The ACLU of Hawai‘i is a private, non-profit non-partisan organization dedicated to preserving and extending constitutional rights through litigation, legislation, organizing, and education. We usually become involved in cases (either by representing a party or submitting a "friend of the court" brief) only when we believe that we can advance civil liberties through a change in law or policy. And, since the Constitution is designed to protect people from abuse of power by the government, the ACLU primarily challenges the government, rather than private organizations or individuals. We encourage you to visit our state and national websites, and, for more information about the scope of the ACLU's work.

If you wish to request legal assistance from the ACLU of Hawai‘i, we strongly urge you to submit your complaint to us using our webform linked below. You may also write to us at Intake Department, ACLU of Hawaii P.O. Box 3410 Honolulu, HI 96801 or send us a fax at (808) 522-5909. 


Please view the following information before submitting a legal intake request. 

The ACLU of Hawai‘i is able to provide legal assistance in only a small number of cases. Violations of constitutional rights and civil liberties are widespread, but the ACLU of Hawai‘i is a small organization. We receive over 100 requests for assistance each month. Because of our limited resources, however, we are able to investigate only a small percentage of the potentially meritorious requests for assistance we receive. As a result, we have to turn down the overwhelming majority of those requests for assistance.

Due to the large volume of legal intake requests we receive and the limited resource we have, as of July 1st, 2021, the ACLU of Hawai‘i will no longer be sending responses to every legal intake request that we receive. In short, if you submitted an intake request after this date, please do not expect a response from us.

While we may not respond to your specific intake request, we are still reviewing and tracking all intake requests. We may follow up with you regarding your request if we need or would like more information.

You should not treat a lack of response as a sign that you do or do not have a viable legal claim. A lack of response also should not discourage you from pursuing a resolution through other avenues. 

There may be legal time limits or other deadlines that affect your claims. To protect your rights in time-sensitive matters, you may wish to contact a private attorney. The Hawai‘i Legal Aid Society provides information on common legal problems and the Hawai‘i State Bar Attorney Referral Service can help you find a lawyer.

NOTE: The completion of this intake form does not mean that the ACLU of Hawai‘i is providing, or will provide, you legal representation.

The ACLU of Hawai‘i only handles cases that involve violations of civil liberties and civil rights. Civil liberties include the right to due process and equal protection of the law, as well as freedom of expression; freedom of the press; religious freedom; the right of association; the right of privacy; the right to be free of unreasonable search and seizures, and the right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment. Many of these civil liberties are protected by provisions in the United States Constitution such as the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment, and also by similar provisions in the Hawai‘i Constitution. In most cases, these constitutional provisions apply only to the government. Accordingly, in most cases, a legal matter raises a civil liberties issue only when a governmental official or a governmental agency is responsible for violating your rights.

Civil rights statutes strengthen the right to equal protection by prohibiting private businesses as well as governmental agencies from discriminating. If you are the victim of discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, ethnic background, gender, religion, disability, and in some jurisdictions, sexual orientation, you may have a legal remedy.

  • If the ACLU does not accept your case, we cannot provide legal advice. If the ACLU of Hawai‘i is not able to provide legal assistance, we also cannot provide legal advice about your case. We will not be able to answer questions about the legal significance of the facts, conduct legal research, or provide information about the legal deadlines that might apply to your situation. This policy allows us to direct our limited researches to the cases that we do accept.
  • ACLU attorneys do not charge for their time. If the ACLU of Hawai‘i accepts your case, there is no charge for the time spent by the attorneys.
  • Please do not send documents, pictures and/or videos unless requested to do so. Your request for legal assistance will be processed after we receive a letter that requests our help and describes the facts of your situation. 
  • Be sure to provide all necessary information for contacting you by mail and by telephone. It is also helpful to include your email address if you have one. (If you write from a county jail or other temporary facility, please include the name and contact information of a close relative or friend who will always know where you are.) In your letter, please describe in detail the incident or the issue that prompted you to request legal assistance:

If you have trouble with submitting intake, or need other accommodation, please contact us at

Please Click Here to Submit Your Legal Issue to ACLU Hawai‘i.

1. Types of cases the ACLU of Hawai‘i generally does not accept.

A.Types of cases the ACLU of Hawai‘i generally does not accept.


The ACLU of Hawai‘i generally does not accept the following types of cases:

  • Family Law. The ACLU of Hawai‘i generally does not provide assistance in family law cases involving disputes about divorces, child custody, parenting time, or visitation.
  • Denial of government benefits. The ACLU of Hawai‘i is unlikely to challenge a specific case of the denial of government benefits, such as workers’ compensation, unemployment, social security, or food stamps.
  • Landlord-tenant disputes. The ACLU of Hawai‘i does not generally get involved in disputes between tenants and their private landlords, unless the issue involves discrimination prohibited by statutes or ordinance.
  • Criminal defense. The ACLU of Hawai‘i generally does not provide criminal defense attorneys to persons who are accused of crimes. There is an exception, however, when the alleged criminal activity clearly implicates a constitutional right such as freedom of speech. Thus, the ACLU of Hawai‘i is unlikely to provide a criminal defense to someone charged with burglary, even if the person asserts that the evidence was obtained in a search that violates the Fourth Amendment. On the other hand, the ACLU of Hawai‘i would consider assisting in the criminal defense of a person arrested for participating in a demonstration, if the arrests infringed on the right of free expression.
  • Challenges to convictions or prison sentences. It is very unlikely that the ACLU of Hawai‘i would provide an attorney to challenge a person’s criminal conviction or the length of a prison sentence. Similarly, the ACLU of Hawai‘i will not be able to help prisoners who believe that the length of their sentence has been calculated incorrectly. If a pending appeal raises an important constitutional issue, the ACLU of Hawai‘i may submit an amicus brief in the appellate courts. Requests for amicus briefs should come from your appellate attorney.
  • Complaints about attorneys. The ACLU of Hawai‘i does not handle complaints about a person’s current court-appointed attorney.
  • Employment. The ACLU of Hawai‘i usually cannot help when employees believes that they were fired unjustly or were otherwise treated unfairly at work. This is especially true when the employer is a private company rather than a government agency. But when workers can show that they were fired or mistreated because of their race, gender, ethnic background, religion, disability or any other basis that violates anti-discrimination statutes, there is stronger legal protection. In such cases, we ask that you pursue your complaint with the Hawai‘i Civil Rights Commission (HCRC) before you send a letter to the ACLU of Hawai‘i. For information about filing a complaint with the HCRC, write 830 Punchbowl Street, Room 411, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813, or call the agency at (808) 586-8636.
  • Cases that are too old. There are filing deadlines for initiating most legal actions. If the incident occurred too far in the past, it may be too late for a legal remedy. The ACLU of Hawai‘i cannot provide advice about what time deadlines may apply to your particular legal matter.
  • Cases that arise outside Hawai‘i. Excepting only matters concerning Hawaii inmates housed on the mainland, the ACLU of Hawai‘i does not provide legal assistance if the matter did not take place in or arise in Hawai‘i. To find ACLU affiliates in other states, go to

2. Important Information Confidentiality and Security

A.Important Information Confidentiality and Security


If you submit your inquiry electronically to the ACLU of Hawai‘i, it will be transmitted over the Internet as unencrypted email. This message is a warning that unencrypted email may not be a secure form of communication. Including any highly sensitive information such as Social Security numbers in email may expose this information.

The main point at which unencrypted email communication may not be secure is on the sender’s (your) end. Specifically, if you are using a public or shared computer to send an e-mail to the ACLU, your messages may be available to anyone else who has access to that computer. You may wish to take precautions to prevent other people from accessing your private or confidential e-mails on your end. There is also a small but real risk that your e-mail message could be intercepted or stored as it passes through e-mail servers on its Internet delivery route to the ACLU. Generally, consider unencrypted email to be about as private as a postcard. 

Once any email you send for the legal team arrives at the ACLU, only authorized members of the ACLU staff will have access to your complaint. In accordance with applicable lawyer ethics rules, any information you share with us will be protected as confidential and will not be shared with people outside the ACLU’s Legal Department without your authorization. If you are concerned about the security of your electronic inquiry, you could alternately send your inquiry via U.S. Mail or fax. 

3. Important information about deadlines.

A.Important information about deadlines.



  • All legal claims have time deadlines. These deadlines may be different depending on the nature of the legal claim, the persons who violate your rights, and which particular rights were violated. For some kinds of violations, you may need to file a notice or pursue other administrative remedies with a government agency before you can file suit in court. These administrative procedures also have their own time deadlines. If you do not comply with the applicable time deadlines, you could be legally barred from pursuing your claim in court.
  • Contacting the ACLU of Hawai‘i to describe your problem does not mean that ACLU attorneys represent you, and contacting the ACLU of Hawai‘i does not stop these time deadlines from running. The ACLU of Hawai‘i cannot provide you with advice about which time deadlines might apply to your particular situation. To ensure that your rights are protected, you may need to consult an attorney promptly to find out what time deadlines may apply in your case.

4. Important Information You Should Include in Your Claim

A.Important Information You Should Include in Your Claim


In your letter, please describe in detail the incident or the issue that prompted you to request legal assistance:

  • In describing the incident, it may be helpful to answer the five “W” questions: who, what, when, where and why.
  • Be sure to identify the persons, business, institutions, or government agencies who are responsible for violating your rights.
  • If the offending person or agency provided you with some sort of explanation, please let us know. If possible, please explain why you believe that explanation is not adequate.
  • If the specific incident resulted in newspaper coverage, it may be helpful to include copies of the clippings.
  • If you have documents, please send copies only; we cannot return originals.
  • If your complaint involves mistreatment by police officers, it is especially helpful if you could obtain a copy of whatever report the police wrote.
  • If you have already taken some action, such as filing an appeal or a complaint, please let us know the status of the matter.
  • Please indicate whether the ACLU of Hawai‘i is authorized to write a letter of inquiry or a letter of protest using your name.
  • Finally, please let us know what you are asking the ACLU of Hawai‘i to do for you.