Isle ACLU searches nation for new legal director
The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii is searching for a new legal director to replace Lois Perrin, who plans to step down next year.
Perrin has held the post since mid-2004 but is stepping down to move to California with her husband, an attorney who serves as general counsel for a business that is relocating to Los Angeles.
She plans to serve until April 30 or until a suitable replacement can be found. She might also serve in an advisory role to the ACLU of Hawaii in the future.
"But for my husband's relocation I would not be leaving this organization," Perrin said yesterday. "I remain fully engaged with the organization, and the ACLU will continue to function at full capacity during this time of transition."
The ACLU is conducting a national search for a new legal director. Perrin's job was posted on the national ACLU Web site Aug. 22 and on other law-related employment sites since then.
During her tenure at the ACLU, Perrin has filed several high-profile lawsuits against the state, most notably over the treatment of incarcerated teenagers at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.
Other cases, all of which were settled out of court or decided in the ACLU's favor, challenged the constitutionality of the state's residents-only hiring policy, tested the legality of a state constitutional amendment that was used to ban people from public places for up to a year, and defended the rights of homeless people to assemble outside of Honolulu Hale after they were removed from Magic Island last year.
"While a lot of people may criticize her and/or the ACLU for what they do, I think it's important for people to realize that you need to have strong advocates and a strong voice for protection of everyone's rights," said Rep. Blake Oshiro, vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, who worked closely with Perrin on several key issues.
Vanessa Chong, executive director of the ACLU in Hawaii, said it will not be easy to find a replacement of her caliber, but she expects Perrin to maintain some kind of working relationship with the organization.
"She was -- bottom line -- a tireless advocate for civil liberties, and frequently it was on behalf of groups that the government views as unpopular or powerless," Chong said. "In terms of the ACLU program, she remains fully engaged in our legal program and will continue to do so until we find the right person to succeed her."