Tidbits and Thoughts . . . Legal Aid's Monthly News
November 26, 2014
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Now on to Tidbits!

Like us on Facebook  

Legal Aid Executive Director honored as finalist for Business Leader of the Year


Congratulations to Legal Aid's Executive Director, M. Nalani Fujimori Kaina for being named as a finalist for Pacific Business News Business Leader of the Year Award. Nalani was one of six finalists among a distinguished group that included Jim Barahal, CEO of Honolulu Marathon, Ellen Desruisseax, President of Friends of Med-Assist School of Hawaii, Sherry Menor-McNamara, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Francis Oda, Chairman of Group 70 International, and Dean Wong, Director of Imua Family Services. Nalani's husband and parents accepted the award on her behalf.


"As a young attorney out of law school, Nalani started her legal career as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid office in Molokai. Working out of a broken-down office with a rusty steel desk and busted luau conference table, Nalani knew that she was home. 15 years later, Nalani is now the Executive Director of the 5th largest law firm in the state overseeing a budget of nearly $6 million."

Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center joins Cultural Celebration of Unity


Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center outreach specialists Margarita Cholymay and Joanne Loeak joined residents of Kuhio Park at the Cultural Celebration of Unity. Different ethnic groups presented their own food tasting, cultural dances, and crafts. Margarita and Joanne made over 100 cups filled with crayons, small toys, and keychains to pass out to keiki along with Legal Aid/HIJC information. 

HIJC staff members Paul Luu, Margarita Cholymay, and Joanne Loeak provide information at the Cultural Celebration of Unity.  

Legal Aid represents at this year's Ete Bowl


The 36th Ete Bowl at the William S. Richardson School of Law was well represented with current and former Legal Aid staff. The annual tradition pits current women law students (Etes) against alumnae (Bruzers) in a friendly but super-competitive game of flag-football. The Bruzers won this year's contest 3-2.

Madeline Reed
(former Hilo staff attorney),
Malia Garcia
(former HNL AmeriCorps),
Elwen Frietas
(coach/HNL staff attorney),
Angela Lovitt
Rachel Hoke
(former GA-SSI Windward office),
Alyssa Simbahon
(former AmeriCorps Leeward).

Congratulations to  attorney Kevin Kimura for recognition as Legal Aid Outstanding Pro Bono Attorney


State Representative Della Au Belatti, Pro Bono Coordinator Cheryl Puna, and Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald honor pro bono attorney Kevin Kimura at the 2014 Pro Bono Celebration. 


Legal Aid pro bono attorney Kevin Kimura was recognized for his dedication at the 2014 Pro Bono Celebration at the Hawaii Supreme Court Courtroom at Ali`iolani Hale. Sponsored by the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission and with the support of the Hawaii State Bar Association, legal service providers honored their outstanding pro bono attorneys for their commitment to helping others in need. 

Despite being legally blind,  Mr. Kimura has been working on a difficult divorce case through our Partnership in Pro Bono Project since July 2010. 


 Cheryl Puna, Legal Aid Pro Bono Coordinator, writes:


The Client's husband was extremely abusive. His acts of abuse included hitting and kicking her while she was pregnant, dragging her down the stairs by her hair and culminated with him throwing boiling hot water on her causing second degree burns. The client finally found the strength to leave him but that was only the beginning.


Her husband did not take it well. He would make the divorce process a long and difficult one. For years, he did not provide any sort of support for the client and their two young children, he asked for a DNA test to prove he's their oldest child's father and tried to continue any hearing, conference or mediation for as long as possible.


Mr. Kimura stuck in there though. He is a solo practitioner with a great staff and although we all know that cases can take on a life of its own, he truly advocated for his client. Client's divorce was granted on June 30, 2014. The client got permanent sole legal and physical custody of their children. Due to the abuse, ex-husband cannot have any contact or visitation with the children. Client was also granted a 30 year TRO against him and he was ordered to pay child support and alimony. Thank you Kevin for all your hard work and perseverance.

Hilo Office in the Community

Hilo staff members Glen Carvalho, Chris Hardy, Donald Thomas, and Christy Peace

The Hilo office joined the community at the 26th Annual Family Peace Walk & Vigil organized by the Family Violence Interagency Committee, County of Hawai'i. With this year's theme of "Commit to Change" the event was originally part of October's Domestic Violence Awareness Month but was rescheduled due to weather. 

Hilo staff attorney Laura Knudsen provided legal information at the Free Luncheon & Community Resource Fair for the Homeless at Wailoa State Park in Hilo. 

Hawaii # 4 nationwide in access to justice ranking

The National Center for Access to Justice, released its Justice Index Findings, ranking Hawaii as one of the top states in the country for best practices of ensuring access to the civil and criminal justice systems.

Hawaii ranked # 1 for providing support for self-represented litigants!  Chief Justice Recktenwald thanked the Commission Chair, Judge Daniel Foley, and his predecessor, Justice Simeon Acoba (ret.), for their leadership on the Commission, as well as the Judiciary's partners including the Hawaii State Bar Association, county bar associations, the William S. Richardson School of Law, Americorps, the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, and other legal services providers.


To read the entire press release from the Judiciary, CLICK HERE


To see the entire Justice Index report, CLICK HERE


Thank you to everyone that provided news and stories for Tidbits.
Please send any news/information for Tidbits to Sergio at sealcub@lashaw.org
Copyright � 2014. All Rights Reserved.