Kaua‘i Self Help Center Celebrates 10 Years
Advocates, a decade running.
Commemorating Hawai‘i’s signature initiative to improve access to justice for all, members of the Garden Island legal community celebrated the Kaua‘i Self-Help Center’s 10th anniversary at an event sponsored by the Kaua‘i Bar Association where Hawai‘i Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald and 5th Circuit Chief Judge Randal G.B. Valenciano honored 34 attorneys for providing more than 800 free consultations to people who sought legal assistance at the Self-Help Center between 2019 and 2021.
“I am deeply grateful to all the hard-working attorneys who have volunteered their time and expertise over the past decade to support the Kaua‘i Self-Help Center in its mission to provide assistance to those who need it most,” Recktenwald said in a press release Thursday, Dec. 16 on the milestone.
The Kaua‘i Self-Help Center is the first courthouse self-help center established in Hawai‘i. Since opening in 2011, volunteer attorneys have provided the Kaua‘i community more than 4,150 free legal consultations on a variety of civil legal matters in district and family courts, including landlord tenant cases, collection cases, temporary restraining orders and divorce. Following the success on Kaua‘i, other self-help centers were opened across the state.
“To its credit, Kaua‘i, with the Kauai Bar Association, Judges Trudy Senda and Randal Valenciano, and Emiko Meyers of the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i leading the charge, opened the first center with volunteer attorneys offering their time and expertise,” Recktenwald said. “We also had the strong support of the Hawai‘i State Bar Association and the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i.
“From that modest beginning, amazing things happened,” he continued. “Since then, Self Help Centers or Access to Justice Rooms have been opened on O‘ahu, Maui, and the Big Island; more than 250 attorneys have volunteered each year; and they have helped more than 31,000 people at almost no cost to the public. More than 4,000 of those people were here on Kaua‘i. It’s no exaggeration to say that those centers have become the signature achievement of our state’s Access to Justice movement. In a recent survey of all 50 states as well as the territories, Hawai‘i ranked sixth for our efforts to provide access to justice.”
Kauai Bar Association President in 2021, Allison Mizuo Lee, thanked the volunteers who offered their professional services to ensure the worthwhile program could thrive.
“Despite the brief closure of all self-help centers statewide at the beginning of the pandemic, the Kaua‘i Self-Help Center reopened in May 2020 and resumed service to our residents on a new remote platform,” Lee said. “Since then, consultations have been conducted primarily by phone for the first time, making the Self-Help Center’s services accessible to everyone, while ensuring the safety of participants and volunteers. Today, we celebrate the many obstacles that have been overcome, and all the people who have been helped because of the Kaua‘i legal community’s dedication to the ideal of equal justice for all.”
The attorneys honored for their service were: Sergio Alcubilla, Laura Barzilai, Matthew Bracken, Mark Bradbury, Nancy Budd, Hugo Cabrera, Katherine Caswell, Nicholas Courson, James Forrest, Charles Foster, Margaret Hanson, Sean Hartlieb, Mark Ishmael, Todd Jenson, Ryan Jimenez, Mahealani Krafft, Linda Lach, Aaron Larrimore, Kai Lawrence, Laura Loo, Larie Manutai, Jay Mason, Emiko Meyers, Andrew Michaels, Shoshana O’Brien, Adam Roversi, Mia Shiraishi, Sherman Shiraishi, Sara Silverman, Margaret Sueoka, Camerson Takamura, Jenna Tatsey, Teresa Tumbaga.
Visit the Hawai‘i State Judiciary website for more information on the courthouse Self-Help Centers.