The Honorable Kathleen Akao

Santa Cruz Superior Court, Department deceased


The Hon. Kathleen K. Akao (deceased) served as a judge for the Santa Cruz County Superior Court in California. Akao was elected to the bench in 1994.

Over the course of her judicial career, Akao specialized in family law matters. She was also instrumental in the creation of the Santa Cruz County Drug Court in 1999.

Akao earned a B.A. in English from San Jose State University in 1971. She then completed a J.D. at Santa Clara University School of Law in 1981. During this time, she worked as a staff attorney with San Jose’s Asian Law Alliance, where she assisted recent immigrants from Cambodia and Vietnam.

After graduating from law school, Akao entered into private practice. She worked in that capacity until 1985, at which time she joined the Santa Clara Office of the Public Defender as a deputy public defender.

Akao relocated to Santa Cruz in 1986. She became deputy county counsel for the Santa Cruz County Counsel’s Office, a position she held until her election to the bench in 1994.

Her memberships included the California Judicial Education & Research Juvenile Law Institute Planning Committee, the California Juvenile Court Judges Executive Committee, the California Judges Association, and the Juvenile Justice/Delinquency Prevention Commission. She also sat as Chair of the Youth Resource Bank and the Santa Cruz Children’s Network.

Akao was born in Long Beach, California. Her father served in Europe with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team while her mother was interned at the Manzanar War Relocation Center.

She passed away on November 27, 2005.

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