Presidents' Messages

November 2018

Thanksgiving...  In current parlance, we might say our relationship with this traditional American holiday has become “complicated.”  Still, with heads bowed in supplication to divine providence, or with humble, secular gesture, most of us continue to ritually gather to give communal thanks for the enduring bounty of our nation’s harvest. 

According to a mixture of history and legend, through their noble generosity the indigenous population welcomed the men, women and children who survived the arduous journey in their oceanic caravan for the promise of a better life on a distant shore.   

Four centuries later, we are witness to the plight of Central American men, women, and children, who have undertaken their own difficult trek to our southern border.  Almost all seek refuge from terrible gang violence, political corruption, and cruel gender-based oppression.  In contrast to the large numbers of humanity that comprise the overland caravan shown in daily news coverage, a small number of asylum seekers, much like the pilgrims long ago, have crossed a great expanse of ocean to reach our islands.   Unlike the new arrivals of centuries ago, who believed in the truth and superiority of their cultural ethos and sought to convince the native population of the same, the vast majority of hopeful newcomers today aspire for no more than to meld into our populace, to find for themselves and their families a place in the American Dream.

Several months ago, Law Professor Calvin Pang and Lowell Chun-Hoon, a director of the Hawaii Immigrant Justice Center at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, requested assistance from the HSBA in establishing a full-time Immigration Law Clinic at the University of Hawaii School of Law.  Support from various sources included that provided by the HSBA.   John Egan, a veteran local immigration lawyer, was recently appointed as Director of the Refugee and Immigration Law Clinic at the Richardson School of Law.  His students have taken on the case of a Central American woman who, with her 12-year old son, made the trek from their home to the Brownsville, Texas border crossing to escape a life of physical abuse and sexual assault.

She and her son made it to the border before the “zero tolerance” and family separation policies were implemented.  Thus, she was able to enter the United States and relocate to Hawaii where she has her family and has been able to work.  Her petition for asylum will be heard in U.S. Immigration Court here.  Because of rules that prevail in Immigration Court, the students, who have interviewed witnesses and briefed the case, soon will be able to appear in court to argue on behalf of their clients. 

This newsletter makes no claim as to the merits of either side of the case.  However, there can be no question that advocacy by the students, under the supervision of  experienced legal counsel, in support of an underprivileged, legally unsophisticated human being, is squarely within the mission of the HSBA, “ unite and inspire Hawaii’s lawyers to promote justice, serve the public, and improve the legal profession.” 

The outcome is yet to be determined.  Recent governmental decisions may prove to be challenging, if not insurmountable.  But one thing is certain: due to the students’ efforts, under the guidance of their able mentor and with the support of the law school, a woman and her child will have their day in court.

Epilogue:  The morning after the above was submitted for publication, I learned that the hearing was underway in Immigration Court.  I managed to attend the last half of the hearing.  At its conclusion, the presiding judge, showing sensitivity in addressing the applicant for asylum directly, expressed his belief in her credibility.  Nevertheless, the Court found that she had not met her burden of proof under the current state of applicable law.  Accordingly, her application for asylum was denied, and it was ordered that she be removed from the United States.

Her counsel will appeal.

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I would like to thank all those who participated in the Hawaii Bar Convention on November 2, 2018, with special thanks to our featured speaker Chief Justice Hon. Mark E. Recktenwald.  I also would like to congratulate award recipients Allen Hoe, Gary Slovin, and David Hayakawa, and the newly installed officers and members of the HSBA Board of Directors, Young Lawyers Division, and Senior Counsel Division. 

And congratulations to our newest admitted members of the HSBA, sworn in to practice law before the State and Federal courts on November 9, 2018.

~ Happy Thanksgiving to all  ~


- Howard K.K. Luke, HSBA President

Who is ready for Thanksgiving! It’s by far my favorite holiday, other than my birthday. I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday with family, friends, and whomever else may end up at your table. And in the spirit of giving thanks…

A special thank you to all the attorneys who helped make “So You Wanna Be A Lawyer” a successful event. We had nearly 40 undergraduate students in attendance! These students receive free LSAT prep books as well as the opportunity to speak to practicing attorneys in various areas of law. Thank you again to the William S. Richardson School of Law for providing space and information about admissions and the Black Law Student Association and La Alianza for great work in recruiting students. I look forward to continuing our quest for diversity and inclusion in our Bar.

Thank you everyone who turned out for Junior Judges. We continue to receive great comments from teachers and even some of our attorneys about the program and the enjoyment that comes from working with our keiki and the community. Volunteering is fundamental.

And speaking of volunteering, we are currently planning the Volunteer Appreciation Social to thank all of you who have volunteered for any YLD event this year. The Volunteer Appreciation Social is scheduled for November 30, 2018, and we hope that you join us, so please stay tuned for more details.

A big shout out and thank you goes to Coates & Frey for sponsoring Legal Line in November. We really appreciate your support and continued commitment to providing pro bono legal information to the community. If you’d like to get involved as an individual or firm to sponsor a month (or team up with another firm for the month) contact the YLD Board anytime at Legal Line is held every Wednesday, from 6:00pm to 7:00pm at HSBA. We’re going to be looking for 2019 volunteers soon, so feel free to get in early for the best spots (pro tip: they’re all the best!)

Last, but not least, Welcome to all our newly admitted attorneys! Remember the words of Howard Luke letting you know that HSBA is always here to support you, and that his number is in the bar directory if you need to chat, Chief Justice Recktenwald emphasizing the importance of access to justice, Claire Wong Black demonstrating that pro bono work can hone your skills as an advocate, and Judge Leslie Kobayashi reminding you that the legal profession is a healing profession that heals the spirit. And I’ll leave you all with this quote from Arlan Hamilton, “Is this serving me or is this serving us? If it’s only serving me, very rarely will you see me do it.”

We are always looking for volunteers for YLD programs and information about the YLD Board and our programming can be found on the HSBA YLD webpage and you can follow us on Facebook (YLD Hawaii), Instagram (yldhawaii), and Twitter (YLD Hawaii).

See you next month!

- Jamila Jarmon, HSBA YLD President