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Hawai’i Courts Rank Third in Accessibility

May 11, 2016, 12:59 PM HST (Updated May 11, 2016, 12:59 PM) · 0 Comments
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Hilo courthouse. File photo.

Hilo courthouse. File photo.

Hawai’i was recently ranked among the top three states in the country for practices aimed at making access to justice a reality for everyone.

The findings were released by the National Center for Access to Justice in its Justice Index 2016 Findings.

Within the report, the accessibility of each state’s justice system was measured in each of four categories: attorney access for low-income litigants, support for self-represented litigants, support for litigants with limited language proficiency, and support for people with disabilities.

“We are very pleased that we are being recognized for providing Hawai’i’s residents with some of the highest levels of service in the country,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald. “The Justice Index Report not only helps educate the public about the challenges and unmet need for legal assistance that exists in our legal system nationwide, but also raises awareness of the many resources available. Increasing access to justice requires a collaborative effort. We are so grateful to all those who are committed and dedicated to making 100% access a reality for all.”

In addition to the overall third place rank, the state held the number one spot in the country for providing support for people with limited English proficiency.

“Language access has always been a priority for us. These findings are the result of the commitment of our OEAC team and the 382 interpreters who are part of the Judiciary’s Court Interpreter Certification Program,” said Rodney Maile, Administrative Director of the Hawai’i State Judiciary. “We are continuing to find ways to improve language access, and are currently working on translating court forms from English into the 12 to 14 languages most frequently encountered in our state courts.”

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Hawai’i ranked in the top five for providing support to self-represented litigants. The Hawai’i State Judiciary, together with the Hawai’i Access to Justice Commission and various community partners, opened Self-Help Centers in every circuit in the state where parties who cannot afford an attorney for their civil legal cases can get information from volunteer attorneys.

In addition, Hawai’i ranked in the top seven in providing support for people with disabilities. The Hawai’i State Judiciary is recognized for providing website information on how to request an accommodation using only certified sign language interpreters in court, and providing information on how to file a complaint for anyone who has difficulty accessing court facilities or services because of a disability.

Chief Justice Recktenwald thanked Access to Justice Commission Chair Justice Simeon R. Acoba, and his predecessor, Judge Daniel R. Foley, for their leadership on the Commission.

“None of this would be possible without the leadership and hard work of the Hawai’i Access to Justice Commission as well as our partnerships with the Hawai’i State Bar Association, county bar associations, William S. Richardson School of Law, Hawai’i Justice Foundation, Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i, Volunteer Legal Services Hawai’i, AmeriCorps, and other legal service providers. I would especially like to acknowledge the work of hundreds of attorneys who have volunteered their time and talents to help those with the greatest need of legal support.”

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