In November 2007, the Access to Justice Hui produced a report on its assessment of the civil legal needs of low-and moderate-income Hawaii residents and a community wide action plan to increase equal access to justice in Hawaii. The Access to Justice Hui is comprised of representatives of the Judiciary, the Hawaii State Bar Association, legal service providers, the Hawaii Justice Foundation, and the William S. Richardson School of Law, as well as her leaders and interested parties.
The report, “Achieving Access to Justice for Hawaii’s People: The Community Wide Action Plan: Ten Action Steps to Increase Access to Justice in Hawaii by 2010 and The 2007 Assessment of Civil Legal Needs and Carriers of Low and Moderate-Income People in Hawaii (November 2007)” contains the following key findings of the need assessment:
- Only 1 in 5 low- and moderate-income Hawaii residents have their legal needs met
- Legal service providers are able to help only 1 in 3 of those who contact them for assistance.
- The areas with the greatest unmet civil legal needs are housing, family, domestic violence, and consumer.
- Significant barriers to obtaining legal assistance in addition to inability to afford an attorney include language and cultural barriers, lack of knowledge of one’s legal rights, lack of knowledge of available legal services, and difficulty in assessing legal services programs.
- There is one legal service attorney for every 2,291 persons living below 125% of the federal poverty guideline.
- There is one legal service attorney for every 4, 402 persons living below 200% of the federal poverty guideline.
- There is one private attorney for every 361 persons in the general population.
One of the action steps in the report proposed the formation of an Access to Justice Commission. On April 24, 2008, the Hawaii Supreme Court formally adopted the proposal as Supreme Court Rule 21, effective May 1, 2008, and the Commission officially came into being.
A copy of the Report can be found here: “Achieving Access to Justice for Hawaii’s People” (A Report of the Access to Justice Hui, November 2007)