Aloha. My name is Jill Raznov aka Jill Raznov-Wedgwood. I am an attorney in the Puna/Hilo area and have volunteered to write a legal column in the BIC as a way of giving back to our Island Community. As an introduction, I am originally from the East Coast of the US Mainland and graduated from the venerable William S. Richardson School of Law in the spring of 2003 after a circuitous route of travel and living around the country. I learned to surf at Cowell’s Beach in Santa Cruz and after passing the Hawaii bar exam, landed a coveted clerkship with the Honorable Richard W. Pollack of the First Circuit Court, who is now, I am pleased to say, Justice Pollack, the newest member of our Hawaii State Supreme Court.
I met my husband early one morning checking the surf at Diamond Head. After a three-year stint at the small Honolulu boutique firm of Ning, Lilly and Jones, specializing in complex commercial litigation, my husband and I decided in 2007 to move (back) to the Big Island, where my husband had lived on and off since the early 80’s, initially in Kalapana, where he learned to surf at Drainpipes (sadly, covered under many feet of lava now). I worked for the Hilo office of the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, representing and advising qualifying clients (due to age, financial status, or a qualifying legal issue) on matters ranging from family law to child protective services cases, to guardianships, landlord-tenant cases, and debt and credit concerns. Two and a half years later, I had my son, and started a solo practice. For the past year and half, I have been Of-Counsel with the Law Offices of Yeh & Moore LLLC, a small firm in Hilo, practicing in the areas of insurance defense, real property and land use matters, and limited plaintiffs’ work, mostly germane to contracts, real property and commercial issues.
After practicing law in Hawaii for 10 years, it is clear that there are plenty of different types of people, from all walks of life, in need of a range of legal information and advice who often do not know where to turn.
So, for starters, I wish to tell people where they might be able to find assistance. If you wish to consult an attorney, a great place to begin searching for one is the phone book, which lists attorneys as a general group and also by specialty, as many of us specialize in certain issues. If you have access to the internet (the Hilo Circuit Court Library at 777 Kilauea Avenue, 2nd floor, has computers available to the public for legal research), many attorneys maintain websites and can often be searched via Lawyers.com. You might also consider contacting the Hawaii State Bar Association at (808) 537-1868 or www.hsba.org for names, specialties and if available, pro bono (free) or sliding scale attorneys. The HSBA also maintains information about attorney client relations, attorney disputes and making a formal complaint about an attorney. You might also check your homeowner’s or building insurance as some policies provide a defense to tort claims, even if the triggering event did not occur in your home or business.
For self-help, pro bono legal information (not advice) from attorneys is available on a first-come first-serve basis at the Judiciary’s Self Help Center (Hilo Circuit Court Jury Room, 1st floor) every Monday and Friday from 11:15 to 12:45. There is always at least one attorney available to assist, and sometimes more. But, go early as this is a popular program. You might also consider visiting the Hawaii State Judiciary Website at www.courts.state.hi.us for information regarding the various Hawaii courts (small claims, district, family, circuit and appellate); court forms (in pdf format), which you can fill out on-screen; various court rules; links to related sites, including the Hawaii State Law Library System; and more. The complete Hawaii Revised Statutes and legislative service is available online at www.capitol.hawaii.gov. The Hawaii Administrative Rules and other legal information (such as name changes and certifications) are also available online at http://ltgov.hawaii.gov. You can get vital records via the Department of Health at http://health.hawaii.gov.
If you are in the middle of a dispute, either in active litigation or pending, you can request mediation. The Kuikahi mediation center in the Hilo Lagoon Center, 101 Aupuni Street, (808) 935-7844, is very affordable and works on a sliding scale, where the parties split the cost. Their staff of trained, volunteer mediators, many of them attorneys, assists the parties to reach a self-directed settlement of their dispute without resorting to or continuing with litigation. If you are a victim of domestic or non-domestic harm or threat of harm and wish to petition the court for a restraining order, you can download the necessary forms from the Judiciary Website (listed above). For the latter, you may also visit the Administration and Services Section at the Hilo Circuit Court (1st floor clerk’s window) or call (808) 961-7430. For the former, you may call the Adult Client Services Branch of Family Court (ACSB) at (808) 969-7798 or contact Turning Point for Families/Alternatives to Violence at 1266 Kamehameha Ave., Ste. A5, (808) 935-7798, www.childandfamilyservice.org, which provides services and advocacy for victims of domestic violence only. Finally, you may wish to seek assistance, if you qualify financially or otherwise, with the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii by calling their intake hotline (808) 934-0678 between 9:00 – 11:30 and 1:00 – 3:30 M-F (it is best to call right at 9:00 or 1:00) and the Volunteer Legal Services of Hawaii intake line at (808) 528-7046. Both organizations also maintain lists of pro bono attorneys, but neither assists with criminal matters. For criminal matters, if you are a witness or victim, you must work directly with the police and prosecutor’s office. If you are accused of a crime, you may seek to have a public defender appointed or hire a criminal defense attorney. You might also seek self-help using some of the above information. Stay tuned for next time when I delve into the subject of landlord-tenant law in Hawaii. A hui hou!
Jill D. Raznov, Esq. is a 2003 graduate of the William S. Richardson School of Law, in Honolulu, Hawaii and has practiced in the areas of family, commercial, landlord-tenant and real property for the past 10 years. She currently resides in Puna and is Of-Counsel with the Law Offices of Yeh & Moore, LLLC in Hilo. She can be contacted at (808) 961-0055 or via emial at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is not intended to create any attorney-client privilege or be construed as legal advice.