A Buddhist Judge in Twentieth Century London
By Damien P. Horigan*
Korean Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 24. p. 1-16
The influence of religion on law in general is
widely acknowledged. Indeed, in many early cultures
law and religion were virtually indistinguishable.(1)
In more recent centuries the ties remained relatively
close. For example, English common law once had
significant structural ties to the Church of England
which had its own system of active ecclesiastical
courts.(2) Today Anglo-American common law remains to
some extent a product of the traditionally Christian
culture in which it developed.
But how does an individual judge's religion
influence a judge's approach to law? That question
appears to have received relatively little attention.
Yet, it should be readily apparent that a judge's
personal religion can influence
a judge's own approach to law much in the same way as
a judge's personal political beliefs can. Of course,
here I speak of those judges who take their
spirituality seriously. Mere church membership alone
probably has relatively little significance.
By looking at judges who are members of what
amounts to a minority religion in their jurisdiction,
the influence of religion, apart from other factors,
may become more noticeable. This would seem to be
especially true of those judges who take an active
role in their religious communities.
Buddhist judges outside of Asia(3) i.e.,
Buddhist members of the bench in the West provide
some clear examples of the influence of religion on
judicial decision making and behavior. The main
subject of this article, Judge Christmas Humphreys
(1901-1983), is an especially clear example of this
phenomenon as will be shown below.
II. Abe and Grimm
There have been a handful of Buddhist judges in
the West. In the author's home jurisdiction of Hawaii
there have been some Buddhist judges most notably,
the late Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Kazuhisa Haruko
Abe (1914 --1996).(4) Abe was raised as a Buddhist
and he was an occasional supporter of Buddhist
causes.(5) However, Abe once frankly admitted that he
know why he was a Buddhist and that he did not know
much about Buddhism as a religion.(6) Hence, any
Buddhist influence on Abe's approach to law(7) would
have been, at best, quite minor and perhaps more
A more appropriate example happens to come from a
civil law jurisdiction. Perhaps the earliest Buddhist
judge in the West was the German judge George(9)
Grimm, like a number of German-speaking
intellectuals of his day, came to Buddhism through an
earlier interest in the philosophy of Arthur
Schopenhauer (1788-1860). He would go onto study Pali
and to write extensively on Buddhism. He would also
become a Buddhist leader.
In Munich during the early 1920s Grimm help
establish the "Buddhistische Gemeinde fuer
Deutschland" in the "Buddhistische Loge zu den Drei
Juwelen" or the "Buddhist Community for Germany" in
the "Buddhist Lodge of the Three Jewels."(11) This
Buddhist body was banned by the Nazis in 1934.(12) In
1935 Grimm founded the (then) secret
"Altbuddhistische Gemeinde" or "Old Buddhist
Community." This group met in his home in the
Bavarian town of Utting am Ammersee.
The Altbuddhistische Gemeinde still exists today.
Among its present activities is the publication of a
German language journal called "Yaana(13) :
Zeitschrift fuer Buddhismus und religioese Kultur auf
buddhistischer Grundlage."(14) Yaana comes out every
As for Grimm's judicial career, his motto was
that it was "better to let ten guilty persons go free
than to punish one innocent person."(15) While he was
criticized by some for his often lenient approach,
Grimm kept the doctrine of karma(16) in mind. At his
funeral on August 29, 1945 he was hailed as having
been "Bavaria's most benevolent judge."(17) It is the
contention that Grimm's deep interest in Buddhism
helped to make him a compassionate judge.(18)
Judge Christmas Humphreys(19) was the son of the
well-known jurist, Sir Travers Humphreys.(20) His
father made it to the High Court, Even Christmas
Humphreys' mother served as a Justice of the Peace.
In the United States and elsewhere, Christmas
Humphreys is remembered mostly as a tireless
popularizer(21) of Buddhism and as a leader of
in Britain.(22) Only in United Kingdom has
significant attention been paid to his legal
career.(23) Here one can note that Humphreys wrote,
or edited an impressive total of 37 books.(24) Of
these works, only three dealt fundamentally with law
while most of the rest dealt primarily with Buddhism.
Interestingly, the three law-related books, all of
which were more in the genre of "true crime" stories
than serious legal studies, were the first to be
published.(25) Humphreys must have become
increasingly interested in Buddhism as time
Humphreys fully embraced Buddhism while studying
law at Trinity Hall, Cambridge.(27) His brother had
been killed in World War I and this, no doubt, was a
factor in Humphreys' spiritual search. Indeed, an
early and painful encounter with death has awakened
many people to the Buddhist perspective on
duhkha(28). The history of Buddhism is filled with
stories of people whose lives were greatly changed by
the early death of someone they knew well such as a
In 1924, Humphreys was called to the bar as a
member of Inner Temple. Inner Temple is believed to
be the oldest, richest, and most exclusive of the
four principal Inns of Court.(29) The fact that
Humphreys was admitted as a barrister at this
particular Inn bespeaks his elitist background and
upbringing.(30) Indeed, despite his interest in
Buddhism and other topics outside the mainstream of
British life, Humphreys appears in many respects to
have been an upper class Englishman in his outlook on
In the same year Humphreys organized what is now
called the Buddhist Society, one of the oldest and
largest Buddhist organizations outside Asia. Among
other things, the Buddhist Society has promoted a
lay, non-sectarian approach to Buddhism through its
regular schedule of classes in London and its various
publications, including a lively quarterly named The
Much like his father and forefathers before him,
Humphreys was attracted to criminal law and this was
the area in which he built his practice. In 1934, he
became Junior Treasury Counsel, i.e., a
prosecutor(32) at London's Central Criminal Court
commonly known as "the Old Bailey."(33) In 1950, he
became Senior Prosecuting Counsel and, in 1955, he
was selected by Inner Temple as a Bencher, a
principal officer of the Inn. The year 1959 saw
Humphreys taking silk i.e., appointed Queen's
Counsel. This meant that he had to do more criminal
defense work (instead of the prosecution cases he
preferred) because he was no longer considered as
being junior to the Attorney General.
Humphreys' first taste of what it was like to be
a judge came in his experiences as a Recorder, a sort
of part-time magistrate with limited judicial
functions.(34) He was a Recorder for Deal, Kent from
1942 to 1956 and for Guildford, Surrey from 1956 to
1968. He also served as Deputy Chairman of the East
Kent Quarter Sessions from 1947 to 1971.
In 1962 Humphreys was appointed a
Commissioner(35) at the Old Bailey. He became an
Additional Judge(36) at this same court in 1968, and
he served on the bench at the Old Bailey until he
retired in 1976.
Among the highlights of Humphreys legal career
was his involvement(37) in the Tokyo war crimes
tria1.(38) Once the proceedings were over, Humphreys
traveled throughout Asia meeting various Buddhist
leaders. His ties with Buddhist leaders in Asia no
doubt encouraged him to later serve as a Vice
President of the WFB(39) and to support the Dalai
After returning to England, Humphreys became
involved as a prosecutor in a series of controversial
murder cases which stands out from the more than 200
murder cases in which he was somehow involved during
the course of his long legal career. The first of
these were the Evans-Christie cases, which were
followed by the Ellis case.(41)
The Evans case resulted in the hanging(42) of an
illiterate (and apparently mentally retarded) man,
Timothy John Evans, on March 9, 1950 for the murders
of his wife and child. What is more disturbing is
that several years after his execution, new evidence
appeared during the trial of Evans' neighbor John
Reginald Halliday Christie, a former policeman. This
evidence seemed to indicate that Evans had been
innocent at least as far as his daughter was
concerned.(43) Evans was, in fact, posthumously
pardoned. The true murderer of Evans' child (and
possibly his wife) appears to have been Christie.
Eventually, on July 15, 1953, Christie was hanged as
The Ellis case involved one Ruth Ellis who
admitted in open court that she intended to kill her
(possibly abusive) lover, David Blakely. Although
Ellis was clearly guilty, the idea of hanging an
attractive young woman, which took place on July 13,
1995, was felt to be nearly as revolting as the
hanging of an innocent man. These cases together
mobilized opposition to capital punishment in
Humphreys preferred to work as a prosecutor
because he believed that witnesses for the
prosecution were far more likely to tell the truth or
to attempt to do so, than withnesses for the defense.
He felt that as a prosecutor it was his task merely
to establish guilt. Sentencing was, of course, a
matter for the judge. To Humphreys, it was karma that
had made him a prosecutor just as it was karma that
had lead criminals to commit crimes. Later, it would
be karma the saw Humphreys as a judge.
Humphreys stated that the reason for his being
able to accept a permanent judgeship in 1968 was that
England had suspended the death penalty by that
time.(44) To some Humphreys' understanding of karma
in all of this might seem like a mere
rationalization. Nevertheless, he had a deep interest
in karma. In fact, one of his books dealt with the
concepts of karma and reincarnation.(45)
In any event, once Humphreys joined the bench, he
quickly established a reputation for being a "gentle
judge."(46) He found sentencing to be an ordeal
because it meant adding to the suffering of the
criminal as well as making matters worse for the
criminal's family, friends, and others. As a result,
he tended to be lenient in his sentencing. He
believed that long sentences were normally
Humphreys' lenient sentences would sometimes stir
up prosecutors, but the most trouble came from the
press.'7 In June 1975, Humphreys passed a lenient
sentence on a young black man who had plead guilty to
The man was eighteen years old and had actually raped
two women at knife-point. Humphreys sentenced him to
a six months' suspended sentence. The media, which
was apparently faced with something of a lull in the
news, played up the sentencing.(48) Adding to the
public outcry was Humphreys sentencing a few days
later of a man who had cheated his employer of 2,000
pounds. That man was jailed for eighteen months.
The whole affair ended about six months later
when Humphreys was asked to resign. Humphreys'
judicial career was thus over in 1976. He devoted the
last few years of his life to Buddhist activities and
remained president of the Buddhist Society until his
death in 1983.
The private religious views of judges can have an
impact on judicial behavior. The life of Christmas
Humphreys shows how a committed Buddist was able to
draw upon his values while functioning in the modern
legal system of an increasingly secular yet
essentially Christian society. Although certain
events during his career as a prosecutor were
controversial and although likewise his later career
as a judge featured some judgements that were
controversial and perhaps occasionally unwise,
Humphreys did, in this writer's view, manage, for the
most part, to successfully instill some heartfelt
compassion into his courtroom. He worked effectively
as a Buddhist within a decidedly non-Buddhist
framework. Humphreys can thus serve as a positive
role model not only for present and future Buddhist
judges, but also for others who wish to inform
jurisprudence with spirituality, wisdom, and
The footnotes to this article have been moved to the bottom in this online edition, to improve legibility.
*Instructor, University of Phoenix, Hawaii
Campus, and Member of the Hawaii Bar. B.A.,
University of Hawaii at Hilo; M.A., University of New
Brunswick, Canada; J.D., University of Hawaii at
1. See generally, JOHN H. WIGMORE, A PANORAMA OF
THE WORLD'S LEGAL SYSTEMS (Library Edition, 1936)
2. BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 241, 354, 512 (6th ed.
Today there's still an entire volume of the
fourth edition of HALSBURY'S STATUTES OF ENGLAND AND
WALES devoted to ecclesiastical law. 14 HALSBURY'S
STAT. ENG. & WALES (Butterworths 1986 & 1995).
Meanwhile, Buddhist monastic orders have their
own ancient systems of disciplining monks and nuns.
NANDASENDA RATNAPALA, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN THE
BUDDHIST TRADITION (1993); M.B. Voyce, The Legal
Authority of the Buddhist Order of Monks, 1 JOURNAL
OF LAW & RELIGION 307 (1983); M.B. Voyce, The
Communal Discipline of the Buddhist Order of Monks:
The "Sanction" of the Vinaya Pitaka, 29 AM. J. JURIS.
123 (1984). Such monastic law should be distinguished
from the general influence of Buddhism on more
secular Asian legal thought. For instance, Buddhism
continues to have some impact on the national legal
system in Thailand where it is the state religion.
Frank E. Reynolds, Dhamma in Dispute the Interation of
Religion and Law in Thailand, 28 LAW & SOCIETY R. 433
3. Obviously, there have many Buddhist judges in
Asia with varying degrees of commitment to Buddhist
ideals. The degree to which Buddhism has influenced
judicial decision making in 20th century Asia is
beyond the scope of this article. Nevertheless, the
author would like to briefly mention the career of
one of the more famous Asian Buddhist judges of this
century, U Chan Htoon (1906--1988) of the
predominately Buddhist nation of Myanmar (formerly
U Chan Htoon was the main drafter of the first
truly independent constitution for Burma. Soon he
became the Union of Burma's first Attorney General.
He later served on Burma's Supreme Court until the
coup in 1962. U Chan Htoon's Buddhist activities
included serving as the president of the World
Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) from 1958 to 1963. He
was imprisoned from 1963 to 1967 by the military
government. After his release he devoted the rest of
his life to Buddhism including supporting the task of
translating Pali texts into English. Sanda Khin,
Judge U Chan Htoon, in WORLD FELLOWSHIP OF BUDDHISTS,
THE WORLD FELLOWSHIP OF BUDDHISTS FORTIETH
ANNIVERSARY 1950--1990, 80--81 (1990); MAUNG MAUNG,
BURMA'S CONSTITUTION passim (2 nd ed. 1961).
Incidentally, India's post-colonial Constitution
was drafted by Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar
(1891--1956), a lawyer, scholar, and politician, who
converted from Hinduism to Buddhism late in life and
then lead mass conversions of his fellow
"Untouchables" to Buddhism. See e.g. SANGHARAKSHITA,
AMBEDKAR AND BUDDHISM (1986).
4. Besides serving on the Supreme Court of
Hawaii, Abe was a District Court Magistrate, a member
of the Hawaii County Board of Supervisors, a member
of the state Senate and then Vice-President and later
President of the Senate. Both before and after his
stint on the Supreme Court, Abe was active in a
number of real estate deals. GEORGE COOPER & GAVAN
DAWS, LAND AND POWER IN HAWAII: THE DEMOCRATIC YEARS
passim P (1985) [hereinafter COOPER].
Abe passed away on May 18, 1996 at the the age of
82. "Memorial Service for Justice Abe set for
Thursday," Honolulu Advertiser, May 26, 1996, at A29.
5. While serving as Vice-President of the state
Senate in 1963, Abe was active in the movement to
establish April 8th, the Japanese celebration of the
Buddha's birth i.e., Buddha Day, as a state holiday.
Buddha Day might have made it as a full-fledged
official holiday were it not for Abe's politically
unwise move to then attempt -- apparently on his own
initiative and presumably against the wishes of many
of his fellow Buddhists in Hawaii -- to abolish both
Christmas and Good Friday as legal (state) holidays.
As things stand now, Christmas and Good Friday are
state holidays while Buddha Day is not. This remains
so despite Hawaii's significant Buddhist population.
LOUISE H. HUNTER, BUDDHISM IN HAWAII: ITS IMPACT ON A
YANKEE COMMUNITY 203-204 (1971) [hereinafter HUNTER];
HAW. REV. STAT. ANN. & 8-1 & 8-4 (Michie 1995); 1963
HAW. SESS. LAWS 206-207.
Incidentally, Hawaii's designation of Good Friday
as a state holiday has withstood a challenge based on
the establishment (of religion) clause of the First
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Cammack v.
Waihee, 932 F.2d 765 (9th Cir. 1991), cert. denied
112 S.Ct. 3027, 120 L.Ed.2d 898 (1992).
In 1967 Abe was appointed to the state Supreme
Court. At one point while serving on the Court,
Justice Abe asked then Chief Justice William S.
Richardson that Buddha Day be a holiday for the
Supreme Court. Abe was apparently motivated by the
fact that Justice Bernard Levinson had been excused
from his duties on Yom Kippur, a Jewish holiday
celebrated by only a tiny minority in the islands.
Unfortunately, Chief Justice Richardson refused to
entertain Abe's request. Williamson B.C. Chang,
Reversals of Fortune: The Hawaii Supreme Court, the
Memorandum Opinion, and the Realignment of Political
Power in Post-statehood Hawaii, 14 U. HAW. L. REV.
17, 20 n.9 (1992). For more on the relationship
between Abe and Richardson, see CAROL S. DODD, THE
RICHARDSON YEARS 1966-1982 passim (1985).
Buddha Day, though observed with certain
variations according to different national cultures
and sectarian traditions, is a popular festival
throughout the Buddhist world. The occasion is a
legal holiday in a number of Asian countries
including some places where Buddhism is a merely
minority religion. Since 1990 another major
Buddhist holiday, Bodhi Day, celebrated in Japan on
December 8th, has been recognized as a holiday in
Hawaii, but, again, this is not a state holiday as
such. Bodhi Day recalls the Buddha's Enlightenment.
HAW. REV. STAT. ANN. & 8-10 (Michie 1995). The term
Bodhi is essentially a synonym for Enlightenment or
Awakening. INGRID FISCHER--SCHREIBER ET AL, THE
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF EASTERN PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION
(Stephan Schuhmacher et al trans.) 37 (1994)
6. HUNTER supra note 5, at 206. This remains
rather common among Japanese-American Buddhists of
7. A search of the HI-CS (Hawaii case law)
database of WESTLAW revealed the following Supreme
Court of Hawaii opinions authored by Justice Abe:
Fleming v. Napili Kai, Limited, 50 Haw. 66, 430
P.2d 316 (1967); Murray v. Kobayashi, 50 Haw. 104,
431 P.2d 940 (1967): State v. Moeller, 50 Haw. 110,
433 P.2d 136 (1967); Nuuanu Memorial Park Mortuary,
Limited v. Briggs, 50 Haw. 177, 434 P.2d 750
(1967): Clarke v. Civil Service Commission, 50 Haw.
169, 434 P.2d 312 (1967); Honolulu Memorial Park,
Inc. v. City and County of Honolulu, 50 Haw. 189,
436 P.2d 207 (1967); Struzik v. City and County of
Honolulu, 50 Haw. 241, 437 P.2d 880 (1968); State
by Attorney General v. Heirs of Kapahi, 50 Haw.
237, 437 P.2d 321 (1968); State v. Yoshino, 50 Haw.
287 439 P.2d 666 (1968); City Collectors, Limited
v. Moku, 50 Haw. 273, 439 P.2d 217 (1968); Reed &
Martin, Inc. v. City and County of Honolulu, 50
Haw. 347, 440 P.2d 526 (1968); Medeiros v. First
Ins. Co. of Hawaii, 50 Haw. 401, 441 P.2d 341
(1968); State v. Abellano, 50 Haw. 384, 441 P.2d
333 (1968); Lee v. Civil Service Commission of City
and County of Honolulu, 50 Haw. 426, 442 P.2d 61
(1968); Manley v. Nelson, 50 Haw. 484, 443 P.2d 155
(1968); Cane City Builders, Inc. v. City Bank of
Honolulu, 50 Haw. 472, 443 P.2d 145 (1968): Hung Wo
Ching v. Hawaiian Restaurants, Limited, 50 Haw.
563, 445 P.2d 370 (1968); Highway Super Market v.
Matsuo, 50 Haw. 519, 445 P.2d 34 (1968); Striker v.
Nakamura, 50 Haw. 590, 446 P.2d 35 (1968); Honolulu
Rapid Transit Co. v. Paschoal, 51 Haw. 19, 449 P.2d
124 (1968); State v. Vincent, 51 Haw. 40, 450 P.2d
996 (1969); A.C. Chock, Limited v. Kaneshiro, 51
Haw. 87, 451 P.2d 809 (1969); Lopez v. Tavares, 51
Haw. 141, 451 P.2d 804 (1969); Upchurch v. State,
51 Haw. 150, 454 P.2d 112 (1969); State v. Butler,
51 Haw. 180, 455 P.2d 4 (1969); State v. Johnson,
51 Haw. 195, 456 P.2d 805 (1969); Ed Klein, Inc. v.
Hotel Kaimana, Inc., 51 Haw. 268, 457 P.2d 210
(1969); Gibe v. City and County of Honolulu, 51
Haw. 299, 459 P.2d 198 (1969); Chun v. Park,
51 Haw. 462, 462 P.2d 905 (1969); Berkness v.
Hawaiian Elec. Co., 51 Haw. 437, 462 P.2d 196
(1969); Hawaii Jewelers Ass'n v. Fine Arts
Gallery, Inc., 51 Haw. 502, 463 P.2d 914
(1970); Levy v. Kimball, 51 Haw. 540, 465 P.2d
580 (1970); J.A. Thompson & Son, Inc. v. State,
51 Haw. 529, 465 P.2d 148 (1970); Bissen v.
Fujii, 51 Haw. 636, 466 P.2d 429 (1970);
Bachran v. Morishige, 52 Haw. 61, 469 P.2d 808
(1970); Ashford v. Thos. Cook and Son (Bankers)
Ltd., 52 Haw. 113, 471 P.2d 530 (1970); Radford
v. Morris, 52 Haw. 180, 472 P.2d 500 (1970);
Corden v. Paschoal's Limited, 52 Haw. 242, 473
P.2d 561 (1970); Honda v. Higa, 52 Haw. 311,
474 P.2d 708 (1970); Young v. Kwock, 52 Haw.
273, 474 P.2d 285 (1970); Appeal of Harper, 52
Haw. 313, 475 P.2d 53 (1970); Mauain Hotel,
Inc. v. Maui Pineapple Co., 52 Haw. 563, 481
P.2d 310 (1971);State v. Shigematsu, 52 Haw.
604, 483 P.2d 997 (1971); Matsumoto v. Kaku, 52
Haw. 629, 484 P.2d 147 (1971); In re Hawaiian
Land Co., 53 Haw. 45, 487 P.2d 1070 (1971)
;Gregg Kendall & Associates, Inc. v. Kauhi, 53
Haw. 88, 488 P.2d 136 (1971) ; Ahnne v.
Department of Labor and Indus. Relations, 53
Haw. 185, 489 P.2d 1397 (1971); Hall v. Kim, 53
Haw. 215, 491 P.2d 541 (1971) ;State v.
Santiago, 53 Haw. 254, 492 P.2d 657 (1971); Doe
v. State Ethics Commission, 53 Haw. 373, 494
P.2d 559 (1972); Petersen v. City and County of
Honolulu, 53 Haw. 440, 496 P.2d 440 (1972);
Hino v. Kim, 53 Haw. 492, 497 P.2d 562 (1972);
Application of Pioneer Mill Co., 53 Haw. 496,
497 P.2d 549 (1972); State v. Texaco, Inc., 53
Haw. 567, 498 P.2d 631 (1972); White v, Board
of Ed., 54 Haw. 10, 501 P.2d 358 (1972); Akamine
and Sons, Ltd. v. Hawaii Nat. Bank, Honolulu,
54 Haw. 107, 503 P.2d 424 (1972); McBryde Sugar
Co., Ltd. v. Robinson, 54 Haw. 174, 504 P.2d
1330 (1973); Baldeviso v. Thompson, 54 Haw.
125, 504 P.2d 1217 (1972); City and County of
Honolulu v. Chun, 54 Haw. 287, 506 P.2d 770
(1973); Kahili, Inc. v. Yamamoto, 54 Haw. 267,
506 P.2d 9 (1973); Application of Castle, 54
Haw. 276, 506 P.2d 1 (1973); Aluli v. Trusdell,
54 Haw. 417, 508 P.2d 1217 (1973); State v.
Marley, 54 Haw. 450, 509 P.2d 1095 (1973);
State v. Torres, 54 Haw. 502, 510 P.2d 494
(1973); City and County of Honolulu v. Bonded
Inv. Co., Ltd., 54 Haw. 523, 511 P.2d 163
(1973); State v. Delmondo, 54 Haw. 552, 512
P.2d 551 (1973); Edmunds v. Won Bae Chang, 54
Haw. 568, 512 P.2d 3 (1973); State v. Faafiti,
54 Haw. 637, 513 P.2d 697 (1973); Murphy v.
Murphy, 55 Haw. 34, 514 P.2d 865 (1973); Thomas
v. State, 55 Haw. 30, 514 P.2d 572 (1973);
Fujioka v. Kam, 55 Haw. 7, 514 P.2d 568 (1973);
Natatorium Preservation Committee v. Edelstein,
55 Haw. 55, 515 P.2d 621 (1973); State v.
Santiago, 55 Haw. 162, 516 P.2d 1256 (1973);
State v. Cotton, 55 Haw. 148, 516 P.2d 715
(1973); Salavea v. City and County of Honolulu,
55 Haw. 216, 517 P.2d 51 (1973).
In addition, Justice Abe wrote at least one
dissenting opinion and one concurring opinion. The
dissent was in State v. Cotton, 55 Haw. 138, 516
P.2d 709 (1973). Abe's dissent in Cotton begins at
55 Haw. 143, 516 P.2d 712. The concurring opinion
was in Estate of Bishop, 53 Haw. 604, 499 P.2d 670
(1972). Abe's concurrence begins at 53 Haw. 608,
499 P.2d 673.
8. The only majority opinion by Abe directly
related to religion is Murray v. Kobayashi,
50 Haw. 104, 431 P.2d 940 (1967). In Murray, the
Hawaii Supreme Court held that the Estate of Princess
Bernice Pauahi Bishop, which operates the Kamehameha
Schools--a system of schools exclusively for students
of Native Hawaiian ancestry, was a
charitable/educational organization connected with a
religious organization (the campus chapel) and was
thus exempt from a state law prohibiting
discrimination in employment on the basis of
religion. The 19th century will provided that only
teachers of the Protestant religion could be hired.
Ironically, by ruling in the Bishop Estate's favor,
Abe denied his fellow non-Protestants the opportunity
to teach at the Kamehameha schools.
Just a few years later, Abe expressed a rather
different view of the Bishop Estate's pro-Protestant
policies in his concurrence in Estate of Bishop, 53
Haw. 604, 499 P.2d 670 (1972).
The Murray case is no longer good law thanks, in
part, to a more recent federal case filed by the
United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(E.E.O.C.) on behalf of a non-Protestant who had
applied for an advertised position for a substitute
French teacher. E.E.O.C. v. Kamehameha Schools/Bishop
Estate, 780 F.Supp. 1317 (D. Hawaii 1991), rev'd, 990
F.2d 458 (9th Cir. 1993), cert. denied 114 S.Ct. 439,
848 F.Supp. 899 (D.Hawaii 1993) (on remand). For an
analysis of this case and related matters, see Jon M.
Van Dyke, The Kamehameda Schools/Bishop Estate and
the Constitution, 17 U. HAW. L. REV. 413 (1995).
Although technically a charitable trust, the
Bishop Estate is one of the most powerful
institutions in the islands. COOPER, supra note 4,
passim. See also., GAVAN DAWS, SHOAL OF TIME:A
HISTORY OF THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS 162, 190,
9. In German language works George Grimm's first
name is spelt without the final "e" i.e., Georg Grimm
instead of George Grimm.
10. GEORGE GRIMM, THE DOCTRINE OF THE BUDDHA: THE
RELIGION OF REASON AND MEDIATION (M. Keller-Grimm &
Max Hoppe eds.) (Bhikkhu Silacara trans.) 415
(Motilal Banarsidass 1965) (1958). For a biography on
Judge Grimm's life, see MAX HOPPE, GEORG GRIMM (1973)
[In German] [hereinafter HOPPE]. See also, STEPHEN
BATCHELOR, THE AWAKENING OF THE WEST: THE ENCOUNTER
OF BUDDHISM AND WESTERN CULTURE 315--16, 320 (1994)
11. HOPPE, supra note 10, at 22. The term "three
jewels" is a translation of the Sanskrit triratna and
the Pali tiratna. The three jewels are:the Buddha
(the Awakened One); the dharma (Pali: dhamma) (the
teachings) ; and the sangha (the followers) .
FISCHER-SCHREIBER, supra note 5, at 380.
12. This is the year given in HOPPE, supra note
10, at 23, whereas 1933 is the year given in
BATCHELOR, supra note 10, at 315.
13. A rather free translation of the name would
be "Yaana: A Journal of Buddhism and Buddhist-based
14. The term yaana (also spelt yaana-ka) is a
Sanskrit word for "vehicle." ARTHUR ANTHONY
MACDONELL, A PRACTICAL SANSKRIT DICTIONARY: WITH
TRANSLITERATIONS, ACCENTUATION, AND ETYMOLOGICAL
ANALYSIS THROUGHOUT 244 (Oxford University Press
1965) (1929) [hereinafter MACDONELL];
FISCHER-SCHREIBER, supra note 5, at 423-24.
15. HOPPE, supra note 10, at 8.
16. It is arguably more accurate to say karman
which is the nominative case of this neuter Sanskrit
noun. See MACDONELL, supra note 14, at 64. However,
Karma has already become an English word listed in
many dictionaries. So, here it will be treated as
17. HOPPE, supra note 10, at 8.
18. In Buddhism, "justice," compassion (karuna),
and karma are all considered to be interconnected.
REBECCA REDWOOD FRENCH, THE GOLDEN YOKE: THE LEGAL
COSMOLOGY OF BUDDHIST TIBET (1995); Andrew Huxley,
Sanctions in the Theravada Buddhist Kingdoms of S.E.
Asia RECUEILS DE LA SOCIETE JEAN BODIN 335 (1992);
CHRISTOPHER IVES, ZEN AWAKENING AND SOCIETY (1992).
19. The overall account of the life of Christmas
Humphreys presented here draws on the following:
CHRISTMAS HUMPHREYS, BOTH SIDES OF THE CIRCLE: THE
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHRISTMAS HUMPHREYS(1978)
[hereinafter CIRCLE]; His Honour Judge Christmas
Humphreys: Gentle Judge, Eccentric, and Buddhist, THE
TIMES (London), April 15, 1983, at 12: Christmas
Humphreys 1901-1983, 58 THE MIDDLE WAY, May 1983, at
1 - 2; Francis Cowper, Sleep to Return, NEW YORK LAW
JOURNAL, May 10, 1983, at 2 [hereinafter COWPER]: 58
THE MIDDLE WAY, August 1983, passim: Christmas
Humphreys, 1901-1983: A Pioneer of Buddhism in the
West 26 (n.s.) THE EASTERN BUDDHIST, Autumn 1983, at
134- 139: Checklist of Books by Christmas Humphreys,
59 THE MIDDLE WAY, February 1984, at 230 [hereinafter
CHECKLIST]; Christmas Humphreys, THE ANNUAL OBITUARY
1983 180-182 (1984) [hereinafter ANNUAL OBITUARY].
20. The dates are: 1867-1956. For background on
Travers Humphreys, see STAN-LEY JACKSON, THE LIFE
AND CASES OF MR. JUSTICE HUMPHREYS (1952);Steve
Uglow, Humphreys, Sir (Richard Somers) Travers
(Christmas), BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF THE COMMON
LAW 264-265 (1984) [hereinafter UGLOW].
21. The author believes that "popularizer" is a
good description because although Humphreys did write
widely on Buddhism, he did so with a large audience
in mind, He was certainly not a "Buddhologist" i.e.,
a scholar of Buddhist studies in the narrow sense of
the term. Unlike his close associates Edward Conze
and Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, Humphreys, for instance,
never held a full-time academic post. For some
insights on Humphreys' relationship with these two
famous scholars, see A. IRWIN SWITZER, III, D.T.
SUZUKI: A BIOGRAPHY (John Snelling, ed., 1985). For
Conze's surprisingly harsh assessment of Humphreys,
see EDWARD CONZE, THE MEMOIRS OF A MODERN GNOSTIC
(1979), parts 1 & 2, passim. Finally, for a look at
the type of Zen that influenced Suzuki and later to
some extent Humphreys, see Robert H. Sharf, The Zen
of Japanese Nationalism, in CURATORS OF THE BUDDHA:
THE STUDY OF BUDDHISM UNDER COLONIALISM 107-160
(Donald S. Lopez, Jr., ed., 1995).
22. Humphreys's position as a lay leader put him
in conflict with some English Buddhists with monastic
backgrounds. BATCHELOR, supra note 10, at 132. A
certain amount of sexism on Humphreys' part might
have been a significant factor in the incident which
Batchelor describes involving a British nun who had
been trained in both Malaysia and Japan.
23. Searches of the UKCASE file of the INTLAW
library of LEXIS, which contains reported cases
dating back to those published in January, 1945,
yielded a total of 37 reported decisions with which
Humphreys was in some way connected. There are likely
some other appellate cases from either his early
career which are not covered by LEXIS or more recent
cases which were simply not reported anywhere. Here
it should be kept in mind that the reporting of
English cases is considerably more limited than what
is done in the United States. Burton M. Atkins,
Selective Reporting and the Communication of Legal
Rights in England, 76 JUDICATURE 58 (1992).
At any rate, available cases in which Humphreys
served as a lawyer are as follows:
R. v. Young, 30 Cr App Rep 57 (1944); Ex parte
Speculand,  KB 48, 174 LT 334, 44 LGR
130;Bridge v. Campbell, 177 LT 444, 45 LGR 520,
 WN 223; R. v. Hateley,  WN 183, 65 TLR
204;R. v. Leitz, 33 Cr App Rep 132(1949); R. v.
Kritz,  1 KB 82,  2 All ER 406, 48 LGR
88, 65 TLR 505, 113 JP 449, 33 Cr App Rep 169, 
WN 374; R. v. Evans,  1 All ER 610, 66 TLR (Pt
1) 629, 34 Cr App Rep 72,  WN 111; R. v.
Middlesex Quarter Sessions and another; Ex parte
Director of Public Prosecutions,  2 KB 589,
 1 All ER 916, 48 LGR 414, 66 TLR (Pt 1) 804,
114 JP 276, 34 Cr App Rep 112,  WN 225;R. v.
South Greenhoe Justices; Ex parte Director of Public
Prosecutions,  2 All ER 42, 48 LGR 483, 34 Cr
App Rep 120,  WN 259;R. v. Tronoh Mines, Ltd.,
and Others,  1 All Er 697, 50 LGR 461, 35 Cr
App Rep 196;R. v. Davies,  1 WLR 214; Davies v.
Director of Public Prosecutions,  AC 378,
 1 All ER 507,  2 WLR 343, 118 JP 222, 38
Cr App Rep 11;R. v. Reiter and Others,  2 GB
16,  1 All ER 741,  2 WLR 638, 118 JP
262, 38 Cr App Rep 62:R. v. Grant; R. v. Gilbert, 38
Cr App Rep 107 (1954); R. v. City of London Licensing
Justices; Ex parte Stewart and Another,  3 All
ER 270,  1 WLR 1325, 5 P & CR 8, 52 LGR 525,
118 JP 529; R. v. Michalski, 39 Cr App Rep 22; R. v.
Collister; R.v. Warhurst, 39 Cr App Rep 100 (1955);
R. v. Martin and Others,  2 QB 272,  2
All ER 86,  2 WLR 975, 120 JP 225, 40 Cr App
Rep 68;R. v. Kiley, 41 Cr App Rep 241 (1957); R. v.
Bastin,  1 All Er 568,  1 WLR 413,
42 Cr App Rep 75; R. v. Pilkington, 42 Cr App Rep 233
(1958);R. v. Hall and Others, 43 Cr App Rep 29
(1959); R. v. Attard, 43 Cr App Rep 90 (1958); R. v.
Woodrow, Cooper and Harrington, 43 Cr App Rep 90
(1958); R. v. Chrimes, 43 Cr App Rep 149 (1959); R.
v. Gammon, 43 Cr App Rep 155 (1959);R. v. Shacter,
 2 QB 252,  1 All ER 61,  2 WLR
258, 44 Cr App Rep 68; Auten v. Rayner and Others
(No. 2),  1 QB 669,  1 All ER 692, 
2 WLR 562;R. v. Barnsley County Borough Licensing
Justices; Ex parte Barnsley & District Licensed
Victuallers' Association and another,  2 QB
167,  2 All ER 703,  3 WLR 305, 58 LGR
285; R. v. Davis, 44 Cr App Rep 235 (1960); United
Dairies (London) , Ltd. v. Beckenham
Corporation;United Dairies (London) , Ltd. v. E.
Fisher & Sons, Ltd.,  1 QB 434,  1 All ER
579,  2 WLR 737, 59 LGR 252, 125 JP 218;R. v.
Madan,  2 QB 1,  1 All ER 588,  2
WLR 231, 45 Cr App Rep 80, 125 JP 246;R. v. Quinn; R.
v. Bloom,  2 QB 245,  3 All ER 88, 
3 WLR 611, 45 Cr App Rep 279, 125 JP 565; R. v.
Carter and Another,  2 QB 1,  1 All ER
187,  2 WLR 266, 48 Cr App Rep 122, 128 JP 172.
LEXIS revealed only two appeals from cases which
Humphreys had heard as a judge: R. v. Lawrence and
Pomroy, 57 Cr App Rep 64 (1971); R. v. Homett, 
RTR 256. Moreover, the LEXIS search unfortunately did
not reveal any actual decisions written by Humphreys.
This might not be unusual given the fact that
decisions by the Central Criminal Court apparently
are only rarely printed in the regular reporters or
noted in the law journals and thus available on
Finally LEXIS also revealed a case in which Judge
Numphreys had submitted an affidavit supporting the
view that Buddhism is a religion. In re South Place
Ethical Society; Barralet and others v. Attorney
General and others,  3 All ER 918,  1 WLR
1565, 54 Tax Cas 446. This case was heard several
years after Humphreys had retired from the bench.
24. CHECKLIST, supra note 19; ANNUAL OBITUARY,
supra note 19.
25. Even in his early law-related works, one can
detect a certain Buddhist influence on Humphreys'
thinking. A clear example is CHRISTMAS HUMPHREYS, THE
MENACE IN OUR MIDST 35-36, 70-71(1933) wherein he
refers to the doctrines of rebirth and of cause and
effect viz., karma.
26. As his understanding of Buddhism increased,
it no doubt had an effect on his approach to law. For
instance, in 1933 Humphreys advocated certain forms
of corporal punishment for young offenders. Id., at
97-98. Such a statement is, at first, rather surpri-
sing for a man who, decades later, would become known
as a "gentle judge." Hence, Buddhism must have had a
profound impact on his approach to the law.
Incidentally, Humphreys' father, Sir Travers
Humphreys, has been described as "a Victorian in his
views on crime -- punishment prevents crime and
comfort for prisoners increases it." UGLOW, supra
note 20, at 265. Again, this is evidence for the
transformation that Buddhism had on the younger
27. Before he entered Cambridge, Humphreys
atended a so-called public school known as Malvern.
While a student at Malvern, Humphreys first read
about Buddhism. CIRCLE, supra note 19, at 29-32.
28. Duhkha in Sanskrit and dukkha in Pali is
often translated into English as "suffering."
FISCHER-SCHREIBER, supra note 5, at 96. However, the
Buddhist term is broader than the English word
"suffering" and can include minor discomfort as well
as great sorrow.
29. A. SAMPSON, THE CHANGING ANATOMY OF BRITAIN
152 (1982). Abridged in MARY ANN GLENDON, MICHAEL
WALLACE GORDON & CHRISTOPHER OSAKWE, COMPARATIVE
LEGAL TRADITIONS 391 (1985) [hereinafter GLENDON].
See also ELIZABETH A. MARTIN(ED.) , A CONCISE
DICTIONARY OF LAW 207 (2d ed., 1990) [hereinafter
30. Although Humphreys and his father were both
barristers and later judges, the family's connection
with the law goes back even further. Humphreys'
grandfather, great-grandfather, and
great-great-grandfather had all been solicitors
specializing in criminal law. COWPER, supra note 19,
at 2; CIRCLE, supra note 19, at 19-20.
31. The journal derives its name from the notion
that Buddhism is a middle way (Sanskrit:
madhyamaa-pratipad; Pali: majjhimapaatipadaa) between
extremes such as hedonism and total denial.
FISCHER-SCHREIBER, supra note 5, at 226.
32. For some of his views on how a prosecutor
should function, see Christmas Humphreys, The Duties
and Responsibilities of Prosecuting Counsel 
GRIM. L.R. 739. A condensed version of this article
can be found in GLENDON, supra note 29, at 522.
Even while serving as a prosecutor, Humphreys
would apparently defend some criminal cases as was
common with barristers then. CIRCLE, supra note 19,
33. This famous court is the Crown Court for
London. It currently has some original jurisdiction
along with some appellate jurisdiction over
magistrates' courts. PHILIP S. JAMES, INTRODUCTION TO
ENGLISH LAW 39--40 (12th ed. 1989); R.M. JACKSON, THE
MACHINERY OF JUSTICE IN ENGLAND 210 (7th ed. 1977).
Reprinted in GLENDON, supra note 33, at 307. See also
BERNARD O'DONNELL, THE OLD BAILEY AND ITS TRIALS
In other words, the Central Criminal Court is
essentially a trial court for serious crimes like
rape or murder which would normally be classified as
felonies in the United States. Appeals from the
Central Crimianl Court are presently heard by the
Court of Appeal. In contrast to most cases before the
Central Criminal Court, quite a few of the Court of
Appeal's decisions are reported.
34. MARTIN, supra note 29, at 341-342.
35. This post appears to be similar to that of a
per diem judge in the United States. See W.J. BYRNE,
A DICTIONARY OF ENGLISH LAW 202 (Fred B. Rothman,
36. This is a permanent post.
37. Humphreys claims to have kept a relatively
low profile at the trails because he was also meeting
with Japanese Buddhists in his spare time. CIRCLE,
supra note 19, at 134.
38. Complete lists of prosecutors and defense
counsel are available in 5 R. JOHN PRITCHARD & SONIA
MAGBANUA (EDS.), THE TOKYO WAR CRIMES TRIAL: INDEX
AND GUIDE (1981).
39. The WFB is presently based in Bangkok,
40. The Dalai Lama's government-in-exile is based
in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala which is
located in Himachal Pradesh.
41. For some information on these three cases,
see Evans, supra; JAMES B. CHRISTOPH, CAPITAL
PUNISHMENT AND BRITISH POLITICS: THE BRITISH MOVEMENT
LISH THE DEATH PENALTY 1947-57(1962), at 100-108,
198-199 [hereinafter CHRISTOPH]. For the Evans case,
see also, RUTH BRANDON & CHRISTIE DAVIES, WRONGFUL
IMPRISONMENT: MISTAKEN CONVICTIONS AND THEIR
CONSEQUENCES passim (1973). The Ellis and Christie
cases were apparently never reported in regular
British law reports. Nevertheless, these cases did
inspire a couple of British films that have been
released on video in the United States. The first was
based on both the Evans and Christie cases. 10
RILLINGTON PLACE (Columbia Pictures 1970)
[hereinafter 10 RILLINGTON PLACE]. The Ellis case
served as the basis for DANCE WITH A STRANGER
(Vestron Video 1984) [hereinafter DANCE WITH A
STRANGER]. Humphreys' role in the trial of Evans was
a relatively minor part of 10 RILLINGTON PLACE, id
The trial in the Christie case was not featured in
the film. Furthermore, there were no courtroom scenes
at all in DANCE WITH A STRANGER, id.
42. Capital punishment for murder was suspended
and then abolished in England over two decades ago.
Capital Punishment  GRIM. L.R. 65. A move to
restore the death penalty was defeated in Parliament
in 1982. TOM SORELL, MORAL THEORY AND CAPITAL
PUNISHMENT 30-55(1987) [hereinafter SORELL].
43. There is some confusion about whether the
wife and daughter were killed by the same person.
SORELL, supra note 42, at 47, 54; CHRISTOPH, supra
note 41, at 100-102. The story presented in 10
RILLINGTON PLACE, supra note 41, had Christie
murdering both the wife and the baby daughter of
Evans. Evans was portrayed as being completely
innocent albeit both confused and rather simple.
44. Presently, the only capital crime in England
is treason. P.H. COLLIN ET AL, PONS FACHWOERTERBUCH
RECHT: ENGLISCH-DEUTSCH; DEUTSCH-ENGLISCH [Pons Legal
Dictionary: English-German: German-English] 41
(1990); DAVID M. WALKER, THE OXFORD COMPANION TO LAW
45. CHRISTMAS HUMPHREYS, KARMA AND REBIRTH (The
Wisdom of the East Series, 1959) (1943). For better
or for worse, the influence of the early Theosophical
Society movement is apparent in this work. In other
words, some Buddhists would take exception to certain
of Humphreys' descriptions.
46. See generally supra note 19.
47. This account is based mostly on COWPER, supra
note 19, at 2.
48. Humphreys relates that he had even fined some
rapists earlier, but that these cases had received no
close media coverage. CIRCLE, supra note 19, at 241.
Disappeared from the internet at: http://sino-sv3.sino.uni-heidelberg.de/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/damien.htm