New Center for Equal Justice to open in Lihu‘e

Thanks to a grant of $25,000 from the G.N. Wilcox Trust, Legal Aid Society of Hawaii will be able to open its second Hawaiian Center for Equal Justice, this time in Lihu‘e, a press release states.

The Grand Opening will be June 2 and is open to the general public. Using the successful Honolulu CEJ as a model, Legal Aid Kauai staff will initially provide “brief services” to about 25 low-income individuals or families per month.

Examples of brief services include preventing an elderly or disabled tenant from being illegally evicted, supporting a victim of domestic violence in obtaining a temporary restraining order, helping a single father modify an outdated child support order, assisting a homeless man in applying for and obtaining housing, and more.

On Kaua‘i, it is estimated that around 60 percent of family law and housing cases involve at least one unrepresented party, the release states.

“Our primary goal is to reduce the number of unrepresented litigants who enter the courtroom ill-equipped and unprepared,” says Emiko Ryan, an attorney with Legal Aid AmeriCorps. “The Center for Equal Justice will provide Kaua‘i’s low-income and homeless populations with legal advice, online resources, assistance with completing court documents and other services that increase access to justice.”

“A center in Lihu‘e will allow Legal Aid to increase our ability to meet the needs of Kaua‘i’s low-income population, most of whom face multiple barriers in accessing justice,” says Chuck Greenfield, executive director for Legal Aid.

Held back by lack of knowledge, inability to access resources or just general apprehension, large numbers of low-income residents enter the courtroom without the slightest hint of what to do or how to do it, the release states.

“Part of our mission is to empower unrepresented litigants as they attempt to break barriers of accessing justice,” Greenfield says. “We are thankful that the Wilcox Trust is supporting this important work, and proud that our Kaua‘i office is next up in implementing a Center for Equal Justice.”

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