Hilo Attorneys Recognized for Volunteer Service to the East Hawaii Community

Forty-three attorneys were recognized during the Self-Help Center Recognition Awards on December 2nd for providing free legal information to more than 700 Hawaii Island residents who sought assistance at the Hilo Courthouse Self-Help Center in 2016.  Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald attended the recognition ceremony at the Hilo Yacht Club.

judiciaryThe Hilo Self-Help Center was established in July 2012 as part of the Hawaii State Judiciary’s commitment to increasing access to justice in the courts. Since opening, the Hilo Self-Help Center has assisted more than 3,700 people, with volunteer attorneys providing over 900 hours of legal information on civil matters, such as temporary restraining orders and divorce.  For over four years, these services have been provided at almost no cost to the state.

“I am grateful to the attorneys who volunteer their time at our Self-Help Centers, assisting individuals representing themselves in civil legal cases.  The generosity of these attorneys has been essential to increasing access to justice in our civil courts,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.

The volunteers were recognized by Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Third Circuit Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra, Chief Court Administrator of the Third Circuit Lester Oshiro, and Third Circuit Deputy Chief Court Administrators Dawn West and Cheryl Salmo.

The individual attorneys who were honored are as follows:  Al Konishi, Robert Crudele, Paul Hamano, Melody Parker, William Heflin, Jeff Ng, Chris Schlueter, Damir Kouliev, Francis Alcain, Jennifer Ng, Laureen Martin, Chris Rothfus, J. Yoshimoto, Raymond Hasegawa, Joy San Buenaventura, Al Thompson, Austin Hsu, Doug Halsted, Dwayne Lerma, Joanne Goya, Kenneth Goodenow, Michelle Oishi, Nelson Kinoshita, Amy Self, Charlene Iboshi, Dakota Frenz, Darien Nagata, Edith Kawai, Harry Eliason, Jennifer Wharton, Jo Kim, Kanani Laubach, Lincoln Ashida, Lionel Riley, Lynne Kushi, Michael Kagami, Peter Kubota, Ryan Caday, Steven Strauss, Sylvia Wan, Ted Hong, Zachary Wingert, and Mitch Roth.

Chief Justice Recktenwald acknowledged the strong support of the late State Representative Clift Tsuji, who had attended the ceremony in previous years to recognize the volunteer attorneys.  “Representative Tsuji’s commitment to access to justice for all was truly inspiring, and is part of the legacy that he leaves for this community.”

Also acknowledged were AmeriCorps Advocates Samantha Puluole-Mitchell and Alexandria Agdeppa, as well as Legal Aid of Hawaii Staff Attorney Mark Haines, who, through the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, organize the Self-Help Center at the Hilo Courthouse each week.

Valerie Grab, Managing Attorney of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii’s Hilo Office said, “I am so pleased by the support the Hawaii County Bar Association and our local attorneys have given to this effort.  Every week, Hawaii Island residents use the Hilo Self-Help Center to gain information that helps them meet their legal needs.  The Hilo Self-Help Center is the product of a statewide collaboration of the Hawaii State Judiciary, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission, and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii.  With the donation of their time and talents, today’s honorees are helping to make access to justice a reality for the Big Island community.”

The Chief Justice also thanked the Hawaii County Bar Association, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, and the Access to Justice Commission for their support of the Self-Help Center.

Attorneys who would like to become involved with the Hilo Self-Help Center are invited to attend the next volunteer attorney training on Friday, January 20, 2017.  To register, please visit: http://www.legalaidhawaii.org/pro-bono-attorney.html.

For more information on the Hilo Self-Help Center as well as the Self-Help Desk at the Kona Courthouse, visit the Hawaii State Judiciary website, click on the “Self-Help” tab at the top of the page, and look for “Self-Help Centers” (see: http://bit.ly/23bEaXX).

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