Judiciary Self-Help Centers Provide Aid to Over 10K
Legal aid self-help centers in Hawai’i are booming with more than 10,000 people who have used the centers since they were established four years ago. The centers were created through collaborations between the Hawai’i State Judiciary, the Hawai’i Access to Justice Commission, Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i, and the Hawai’i State Bar Association.
The first center was opened on Kauai in 2011, and now there are centers available throughout the state to provide litigants representing themselves with volunteer attorneys who assist with free consultations regarding civil legal matters.
“This milestone is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the hundreds of volunteer attorneys who have donated their time and professionalism to helping those who otherwise might not be able to afford a lawyer,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald. “I’d also like to extend a special thanks to the Hawai’i Access to Justice Commission, the Hawai’i State Bar Association, all county bar associations, Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i and its AmeriCorps program, and our partners in the community who have helped us make significant strides in providing greater access to justice.”
Currently, there are six locations across the state that provide the service, Two of the locations are on the Big Island, one in Hilo and one in Kona. Locations are also at circuit courthouses in Lihue, Wailuku, and on Oahu.
“Hawai’i has been recognized as a leader across the country for our access to justice initiatives with the establishment of statewide self-help centers as a living example of these efforts,” said Associate Judge and Hawai’i Access to Justice Commission Chair Daniel Foley. “It is because of the concerted efforts of all those who have partnered with the Commission, as well as the vision, leadership, and commitment of Chief Justice Recktenwald.”
Beyond the volunteer legal assistance at the centers, the Hawai’i State Judiciary has also partnered with the Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i and the Hawai’i State Public Library System to make self-help interactive court form software available online at Self-Help Centers and public libraries.
The software guides self-representatives through the process of creating court forms that can be completed and printed for filing at Hawai’i courthouses. Funding for the software programs was paid for through grants from the Legal Services Corporation and the State Justice Institute.
“Legal Aid receives nearly 20,000 calls a year and we are grateful to the Hawai’i State Judiciary for its commitment to the court self-help centers and expanding the resources available for those navigating the legal system on their own,” said Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i Executive Director M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina. “I especially want to recognize our AmeriCorps members in Project Kaulike and other partners for being a part of this important initiative to ensure the values of justice, fairness, and service are upheld in our community.”