Community Groups Join Together to Hold Legal Clinic to Help Expunge Kiaʻi Arrest Records

March 26, 2023


KAHUKU, HI: Volunteer attorneys from the Office of the Public Defender and the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation worked together with law students from the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law to provide legal assistance to nearly 40 kia‘i, or protectors, to help expunge and seal eligible arrest records at the Kia‘i Expungement Clinic on Saturday, March 25. The clinic, held at the Kahuku Community Center was an event full of food, music, and a sense of community.  

Participants came as far as Waiʻanae and even some from neighboring islands to take advantage of the pro bono legal assistance. Many kia‘i were arrested for participating in non-violent protests at the Kahuku wind turbines, Mauna Kea, Haleakalā, and Hūnānānih. Some have reported unanticipated consequences stemming from those arrests, including barriers to employment, renting, and other opportunities. One kia‘i wrote that because of their arrest record, “I was unable to become a member of the Burial Council and gain employment as a mana lomi practitioner in massage therapy.” Another noted, “It has been difficult to find a job with my arrest record.”
The Hawai‘i Worker Center Board President Sam Domingo who attended the clinic to show support for the community and those impacted, said “Here in Kahuku, these windmills are indeed a challenge to the community here because it is definitely too close to where they are living. If you would just look at it, wouldn’t you complain? This clinic will help people get their records cleared so that they can find rental, get better jobs, and the other things that many of us may not think about if you have an arrest record.”

Roslyn Cummings, a kia‘i who came all the way from Kaua‘i to attend the clinic, shared how she learned more about her case from the volunteer attorneys. “I learned a lot today, they did help me with a few of my cases, and some they can’t but the ones they can’t help me on, I’m able to pick up on the information that they gave.”

According to Daylin-Rose H. Heather, a staff attorney with the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation,

Many kiaʻi who have been arrested while participating in peaceful, non-violent protests to protect their communities and sacred places may qualify to have their arrest record expunged. Yet, many may not be equipped to successfully request expungement without volunteer legal assistance. We are proud to partner with allied community and legal service organizations to help kiaʻi navigate this expungement process.  Kiaʻi represent hundreds of neighbors, family members, coaches, teachers, and other beloved members of our Hawaiʻi communities who have taken a stand to aloha ‘āina. The opportunity for them to expunge non-conviction arrests or receive legal information, if not eligible for expungement, is a step towards greater access to social justice and empowerment so they can continue living as valuable and contributing members of their communities. 
Sergio Torres, a third year law student at the University of Hawai‘i William S. Richardson School of Law who came to volunteer at the clinic shared, “I feel these endeavors revitalize and empower our communities; oftentimes this is a life changing process for some people. A shot at a better life and better opportunities in society. Social change delivered one case at the time.”

The Lāhui Foundation sponsored the event in partnership with the State of Hawaiʻi Office of the Public Defender, the Hawaiʻi State Bar Association’s Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services to the Public, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, the Hawaiʻi Innocence Project, Project E4, the Hawaiʻi Workers Center, Beyond Guilt Legal Clinic Hawaiʻi, Hawaiʻi Community Bail Fund, ACLU Hawai‘i, and the O‘ahu Water Protectors.

Link to Pictures/Video.

Media Contacts:
Melissa Ka‘onohi-Camit
The Lāhui Foundation
Cell: 808-391-1979

Sergio Alcubilla
Hawai‘i Workers Center
Cell: 808-371-4805

The Lāhui Foundation is a registered 501c3 Non profit organization in Ko’olauloa Hawai’i, that strives to become a dependable resource for underrepresented and underserved communities here in Hawai’i. Protection and preservation of culture, ‘aina and quality of life is our main focus. Visit or email

The Hawaiʻi Workers Center joins in partnership with the Lāhui Foundation, the State of Hawaiʻi Office of the Public Defender, the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, and the countless other organizations who work in solidarity to provide this much needed resource for the community. 

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