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Hawaii Ranks Fourth in Nationwide Access to Justice Study

Posted on Nov 13, 2014 in Press Releases

HONOLULU- The National Center for Access to Justice released its Justice Index findings, ranking Hawaii as one of the top states in the country for best practices of ensuring access to the civil and criminal justice systems.  The report measured how accessible the justice system is in four categories: attorney access for low-income litigants; support for self-represented litigants; support for litigants with limited language proficiency; and support for people with disabilities.

“I’m very pleased that Hawaii has been recognized as a leader in providing access to justice.  Our hard work is paying off.  The Hawaii Access to Justice Commission was formed by the Supreme Court in 2008 with these very objectives in mind.  The Justice Index results serve as a testament to how much the Commission, the state judiciary, volunteer attorneys, and our other partners have been able to accomplish with limited resources,” said Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.  “The Findings reflect dedication and commitment toward realizing justice for all in Hawaii, and the effectiveness of the partnerships that the Commission has forged.”

Hawaii ranked number one for providing support for self-represented litigants.  The Hawaii State Judiciary has opened self-help centers in every circuit in the state: Hilo, Wailuku, Lihue, Kona and Oahu’s family court and district court.  Since the first center opened in 2011, volunteer attorneys have assisted more than 6,200 people, at almost no cost to the public.

In addition, the Hawaii State Judiciary has partnered with the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii and the Hawaii State Bar Association to make self-help interactive court forms available online.   In August 2014, the Hawaii State Public Library System provided access to the interactive forms on its 800 computers and 250 netbooks statewide.

Hawaii also tied for the top position in providing support for people with disabilities. In part, this is because the Judiciary pays the costs for accommodations provided to persons with disabilities.  This includes, for example, the cost of providing sign language interpreters or computer assisted real-time transcription for persons who are deaf or have a hearing impairment.

The Hawaii State Judiciary’s Office on Equality and Access to the Courts has also made strides in improving its services available to our growing population with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).  In 2013, the Judiciary provided interpreting services for LEP clients in 40 different languages.

Chief Justice Recktenwald thanked the Commission Chair, Judge Daniel Foley, and his predecessor, Justice Simeon Acoba (ret.), for their leadership on the Commission, as well as the Judiciary’s partners including the Hawaii State Bar Association, county bar associations, the William S. Richardson School of Law, Americorps, the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, and other legal services providers.

For more information about our programs and services available to the public, please visit our website at www.courts.state.hi.us. This year, we added “Language Access”, “ADA”, and “Access to Justice” tabs on our menu bar to make this information more easily accessible.

For more information, contact the Communications and Community Relations Office at 808-539-4909 or via email at pao@courts.hawaii.gov.

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