Faculty & Staff



Lecturer in Law


JD, Catholic University School of Law, 2023
BA, University of Hawaii, 2023


Susan L. Arnett was born in Germany and grew up in Hawaii from age 9. She is a proud graduate of Hickam Elementary, Aliamanu Intermediate, Kalani HS (’69) and the University of Hawaii (BA, English, ’74).  Her JD is from the Catholic U. of America (’77) in Washington, D.C. where she served as President of the Student Bar Assn. and was named Outstanding Graduate Student for 1977.  

Upon admission to the Bar, she worked for the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii as a VISTA attorney (’77-’79), then for the Social Security Administration (’79-’80) before going into private practice (‘80-’84) concentrating primarily in family law. 

She joined the State of Hawaii Public Defender’s Office in January, 1985 and was a Deputy PD for over 35 years until her retirement in October, 2020, handling more than 75 jury trials, representing clients charged with all classes of felonies, including murder and sexual assault, on Oahu and Maui.  She has written briefs and argued before the Intermediate Court of Appeals and the Hawaii Supreme Court.  She served as the Supervisor of the Maui PD Office from ’97-2001 and served as a Felony Trial Supervisor and Appellate Supervisor in the Oahu office for 25 years. She supervised the annual Public Defender Seminar for over 20 years which trained 60-70 attorneys statewide in legal and trial skills.  

From 2003-2007, she served as faculty for the Institute for Criminal Defense Advocacy in San Diego, California where she lectured and critiqued attorneys in trial skill exercises. 

She taught Appellate Advocacy as an adjunct professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law (WSRSL) from 1996-1997 before moving to Maui.  She was a Lecturer in Law with the Hawaii Innocence Project (HIP) at the WSRSL from HIP’s inception in 2005 until 2015. She taught Trial Practice at WSRSL for the Spring 2021 and 2022.

She served on the Hawaii State Bar Association Judicial Administration Committee in the 1990’s.  She currently serves as Chair of the Hawaii State Board of Continuing Legal Education and also serves on the Hawaii Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism.  

She has been a volunteer with Wigs & Makeup of the Hawaii Opera Theatre (HOT) for over 10 years.  She has appeared onstage with HOT as a supernumerary in three operas, playing one of Don Juan’s many conquests in Don Giovanni, a heretic (some say she was typecast) burned at the stake in Don Carlo and a Madam exiled from France to America in Manon Lescaut.

She is an avid UH sports fan (and will always remember fondly the 2006 Sugar Bowl, despite the outcome). She holds State records in powerlifting (bench press & deadlift) for her age, gender and weight class.

portrait photo




University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law, 2515 Dole Street, Honolulu, HI 96822-2350