The Honorable Richard Clifton

  • Lecturer in Law


  • AB Princeton University 1972
  • JD Yale Law School 1975


Richard Clifton is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a position he assumed in 2002. He is the administrative judge for the middle unit of the court and a member of the court's executive committee.

He first worked for the Ninth Circuit in 1975-76 as a law clerk for Judge Herbert Y.C. Choy, the first judge from Hawaiʻi to serve on that court. Following his clerkship he practiced law for 25 years with the firm now known as Cades Schutte LLP. His practice focused on business and commercial litigation. He provided pro bono counsel for several non-profit organizations and through the organization now known as Volunteer Legal Services Hawaiʻi. He was a delegate to the Hawaiʻi State Judicial Conference and the District of Hawaiʻi Judicial Conference, and he served as Chairman of the Hawaiʻi State Bar Association Committee on Quality of Life.

Judge Clifton is currently a member of the Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction for the Judicial Conference of the United States and of the Ninth Circuit Pacific Islands Committee. He has twice served as an acting justice of the High Court of American Samoa, Appellate Division. He was a delegate to the Pacific Judicial Conferences in 2007 (held in Tonga), 2009 (Tahiti), and 2010 (Guam). He was chairman of the 2008 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference and program chairman for the 2007 conference.

He is a director of the Hawaiʻi Women's Legal Foundation, the Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society, the Hawaiʻi Chapter of the American Judicature Society, and the Federal Judges Association, and he is a member of the American Law Institute. He has been a director of Hawaiʻi Public Radio for over twenty years and served as its chairman for six years.