The Hawai‘i Access to Justice Commission (“Commission”) hosted the sixth annual Pro Bono Celebration on Thursday, October 25, 2018 at the Hawai‘i Supreme Court.

“Pro bono celebrations are held across the nation and we, in Hawai‘i join in recognizing the work of our lawyers who have given generously of their time and skills for the benefit of our state and our system of justice,” said Hawai’i Supreme Court Associate Justice Simeon Acoba (ret.), Chair of the Commission.

The Pro Bono Celebration was coordinated by the Commission’s Pro Bono Initiatives Task Force comprised of Justice Simeon Acoba (ret.), Judge Brian Costa, Co-Chair, Tracey S. Wiltgen, Co-Chair, Rex Fujichaku, Jill Hasegawa, Judge Ronald Ibarra (ret.), Regan Iwao, Judge Melanie May, Angela Kuo Min, Mark Murakami, and Associate Justice Michael Wilson.  The Celebration was supported by the Hawaii Justice Foundation, the Hawaii State Bar Association, and the Hawai’i State Bar Foundation.

          Pro Bono Honorees

The 2018 honorees were:

John Egan and Dylan Gentaro Fujitani were selected by the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii for their work helping a Yemeni doctor and his family to obtain asylum in the United States in the aftermath of the travel ban.  Because of their work, the doctor is in the process of being reunited with his wife and four children, who are currently in Jordan.

Lance D. Collins was recognized by the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice for being lead counsel, pro bono, on a pending federal court case aimed at requiring the owners of the low-income 142-unit low income affordable housing in Lahaina to keep the complex affordable.  After receiving over $20 million in public funds in return for a promise to keep the complex affordable for 51 years, the owners are attempting to end the affordability requirements after only 15 years.  If permitted to go forward, the conversion will result in the loss of housing for 300 tenants who live in the complex while increasing the value of the complex by up to $44 million.

Rex Fujichaku was recognized by the Domestic Violence Action Center (“DVAC”) for being a strong ally, exemplary community member, and immediate past President of DVAC.  His work and willingness in service to island families and those suffering the harm of relationship violence has been an enormous gift to the community.  His commitment to DVAC has been a generous act of personal and professional practice.

William B. Heflin was recognized by the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii (“LASH”) for his leadership and commitment to serving the community through his pro bono work at the Hilo Court Self-Help Center.  A collaborative project of the Hawaii State Judiciary, the Hawaii State and Hawaii County Bar Associations, and LASH, the Hilo Self-Help Center was opened in 2012 and since then has served over 5,000 people seeking information to help themselves with their civil and family law legal issues.  As the Hawaii County Bar Association’s designated “managing volunteer attorney” for the self-help center, Heflin was instrumental in working with LASH’s AmeriCorps members to recruit other volunteer attorneys, organize trainings, and provide needed legal information to the public.

David Kimo Frankel was recognized by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (“NHLC”) for his pro bono work on some of NHLC’s most important cases.  Frankel was a former staff attorney of NHLC from 2006 through 2016 and worked on Native Rights cases while employed there.  He authored Protecting Paradise: A Citizen’s Guide to Land and Water Use Controls in Hawaii.

Thomas J. Mitrano was honored by the Mediation Center of the Pacific (“MCP”) for his dedication to mediation and for helping hundreds of people, particularly in complex domestic matters resolve their disputes through mediation.  Since January 1, 2016, Mitrano mediated 83 cases involving 124 sessions and  397 hours.  In addition to mediating, he is a regular presenter, trainer, and mentor of new mediators for MCP.   Mitrano’s generosity in giving of his time and talents pro bono through MCP, has enabled hundreds of people to reach resolutions without the need for judicial intervention.

Kristin Bryant was honored by the University of Hawaii’s Elder Law Program (“UHELP”) for her assistance with the program over the years and especially for her work with the law students in the UHELP clinic.   Bryant is well known for her outreach to the elderly community and the assistance she provides to older veterans.  In addition to her work with UHELP, she is an Assistant Professor at the William S. Richardson School of Law for the Elder Law Clinic and a Senior Mediator at the Mediation Center of the Pacific.

Thomas D. Farrell was honored by Volunteer Legal Services of Hawaii (“VLSH”) as one of VLSH’s most active pro bono attorneys.  He volunteers his time on a regular basis at VLSH’s Neighborhood Legal Clinics where he provides advice and counsel to family law clients.  He also takes on full representation cases – all pro bono.  VLSH can always count on him to volunteer at VLSH’s Pop Up Clinics in rural areas, from Waianae to Waimanalo, early Saturday mornings.  He also served on the VLSH Board providing additional guidance to the organization between the years of 2013 to 2016.


The volunteers at the Honolulu District Court Access to Justice Room included:  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, Megumi Sakae, 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.

The volunteers at the Family Court Access to Justice Room included:  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.

The volunteers for the Pro Bono Appellate program included: 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.


        The Essay/Video Award Recipients

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?”  Each of the students received a cash award of $500, donated by Bays Lung Rose Holma, Cades Schutte LLP, Carlsmith Ball, LLP, Damon Key Leong Kupchak Hastert, Schlack Ito LLLC, and Schlueter Kwiat & Kennedy LLLP.   In addition to these awards, a $100 award for educational purposes was given to a teacher named by the student awardee.

The 2018 essay/video award recipients were:  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 preliminary judges for the contest included:  Judge Rhonda Loo, Judge Melanie May, Judge Michael Tanigawa. James Kawashima, Tracy Jones, Joanna Sokolow, Jo Kim, Laurel Loo, Derek Kobayashi, Angela Kuo Min, Judge Dyan Mitsuyama, Michael Carroll, Keoni Shultz, Jenny Silbiger,  Rebecca Copeland, Alvin Nishimura, Sherri Ann Iha, Judge James McWhinnie, Judge William Domingo, Judge Hillary Gangnes, Michelle Comeau, and Steve Hartley

The finalist judges of the essay contest were Chief Justice Recktenwald, Judge Darien Nagata, and 2018 HSBA President Howard Luke.

The Commission is grateful to everyone who supported and participated in the 2018 Pro Bono Celebration.