A staunch advocate for the rights of minorities and targeted groups, Doug Chin as Hawai‘i Attorney General drew nationwide and international attention in 2017 when he successfully stopped President Donald Trump from implementing a ban on persons seeking entry into the United States from several Muslim-majority nations. That lawsuit was the first of many legal challenges brought by Democratic state attorneys general against the Trump administration during its first year.
The son of Chinese immigrants, Chin was born on July 21, 1966. After moving to the U.S., Chin’s parents settled in Seattle. Chin’s father worked as a civil engineer and his mother was a career librarian in the University of Washington system. They raised Chin and his older sister in the Puget Sound area. Chin graduated with honors from Stanford University in 1988, then worked for IBM in the Bay Area and Honolulu before earning his law degree from the University of Hawai‘i.
Chin started his legal career at the Honolulu prosecutor’s office in 1998, where he tried approximately fifty jury cases to verdict. Chin obtained guilty verdicts in notorious cases including a brutal rape-murder committed by the victim’s neighbor and a serial rapist of Honolulu prostitutes. He was recognized with a “Top Gun” award for winning the most trials in a calendar year out of 100 Honolulu prosecutors. In 2006, Chin was appointed chief deputy prosecutor and later acting prosecutor in 2010.
From 2010 to 2013, under Honolulu mayor Peter B. Carlisle, Chin served as managing director for the City and County of Honolulu. Chin was directly responsible for 23 municipal government and public safety agencies and approximately 10,000 employees with an annual operating budget of $2 billion. In 2011, Chin oversaw city operations during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperative meeting in Honolulu, the first time the summit of nations was held in the United States.
From 2013 to 2015, Chin was a law partner and eventual managing partner at Carlsmith Ball, one of the oldest and largest law firms in the state of Hawai‘i. His areas of practice included renewable energy and clean technology projects, land use and development projects and commercial litigation.
Hawai‘i Governor David Y. Ige appointed Doug Chin to become Hawai‘i’s Attorney General in January 2015, and he was unanimously confirmed by the State Senate on March 15, 2015. As Attorney General, Chin successfully advocated for legislation in support of abuse and sex assault victims, and for strong regulatory oversight of legalized medical marijuana dispensaries. Chin prosecuted high-profile public corruption cases, negotiated a generous monetary settlement that included environmental mitigation remedies after one of the nation’s largest shipping companies dumped a quarter million gallons of molasses into Honolulu Harbor, and completed the state’s largest-ever conservation easement land deal on Oahu’s world-famous North Shore.
From 2016 to 2017, Chin served as the Chairperson of the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG), a bipartisan organization comprised of 22 state attorneys general from the Western United States. He also served on the Executive Committee for the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).
Chin lives with his wife, Kathleen, and his son, Ian, in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. His daughter, Fiona, is a college student in Philadelphia. He has two dogs, Aristotle and River. Outside of work, Chin has served on the boards of the local YMCA, the American Youth Soccer Organization, and the American Judicature Society.