Celebrating Women’s Equality Day

Islandlawyers celebrates Women’s Equality Day, which commemorates women in the U.S. winning the right to vote.  Amazingly, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was only passed in 1920, meaning that women have only voting rights in this country for 95 years.  Time Magazine earlier today noted that women only make up 33% of the U.S. Supreme Court, 19% of the U.S. House, and 20% of the U.S. Senate, even though women are exercising their voting rights, turning out in greater numbers and greater percentages than men in U.S. elections.

A glaring shortcoming in women’s equality is the failure of the U.S. to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, or ERA.  The ERA proposed to ensure equal rights for women in the United States.  In the expansion of rights over the last few decades, most Americans are probably unaware that this right does not exist.  Although the ERA was passed by Congress in 1972, it needed to be ratified by at least 38 of the 50 states (greater than 75% of the states) by 1982.  Over the next ten years however, only 35 states ratified the Amendment.  Despite being a sad statement on the country’s position on women’s rights, it is nice to note the first state to ratify the ERA:  Hawaii.

We rejoice today for the women in our society, our mothers and daughters, sisters and grandmothers, friends and even strangers.  #WomensEqualityDay  #ERANow

KHON2 News Speaks with Gavin Doi about Child Support

KHON2 News speaks with Gavin Doi of Doi/Luke, Islandlawyers on February 3, 2015, about a proposed law in he Hawaii Legislature to collect child support from grandparents of children on state assistance. Specifically, the proposed State House Bill 128 would allow the State, via the Child Support Enforcement Agency, to pursue the parents of minors who have children on State assistance. Essentially the bill would hold grandparents responsible for welfare payments made to their grandchildren if the parents of those grandchildren are still under 18. The gist of the bill is not really pursuing “grandparents,” but rather making parents liable when their teen children have their own babies. This liability would end when the parents of the children on assistance turn 18.

As of March 27, 2015, House Bill 128 has passed second reading in the House of Representatives, and is currently being discussed in the House Judiciary Committee.

[Update: the 2015 Hawaii Legislative session adjourned on May 7, 2015, without full action on the bill]

Gavin Doi Interviewed About Same Sex Divorce in Hawaii

Islandlawyers attorney Gavin Doi was interviewed by Kristine Uyeno of KHON2 News on January 2, 2014, regarding same sex divorce in Hawaii.  Doi/Luke, Islandlawyers filed the first same sex divorce complaint in Hawaii, upon Hawaii’s enactment of a same sex marriage law, clearing the way for same sex divorce.   Gavin specifically addressed that the forms and process for divorce in Hawaii had not yet caught up with the legalization of same sex divorces, and how to deal with those form and process issues.


Gavin Doi Talks to KHON2 About Paternity & Child Support

Big Island man living through child support nightmare

Marisa Yamane of KHON2 News interviewed Gavin Doi of Doi/Luke, Islandlawyers on May 20, 2014 for an Action Line story involving family law.  Action Line was seeking to help a Big Island man who is being pursued for back child support towards a child that he says is not his, as proven by DNA testing.

KHON spoke with Garry Kemp, Administrator of the Child Support Enforcement Agency for the State of Hawaii regarding Mr. Ortiz’ claim that he was not the father of the child.  Seeking the viewpoint of a family lawyer, Ms. Yamane talked with Doi about how people in such a situation can find help.

HuffPo Graphic Shows Varying Divorce Rates in the U.S.

A pretty nice infographic on the Huffington Post this morning (crediting a Brown University study, the American Community Survey, and the Daily Beast), showing the divorce rates in different states in the U.S., as well as the top cities in that regard.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/04/us-divorce-rate_n_4184261.html

Notably our little chain in the Pacific is on the lower end of the scale, averaging between 7.66-9.31 divorces per thousand people.  This is just over half the rate of the states in the highest level Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee (12.64-14.35 divorces per thousand).  The top 3 divorce rate cities?  (1) Panama City, Florida; (2) Sierra Vista, Arizona; and (3) Charleston, West Virginia.

They didn’t happen to mention where the most divorce attorneys practice.  Oh well.



Divorce in Hawaii

Hawaii Divorce and Family Law Resources Online

Hawaii Family Law Definitions, A to Z

New Website for Hawaii Family Court’s Kids First Program

Kids First, an Oahu program run by the Hawaii Family Court has launched its new website at KidsFirstHawaii.com.  The program is designed to help family going through divorce or breakup through classes for parents and children.  All parents who are going through a divorce (married parties) or filing for a custody order (unmarried parties) are required to participate in the Kids First Program.  Children of the parties between the ages of 6-17 are also asked to attend.    The Program consists of a one-time class, held on Wednesday evenings, for approximately 2.5 hours.  Classes are conducted by Family Court Judges, child therapists, and other volunteers and focus on helping parents understand the effects of divorce/breakup upon the children, and helping children cope with the changes to the family.

The new Kids First webpage has information about the program, contact info, class schedules and locations, and forms to reschedule appointments.  Classes are held at the Circuit Court at 777 Punchbowl Street in downtown Honolulu on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Wednesdays of each month, and at the Family Court at 4675 Kapolei Parkway in Kapolei on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month.  Parties can indicate which location they would prefer to attend.

Island Lawyers’ Larie Manutai – Helping Others Through Education

Larie K.L. Manutai, Attorney

Larie K.L. Manutai

Islandlawyers’ Larie Manutai — Helping Others Through Education

Larie Manutai, an attorney with Doi/Luke, Island Lawyers,  for her efforts to help others via education:  Larie Manutai — Education helps her find methods of helping others — Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Michael Tsai’s February 19, 2013 Incidental Lives column in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, profiled Larie and her unique educational and cultural background.  The article noted Larie’s upbringing in Laie’s close-knit community, and her eventual bachelor’s degree obtained there at Brigham Young University-Hawaii.  Larie furthered her education at the William S. Richardson School of Law, at the
University of Hawaii-Manoa where she received her Juris Doctorate.

After graduation, Larie worked as an attorney with Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii, before working with the Polynesian Cultural Center in sales and marketing where she currently is based out of their Waikiki office.  Between her sales job and being a mother (to Pati) and wife (to Abe), she manages to find time to practice law at Doi/Luke, performing legal research and writing, and handling cases.

Everyone who comes in contact with Larie knowsthat she always brings her boundless energy and a smile to every challenge.  We at Doi/Luke, Island Lawyers are proud to work with a positive force in the community like Larie.

There’s an App for that???

DNA strand: software designers have created a smartphone app to run DNA paternity testing

Smartphone App Developed for Running DNA Paternity Tests

Researchers at University of California, Irvine have developed an Android app that conducts DNA-based paternity tests.  The smartphone app can reportedly compare digitized genomic data to determine if an individual is the father of another individual.  This feat is particularly impressive in light of how much computer number-crunching power one might think is necessary to sort through DNA segments.

Under current methods, people seeking a DNA paternity test have their sample taken, usually with a cotton swab scraping the inside of their mouth, which is then sent to one of the national DNA testing labs (typically in Texas or Virginia), and results are returned in a matter of days/weeks.   Before people start searching for the app on their smartphones, note that the app only reviews/matches digitized gene data, so a person needs to have their DNA sample taken, then converted to data.   Still, it would seem that a phone attachment in which two people insert their DNA sample (spit?) and get a paternity test, isn’t too farfetched.

Islandlawyers’ Gavin Doi Recognized for Volunteer Service

Photo of honorees from the Pro Bono Celebration 2012, including Gavin Doi, attorney with Doi/Luke, Attorneys at Law. Gavin is a divorce and family law attorney in Honolulu, Hawaii

Photo of honorees from the Pro Bono Celebration 2012, including Gavin Doi, attorney with Doi/Luke, Attorneys at Law. Gavin is a divorce and family law attorney in Honolulu, Hawaii

Islandlawyers’ Gavin Doi Recognized for Volunteer Service

Islandlawyers attorney Gavin Doi was honored for outstanding pro bono volunteer service by the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission and the Hawai State Legislature, at a ceremony held October 23, 2012, at the Hawaii Supreme Court.  The Pro Bono Celebration 2012 awards ceremony recognized six volunteers from the legal community for their pro bono work:  Sean Clark of Goodsill Anderson; Charles Hurd of Hurd ADR Services; Miriah Holden of Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing; Blaine Rodgers of Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing; Scott Suzuki of the Law Offices of Scott Suzuki; and Gavin.

Dew Kaneshiro, Executive Director of Volunteer Legal Services of Hawaii, presented the award to Gavin, with the following words:

No one really knows when Gavin K. Doi began volunteering for Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii. He preceded all the current employees. He has set aside countless hours from his busy private family law practice to provide pro bono services through Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii. He is a regular at Neighborhood Legal Clinics, conducts uncontested divorce workshops, takes cases for full representation, and mentors young attorneys interested in family law. Gavin is also a great supporter of Volunteer Legal behind the scenes. He helps formulate policies as a member of the Volunteer Development Committee; he’s a sounding board for management; he even drafts grant requests. He’s an enthusiastic proponent of pro bono and, by his enthusiasm and example, attracts more to pro bono work. The staff, clients and Board of Directors of Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii want to shine a very bright light on, and thank a truly exceptional pro bono hero – Gavin Kazuo Doi.

Photo of Gavin and VLSH staff; Gavin is a divorce and family law lawyer with Doi/Luke, Attorneys at Law, in Honolulu, Hawaii

Photo of Gavin and VLSH staff; Gavin is a divorce and family law lawyer with Doi/Luke, Attorneys at Law, in Honolulu, Hawaii

Among those speaking at the ceremony were Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald, Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Dan Foley, Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Simeon Acoba, and State Representative Della Au Belatti, who also presented the honorees with a commendation from the State House of Representatives.  Sponsoring the awards were the Hawaii Access to Justice Commission, the Hawaii State Bar Association, ACLU Hawaii, Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, Domestic Violence Action Center, Hawaii Disability Rights Center, Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, Mediation Center of the Pacific, Inc., UH Elder Law Program, Volunteer Legal Services of Hawaii, and the William S. Richardson School of Law.


Office birthday!

Photo of Erina at her birthday

Erina, preparing to taste just a little of her birthday sundae (we promised not to describe it as “stuff her face”)

A nice way to brighten up a Monday — an office birthday!  We celebrated Erina’s birthday today, at California Pizza Kitchen.  No ages being disclosed, but she seemed happy today.

An Officer and a Gentleman and a Lawyer

Photo, Paul & Margaret Durbin

Paul, with wife Margaret; Mr. Durbin was a divorce and family law attorney in Honolulu, Hawaii

Paul J. Durbin, 1917-2012

The Hawaii bar lost a good one this past weekend.  Paul J. Durbin, passed away on March 31, 2012, at the age of 94.

When I used to litigate cases in Family Court with Mr. Durbin, I didn’t know about his long and admirable military career (fought in France and Germany in WWII, in Korea, and in Vietnam), as well as teaching English and law in Vietnam along the way, or even his pre-war boxing acumen, all prior to starting his law practice in Honolulu in 1970.  No, all I knew was that Mr. Durbin had that thick Kentucky twang and a determined style.  I also noticed that so many of the people that Mr. Durbin represented were people of very limited financial means, people that likely could not otherwise afford an attorney.  I noticed that Mr. Durbin had such a soft spot for people who were in need. Nevertheless, sometimes Mr. Durbin’s style was in friction with my own, and he would sometimes get on my nerves.

One day, while the two of us were arguing a case outside the Court waiting area, he told me a story (you have to imagine it with that Kentucky twang, which I will try to convey — and in no way did I wish to disrespect the accent with the odd spellings below, but wanted to give the flavor of the sound):

Mr. Doi, I was sent to infantry training in Mississippi in World Wahr Two, and those Mississippi boys that were in my unit — now them Mississippi boys you have to unnastand that they weren’t that educated.  They kept tell-ling me, ‘Mr. Duhrbin, Mr. Duhrbin, you shouldn’t be in no infantry, you a law-yah Mr. Duhrbin, you a law-yah!’  Now, ah I didn’t want to make a big thang about it, but they just kept buh-gin’ me and buh-gin me, so I finally go up to my first sergeant and told him ‘now sergeant, I don’t wahnt to make a bii-iig thang about it, but I wanted you to know, ah’m a licensed attorney in the State of Kentucky.’  The first sergeant looked at me, and said ‘that’s fine Mr. Duhrbin, but we ain’t suing nobody in this wahr.’  So I was in infantry.

From all points after the above story was told to me, I could no longer be impatient with Mr. Durbin — it was one of the best stories I had ever heard, and just couldn’t build up any irritability for him.

As I mentioned above, I knew nothing of his distinguished career prior to practicing humble divorce cases with people like me in Family Court.  I just knew that he probably didn’t have to practice law anymore, being in his late 80s, but that he clearly loved to practice.  And that he simply wanted to help people who probably would have otherwise gone unrepresented.  That alone made him a person to be admired, and I will remember him as such.  If the bar in Hawaii and around the world had more lawyers like Mr. Durbin, we would be better for it — and in his absence, we are lesser for it.

In memoriam:  Paul J. Durbin, June 25, 1917-March 31, 2012.

Save Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii!

Very, very sobering news this week where I learned that Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii (VLSH) may be on its last financial legs.  For those unfamiliar with VLSH, it is a non-profit “formed in 1981 by members of the Young Lawyers Division of the Hawai’i State Bar Association. Volunteer Legal’s mission is to help low-income people and families achieve access to justice.”  Basically, VLSH is the main clearinghouse to place low-income people with volunteer attorneys throughout the state.  And this year, after over 30 years, it may have to close its doors.
Thousands of Hawaii residents have been helped by VLSH over the years, all of whom would not otherwise been able to afford an attorney to help them.  Residents who have needed help in the areas of family law, consumer issues, landlord-tenant, employment, and many other fields would have no one else to turn to, have been  able to utilize Volunteer Legal.  Yet at this point, it is on the brink of closure, due to lack of funding.
If VLSH is forced to close its doors, it will be a sad and shameful event for me as a Hawaii lawyer.  I still believe that it is a privilege not a right, to practice law as an attorney — and with that privilege comes a responsibility to assist those without the ability to afford an attorney.  While we cannot address all those individuals who cannot obtain a lawyer, VLSH represents our efforts and our good faith to help who we can.
Volunteer Legal need financial support from the State Legislature, the Judiciary, and the Hawaii State Bar Association.  If you believe in the efforts of VLSH, write or call to show your support:
For those people who would really like to show their support, some of us will be wearing green ribbons to raise awareness of VLSH’s current situation.  Green ribbons will be available at the VLSH office (545 Queen Street) and the Family Court 3rd floor counter, in Kapolei.
Green ribbon to show support for VLSH

Green ribbons will be available at the VLSH office and Family Court

I realize that in the current economy finances are difficult for just about every non-profit organization as well as the State government, but we cannot let this invaluable organization go down with little more than a whimper.  I hope you will help.
— Gavin, 3/13/2012

(3/17/2012 UPDATE:  keep up on news about helping VLSH on the Facebook Group:  Save Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii)