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HWST 652 Research Guide: Home

About this Guide

Created for students in HWST 652 Kanawai Lawaiʻa: Hawaiʻi's Ocean and Fisheries Laws to help with research on the legal history of ocean and fishery-related laws in Hawaiʻi to map the changes over time. Need research help? Email Hawaiian Collection librarian Kapena Shim,

Legislative HIstory

Step 1: Start with the Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes website available through the Hawaiʻi State Legislature website
On website, the best way to find relevant fish, fisheries, or ocean-related statutes is to download the HRS "Index" and HRS "Index Supplement" and do a control + find search for your keywords such as West Hawaii fishery management area. When you find an entry, you will be given the statute number such as 188F–2, which is basically the chapter and section where this statute can be found. Once you have this number, click "Browse Contents" and look for that chapter number and section. You can also do a keyword search for the statute number or even the topic of interest. However, with this method, you may miss the larger chapter context surrounding the statute as some sections may not be retrieved in your keyword searches. Highly recommend browsing the "Table of Contents" to see how statutes are organized and grouped.

Step 2: Browse the statute for references to its legal history to find historic laws
This information will oftentimes appear in brackets telling you the session laws it was enacted in, when it was amended, or when it was codified in a compilation of laws. It may also appear in the "Notes" section. For help with deciphering the abbreviations, look at the list in the More Resources section below.

Step 3: Identify a historic law you want to research and look for the session or codified laws it was enacted under
Every legislative session, from the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi through the Territory of Hawaiʻi to the current State of Hawaiʻi, generates a volume of statutes enacted called Session Laws. These statutes are called acts in the volume and are indexed by topic and organized numerically by act number. Session Laws from 1959+ are available on the Legislature webpage. Many session laws have also been digitized and are available in a number of databases: LLMC Digital up to 2010 (session laws and compilations of laws, e.g. Revised Laws of Hawaii 1925, 1935, 1945, and 1955) for UH only or open access up to 2010 (only session laws) and Punawaiola up to 2005 (only session laws). Also available in print in the Hawaiian Collection: Session Laws of Hawaii 1901+.

Step 4: Determine who introduced it, the committee discussions about it, and how it moved through the legislative body
The movement of bills, whether it dies in the house or senate or passes, are recorded in the session journals for the house and for the senate. Organized chronologically by day, these journals will tell you who introduced a bill and how to moved throughout the legislative body. It will also provide you with committee reports so you can see the discussions about the bill and how it was revised/amended. The movement of bills is indexed by act and bill number, so use the index to determine relevant pages. Use the indexes in Session Laws to determine the committee report references. Some journals are available online through the Hawaii State Legislature (Senate 1975+ and House 1971+). Some older journals are available online in the databases listed in the previous step such as Punawaiola (Journal of the Legislature up to 1899). Also available in print in the Hawaiian Collection: Journal of House of Representatives 1901+ and Journal of the Senate 1901+.

Step 5: Look for testimony (if necessary)
Sometimes bills will have testimony attached to them. These records are available in print at the Hawaiʻi State Archives in their Legislature collection. Use the Hawaiʻi State Archives Legislature Finding Aid under the "L" section to get an overview of the records available. Some are available online through Hawaii State Legislature Archives (1999-2021).

Administrative Rules

Step 1: Determine the State department responsible for administering the statues
This information will be found in the larger chapter the statute is found in at the very beginning under Definitions in the General Provisions section. For example, the administration of Aquatic Resources falls under the department, Board of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). These departments will oftentimes have divisions that are the ones actually responsible for carrying out those administrative functions, such as for Aquatic Resources, the Division of Aquatic Resources.

Step 2: Look for the administrative rules from the responsible department and division
Go to the department and/or the division's website and you should find the administrative rules linked either on the homepage or under the About section. Once you find the page with administrative rules, you'll be shown the current rules as well as draft rules and public notices. 

Step 3: Locate superseded administrative rules (if necessary)
Superseded administrative rules are located at the Hawaiʻi State Archives in the Record of the Lieutenant Governor (scroll to L to see the collection listed and the finding aid). These are located in the series, "Superseded Administrative Rules and Regulations" under the sub-series "Department of Land and Natural Resources" which begins on pdf page 163 of the finding aid.

Step 4: Locate hearing records (f necessary)
The hearing records include public notices, agendas, and testimony. According to the Hawaiʻi State Archives' Records Retention and Disposition Schedules under the General Records Schedule, the hearing records are kept by the operating department, DLNR, and retained 4 years from the effective date when the rule was adopted, repealed or amended. After 4 years these records may be either destroyed by the operating department or transferred to the Hawaiʻi State Archives if appraised with having historical value. Reach out to DLNR for these records.

Case Law

Step 1: Check the "Statute Edition" of Shepard's Hawaiʻi Citations
Shepard's Hawaii is a citation index that lawyers and researchers use to find and validate "good" law e.g. cases not overruled or reversed or statutes not deemed invalid or unconstitutional. It provides a comprehensive list of statutes and case law from various legal authorities, e.g. Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes and Hawaiʻi Supreme Court cases, and lets you "Shepardize" the statute or case so you know how the legal authority you are using holds up in the courts. Be sure to check the various legal authorities that are a part of the statute's legal history to find all cases relevant to the current statute.

Step 2: Look up the court cases that are cited under the statute (if there are any citations)
Use the abbreviation list in the front matter of Shepard's to determine what courts that cases are being cited from such as the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court or the Hawaiʻi Intermediate Court of Appeals. Then, request the volume number the case is in and go to the particular page the case is found on.

An important note on this step. Shepard's unfortunately is only available in print. However, for the research you are doing in this class, you can see if the current statute you are exploring has any cases associated with it by using the database Nexis Uni listed below as this database Shepardizes statutes.

An Easier Method

Nexis Uni
A product of the company LexisNexis, this legal database available to all UH Mānoa students, faculty and staff allows you to easily find statutes, session laws, case law, administrative codes, and much more to aid in your legal research. Another feature of this database is the ability to Shepardize current statutes and court cases to see if these legal authorities are still good law, e.g. cases not overruled or reversed or statutes not deemed invalid or unconstitutional. You'll also find legal notes from the company's legal analysts who summarize the impact and precedent set by these legal authorities. Be sure to add in the word Hawaii to your searches and use the filters to narrow down by material and even jurisdiction. Note: there are limitations as not all historic legal materials are in here, especially older session and revised laws and legislative journals.

More Resources

These resources and research guides will provide you with additional research help.
Hawaii Legislative Bureau Library
Hawaiʻi Laws 1822-1859 (UH Law School Library Guide)
Hawaiʻi Legal History (UH Law School Library Guide)
Hawaiʻi Legal Research (UH Law School Library Guide)

Common Abbreviations
L – Session Laws enacted year
c – Act #
s or § – Section
am – amended
rep. – repealed
gen ch – gender change
CC – Civil Code
PC – Penal Code
RL – Revised Laws of Hawaii