Tidbits and Thoughts . . .  Legal Aid's Online  News
March 30, 2018

More Legal Aid humor . . . 
"What do you call Saint Patrick's attorney?"
Thank you to AmeriCorps member Alexis Mukaida for providing some much needed humor.

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Executive Director's Corner

On March 10 th , I began my 20 th year with Legal Aid. It's strange to think that it has been so long when it seems to have passed in the blink of an eye, but when I think back to that recent law school graduate arriving in Molokai I realize how long it has been . . . .
I remember walking up the few stairs to the barely there porch of the Molokai office at the time, a small three room house with a reception area, common area and small bathroom (where our fridge was kept). The roof was made of tin and was rusted in places. The wood throughout the office was splinted and green metal desks from the eras gone by were in each room. The common area housed the copy machine, client file cabinets, and the huge set of index cards which were used to conduct conflict checks. The office that I would be in was the largest room in the house - I had my own metal desk, a fold up lua'u table with the old laminate side lining coming off, and book shelves filled with dusty books that no one had looked at in a very very long time.
There was a computer on my desk, with a large monitor (you know the one that actually looked like a big cube?) and I was lucky to be the one who actually had the email account for the office along with the responsibility to do the weekly transfers of client data to the Honolulu Office. My desk faced a small window on which a fish print signed by Alan Murakami sat on the sill, signed in 1979 (twenty years prior), a memory of the people who had sat in this same place over the years.
Across from my office was April Kealoha's office where she helped clients in her gentle and caring way. She taught me how to be a lawyer and was my compass to think things through when I struggled with a situation. The front of the office would be a rotating group of people when I was there, but most notably Lori Chang who would give me reality checks and would never be afraid to tell me what she really thought.
As I begin my 20th year, those memories as a young attorney are still so burned in my mind. It is where I did my first trials, got fired by a client for the first time, cried when I realized there was nothing more I could do, and regularly conducted meetings in pidgin.
I learned so much on the island and am grateful to those who helped shape me along the way.



APIL Gala (Advocates for Public Interest Law)
APIL (Advocates for Public Interest Law) is an organization of William S. Richardson Law School graduates and law students that provides grants to law students enabling them to spend a summer working in public interest law.  Legal Aid hosts APIL grantees during most summers and one grantee each summer serves at Legal Aid's Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center (HIJC). Legal Aid attorneys Connie Liu and Joni Domingues and deputy director Angela Lovitt all started their Legal Aid careers as an APIL grantee.

At this year's APIL Gala, Connie Liu and Tatjana Johnson shared about HIJC's work, Chris Iijima's legacy (for whom the HIJC Iijima Fellowship is named after), and more about this year's Fellow. Great job to the APIL members who worked hard in putting together a wonderful gala and raising funds for this year's Chris Iijima Fellow.


 Am eriCorps members Alexis Mukaida, Sarah Kelly, Jasmine Jin, Danielle Woo, Robert Topenio, and Vita Zamedyanskiy join Tatjana Johnson and Connie Liu at this year's APIL Gala. 

Micronesian Youth Summit 2018

HIJC outreach specialist Joanne Loeak with 
Legal Aid board member Arsima Muller at the Micronesian Youth Summit.

Legal Aid board member Arsima Muller served as the keynote speaker at the 2018 Micronesian Youth Summit at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Organized by a planning committee led by We Are Oceania, the annual summit brings together Micronesian youth on Oahu to discuss their shared history, culture, and help prepare them for college and their careers.

Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center outreach specialist Joanne Loeak provided legal information and brochures to those in attendance. 

Legal Aid  AmeriCorps members join statewide summit 
Legal Aid AmeriCorps members from across the state joined other AmeriCorps programs for a statewide summit on disaster preparedness. The summit helped kick off AmeriCorps Week 2018 with the theme of "get things done." Legal Aid's AmeriCorps members serve in court self-help centers across the state and as client advocates together with Legal Aid staff.

AmeriCorps members from Kauai, the Big Island, and Oahu during a break from the 
AmeriCorps emergency response training.

L-R, Back: AmeriCorps members Rachael Renyon, Monica Luat, Alexis Mukaida, Vita Zamedyanskiy, Robert Topenio. L-R, Front: Sarah Kelly, Gina Okuda-Stauring and Jasmine Jin.


Hilo Legal Aid office welcomes new notary
The Hilo Legal Aid office congratulates Lori Anne Richards as she completes requirements to serve as a notary. 

Dear Hilo Legal Aid staff . . . 


Law student volunteer intern big help for Kona office
Law student, Simon Ellis from Dartmouth College served as an intern at the Kona Legal Aid office. He assisted with outreaches, assisted pro se litigants with family law matters, and attended court hearings with managing attorney Dawn Henry. The office is very grateful for all his help these past few weeks.

"My best experience at Legal Aid, aside from coming in every day and being greeted by the most positive and friendly staff around, was working with one "Jane Doe" who was attempting to get custody of her incapacitated son before he turned 18. Through my outreach, I was able to identify her legal problem, draft up a petition for Guardianship, and have her come in and sign the papers and file them with the court all within a week. Additionally, while she was in the office I was able to direct her to Lisa Webb, our SSI and Disability wizard who was able to identify the son's need for Disability Income. After I leave, I am sure Lisa will be working with her to help her even more than I could have imagined."  -Simon

Kona office staff bid law student intern Simon Ellis with aloha as he returns to Dartmouth.

Kona office part of community health fair
Kona AmeriCorps member Vita Zamedyanskiy and Kona managing attorney Dawn Henry took part in the Lion's Club Annual Community Health Fair at Konawaena Elementary School in South Kona.  Over 30 agencies took part, and members from the community, from keiki to kupuna, attended and were able to receive legal information and resources.

Vita and Dawn provide legal information and brochures at the Lion's Club Annual Community Health Fair.

Legal Aid's Fair Housing Enforcement Program returns
The Fair Housing Enforcement Program at Legal Aid is now active after receiving funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). However, the previous Fair Housing Hotline is being retired and all calls involving fair housing issues will go directly to Legal Aid's general intake hotline at 808-536-4302. For more information, please visit  www.fairhousinghawaii.org.

Legal Aid Society of Hawaii Warns Seniors of Telephone Scams Using Legal Aid Name
The Legal Aid Society of Hawaii is again warning the public and especially seniors about recent telephone solicitations asking for money from people claiming to be part of the Legal Aid Society, Office of the Public Defender, or state courthouse. 
As these type of calls have increased in the past year, the Federal Trade Commission asks the public to file a complaint on its website at   www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.  In most recent cases targeting seniors, people are told that a case is pending involving a friend or family member and that a monetary payment is required to pursue the case or free the person from jail. The caller will often leave a case number and call back information.  Previously, callers were claiming to be collecting donations on behalf of a national Legal Aid or Public Defender office.  The caller will then try to collect credit card information over the phone or ask that money be sent directly.
Hawaii's Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs published the  Hawaii's Fraud Prevention & Resource Guide reminding the public:
Do not respond to a text or call from an unknown number that is requesting personal account numbers, social security numbers, or any other personal information.
* Do not provide any personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call and are certain of who you contacted.
* If the caller makes you feel uncomfortable, hang up the phone.
* To reduce telemarketing calls on your home and cell phone, go to donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 or 1-866-290-4236 (TTY).
The State of Hawaii Office of the Public Defender is a state agency administratively attached to the State of Hawaii Department of Budget and Finance. The office receives its funding directly from the State Legislature, and does not solicit funds or donations from the public.

11th Annual Marshallese Education Day
Legal Aid Society of Hawaii advises residents receiving health insurance through the Affordable Care Act to file taxes
If you received advanced premium tax credits for health insurance through the Healthcare.gov marketplace as part of the Affordable Care Act, please file your taxes to reconcile your premium tax credits. Advanced premium tax credits lowered your monthly premiums. You will need your 1095-A form and IRS Form 8962. You can obtain the 1095-A form from your on-line Healthare.gov account.
You must file your taxes even if you are not required to do so. If you do not file taxes, you may be ineligible for future advanced premium tax credits. This ineligibility may increase your monthly payments.
If you have any questions, please contact the Marketplace at 1-800-318-2596. If you have any issues, Legal Aid may be able to assist. You can contact Legal Aid at 808-536-4302. If you need free help filing for taxes, you can visit www.hawaiitaxhelp.org  or www.taxaidehi.org/site-information for a list of other tax assistance resources.

Use Amazon Smile for your shopping from March 12-31

Use https://smile.amazon.com/ch/99-0076020 and Amazon donates to Legal Aid Society Of Hawaii.

Stay tuned . . . Legal Aid's Kara Doles on Olelo's Island Focus
Kara Doles with host Lyla Berg on Island Focus.

Legal Aid's technology project coordinator Kara Doles will be featured on Island Focus, a monthly half-hour television series produced by 'Ōlelo Community Media. The show features exclusive interviews with members of government, business, education, and community sectors who talk about their passions, what's new, and what impact they've made. Kara will speak on Legal Aid's current innovations in using technology to help increase access to justice for the community.

"Focused on the personalities behind the organizations, industries, and agencies that keep Oʻahu moving, that's Island Focus," says host Lyla Berg. "We get to highlight the passion and influence of both the people and places that inspire, inform and impact our everyday lives."

Island Focus premieres on 'Ōlelo Channel 53, on the first and third Wednesday of every month at 6:30pm, and Sundays at 4:30pm. You can also find Island Focus on 'Ōlelo VOD Channel 52, 'ŌleloNet and on YouTube. 

For more information about  'Ōlelo Community Media and its services for the community, please visit www.olelo.org.

Legal Aid welcomes new staff
Ashley Cooper, Accountant
Maga Nyedji Amedunkji, AmeriCorps VISTA

Law firm of Davis Levin Livingston offers $5,000 scholarship to graduating high school student
The Hawaii Humanitarian Scholarship offered by the law firm of Davis Levin Livingston is for high school students who spend time giving back to their community. The $5,000 scholarship is an effort to notice and reward a graduating high school student who has been a leader in making Hawaii a better place. For more information, please visit https://www.davislevin.com/humanitarian-scholarship/.


Honolulu District Court Access to Justice Room Volunteers

Thank you to the law firm and attorneys of  McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon LLP for  adopting the month of March to volunteer at the Honolulu District Court Access to Justice Room. 

Bennett Chin
Kenneth Hoo
Kelsey Yamaguchi
Catherine Taschner
Shanlyn Park
Keith Suzuka
Peter Hamasaki
Eric Kawatani
Kurt Klein
Jordan Inafuku
Jesse Smith
Marguerite Fujie