Dale Minami’s Most Significant Case

He defended a Japanese-American who refused to report for internment

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By Beth Taylor on July 5, 2018

Dale Minami with Fred Korematsu

Plaintiff’s personal injury attorney Dale Minami, with Minami Tamaki in San Francisco, talks about his landmark case that overturned a conviction for Japanese-American citizen Fred Korematsu, who defied Executive Order 9066 by refusing to report for internment; his conviction was upheld in 1944 by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1983, Minami got that conviction vacated by U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel. An excerpt from Pate’s opinion:

“As a legal precedent [Korematsu] is now recognized as having very limited application. As historical precedent it stands as a constant caution that in times of war or declared military necessity our institutions must be vigilant in protecting constitutional guarantees. … It stands as a caution that in times of international hostility and antagonisms our institutions, legislative, executive and judicial, must be prepared to exercise their authority to protect all citizens from the petty fears and prejudices that are so easily aroused.” – Korematsu v. U.S., Apr 19, 1984

Editor’s Note: On June 26, 2018, Korematsu was officially overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court as a side note to its ruling in Trump v. Hawaii, in which the court upheld the president’s refusal to allow citizens from five Muslim-majority countries to enter the U.S. Minami calls the overruling of Korematsu “a hollow victory,” noting that “it still upheld a Muslim ban on travel, and so we’re still fighting those fights.”

Minami’s story was featured in the 2018 issue of Northern California Super Lawyers.

“Fred wouldn’t accept any pardon from the government. He said he should pardon the government.”

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