Doug Chin has extensive experience in state and federal courts, from Hawaii to the United States Supreme Court, and experience in managing state and local government agencies at the highest levels. Mr. Chin focuses his practice in commercial litigation, administrative law and government relations. Mr. Chin has been named to the Best Lawyers in America® list in the practice areas of Commercial Litigation and Government Relations Practice, and is rated “AV Preeminent”, Martindale-Hubbell’s highest rating possible, for his skill and integrity.
Attorney General, State of Hawaii
During Mr. Chin’s term as the state’s Attorney General from 2015-2018, he was the first Hawaii Attorney General to chair the Conference of Western Attorneys General, the first to serve on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General, and the first to serve as the policy chair for the Democratic Attorneys General Association.
Some notable cases he handled were:
Hawaii v. Trump – First attorney general in the nation to successfully obtain an injunction to stop the President’s second and third executive orders banning travel from certain Muslim-majority countries, a case that received national exposure and was eventually heard by the United States Supreme Court. For his efforts, Mr. Chin in 2017 was recognized by the Hawaii State Bar Association as its “Champion for Social Justice”, and by the Council on American Islamic Relations as a “Defender of Liberty”.
Environmental Litigation – Led negotiations resulting in $15 million settlement to the state department of land and natural resources to restore coral reefs after a shipping company spilled millions of gallons of molasses into Honolulu Harbor.
Hospital Public to Private Governance – Successfully closed complex transaction in response to Hawaii legislature bill to transfer management of a public state hospital to a private entity in one year. Litigated employee contract terms related to the transition before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and led negotiations leading to mutual settlement.
Consumer Protection – Initiated lawsuit that successfully stopped the U.S. Secretary of Education from reversing decision to forgive student loans issued fraudulently by for-profit colleges.
Medical Cannabis Dispensary Regulation – Implemented new state law granting licenses for the first time to medical cannabis dispensaries in Hawaii. Co-chaired a national working group through the National Association of Attorneys General made up of 29 states with various forms of legalized cannabis legislation.
As a Director of Starn O'Toole Marcus & Fisher in 2019, obtained complete defense judgement in federal court related to an ocean injury case while representing hotel resort owner and operator. Also successfully represented municipal government agency in ocean fatality litigation.
As a state and Honolulu County prosecutor for more than 15 years, Mr. Chin tried approximately 50 jury cases to verdict.
Mr. Chin was recognized with a “Top Gun” award for winning the most trials in a calendar year out of 100 Honolulu prosecutors. In 2006, Mr. Chin was appointed First Deputy Prosecutor and then became Acting Prosecuting Attorney in 2010.
In addition to serving as the Hawaii Attorney General, Mr. Chin served as the Hawaii Lieutenant Governor in 2018. From 2010 to 2013, under Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, Mr. Chin served as the Managing Director for the City & County of Honolulu. Mr. Chin was responsible for 23 municipal government agencies and more than 10,000 employees with an annual operating budget of $2 billion. Mr. Chin oversaw city operations when Honolulu became the first U.S. city to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperative (APEC) summit, an event attended by leaders from 22 economies including the United States, China, Japan and Russia. Mr. Chin also negotiated complex matters ranging from public employee contracts to energy sustainability initiatives.
Mr. Chin has served on multiple boards outside of work, including the American Judicature Society, the Hawaii Book and Music Festival, and the local YMCA and American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) chapters. He was awarded Honolulu AYSO’s “Volunteer of the Year” award for 2 consecutive years.