Introductory Note: Rule 21(f) of the Rules of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court provides that the Access to Justice Commission (the “Commission”) may create such committees as it deems necessary or desirable to facilitate the work of the Commission. The Commission designates a chair for each committee and may appoint as members of each committee individuals who are and/or who are not members of the Commission. The role of each committee is advisory only, and each committee is intended to make such recommendations to the Commission as the committee determines to be appropriate. The committees, their chairs, their members and the areas of responsibility assigned to them may be changed at any time by the Commission.
The Access to Justice Commission has established the Committees as shown below. There are two committees that primarily have organizational or administrative functions (Administrative and Annual Report Committees) and seven committees that are subject matter committees.
The initial charters for the subject matter committees are drawn largely from two sources—the fourteen purposes of the Commission set forth in Rule 21 and the action steps proposed by the Hawai‘i Access to Justice Hui (the “Hui”) in the Hui’s “Community Wide Action Plan To Increase Access to Justice in Hawai‘i by 2010” (the “Action Plan”). The Action Plan grew out of “The 2007 Assessment of Civil Legal Needs and Barriers of Low- and Moderate-Income People in Hawai‘i,” and both the Assessment and the Action Plan are included in the Report provided to each Commissioner entitled “Achieving Access to Justice for Hawai‘i’s People” (the “Report”).
The committee charters below include a reference to the number of the purpose under Rule 21 and/or the action step under the Action Plan that the particular committee would be asked to consider in developing their recommendations. Each committee should consider the information and recommendations in the Report that are applicable to their subject areas, including in particular the recommendations listed under each action step in the Action Plan.
If you are interested in applying for committee membership, please use the form below:
- Assist in providing administrative and logistical assistance to the Commission and its committees and task forces
- Assist the Chair of the Commission in developing an agenda for each Commission meeting, and assist in arranging for presenters and written or electronic materials in support of agenda items
- Assist in developing a budget for the Commission, including identifying potential sources of funding, and providing reports on the status of operations relative to budget
- Coordinate the activities of volunteers in support of the Commission’s initiatives
- Assist in developing policies and initiatives that further the mission of the Commission.
Committee on Education, Communications and Conference Planning
[Action Step 9(d); Purposes 8 and 91]
- Assist in organizing an annual summit for the presentation of Access to Justice issues
- Make recommendations on encouraging lawyers, judges, government officials and other public and private leaders in Hawai‘i to take a leadership role in expanding access to justice
- Assist in developing strategies for educating governmental leaders and the public about the importance of equal access to justice and of the problems low-income people in Hawai‘i face in gaining access to the civil justice system, including through informational briefings, communication campaigns, statewide conferences, testimony at hearings and other means
- Increase awareness of low-income people’s legal rights and where they can go when legal assistance is needed
- Assist in developing a communications strategy and preparing communications consistent with that strategy
- Encourage judges, lawyers and legal services providers to prepare a series of articles on access to justice topics for publication in the Hawai‘i Bar Journal and other media
|1Action Step 9(d) of the Community Wide Action Plan is: “Judges, lawyers and legal services providers should prepare a series of articles on access to justice topics for publication in the Hawai`i Bar Journal and make access to justice a regular feature.”Purpose 8 of Rule 21 provides as follows:
Encourage lawyers, judges, government officials, and other public and private leaders in Hawai`i to take a leadership role in expanding access to civil justice.
Purpose 9 provides as follows:
Educate governmental leaders and the public about the importance of equal access to justice and of the problems low-income people in Hawai`i face in gaining access to the civil justice system through informational briefings, communication campaigns, statewide conferences (including an annual summit to report on and consider the progress of efforts to increase access to justice), testimony at hearings, and other means, and increase awareness of low-income people’s legal rights and where they can go when legal assistance is needed.
Committee on Increasing Pro Bono Legal Services
[Action Step 2; Purpose 63]
- Study best practices in other jurisdictions for increasing the level of pro bono services by lawyers, paralegals and others who may assist in overcoming barriers to access to justice, including developing effective recruitment campaigns
- Make recommendations concerning ways to develop a culture of commitment to pro bono service among Hawai‘i’s lawyers
- Maintain a list of providers of legal services and others who offer opportunities for pro bono service, describe the nature of those opportunities, and explore and assist providers in increasing the opportunities they provide for such service
- Make recommendations concerning ways to make providing pro bono service more attractive to attorneys. Methods include assisting providers in developing resources for the pre-screening of cases, ensuring proper training, providing support, and recognizing service.
- Make recommendations concerning ways in which the Commission, the Judiciary, and the HSBA–acting alone or in partnership with others–can encourage attorneys to provide higher levels of pro bono service.
- Make recommendations concerning ways to encourage law firms and others who employ lawyers (including governmental agencies and corporate law departments) to promote greater pro bono service among their attorneys.
- Make recommendations concerning ways to encourage retired lawyers and judges to provide pro bono or staff legal services to low-income persons.
- Assist in recruiting and staffing pro bono attorneys for the Access to Justice Room at the Honolulu District Court.
- Coordinating the annual Pro Bono Celebration.
|3Action Step 2 of the Community Wide Action Plan adopted by the Access to Justice Hui in 2007 is: “Develop a culture that values providing pro bono services.” Purpose 6 of Supreme Court Rule 21 provides as follows:
Increase pro bono contributions by Hawai`i attorneys through such things as rule changes, recruitment campaigns, increased judicial involvement, and increased recognition for contributors.
Committee on Initiatives to Enhance Civil Justice
[Action Step 9; Purposes 3 and 124 ]
- Develop and publish a strategic, integrated plan for statewide delivery of civil legal services to low-income Hawai‘i residents.
- Study best practices in other jurisdictions and develop and recommend new initiatives to expand access to justice in Hawai‘i.
- Make recommendations and provide advocacy in support of enhancing recruitment and retention of attorneys to work as staff members or to volunteer pro bono for nonprofit civil legal services providers in Hawai‘i.
|4Action Step 9 of the Community Wide Action Plan is “increase access to justice in other ways.” Purpose 2 of Supreme Court Rule 21 provides as follows:
Develop and implement initiatives designed to expand access to civil justice in Hawai`i.
Purpose 3 of Rule 21 provides:
Develop and publish a strategic, integrated plan for statewide delivery of civil legal services to low-income Hawai`i residents.
Purpose 12 of Rule 21 provides:
Develop initiatives designed to enhance recruitment and retention of attorneys who work for nonprofit civil legal services providers in Hawai`i and to encourage law students to consider, when licensed, the practice of poverty law in Hawai`i.
Committee on Overcoming Barriers to Access to Justice
[Action Step 7; Purpose 77]
- Make recommendations concerning ways to remove impediments to
accessing the justice system due to language, cultural and other
barriers, and make recommendations concerning what programs
should be initiated to address this barrier, which may include:
– – Providing multilingual services, including increasing the number of available staff and pro bono attorneys and court personnel who are bilingual – – Providing forms in multiple languages – – Providing translation services in court, administrative agencies, and with legal service providers – – Partnering with the University of Hawai‘i and other schools offering language training to encourage multilingual volunteers to provide outreach and translation services
- Identify other barriers to obtaining legal assistance and make recommendations concerning ways to address them, such as through the provision of ancillary services—e.g., providing for child care during a court hearing or for necessary mental health services.
- Seek to reduce barriers by recommending input on existing and proposed laws, court rules, regulations, procedures and policies that may affect meaningful access to justice for low-income Hawai‘i residents.
- Reduce barriers encountered by self-represented litigants in the court system. Examples include using plain English, translations into other languages, and by simplifying procedural rules.
|7 Action Step 9 of the Community Wide Action Plan is: “Overcome barriers to access to justice.” Purpose 7 of the Supreme Court Rule 21 provides as follows:
Reduce barriers to the civil justice system by developing resources to overcome language, cultural, and other barriers and by giving input on existing and proposed laws, court rules, regulations, procedures, and policies that may affect meaningful access to justice for low-income Hawai`i residents.
Committee on Paralegals and Other Nonlawyers
On January 11, 2016, the Commission approved the creation of the Task Force on Paralegals and Other Nonlawyers to examine the role of paralegals and other non-lawyers in expanding access to justice. Subsequently, on March 20, 2023, the Commission approved conversion of the task force to a committee of the Commission.
The committee facilitates the work of the Commission by the following function: Make recommendations concerning ways in which paralegals and other non-lawyers may assist in meeting specified unmet civil legal needs, including whether ethical or procedural rules would need to be changed to accommodate such assistance.
Committee on Maximizing the Use of Available Resources for Separating and Divorcing Families in Hawai`i
On September 18, 2023, the Commission approved the creation of the Committee on Maximizing the Use of Available Resources for Separating and Divorcing Families in Hawai`i. Rule 21(b)(5) of the Rules of the Hawaii Supreme Court provides that the Commission develop ways to “maximize the use of available resources by facilitating efforts to improve collaboration and coordination among the civil legal services providers.” Action Step 6.b. of the “Communitywide Action Plan to Increase Justice in Hawaii by 2010” adopted by the Commission states, in relevant part, that “[l]egal services programs should work together in making the most efficient use of their collective resources to ensure that [t]here is an efficient and effective referral system of clients among the programs . . . [i]nnovative methods of legal services delivery are explored and used . . . [and] mediation and other alternative dispute resolution methods for resolving legal problems are utilized when appropriate.”