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Attorneys Honored for Dedication to Free Legal Aid

November 9, 2015, 3:15 PM HST
* Updated November 9, 3:17 PM
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Self-Help Recognition Awards were recently given to 30 attorneys who have provided free legal information to residents of West Hawai’i at the Self-Help Desk at the Kona courthouse.

More than 1,000 people have been helped by volunteer attorneys who have provided about 400 hours of legal information on District and Family Court civil matters, like temporary restraining orders and divorce.

The free service at the Kona courthouse began in October 2013 as part of the Hawai’i State Judiciary’s commitment to increasing access to justice in the courts.

“I am grateful to the attorneys who volunteer their time at our Self-Help Desk, assisting individuals who must represent themselves in court.  The generous donation of professional services by these attorneys has been essential to advancing our goal of ensuring that all Hawai’i residents have equal access to justice,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.

Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Third Circuit Chief Judge Ronald Ibarra, Deputy Administrative Director of the Courts Iris Murayama, District Family Court Judge Aley Auna, Chief Court Administrator of the Third Circuit Lester Oshiro, and Third Circuit Deputy Chief Court Administrators Dawn West and Cheryl Salmo were all present at the award ceremony.

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Attorneys honored include: Joanna Sokolow (recognized for the most volunteer shifts), Al Lerma, Charlie McCreary, Herman Heimgartner, Dean Kauka, Kaua Jackson, Dawn Henry, Kim Taniyama, Cynthia Tai, Michael Schlueter, Jason Kwiat, Catherine Gibson, Mark Van Pernis, Rebecca Colvin, Daniel Peters, Gerald Garcia, Fred Gianinni, Ann Datta, Stephen Whittaker, Mitch Roth, Jennifer Heimgartner, John Powell, Andrew Kennedy, Shawn Nakoa, Mike Matsukawa, Bob Borns, Wendy DeWeese, Peter Olson, Carol Kitaoka, and Robert Olson.

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AmeriCorps Advocates Erin Henschel, Madeline Taomia, and Heather Basham, who organize the Self-Help Desk at the Kona Courthouse through the Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i, were also recognized.

“I am so pleased by the support the West Hawai’i Bar Association and our local attorneys have given to this effort.  Every week, West Hawai’i residents use the Self-Help Desk to gain information on how to file court papers and be active participants in legal actions,” said Dawn Henry, Managing Attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i in Kona. “The Kona Self-Help Desk is the result of a statewide collaboration of the Hawaii State Judiciary, the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Hawai’i Access to Justice Commission and the Legal Aid Society of Hawai’i, and our local bar has enthusiastically gotten behind the effort. With the donation of their time, today’s honorees are helping to make justice a living reality in our community.”

To learn more about the Kona Self-Help Desk and the Self-Help Center at Hale Kaulike in Hilo, visit the Hawai’i State Judiciary website.

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