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2018 Pro Bono Celebration Honors Volunteer Attorneys and Student Essay Contest Winners

Posted on Oct 26, 2018 in Featured News, News & Reports


A photograph of local attorneys who were awarded for volunteering to provide free legal assistance in the Judiciary's Access to Justice Rooms.

Oahu attorneys, law firms, and legal organizations were honored at the October 25 Pro Bono Celebration for volunteering to provide free legal assistance at the state court’s Access to Justice Rooms in 2018. Left to right: Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald; Dorothy-Jean Meisner of Chong, Nishimoto, Sia, Nakamura & Goya, LLLP; Kimi Ide-Foster of Chun Kerr, LLP; and Rep. Della Au Belatti.

HONOLULU – Individual attorneys, law firms, and legal organizations were honored at the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission’s 2018 Pro Bono Celebration on October 25 in the Hawaii Supreme Court courtroom. In addition, awards of $500 each were made to six high school students in the Commission’s 2018 essay and video contest.

Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Hawaii Access to Justice Commission Chair Justice Simeon Acoba (ret.), and Commissioner Judge Ronald Ibarra (ret.), along with Supreme Court Associate Justice Michael Wilson, Representative Della Au Belatti, and Hawaii State Bar Association President-Elect Derek Kobayashi took part in the annual ceremony, which recognizes the work of volunteer attorneys.

Several local legal services providers recognized their awardees to honor their outstanding contributions to those organizations. The awardees and the organizations honoring them are: John Egan and Dylan Gentaro Fujitani (American Civil Liberties Union); Rex Y. Fujichaku (Domestic Violence Action Center); Lance Collins (Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice); William Heflin (Legal Aid Society of Hawaii); David Frankel (Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation); Thomas Mitrano (The Mediation Center of the Pacific); Kristin Bryant (University of Hawaii Elder Law Program); and Thomas Farrell (Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii).

Other volunteer attorneys, law firms, and non-profit organizations were also recognized for their pro bono service at the Honolulu District Court and the Kapolei Family Court self-help centers. They are:

Honolulu District Court:
Individual Attorneys: Arlette Harada; Miriah Holden; Nathaniel Higa; Bryant Zane; Beverly Sameshima; Leroy Colombe; Cheryl Nakamura; Eileen Zorc; Daniel Kim; Jae Park; Shannon Wack; Stacey Djou; Calvin Pang; Dan O’Meara; Sergio Alcubilla; and Megumi Sakae.

Law Firms and Legal Organizations: Chong Nishimoto Sia Nakamura & Goya; Chun Kerr; Hawaii Association for Justice; McCorriston Miller Mukai MacKinnon; Carlsmith Ball; Cades Schutte; Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel; Hawaii Filipino Lawyers Association; Bronster Fujichaku Robbins; Schlack Ito; Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher; Hawaii Women Lawyers; Ashford & Wriston; Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert; Marr Jones Wang; and Yamamoto Caliboso.

Kapolei Family Court:
Seth Harris; Ellen Politano; Maria Anita Lopez; Carol Tribbey; Mei Nakamoto; Mari Kishimoto Doi; Dyan K. Mitsuyama; Cheryl Yamaki; Stephen Hioki; Juan Montalbano; Jill Hasegawa; Greg Frey; Tom Tanimoto; Leslie Ching Allen; Jackie Thurston; Ann Isobe; Kimberly Van Horn; Erin Kobayashi; Elizabeth Paek-Harris; Noah Gibson; Gemma-Rose Poland Soon; and Kevin Adaniya.

Moreover, volunteers for the Appellate Pro Bono Program were recognized. The Appellate Pro Bono attorneys are: Annie Yi; Louise Ing; Matthew Mannisto; Jamila Jarmon; Daniel Gluck; Katherine Caswell; Bianca Isaki; Lance Collins; Robert Thomas; Mark M. Murakami; Veronica Nordyke; and Ross Uehara-Tilton.

In addition to acknowledgment of the volunteer attorneys and law firms, the award recipients from the Access to Justice Commission’s 2018 statewide high school essay contest were praised for their work.

This is the sixth year in a row that the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission has sponsored the contest to encourage and recognize student volunteerism through written essays and video presentations. The Commission received 130 essays and videos from public and private high school students in grades 10 through 12 on the theme: “What community service are you interested in, and how would you inspire others in the community to engage in community service?” In addition to the $500 student awards, a $100 award was given to a teacher or adviser, named by each student, to be used for educational purposes.

The 2018 essay award recipients are (in alphabetical order): Lauren Albrecht (King Kekaulike High School); Camryn Baptista (Waipahu High School); Katrina Kuo (Kalani High School); Sophia Marvel (Kauai Christian Academy); Maya Reid (St. Andrew’s Priory); and Kainani Reeves-Bachman (Konawaena High School). The awards were donated by Bays Lung Rose Holma; Cades Schutte LLP; Carlsmith Ball, LLP; Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert; Schlack Ito LLLC; and Schlueter Kwaiat & Kennedy LLLP.

“Our judicial system exists to provide equal justice for all. Hawaii continues to rank high in the nation for our efforts to increase access to the courts, and we continue to pursue improvements in this area,” said Justice Simeon Acoba (ret.), who serves as the Chair of the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission. “The annual Pro Bono Awards is a celebration of Hawaii’s ongoing efforts to realize justice for everyone in our communities. We encourage the commitment to this ideal by encouraging thoughtful essays and videos by students about the virtue of volunteering, and by recognizing lawyers who voluntarily donate their legal services to those in need.”

The Pro Bono Celebration, held annually during National Pro Bono Week, was sponsored by the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission with the support of the Hawaii Justice Foundation, the Hawaii State Bar Association, and the Hawaii State Bar Foundation.

The Hawaii Access to Justice Commission was created in May 2008. The Commission’s primary purpose is to substantially increase access to justice in civil legal matters for low- and moderate-income residents of Hawaii.

The Hawaii Justice Foundation is an independent, tax-exempt grantmaking organization whose sole purpose is to achieve justice for Hawaii’s people. The Foundation was established in 1969 as a vehicle for philanthropic law-related projects in the State of Hawaii.

The Hawaii State Bar Association is the unified bar association for all persons admitted to the practice of law in Hawaii, and serves to unite and inspire Hawaii lawyers to promote justice, serve the public, and improve the legal profession.

The Hawaii State Bar Foundation is a nonprofit organization established to promote justice through programs such as Access to Justice for persons in need of legal services, civics education, and other public service programs and projects, including programs and projects of the Hawaii State Bar Association.