Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, April 18, 2001

'Concierge desks' to help legal novices

By William Cole
Advertiser Staff Writer

The Hawai'i State Judiciary yesterday dedicated a new District Court "concierge center" to lend a legal helping hand to the community.

The 600-square-foot center on the plaza of the District Court building on Alakea Street takes the place of a temporary information desk, and signifies the final installment of the Ho'okele Court Navigation Project, started last year to help people understand and better use the court system.

Chief Justice Ronald T.Y. Moon said the dedication "bears great significance" for the judiciary and reflects a commitment to access, openness and innovation.

Coupled with a Civil Division Service Center on the third floor, the program offers assistance for individuals — particularly litigants without lawyers — who are at a loss over where to start to take legal action.

A Family Court Service Center and concierge desk also are at the Circuit Court building on Punchbowl Street.

"Very often we have people who come to the courthouse with a story to tell, they are unfamiliar with the judicial system, and they need help identifying the program or agency that can handle their matter," said Dew Kaneshiro, project director with the judiciary's office on equality and access to the courts.

Whether someone's trying to find a traffic violation abstract or locate an individual within the criminal justice system, the program can lend a hand, Kaneshiro said.

"(The concierge desk workers) are the generalists vs. the service centers, which are the specialists," Kaneshiro said.

Since August, the four Ho'okele stations have handled more than 33,000 visitors and phone calls, officials say. The project is financed by the State Justice Institute and the AmeriCorps Corporation for National Service.

The Legislature appropriated $224,000 for design and construction. Eight members of the AmeriCorps volunteer corps staff the project sites with court employees.