On October 24, members of the judicial and legal systems, including Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald; Associate Justice Simeon Acoba; Associate Judge Daniel Foley, Chair of the Hawai`i Access to Justice Commission; and Craig Wagnild, president of the Hawai`i State Bar Association, recognized six high school students for their essays on meaningful volunteering and five attorneys for their outstanding volunteer service to the community.
Held in the Hawaii Supreme Court courtroom, the local event was sponsored by the Hawai`i Access to Justice Commission and the Hawai`i State Bar Association as part of national Pro Bono Week designed to raise awareness about the increased need for free legal services, especially during difficult economic times.
(From left to right:) Zane Kunimura, Benjamin Steeper, Casey Nakamura, Christopher Kim, Tram Ha, and Da Hea Kim.
The theme of the essay contest was meaningful volunteering and what it means to the students and why it is important to volunteer. The essay award recipients and their schools are:
Tram Ha, Moanalua High School
Christopher Kim, Maui High School
Da Hea Kim, Mid Pacific Institute
Zane Kunimura, Waiakea High School
Casey Nakamura, Kapaa High School
Benjamin Steeper, Aiea High School
The essay contest was open to public and private high school students in Grades 10 through 12. Each student received a cash award of $500, which was donated by each of the following six law firms: Coates & Frey; Cades Schutte; Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel; Ashford & Wriston; Bays Lung Rose & Holma; and Case Lombardi & Pettit.
The pro bono honorees and their nominating agencies are:
Jason Kim, nominated by the Hawai`i Disability Rights Center for his work in a class action case on behalf of disabled students who want the opportunity to continue their education until age 22;
Carol Lockwood, nominated by the Mediation Center of the Pacific, Inc. for serving as a pro bono mediator in complex family law matters, including a few divorce cases conducted via Skype for parties participating remotely, and mediating paternity cases onsite at the Family Court in Kapolei;
David Reber, nominated by the Hawai`i Appleseed Center of Law and Economic Justice for being the guiding spirit of Hawai`i Appleseed Center since its creation in 2002 by providing critical support, advice and direction;
Samuel Suen, nominated by the Legal Aid Society of Hawai`i and Volunteer Legal Services Hawai`i for assisting the economically disadvantaged in legal matters ranging from adult guardianships to adoptions and wills.
Catherine Taschner, nominated by the Business Law Corps for serving as the driving force behind the launch of the organization, which helps entrepreneurs of limited means create new businesses and new jobs in the community.
(Front row from left:) Justice Sabrina McKenna, Justice Paula Nakayama, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Justice Simeon
Acoba, Justice Richard Pollack. (Back row: ) Samuel Suen, Carol Lockwood, David Reber, Catherine Taschner and Jason Kim.