Service members who leave Hawaiʻi on sudden deployments are now getting help from University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson Law School students who are appearing on their behalf in disputed security deposit cases, thanks to a new partnership between the Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, UH and the State of Hawaiʻi Judiciary.
In the first case of its kind in the past few months, law student Kenneth Hall successfully assisted a Naval officer whose landlord retained her deposit long after she was deployed and beyond the legal allowable time period.
If a renter disputes the retention of a security deposit, a claim may be filed in small claims court. However, this process is difficult to complete when the tenant resides many miles away, as service members do after being reassigned to locations outside of Hawaiʻi. The result is the permanent loss of the withheld amount, which is often substantial.
“This gave me a chance to fight back against unethical practices,” said Hall, who is both a law student and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. “When I heard about this program I knew I had to get involved.”
Hall said the experience is a powerful one for students learning law and particularly if they may want to be litigators, as he does, while also benefiting military personnel who are no longer in Hawaiʻi to argue on their own behalf.
Hall is one of 24 law students who volunteered to help when Professor Calvin Pang shared the issue with students last spring. Pang said he wasn’t surprised by the outpouring of interest and support. Two dozen students received a half-day of training from judiciary and JAG Corps personnel as well as a professional mediator and members of the Legal Aid Society.
“So many students choose this school because they understand its mission is community-based,“ said Pang. “This provides opportunities for students to give back to the community, and to very deserving members of our “
For more on the story, see the law school website.