Kona Attorneys Honored for Helping Hundreds in West Hawai‘i

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Big Island attorneys were recognized for voluntarily providing free legal information to nearly 600 Hawai‘i Island residents who sought help at the Kona Courthouse Self-Help Center in the last year. They were honored during a recognition ceremony on Oct. 19, 2018.

Front, left: Joanna Sokolow, Kimberly Taniyama, Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald, and Donna Payesko. Standing, left: Anmar Alnagem, Claudia Shockley, Judge Margaret Masunaga, Sarah Kelly, Jennifer Heimgartner, John Olson, Matthew Silva, Laura Cushman, Mark Van Pernis, Ann Datta, Frederick Macapinlac, Daniel Mistak, Stephen Frye, Jason Braswell, Peter Olson, Judge Melvin Fujino, Charles McCreary, Frederick Giannini, Lauren Kennedy, and Dawn Henry. Courtesy photo.

The Self-Help Center was established in October 2013 as part of the Hawai‘i State Judiciary’s commitment to support people who must represent themselves in civil cases because they cannot afford an attorney. Since opening, it has assisted more than 2,000 people, with volunteer attorneys donating almost 1,000 hours of legal information on civil matters, such as temporary restraining orders and divorce. These services have been provided nearly cost-free to the state.

“Your service as attorney volunteers helps to provide both assistance and hope to individuals who may not know where to turn, and therefore helps to instill confidence in our legal system and legal community,” Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald told the volunteer attorneys at the celebration. “That is why the work you do is so important, and why we appreciate your efforts so deeply.”

Chief Justice Recktenwald added, “We are looking forward to opening the Keahuolu Courthouse in 2019 for many reasons, and one of them is that there will be more space for volunteer attorneys at the self-help center.”


The following attorneys were honored: Brit Barker, James Biven, Jason Braswell, Laura Cushman, Katherine DeLeon, Porter DeVries, Stephen Frye, Jerry Garcia, Fred Giannini, Jennifer Heimgartner, R. Hermann Heimgartner, Dawn Henry, Joan Jackson, Kauanoe Jackson, Andrew Kennedy, Susan Kim, Carol Kitaoka, Frederick Macapinlac, Charles McCreary, Charles Murray, Shawn Nakoa, Bob Olson, John Olson, Peter Olson, Donna Payesko, Daniel Peters, Joanna Sokolow, Kimberly Taniyama, Mark Van Pernis, and Georgette Yaindl.

Also acknowledged were Sarah Kelly and Bayley Nagy, the AmeriCorps Advocates who, through the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i, run the Self-Help Center.

The Chief Justice also thanked the West Hawai‘i Bar Association, the Hawai‘i State Bar Association, the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i, and the Access to Justice Commission for their support of the Judiciary’s efforts to bring self-help services to Hawai‘i residents statewide.


“The West Hawai‘i Bar Association member attorneys who volunteer their time at the Kona Self-Help Desk are committed to serving the West Hawai‘i community,” said Donna Payesko, the organization’s president. “The Self-Help Center is an integral part of providing access to justice and we appreciate the cooperation and the support of the Judiciary and the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i in maintaining this very crucial service.  We look forward to the opening of the Kona Judiciary Complex next year where the West Hawai‘i attorneys will continue to serve the community in an improved facility.”

“The most vital aspect to the Self-Help Center is our volunteer attorneys,” said Kelly, the AmeriCorps Advocate. “There wouldn’t be a Self-Help Center without their generosity and true community spirit they demonstrate.

“The center’s customers are extremely grateful and have shared many compliments,” added Kelly. “One person said, ‘It is such a blessing to see others helping our world become a better place. Malama Pono.’”


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