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Attorneys, court navigators honored

Lawyers earn kudos for pro bono work

Attorneys who assisted the community at the Maui courthouse Self-Help Center in 2018 were honored at the Maui County Bar Association’s Court Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. Front row from left are: Bevanne Bowers, Benjamin Acob, Caroline Belsom, Judith Neustadter Naone, Lauren Akitake and Megan Moniz. Middle row from left are: Chief Judge Joseph Cardoza, Liz Cuccia, Yukari Murakami, Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, David Cain and Magdalena Bajon. Back row from left are: Maui County Bar Association President William Pannell, Maui County Bar Association Vice President Damir Kouliev, Napoleon Taylor, Ben Pittenger and Gary Murai. Hawaii State Judiciary photos

The Maui News

Twenty attorneys who provided free legal information and 10 court navigators who helped direct courthouse visitors were recognized for their volunteer service that assisted hundreds of people last year.

The attorneys provided free legal information to about 750 people who sought assistance at the Self-Help Center, which opened in October 2012 at Hoapili Hale, the state courthouse building in Wailuku. Since then, volunteer attorneys have had more than 4,000 consultations with people who are representing themselves in civil legal matters for landlord-tenant cases, collections, divorces, child custody and temporary restraining orders.

Last year, the 2nd Circuit established the first volunteer Court Navigator Program in the state. Twelve people have volunteered to be navigators, who serve at the courthouse on days when District Court civil cases are scheduled. Navigators give directions to courtrooms, help visitors who need interpreters or accommodations for sight or hearing impairments and provide information on court procedures. They also tell court users about resources such as the Self-Help Center and the availability of free mediation services.

Since June, more than 500 people have received assistance from navigators. They have received “excellent” ratings from those who completed an evaluation form.

Volunteer court navigators who helped visitors at the Hoapili Hale courthouse in 2018 were recognized during the Maui County Bar Association’s Court Volunteer Appreciation Dinner for their service. Front row from left are: Chief Judge Joseph Cardoza and court navigators Diane Sueno, Lani Scott, Tori Renschen, Pam Lavarre and Sandy Filipelli. Back row from left are: Maui County Bar Association President William Pannell, Vice President Damir Kouliev, court navigator Linda Powley and Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.

“I am grateful to both our attorney and non-attorney volunteers who so generously contribute their time and expertise to serve our community at the Maui courthouse,” said state Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald. “They play a key role in helping us ensure that everyone’s voice is heard in our civil courtrooms.”

The attorneys honored at the Maui County Bar Association’s Court Volunteer Appreciation Dinner on May 10 were Benjamin Acob, Lauren Akitake, Magdalena Bajon, Caroline Peters Belsom, Bevanne Bowers, David Cain, Elizabeth Cuccia, Justine Hura, Kevin Jenkins, Thomas Kolbe, Stanley Majka, Megan Moniz, Gary Murai, Yukari Murakami, Jennifer Oana, Benjamin Pittenger, David Raatz, Gary Robert, Samuel Shnider, Napoleon Taylor and Loren Tilley.

The Court Navigator volunteers honored were Leilani Bronson-Crelly, Gloria Buckingham, Sandy Filipelli, Hura, Pam Lavarre, Cheryl Lawrence, Linda Powley, Tori Renschen, Lani Scott and Diane Sueno.

“Our system of justice works best when serving a well-informed population,” said 2nd Circuit Chief Judge Joseph Cardoza. “The Volunteer Court Navigator Program helps bridge the gap for those who are unfamiliar with the courts, and creates greater opportunities for everyone to avail themselves of the rights and liberties provided by law.”

He and Recktenwald attended the appreciation dinner.

The Self-Help Center is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays on the first floor of Hoapili Hale. Residents of Molokai, Lanai and Hana can get help by calling the center at 495-5527 during those hours.

In addition to providing limited legal information to those representing themselves in some District and Family Court civil matters, attorneys may review court documents for interpretation, completeness and correctness. Volunteers also try to answer procedural questions.

More information on volunteering with the Court Navigator Program is available by calling 244-2929.