Tidbits and Thoughts . . .  Legal Aid's Online  News
August 16, 2018

Legal Aid at the 11th Annual Marshallese Education Day.

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Executive Director's Corner

When the floods ravished Kauai and as lava fissures opened in Puna, attorneys from across the state asked how they could help. As part of local and national coordinated efforts across the country, Legal Aid is called upon during natural disasters to rally pro bono attorneys, to train and support, and provide legal assistance when needed.

Over the last couple of months, Legal Aid has partnered with the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Kauai Bar Association, and the Hawaii County Bar Association to provide training, support and coordination as volunteer attorneys from across the state lend a hand to assist disaster victims. Community clinics have been held on Kauai, in Keaau, and in Pahoa, with more to come. Assistance can also be sought through Legal Aid's intake hotline at 1-800-499-4302 and can be found on our website at  Disaster Legal Assistance.

With no end in sight for the lava flows, Legal Aid is working closely to develop a system of assistance in Puna that will include on the ground regular assistance and triage which will include pro bono attorneys. Our new Hilo paralegal, Jasmine Kupihea started this past month and will be in the community focusing on reaching out to those affected. We expect issues to arise over insurance coverage, FEMA denials, consumer protection, landlord-tenant, and document replacement. 

We thank everyone who has given time to ramp up these efforts, but there is still a lot to do. A special mahalo to our Director of External Relations Sergio Alcubilla and summer law clerk Miki Nakamura who have worked hard to coordinate and develop training materials.

Mahalo and Aloha,


Legal Aid hosts first meeting for Community Navigator project
Participants at the first Community Navigator meeting.

With a grant from the Hawaii Justice Foundation, Legal Aid hosted the first meeting of the Community Navigator project as part of Hawaii's Justice For All initiative.  The Community Navigator project will train identified and trusted community leaders such as religious leaders, librarians, outreach workers from organizations and agencies, and other informal community leaders to provide accurate and relevant legal information to their communities.  Through this project, the navigators will be able to direct community members toward self-help materials for various legal issues and refer more complex situations to legal service providers. 

Legal Aid's Managing Attorney for Community Engagement, Connie Liu is leading the year-long project. The meeting was facilitated by Emergent Island Economies Collective with Kasha Ho and Reyna Ramolete Hayashi facilitating discussions. 

Over 40 community leaders, representatives from non-profit organizations, and government agencies attended the meeting and discussed ways to improve access to justice through this innovative project. 

Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center at Legal Aid hosts, "Providing Refugee: A Legal Training
L-R: Marissa Okazaki, Tatjana Johnson, with guest presenters from the National Housing Law Project Karlo Ng, Renee Williams, Wendy Lau, and Joanne Loeak and Lindsay Kukona Pakele .

The Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center at Legal Aid (HIJC) hosted "Providing Refugee: A Legal Training," which addressed the rights of domestic violence victims in private and subsidized housing. 
Sixty people attended with many coming from the Institute for Human Services, Child and Family Services, Domestic Violence Action Center, Office of Language Access, Parents and Children Together, Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence and many other organizations.  Staff attorney Lindsay Kukona Pakele opened the training, grounding the group in its pursuit of equality.  Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Sabrina McKenna gave the keynote address.  Renee Williams and Karlo Ng from the National Housing Law Project provided training on domestic violence, disability, and language access rights in housing.  Wendy Lau trained participants on federal language access laws and best practices.  Lindsay trained on complimentary Hawaii laws.  Tatjana Johnson, HIJC managing attorney, led participants through a lunch-time exercise entitled, "Guts on the Table," created by Puanani Burgess.  Marissa Okazaki, Legal Aid Fair Housing advocate, led participants through an afternoon group exercise in which participants spotted issues and provided suggestions in a case scenario. 

Joanne Loeak, HIJC outreach specialist, presents on "Effective Outreach to COFA Communities". 
College and Career Day at Aiea Intermediate School

Connie Liu, managing attorney for community engagement, spoke to students at 
Aiea Intermediate's 2nd Annual College and Career Day about pursuing a career as an attorney, working in the legal field, and working for a non-profit organization.  Connie received handwritten thank you cards from many of the students and teachers.

Queen Kaahumanu Center Outreach
The Legal Aid Maui office took part in an outreach at the Queen Kaahumanu Center (the mall) at an event called QKC Cares.  QKC Cares is Queen Ka'ahumanu Center's community initiative that aims to support its community relationships by increasing public awareness of the mall's philanthropic efforts as well as enhancing a sense of `ohana among those who visit and work at the mall by inviting non-profit and civic organizations to share their work.

The Legal Aid Maui office staffed a booth, provided brochures, and made referrals to intake and the Title III Maui Senior's program. The office also donated some items that were given away for raffle drawings throughout the day. -Megan Moniz, Legal Aid Maui staff attorney

Molokai and Lanai community outreaches
Molokai Legal Aid staff member April Kealoha provide information about Legal Aid services at a recent community meeting.  Legal Aid has 10 offices statewide with one each on Molokai and Lanai.

Legal Aid part of Hawaii County Bar Association disaster relief legal clinics
     Hilo managing attorney Laura Knudsen and Sergio Alcubilla join volunteer attorneys with the Hawaii County Bar Association in helping residents with legal issues related to the lava flow. 
(Photo credit: Hawaii County Bar Association)

Welcome new L.A.V.A. (Legal Aid Volcano Assistance) Paralegal 
Jasmine "Jazz" Kupihea joined the Legal Aid Hilo team as a paralegal; hired specifically to assist those affected by the recent lava, earthquakes, and ongoing natural disasters in Puna and Volcano area.  

Successful Health and Immigration Clinic

The Legal Aid Kona office together with the Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center had a successful Family Health and Immigration Clinic to help COFA nationals with their Employment Authorization Document (EAD) applications and provide information about health insurance.  Over 30 people sought help with their EADs. HIJC managing attorney Tatjana Johnson and staff members Joanne Loeak, Jacklyne Moses, Ronnette Ome, and AmeriCorps member Rachael Renyon joined the Kona staff in helping with the clinic.         

Hard at work with vital documents and state identification for clients

Damione Verdusco, a paralegal at the Kauai Legal Aid office, is working hard for her homeless clients and is fast becoming the go-to person for help with vital documents.  She has 18 clients trying to get birth certificates or state identification on her case load. It is a long and arduous process dotting every "I" and crossing every "T" to meet requirements from vital records offices from different states. Well done Damione! -Donna McMillen
In the News

Legal Aid's Board of Directors President highlighted in Pacific Business News
Legal Aid's Board of Directors President Joanne Lo Grimes was recognized by Pacific Business News for her accomplished legal career and for being the first woman chair in the 161 year history of her law firm, Carlsmith Ball LLP.  Click to read the full article.

Microsoft Legal Access Platform panel discussion at Hawaii Access to Justice Conference: Blog by Kara Doles
Legal Aid Executive Director Nalani Fujimori Kaina along with representatives from the Microsoft Corporation and The Pew Charitable Trusts answer questions about the use of artificial intelligence on the upcoming online platform to help the public access legal help and resources. 

2018 Hawaii Access to Justice Conference: Fighting for Access to Justice for All
Written by: Kara Doles
Conference attendees comprised of lawyers, non-attorney advocates, judges, court staff, government officials, social service providers, and community members came together to be invigorated and inspired by the 2018 Hawaii Access to Justice Conference, "Fighting for Access to Justice for All," held on June 29 at the William S. Richardson School of Law. Sponsored annually by the  Hawaii Access to Justice Commission , this conference offered a unique forum of engagement around initiatives and programs that aim to expand access to the civil justice system.  
Legal Services Corporation visit Legal Aid offices
The Legal Services Corporation (LSC)  is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. LSC promotes equal access to justice by providing funding to Legal Aid organizations across the country.  Its  Office of Program Performance visited Legal Aid Society of Hawaii offices and met with staff members.  They especially noted the organization's great diversity and outreach in the community, strong community partnerships, engaged and dedicated staff, and high quantity of case handling which is significantly higher than the national average. 
Client Stories 

Legal Aid Helps Jeannette Finally Get a Fresh Start

Jeannette had tried in the past to complete a divorce, but because her husband had no income she felt sorry for him and did not want him to have nowhere to go.  Her husband also had a drinking problem.  Fortunately, he was approved for Social Security benefits, and Ms. Costa finally felt she could move on.  With Legal Aid's assistance, she completed her divorce quickly, and now plans to move to Las Vegas to live with her adult daughter. Great job by Legal Aid staff attorney Maile Shimabukuro and the Leeward Oahu office in helping Jeannette get a fresh start.

Help Save Lives: Support  the Blood Drive August 22
Photo credit: Blood Bank of Hawaii

Legal Aid and Group 70 International will be hosting the Blood Bank of Hawaii at 924 Bethel St. on Wednesday, August 22 from 9:00 am-1:00 pm. To sign up, please  click here.  

New Video: Labor Trafficking in Hawaii by Paul Luu, Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center



"Generations of Immigrants" 

an immersive exhibit by Taiji Terasaki
"I am a descendant of migrants.
My parents were interned in the Japanese Relocation camps during World War ll. It is acutely painful for me to see the echoes of history today. It is painful to see yet again American policymakers mistreat refugees and economic migrants that endure great challenges to flee  violence, poverty, injustice and brutality in their home countries.

We need to do more to embrace diversity and multi-culturalism. I want to invite our community to poetically hold space for the many immigrants that make up who we are, especially in Hawaii."
Proceeds from this event will go to support the Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center and the Hawaii Theatre Center. An immersive art opening of this nationally recognized Hawaii artist who has created a timely art installation in one of the Honolulu Arts and Culture district's newest Pop Up Art & Community Use spaces - Hawaii Theatre Center's The Lanai at 1121. 
If you are on Oahu, the exhibit will continue until August 24. 
Legal Aid staff are featured in the exhibit. For more information, click here

Thank you to the 2018 Summer Law Clerks and Volunteers
Tyler Saito 
University of Hawaii, Richardson School of Law
Nicholas Severson
Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law
Heather Tanner
University of New Mexico School of Law
Beverly Simina
University of Hawaii, Richardson School of Law
Taylor Brack
University of Hawaii, Richardson School of Law
Chris Iijima Fellow
Tiffany Silva
University of Hawaii, Richardson School of Law
Cynthia Moore
Syracuse University College of Law
Miki Nakamura
University of Hawaii, Richardson School of Law
A2J Tech Fellow
Clint Hamada
University of Hawaii, Richardson School of Law
Tyler Yadao
Grand Canyon University

Summer law clerk Tiffany Silva at the Legal Aid table for the 
2018 Landlord Tenant Summit hosted by the Homeless Alliance at the UH Maui campus. She joined Maui staff attorney 
Ben Pittenger and paralegal Kim Tempo in providing the audience information about landlord-tenant issues.

Legal Aid summer intern Tyler Yadao completes Kamehameha Internship Program 

Tyler answers questions about Legal Aid and his summer project

Legal Aid summer intern Tyler Yadao completed the Kamehameha Kāpili ʻOihana Internship Program (KOIP) with a presentation at their annual Hō'ike.  Tyler was able to share about the resources he created to help people understand more about Legal Aid and its various programs. KOIP is a statewide summer college internship program that provides students with opportunities to apply academic experience in a real world environment, meet and learn from professionals in their field of interest, and develop skills and competencies in their career interests. 

Tyler explaining his project to Kamehameha staff.


Tyler is a third year student at Grand Canyon University studying government with an emphasis in legal studies and a minor in psychology. Tyler is interested in one day becoming a judge.