to set yourself apart to be a gentleman or lady in all situations.  Never let anyone out class a Damien student."

8.  Do you have a specific philosophy or goal on how you will proceed over a juvenile case in court?

"Yes, Treat each child as you would your own with discipline and compassion.  Every child's success is important to our community and we need to have accountability with a focus on how to help a child succeed.  The failure of any child is unacceptable as there is a ripple effect for us all.