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2011 Archive 

September 2011
Civil Rights Attorneys Seek Dismissal of Unconstitutional Charges Filed Against Protesters


The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii Foundation (“ACLU”) and the Honolulu law firm of Davis Levin Livingston today announced that they are representing Jamie and Tess Meier, whose peaceful protest in support of gender equality on a Kalakaua Avenue sidewalk was abruptly halted by police intervention.  Both were unlawfully cited for their conduct.  The ACLU and Davis Levin Livingston will appear on Monday morning, September 19, 2011 to enter a “not guilty” plea for the protesters.  The attorneys have asked City and County of Honolulu (“CCH”) Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro to dismiss immediately the charges that the Meiers violated Revised Ordinances of Honolulu (“ROH”) § 10-1.3(a)(5) (failing to obtain a parks department permit for “meetings or gatherings or other similar activity held by organizations, associations or groups”) because the ordinance is unconstitutional and does not apply to the Meiers’ First Amendment activities.

Support the ACLU of Hawaii Foundation during September's "Give Aloha" at Foodland & Sack & Save statewide!

ACLU of Hawaii's "Give Aloha" code is: 77407
Give Aloha is an annual program through which Foodland directs its charitable giving to the organizations that are important to its customers. During September, Maika`i customers are invited to make a donation of up to $249 (per person, per organization) at checkout to their favorite non-profit organization registered in Give Aloha. Foodland matches a portion of each donation. This year, Foodland and the Western Union Foundation will match each donation up to a total of $300,000 for all organizations combined. Since the program began in 1999, a total of more than $15 million has been raised for the community.

Note: Give Aloha donations come directly to the ACLU, but they are anonymous. Use your store receipt for your tax deduction. If you would also like to be acknowledged by the ACLU of Hawaii for your gift, please contact our office via
email, or send a copy of your receipt to: ACLU of Hawaii/Give Aloha P.O. Box 3410, Honolulu, HI 96801. Mahalo!

August 2011
"Growing up in the Shadow of 9-11"
A live webcast press conference
Weds., 8/31/11 2:30 - 3:30 p.m. HST

Presented by Civil Beat and the ACLU of Hawaii.
WATCH LIVE! WEDS. 8/31/11 FROM 2:30 TO 3:30 PM:

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, we as Americans chose to sacrifice or erode many of our fundamental rights, seeking greater safety.
How does this policy legacy affect us, and upcoming generations - and who controls the future of our individual rights in a post 9-11 America?

This is a web-based press conference for student journalists statewide. It will be publicly viewable, on the Civil Beat website:

Hear an expert and diverse panel respond to questions they receive from Hawaii's young journalists. Speakers are planned to include:

Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU National Security Project headquartered in New York. Hina is an attorney and an expert in the intersection of national security and counterterrorism policies and international human rights and humanitarian law. She is the author and co-author of publications on torture, targeted killing, and extraordinary rendition, and has monitored the military commissions at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.

• Supervisory Special Agent Anthony Lang, Chief Division Counsel for the FBI Honolulu Division. From 2001 through mid- 2004, SSA Lang was the Chief of the Counterterrorism Law Unit at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. SSA Lang assisted in the drafting of the USA PATRIOT ACT following September 11, 2001.  SSA Lang is a member of both the Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Bars. and a lecturer at Honolulu Community College where he teaches Evidence in the Administration of Justice Program.

• Civil Beat's Michael Levine. Michael reports on law, crime, politics and government (with an emphasis on government transparency), and will discuss the landscape for journalists in post-9/11 America.

• Youth sharing their own takes on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and their hopes for the future of their country. Mickey Knox, a third-year law student at the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law will join.

• ACLU of Hawaii Director of Communications and moderator Kit Grant.

If you are a student/youth journalist not already invited to attend, and who would like to ask questions of the panel, please contact Kit at (808) 522-5904 or by noon on Tuesday, 8/30/11. Mahalo!

New Report: Highlights from the Campaign to End Overincarceration

A new report, detailing how several states with long histories of being “tough on crime” have enacted bipartisan reforms relying on alternatives to incarceration, underscoring that reform is not only politically and fiscally viable, but that other states must also urgently follow suit. These six states – Texas, Mississippi, Kansas, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Ohio – also experienced declines in their crime rates while these new policies were in place. The report further documents ongoing reform efforts in four more states – California, Louisiana, Maryland, and Indiana – and identifies national criminal justice trends. It offers selected recommended reforms to pre-trial, sentencing, parole, and probation systems that lawmakers can enact to reduce states’ incarceration rates and corrections budgets while keeping communities safe.

Read it now!

ACLU-HI Submits "Friend of the Court" Brief on Behalf of Traveling Medical Cannabis Patients

ACLU of Hawaii Seeks Details on Government Phone Tracking
Massive Nationwide Campaign is One of the Largest Coordinated Information Act Requests in American History (08/03/2011)

Honolulu – In a massive coordinated information-seeking campaign, 34 American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) affiliates across the nation today are sending requests to 379 law enforcement agencies, large and small, demanding to know when, why and how they are using cell phone location data to track Americans. The campaign is one of the largest coordinated information act requests in American history. The requests, being filed under the states' freedom of information laws, are an effort to strip away the secrecy that has surrounded law enforcement use of cell phone tracking capabilities.

In Hawaii, the ACLU legal team has filed requests with 5 agencies, requesting data about local law enforcement use of location tracking data and how it is obtained from Hawaii’s mobile phone providers.

July 2011
Hawaii Lawmakers Ban Practice of Routinely Shackling Pregnant Inmates
New law restricts shackling of women during labor and childbirth

HONOLULU – The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii (“ACLU of Hawaii”) applauds the passage and signing of S.B. 219, forbidding the Hawaii Department of Public Safety from using physical restraints on pregnant inmates except under extraordinary circumstances.  Among other improvements, the new law prohibits prison guards from shackling pregnant women during labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery.

As Laurie Temple, ACLU of Hawaii staff attorney, explained, “Shackling pregnant women without cause is cruel and unusual punishment, prohibited by the U.S. Constitution. Pregnant women need proper treatment for their physical conditions.  We are very pleased that the Legislature and the Governor finally put an end to this practice."

June 2011
Hear ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project Attorney Scott Michelman speak at  "Trying our Patients: Politics vs. Health in the War on Drugs"!  (06/09/2011)

The 40th  Anniversary of the War on Drugs

40 Years of Collateral Damage from the War on Drugs”

Saturday, June 18, 2011

1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., Reception to follow

Neil S. Blaisdell Center

Maui Room, 2nd Floor Meeting Rooms

777 Ward Avenue

Honolulu, Hawaii 96814

Trying our Patients: Politics vs. Health in the War on Drugs

STOP the DRUG WAR - Sign waving & rally
Friday, 6/17/11 4 to 6 p.m., Hawai‘i State Capitol

Mark the 40th anniversary of the government's "War on Drugs" by joining the Hawaii Drug Policy Forum, the ACLU of Hawai‘i and other like-minded activists to urge lawmakers reconsider and reform U.S. drug laws whose only enduring legacy to date is mass incarceration and wasted taxpayer dollars.

Meet at the State Capitol Rotunda, 2:00 p.m., hear some speakers and then take to the sidewalk for sign waving to the community. Your activism counts! Some signs and banners are available, or make your own. May be sunny and hot, so consider bringing some sun protection and water. Sponsored by the
Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii

For more information on the drug war and its real costs and casualties, visit:

May 2011
Unlawful Medical Cannabis Policies to Be Revised
Overreaching Government Officials Improperly Threatened and Restricted Physicians

Honolulu, Hawaii – The ACLU of Hawaii (“ACLU”) announced today that the Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) “will be changing its verbal and published guidelines” regarding Hawaii’s medical cannabis program to comply with Hawaii’s medical cannabis statute, reversing several heavy-handed and prohibitive requirements invented and imposed by the Department of Public Safety.  In response to an ACLU demand letter, the Attorney General stated that DPS will no longer prohibit physicians who prescribe medical cannabis from performing calls at patient homes – a routine practice for other doctors treating patients with chronic, debilitating illnesses. DPS will also harmonize reporting requirements and penalties for non-compliance so that medical cannabis is treated the same as other controlled substances.

The ACLU took action after reports that Keith Kamita, the head of DPS’s Narcotics Enforcement Division (“NED”) under Governor Lingle (and now Deputy Director for Law Enforcement for DPS under Governor Abercrombie) incorrectly told a local physician that house calls for medical cannabis patients were prohibited under state law.  Upon further investigation, the ACLU of Hawaii discovered that NED imposed, without legal basis, special registration requirements for physicians prescribing medical cannabis – far more stringent than those for physicians who recommend other controlled substances, including narcotics.  NED, again without legal authority, decided that physicians must “register” with DPS every single location at which the physician sees a patient and discusses cannabis; in contrast, physicians prescribing other controlled substances need only register those addresses at which they maintain or store the medicine themselves (and not, for example, an office where they examine patients but do not store any medicine).  Neither of these NED policies is supported by the eleven year old medical cannabis statute.

ACLU Annual Meeting: “Young Activists Changing the World”
Free, public event Sat., May 21, 1-4 p.m., RSVPs requested by May 14

Honolulu, HI – The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i showcases the next generation of civil libertarians at its upcoming Annual Membership Meeting happening Saturday, May 21 from 1-4 p.m. at the Ward Warehouse Kaka‘ako Room. Executive Director Vanessa Chong said: “it will fall on the shoulders of the next generation to defend and expand fundamental rights. We are excited to share the voices of several amazing young people whose diverse advocacy – in the local, national and international community – are bound by their commitment to civil and human rights.” Panel discussion to be followed by roundtable discussion groups. RSVPs requested by Sat., May 14 (walk-ins are also welcome). Refreshments served. The Ward Warehouse is ADA-accessible. Request special accommodation by Tuesday, May 10. To RSVP, call (808) 522-5906, (877) 544-5906 toll free from the neighbor islands, or email

March 2011
Lambda Legal and ACLU Conclude Lawsuit Seeking Civil Unions (03/31/2011)
(Honolulu, March 31, 2011) — Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i (ACLU) and Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing today announced they have dismissed their lawsuit against the state, following Governor Neil Abercrombie’s signing civil unions into law last month.  The Hawai‘i Senate gave final approval to the bill, SB232, which allows same- and different-sex unmarried couples to enter into civil unions, with an 18-5 vote on February 16, following the 31-19 approving vote by the House on February 11, 2011.  The new law takes effect on January 1, 2012.

“I can’t think of many occasions when we’ve been more delighted to dismiss a lawsuit than this,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, National Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal.  “Governor Abercrombie removed the need for the lawsuit with the stroke of a pen – approving the Legislature’s diligent work and giving thousands of Hawai‘i families badly needed protection.  We look forward to working closely with members of the legal and business communities to make sure the law is implemented smoothly and that everyone knows what their rights and responsibilities will be.  And as this new law takes effect, we’ll be watching closely for any signs of problems.” 

Island Insights on PBS, 3/10/11 to discuss

Criminal Justice Reform


Criminal Justice Reform in Hawaii is the topic for Island Insights on Hawaii Public Television Thu. 3/10/11, 7:30 p.m. One of the guest panelists will be ACLU-HI Senior Staff Attorney Daniel Gluck, alongside State Senator Will Espero, chair of the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Jodie Maesaka-Hirata, Director of the Department on Public Safety, Robert Perkinson, Associate Professor of American Studies at UH Manoa and moderator Dan Boylan..

This show is live - call in your questions or email ahead of time to!

"In the Life" Episode on LGBT Youth in the Criminal Justice System available online!

"Our Bodies, Our Rights", on "In the Life" featuring an interview with ACLU of Hawaii Legal Director Lois Perrin discussing the landmark ACLU Hawaii case R.G. v. Koller, which opened the door for reform of Hawaii's brutal youth detention system. In the Life is the longest running television show documenting the gay experience, a three-time Emmy Award nominee, a Lambda Legal Liberty Award honoree, and the recipient of the Courage Award from the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, the Seigenthaler Award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for "excellence in network television," and a GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding TV Journalism-Newsmagazine."

Watch online!

2010 "Title IX" Lawsuit Has Ongoing Impact for Maui

In response to a lawsuit filed last year by the ACLU of Hawaii and the law firm of Alston Hunt Floyd and Ing, the Legislature and Office of the Governor are now taking proactive steps to  address gender equality in sports in Hawaii's schools. As reported in the Lahaina News, governor Abercrombie just released $1.94 M for  improvements at girls' softball fields - (beyond one used by Baldwin High School that we sued about) - great news!

February 2011
Daniel Ellsberg Conversation Rebroadcasts on ‘Olelo Community Television (02/28/2011)
Watch at theses dates, times and channels!
Sincere thanks to ‘Olelo Community Television, who donated their time and talents to document this important event.

Sunday, 3/13/11, 8:00 pm. CHANNEL: VIEW 54

Friday, 3/18/11, 8:00 pm. CHANNEL:

Thursday, 3/24/11, Noon. CHANNEL: VIEW 54

Saturday, 3/26/11, 10:30 pm. CHANNEL: VIEW 54

January 2011
UPDATE: 2/23/11 Success! Civil Unions Passed by Legislature, Signed into Law by Governor!

“This bill has been a long time coming for committed couples in Hawaii who have been denied the basic right to take care of their families. While we continue to work to achieve the freedom to marry for all couples, we commend the Legislature and Governor Abercrombie for taking a stand against baseless discrimination by passing this bill.” - Staff Attorney Laurie Temple

UPDATE 1/28/11: Civil Unions bill (S.B. 232) passes Senate floor vote! Now to House of Representatives...
Support S.B. 232 - Support Civil Unions in Hawai‘i!
On Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 10:00 a.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee heard and passed out of committee Senate Bill 232, which will  extend the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities of spouses in a marriage to partners in a civil union.

On Friday, January 28, 2011, the full Senate heard and passed S.B. 232! Now the bill moves to the House of Representatives.

Please THANK your Senator(s) who voted for the bill, and contact your the House Representatives today to show your support for the civil unions bill, defend the civil rights of same-sex couples, and ensure the unity, security, dignity and stability of all Hawaii's families!

American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii Receives Award from Planned Parenthood of Hawaii

On 1/22/11, the ACLU of Hawaii will be presented the Bette Takahashi Service Award, Planned Parenthood of Hawaii's highest honor! We are humbly proud and always grateful for the amazing grassroots work by Hawaii's strong choice advocates of yesterday and today, who make the difference. Mahalo to all who protect everyone's right to make informed decisions, free from government interference, about whether and when to become a parent.

Defending Civil Rights that Affect Our Everyday Lives
ACLU-HI opinion piece for Civil Beat by Legislative Committee Members Pamela G. Lichty and A. Joris Watland

Join the ACLU of Hawaii Ohana Alert email list for breaking updates and ways YOU can help advocate for civil liberties in Hawaii's legislature! Use the "join our mailing list" box at the bottom right of this webpage. Or, email with the subject line: "add to mailing list"
Read and comment on this op-ed online:

If a woman in Hawaii were raped today and sought emergency contraception, she likely could not obtain it from a hospital, no matter how well-insured or willing to pay she was. If she then became pregnant and kept the child, she could not safeguard her child by making her same-sex partner the child’s parent. The rapist would likely escape without penalty: Hawaii’s Crime Prevention division estimates that less than half of rapists are caught. On the other hand, if an 18 year old is convicted for stealing an iPod and then is caught later for attempting to sell counterfeit sunglasses, the 18 year old will be sent to a prison (brimming with hardened criminals) for no less than one year and eight months. That prison stay would cost taxpayers about $60,000.

As the 2011 legislative session opens, we must push the Legislature to protect and advance fundamental civil rights that affect our everyday lives and go far to ensure safe, healthy and free communities:

  1. Require hospitals to provide women with emergency contraception following rape;
  2. Establish civil unions for same-sex couples;
  3. Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences;
  4. Affirm the rights of all Hawaii’s citizens to vote; and
  5. Support sick and dying individuals with improvements to the medical cannabis program.

Community Gathers to Celebrate the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Welcomes President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards (01/18/2011)
Honolulu, Hawaii—On January 21, 2011 at 10:00 AM, supporters and advocates will gather at the State Capitol Rotunda to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade recognized for the first time that an individual’s fundamental right to privacy includes a woman’s right to reproductive choice. This decision came three years after the state of Hawaii declared its own position on reproductive freedom when it became the first state to legislatively decriminalize abortion. At the time, Governor John Burns stated that doing so was “in the best interest of all the people of Hawaii.”

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