Judiciary denizen 'Courthouse Al' tracked cases, lawyers and judges


POSTED: Thursday, August 27, 2009

Judges, lawyers and staff at Circuit Court on Punchbowl Street were relieved when the man affectionately known as “;Courthouse Al”; returned last Thursday, two days after he had collapsed in a hallway.

But when they didn't see him back this week they began to worry and asked each other whether anyone knew if Al was OK. Worry turned to sorrow when word quickly spread yesterday that Alfred Chamizo, 83, had been found dead in his apartment Tuesday.

“;It was a shock to everybody,”; said Daniel Chamizo, his younger brother.

He said doctors had performed a scan of Al's head following his collapse and gave him a clean bill of health. His doctor told Chamizo his brother probably died of a heart attack.

Alfred Chamizo wore a pacemaker and recently had the battery replaced.

His apartment manager last saw him alive Saturday. She went into his apartment Tuesday after his neighbors noticed he had not picked up his newspapers since Sunday.

The retired federal sheet metal worker had been a state court institution for the past 22 years. Since returning to Hawaii in 1987, Chamizo kept track of and attended prominent court cases in federal court, state Circuit Court and Honolulu District Court and shared what he knew with whoever asked, including judges, lawyers and reporters.

; He had an eye for the cameras and positioned himself to be in background shots of prominent court cases featured on local television.

“;That's how we checked to see he was all right,”; Daniel Chamizo said about his fiercely independent older brother.

He was also a valuable resource for lawyers and staff looking for people scheduled to appear in upcoming hearings and for first-time visitors to court.

Chief Justice Ronald Moon presented Chamizo a certificate of appreciation last December for his service as a goodwill ambassador of the court.

In recent years, Chamizo stopped going to federal and Honolulu District courts.

He volunteered on weekends at Kapiolani Park in what his brother called his part-time job helping people catch the right bus for where they wanted to go.

Chamizo was born in Hakalau, Hawaii. He is survived by older brother Bill and younger brother Daniel.

Services are pending.