The Hawaii Supreme Court recently completed a three-year evaluation of the progress made by the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission toward the goal of increasing access to justice in civil legal matters for low-income Hawaii residents.
The Court found that given the short time the Commission has been in existence and the severe economic conditions in which it has been forced to operate, it has made impressive and real progress in providing practical solutions to the ongoing challenge of improving access to the civil justice system for low-income individuals in Hawaii.
In its evaluation, the Court highlighted the Commission’s approach to rule amendments as a means to provide incentives for attorneys to commit time to pro bono work, and its support of legislation expanding access to small claims court to more litigants. It also emphasized the Commission’s efforts to provide additional funding for legal service providers by supporting legislation to increase the indigent legal services surcharge on filing fees, and how it created a potential for increased funding through the amendment of class actions rules.
The Access to Justice Commission was created in 2008 pursuant to Rule 21 of the Rules of the Supreme Court. It consists of 22 volunteer members representing the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, the HSBA, the Hawaii Consortium of Legal Service Providers, the Hawaii Justice Foundation, the UH Law School, and the Hawaii Paralegal Association. The Supreme Court’s three-year evaluation was done in accordance with RSCH Rule 21(j)(2).