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2015 Pro Bono Celebration Honors Volunteer Attorneys and Student Essay Contest Winners

Posted on Nov 2, 2015 in Featured News


HONOLULU, HI – Attorneys who volunteered their time without compensation to non-profit legal services providers and self-represented litigants were honored at the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission’s 2015 Pro Bono Celebration on October 29. The Commission also presented awards of $500 each to the six award recipients from its 2015 high school essay contest titled, “How to Inspire Fellow Students to Volunteer.”

As events were held around the country in observance of National Pro Bono Week, nearly 150 people gathered in the Hawaii Supreme Court courtroom to celebrate the outstanding pro bono attorneys who assisted non-profit legal services providers, and the volunteer attorneys who helped staff the Access to Justice Rooms at Honolulu District Court and the Ronald T.Y. Moon Kapolei Family Court.  Since opening in 2012, Oahu’s two Access to Justice Rooms have had more than 3,167 visits by self-represented litigants, with volunteer attorneys providing over 1,900 hours of free legal assistance.      

Pro Bono Awards Honolul Hawaii

Governor David Ige (center) joined Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald (on left) and Access to Justice Commission Chair Daniel Foley to congratulate Oahu attorneys for volunteering to provide legal assistance to self-represented litigants. Here Governor Ige recognizes attorney John Rhee for his volunteer services.

“There is a growing number of people who cannot afford representation in civil legal cases, which poses a significant problem for our justice system, both nationally and in Hawaii,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.  “For this reason, I am grateful to the many attorneys who have volunteered their time and talents to those in our community who need it the most.  These attorneys are helping us to uphold our mission of providing justice for all.”

Governor David Ige, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Justice Simeon Acoba (ret.), Hawaii Access to Justice Commission Chair Judge Daniel Foley, and Hawaii State Bar Association President Gregory Markham honored the following outstanding volunteer attorneys who were selected by local legal services providers: 

Matt Winter acknowledged by the American Civil Liberties Union; Ryan K. Hew acknowledged by the Business Law Corps; Dyan Mitsuyama and Jill Hasegawa acknowledged by the Domestic Violence Action Center; John Rhee acknowledged by the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice; James Kawahito acknowledged by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation; Constance Hassell acknowledged by The Mediation Center of the Pacific, Inc.; the Young Lawyers Division Disaster Relief Assistance Manual Volunteers (Marissa Machida, Heather Moore, Seth Corpuz-Lahne, Heather Uekawa, Courtney M. Crawford, Juliette B. McCullough, and Normand R. Lezy) acknowledged by the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii; and Judge Dyan Medeiros acknowledged by Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii.

The attorneys and law firms that were recognized for their pro bono service at the Honolulu District Court and the Kapolei Family Court Access to Justice Rooms in 2015 were: 

Honolulu District Court 

Individual Attorneys:  Justin Adam Brackett, Patricia L. Cookson, Jessica R. Domingo, Tred R. Eyerly, Elwen A. Freitas, Arlette S. Harada, David J. Hoftiezer, Kurt I. Kagawa, Bernice L.C. Krause, Naomi M. Kusachi, Heather E. Moore, Cheryl A. Nakamura, Terri A. O’Connell, Alana Peacott-Ricardos, Cherrylina C. Piedad, Scott Prange, Radji O. Tolentino, Jefferson S. Willard. 

Law Firms/Offices:  Ayabe Chong Nishimoto Sia Nakamura; Carlsmith Ball; Starn O’Toole Marcus & Fisher; Schlack Ito; Ashford & Wriston; Cades Schutte; Goodsill Anderson Quinn & Stifel; Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing; Office of the Public Defender; Bronster Fujichaku Robbins; Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert; Yamamoto Caliboso; Marr Jones & Wang. 

Kapolei Family Court 

Kevin Adaniya, John C. Bryant, Jr., Richard J. Diehl, P. Gregory Frey, Noah H. Gibson, Jessi Hall, Seth Harris, Jill M. Hasegawa, Stephen T. Hioki, John D. Hughes, Ann S. Isobe, Mari L. Kishimoto, Erin Kobayashi, Lynnae Lee, Marianita Lopez, Louis J. Markee, Jr., Dyan K. Mitsuyama, John Alberto Montalbano, Michelle K. Moorhead, Mei Nakamoto, Ellen B. Politano, Evans M. Smith, Dean A. Soma, Gemma-Rose Poland Soon, Tom S. Tanimoto, Jacqueline E. Thurston, Carol A. Tribbey, Sandra G.Y. Young

In addition to acknowledging the volunteer attorneys, the award recipients from the Access to Justice Commission’s 2015 statewide student essay contest were praised for their work. 

This year, over 240 essays were submitted by public and private high school students in grades 10 through 12 on, “How to Inspire Fellow Students to Volunteer.”  The 2015 essay award recipients were:  Krizhna Bayudan, Lahainaluna High School; Shaun Gonzalez, Kealaheke High School; Jayson Hawthorne, Kapaa High School; Victoria Huynh, Kalani High School; Joshua Lawrence, Kalaheo High School; and Corina Quach, Kalani High School.   

Each of the students received a cash award of $500, donated by Bank of Hawaii and the law firms of Chang Iwamasa & Chiu, Clay Chapman Iwamura Pulice & Nervell, O’Connor Playdon & Guben, Pacific Law Group, and Sullivan Meheula Lee.

“When I read each of the essays, it renewed my faith in the next generation of leaders.  I want to thank each student for participating in this essay contest and also their teachers and families for their support of these outstanding students,” said Intermediate Court of Appeals Associate Judge Daniel R. Foley, who also serves as the Chair of the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission.

The 2015 Pro Bono Celebration was sponsored by the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission, with support from the Hawaii Justice Foundation, Hawaii State Bar Association, and the Hawaii State Bar Foundation.