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Statement by Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald

Posted on Jun 15, 2020 in Featured News, News & Reports, Press Releases

The recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, within months of each other, have been tragic reminders of the reality that many face every day across our nation. For those of us who work in the justice system, which promises equal justice for all, this is a time of reckoning that requires careful listening, increased education and self-reflection, and, most importantly, action. We have a collective responsibility to hear the voices that have been raised, and to address deeply rooted and systemic problems within the structures of our institutions.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Although separated geographically from the events that have unfolded in other states, Hawaii is not immune to the types of implicit and explicit bias and prejudice that are found elsewhere. We must acknowledge the trauma, anger, hurt, and frustration that have been experienced by African American communities across our nation for generations. We must also rededicate ourselves to eliminating bias and prejudice here in Hawaii.

At the Judiciary, we are committed to upholding the Constitution’s guarantee of equal justice for all, and to working with stakeholders and advocates to address systemic issues that may challenge the fair administration of justice. Some of this work has already begun through collaborative efforts to examine and ultimately improve Hawaii’s criminal justice system through pretrial reform, prison reform, and efforts related to traffic fines and fees; however, there is still much work that can and must be done. This will require long and sometimes difficult conversations, and sustained effort.

Many members of the bar have been at the forefront of that work. My hope is that the Hawaii State Bar Association and all members of Hawaii’s legal community will continue to support these ongoing efforts, and join in identifying and advancing additional reforms to ensure that the promise of justice for all is kept.

Thank you for joining us in this effort.


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