Civil Beat Staff

John Hill

John Hill is the Investigations Editor at Honolulu Civil Beat. He meandered back and forth across the U.S. for two-plus decades as a newspaper reporter — with stops in Northern California, New York City, New Orleans, Albuquerque and back to Northern California — before abandoning the mainland altogether to come to Civil Beat in July 2016.

In 2005, he won the George Polk Award for documenting abuses of the California pension and disability systems, most notably by the top brass of the California Highway Patrol. In New Orleans, he was part of a team of reporters that did a year-long series on race relations honored for public service by the Society of Professional Journalists and the National Headliner Awards.

In 2009, John left journalism to work for a California Senate office that investigated shortcomings in state government. His reports focused on the state’s failure to prevent elder abuse and monitor deaths in residential drug treatment programs, among other topics, and led to legislation and administrative reforms.

In 2014, the Senate eliminated his office and he worked for a year-and-a-half as press secretary for the California State Controller.

John recognizes that the best investigations start with tips, and encourages Civil Beat readers to contact him with stories of skullduggery, malfeasance and garden-variety ineptitude.

Hawaii Sent At Least 10 Foster Children To An Abusive Home At The Center Of A Drug Ring Hawaii News Now

Hawaii Sent At Least 10 Foster Children To An Abusive Home At The Center Of A Drug Ring

Hawaii Child Welfare Services may have had no reason not to approve Yvonne and Paul Caitano as foster parents. But when did it find out that things had gone wrong?

Hawaii Judges Were Trained To Run Better Child Welfare Hearings. Their Performance Plummeted Ludwig Laab/Civil Beat/2021

Hawaii Judges Were Trained To Run Better Child Welfare Hearings. Their Performance Plummeted

The hearings can determine whether parents lose their children, but topics that could help avoid that are rarely or never discussed.

‘Just A Number’: Parents Who Face Losing Their Kids Say Court-Appointed Attorneys Don’t Do Enough Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

‘Just A Number’: Parents Who Face Losing Their Kids Say Court-Appointed Attorneys Don’t Do Enough

A Civil Beat review found that parents almost never win on appeal, and that the appellate court finds procedural flaws in half the cases.

Hawaii Senator Says Changes Are Needed To Curb ‘Illegal, Knee-Jerk’ Child Abuse Investigations Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Hawaii Senator Says Changes Are Needed To Curb ‘Illegal, Knee-Jerk’ Child Abuse Investigations

Sen. Joy San Buenaventura is considering writing a bill that would likely reduce the number of children taken from their parents without a court order.

‘You Need A Warrant!’: Hawaii’s Dubious Practice Of Taking Children Without A Court Order Courtesy: Jennifer Chapman

‘You Need A Warrant!’: Hawaii’s Dubious Practice Of Taking Children Without A Court Order

More than 80% of children taken into protective custody in Hawaii are removed from their families without a judge’s approval. That’s not how it works in many other jurisdictions.

Government Workers Wrongly Seize A Child From Parents. Should They Be Made To Pay? Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Government Workers Wrongly Seize A Child From Parents. Should They Be Made To Pay?

The principle of qualified immunity protects workers in their official actions. But as a recent Hawaii case shows, not always.

She Took Her Fight For Her Grandson Public. A Hawaii Judge Said She Went Too Far Courtesy: Deborah Goodwin

She Took Her Fight For Her Grandson Public. A Hawaii Judge Said She Went Too Far

Big Island resident Deborah Goodwin says she had no choice but to speak to a reporter and file a lawsuit about her case because the confidential system had treated her unfairly. It backfired.

A Judge Took Away These Kids For Good — Until A Higher Court Found A Mistake Courtesy: Shandon Cabinatan and Mahlonna Mawae-Callison

A Judge Took Away These Kids For Good — Until A Higher Court Found A Mistake

An appeals court found that parents in three cases should have had court-appointed lawyers throughout. How many other parents were denied this right?

Hawaii’s Weird Winter: Deluge, Drought, Fewer Rainbows But Plenty Of Green Flashes John Hill/Civil Beat/2022

Hawaii’s Weird Winter: Deluge, Drought, Fewer Rainbows But Plenty Of Green Flashes

La Nina is supposed to bring copious rain to Hawaii, but not so far this year, with implications for ranchers and water customers.