Presidents' Message

February 2021

Levi K. Hookano

Hawaii State Bar Association President

Lots of things to cover, and we are one month down, eleven to go. In this month’s message: Black History Month, the Judiciary’s Budget, and of course, COVID.

February is Black History Month, and from the early days of the Hawaiian Kingdom, African Americans played an integral role in Hawaii’s history.

Mr. Anthony D. Allen was a freed slave who made his way to Hawaii around 1810 or 1811 and served as a steward to Kamehameha the Great. He eventually owned more than a dozen homes, a bowling alley, and hospital on a 6-acre parcel where Washington Intermediate School now sits.

Oliver and George Washington Hyatt were the first two bandmasters of the King’s Band, the precursor to the Royal Hawaiian Band. They served under the tenure of Kamehameha III, with George Hyatt serving 3 years as bandmaster.

Ms. Alice Ball was the first woman and first African American to receive a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii in 1915. She also was the first African American to become a professor in the University’s Chemistry Department, developing the revolutionary “Ball Method” of treating leprosy.

Their legacies continue to inspire generations and serve as a model of leadership and service to our communities.

As the fiscal challenges of 2021 become apparent, the Judiciary needs our support for its budget this year. Our profession and our clients rely on an appropriately funded Judiciary, so the HSBA Board of Directors and the past Presidents submitted testimony in support to the House Judiciary Committee, encouraging the Legislature to move the proposed budget forward with no additional cuts. In the grand scheme of the State’s budget, the Judiciary accounts for around 2%. It suffered severe cuts the past few years, and in the long run, will result in adverse effects on the State’s recovery, the practice of law, and the people we serve. I encourage you to submit your own testimony to the legislature and your representatives. Here is the Board’s and former HSBA Presidents' testimony.

A President’s message would not be complete without a word about COVID. Lawyers should be considered “essential workers” under category 1b for vaccination priority. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, lawyers fall into the category of “Other Community or Government Based Operations and Essential Functions." Employers can submit an application for vaccinations by completing the survey in this link. This allows an employer to apply for their essential worker employees to be considered for vaccination. Please be patient, as there will be a number of requests, and even within category 1b, the State will need to prioritize its limited supply of vaccines.

I appreciate everything all of you do for our community and the HSBA. Please continue to be safe and take care of each other. Assistance is always available through the Attorney and Judges Assistance Program, and their discussions are completely confidential. Reach out and check on each other, and together, we can make it through these difficult times.

- Levi K. Hookano, HSBA President