2022 Hawai‘i Access to Justice Conference

         On a warm summer day, over 240 people attended the thirteenth annual Hawai‘i Access to Justice Conference, held on Friday, June 17, 2022, at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai‘i.   This year’s theme was “Continuing to Meet Challenges to Access to Justice.”

         There were 41 speakers or panelists.  Former Dean Aviam Soifer and Robert LeClair, Executive Director, Hawaii Justice Foundation, served as co-emcees for the conference. 

         The Cades Foundation was acknowledged for its generosity in providing a grant to assist in defraying the costs of the conference. 

         Commission Chair Judge Joseph Cardoza and Hawai‘i Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald provided opening remarks at the conference.   Keynote speaker Dean Camille Nelson stirred the audience about inclusive justice through the lens of legal education.             

            Dean Soifer facilitated the morning workshop, “Access to Justice in the Current Climate” with Governor David Ige, Chief Justice Recktenwald,  Hawai‘i Representative Della Au Belatti, and Dean Nelson.

         There were four concurrent workshops for the first afternoon session:

         1.      “Resolving Community Conflicts” with Tracey Wiltgen (leading the discussion), Executive Director of Mediation Center of the Pacific; Peter Adler, principal in The Accord3.0 Network and partner with GUILD Consulting; Dawn Chang, principal of Ku‘iwalu, a Native Hawaiian, woman-owned business enterprise established in 2001; Justice James Duffy (Ret.), former Hawai‘i Supreme Court Associate Justice; and Melissa May, a senior planner and deputy manager of Strategic Services at SSFM International.

         2.      “Domestic Abuse and Protective Orders:  Access to Justice for All Parties” with District Family Court Judge Rebecca A. Copeland as moderator, District Family Court Judge Courtney Naso, Nanci Kreidman, executive director of Domestic Violence Action Center, and Alen Kaneshiro, private attorney. 

         3.      “Working Together to Provide Immigration Legal Services to the Low-Income Clients” with John Egan, director of the Refugee and Immigration Law Clinic at the law school; Esther Yoo, staff attorney at The Legal Clinic, both as moderators and panelists:  Ethan Higa, post-J.D. law fellow at the Refugee and Immigration Law Clinic; Makoto Messersmith, staff attorney, Hawai‘i Immigrant Justice Center, Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i; and Kara Teng, staff attorney, The Legal Clinic. 

         4.      “Language Access Is Language Justice” with Melody MacKenzie, Professor of Law Emerita and founding director of Ka Huli Ao Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law at the law school, who was the moderator; First Circuit District Court Judge William M. Domingo; Aphirak Bamrungruan, executive director of the Hawai‘i State Office of Language Access; and Ayano Nishimura, interpreter.  

         For the second part of the afternoon, another set of concurrent workshops were scheduled as follows:

         5.      “Legal Issues Related to the Provision of Education Services in ‘Olelo Hawai‘i” with David Kauila Kopper, director of Litigation at Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation (NHLC) as moderator, and panelists:  Daylin Rose Heather, staff attorney with NHLC, and Ka‘ano‘i Walk, senior policy analyst in the Hi‘ialo Group at Kamehameha Schools.  

         6.      “Access to Justice for the Elder Population Affected by Diminishing Capacity” with Scott Suzuki, private attorney, and Gary Powell, executive director of The Caregiver Foundation. 

         7.      “Thinking Forward for Access to Justice” with Second Circuit Chief Judge Joseph E. Cardoza (ret.), chair of the Commission; Heather Lusk, executive director of the Hawai‘i Health and Harm Reduction Center; Senator Karl Rhoads, current chair of the Hawai‘i State Senate Judiciary Committee; Tracey Wiltgen, executive director of the Mediation Center of the Pacific; and Nalani Fujimori Kaina, executive director of Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i. 

         8.      “ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) and Access to Justice” with Rona Yagi Fukumoto, president and CEO of Lanakila Pacific and Daintry Bartoldus, executive administrator of Hawai‘i State Council on Developmental Disabilities. 

         9.      “Social Justice Lawyering for Public Health” with Deja Ostrowski, staff attorney and policy advocate for the Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai‘i (MLPC) as moderator; Fernando Cosio, staff attorney for MLPC; Wayne Tanaka, executive director of the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i, and Sharde Freitas, community organizer with Sierra Club of Hawai‘i and data and policy analyst with the Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity at the University of Hawai‘i.  

         The plenary closing session with Professor Calvin G.C. Pang and Dean Nelson shared reflections of the day’s conference. 

         Brief summaries of the various workshops are noted below: