Fred Korematsu Google Doodle by artist Sophie Diao

Fred Korematsu Google Doodle by artist Sophie Diao

In honor of a new day of remembrance in Arizona, all are invited to an event in one week celebrating the life and achievements of Fred T. Korematsu.

On Tuesday, January 30, the Arizona Asian American Bar Association hosts a reception honoring the “Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.” It will be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at District American Kitchen in the Sheraton Grand Hotel, 340 N. 3rd St, Phoenix, AZ 85004.

The event is free and open to all, but an RSVP is requested. Write to Thomas Chiang at tchiang8@gmail.com

The honor and event are possible because Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey proclaimed Tuesday, January 30, 2018 to be Fred T. Korematsu Day in Arizona. At the reception, the AAABA board will present the proclamation to Fred’s son, Ken – a well-known speaker on the Supreme Court case United States v. Korematsu.

According to the Fred Korematsu Institute, Arizona is the seventh state to declare this day of commemoration by proclamation. Four others – the first being California – established the day in perpetuity via legislation.

In case you know little about the matters that underlie that case, here is information from event organizers and those who advocated for the commemoration:

The following gives a short background on Fred T. Korematsu and the Japanese Internment Camps in Arizona. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. EO 9066 authorized internment camps for people, including American-born citizens of Japanese, German, and Italian ancestry. Approximately 3,200 resident aliens of Italian descent were arrested and more than 300 were interned. Approximately 11,000 persons of German descent were arrested and more than 5,000 were interned. Some of the persons of German descent were American citizens.

Japanese Americans in the Western Defense Area were ordered to report in much larger numbers. More than 121,000 people of Japanese descent were interned. Two-thirds were American born citizens. One fourth of those interned – more than 30,000 of the Japanese Americans – were moved from California and interned in Arizona. More than 13,000 were interned near Phoenix on the Gila River Indian Reservation, and more than 17,000 were interned at the Poston Relocation Center on the Colorado River Indian Tribe Reservation. The camps were opened in 1942 and closed in 1946.

Fred T. Korematsu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Fred T. Korematsu with the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Fred T. Korematsu was one of the many American-born citizens ordered to report to internment camps. He refused – and was arrested, prosecuted, and convicted for his refusal. In a landmark decision, six of President Roosevelt’s eight appointees to the United States Supreme Court upheld Mr. Korematsu’s conviction, which stood until 1983. See Korematsu v. U.S., 324 U.S. 885 (1945). Almost 40 years later, a federal judge ruled that in 1945, the government’s lawyers knowingly gave false information to the Supreme Court. Because the false information had a material impact on the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling, Mr. Korematsu’s conviction was vacated by Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of U.S. District Court in San Francisco. See Korematsu v. U.S., 584 F. Supp. 1406 (N.D. Cal. 1984).

Judge Patel’s ruling cleared Korematsu’s name, but was incapable of overturning the Supreme Court’s decision.

Fred Korematsu was able to testify at that hearing:

“I would like to see the government admit that they were wrong and do something about it so this will never happen again to any American citizen of any race, creed, or color. … If anyone should do any pardoning, I should be the one pardoning the government for what they did to the Japanese-American people.”

Peter Irons described Korematsu’s ending statement during the case as the most powerful statement he’d ever heard from anyone. He found the statement as empowering as Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

President Bill Clinton awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States, to Korematsu in 1998.

You may recall that Google recognized Fred Korematsu Day in 2017 with its “Google Doodle” by artist Sophie Diao. It featured Korematsu wearing his Presidential Medal of Freedom, internment camps at his back, while surrounded by cherry blossoms – flowers that have come to be symbols of peace and friendship between the US and Japan.

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President Lisa Loo, center, and the other State Bar of Arizona officers, 2016-17. L to R: President-Elect Alex Vakula, Second Vice President Steve Hirsch, President Lisa Loo, First Vice President Jeff Willis, and Secretary-Treasurer Brian Furuya.

President Lisa Loo, center, and the other State Bar of Arizona officers, 2016-17. L to R: President-Elect Alex Vakula, Second Vice President Steve Hirsch, President Lisa Loo, First Vice President Jeff Willis, and Secretary-Treasurer Brian Furuya.

In the September issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine, be sure to read our profile of the newest State Bar of Arizona President, Lisa Loo. Her life story began in Macau, China, and she emigrated to New York City when she was a young girl. Her story, and that of her family, is moving and provides some insight into the leadership lessons she’s learned. 

Back in 2001, Arizona Attorney published another article on Lisa.

In the meantime, here is the formal announcement from the State Bar of Arizona. As the item points out, Lisa Loo is the first Asian American woman to be elected State Bar president. Just as fascinating is that the only other Asian American attorney ever to serve as Bar President was Thomas Tang, who went on to become a respected Ninth Circuit Judge—and who was the persuasive impetus behind the original formation of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association:

The State Bar of Arizona has announced the election of Lisa Loo as the 85th president of its Board of Governors. The board also announced the election of Alex B. Vakula as President-Elect, Jeffrey Willis as First Vice President, Steven A. Hirsch as Second Vice President, and Brian Y. Furuya as Secretary/Treasurer.

Lisa Loo in Arizona Attorney Magazine, October 2001 (photo by John Beckett).

Lisa Loo in Arizona Attorney Magazine, October 2001 (photo by John Beckett).

Lisa Loo is Vice President for Legal Affairs and Deputy General Counsel at Arizona State University and is responsible for leadership of the lawyers in the business and transactional practice group. She joined the ASU Office of General Counsel in 1993 after eight years in private practice.

She has served the legal profession and the greater community in various volunteer leadership roles.

“The Bar is fortunate to have such an experienced and talented person serve as our board president,” said John Phelps, Executive Director and CEO of the State Bar of Arizona. “Leading up to her role as president, Lisa Loo has been an actively engaged board member. Over the past 23 years, she has contributed to some of our most influential committees, including the Committee on Minorities and Women in the Law, the Rules on Professional Conduct Committee, and the Bar Leadership Institute Selection Committee. She has also served on the State Bar’s Strategic Planning Committee and the Diversity Task Force. Her passion in championing Arizona’s legal community is unmatched, and I look forward to continuing my strong working relationship with her. She has already proven to be an excellent leader for the Bar.”

Loo is the first Asian American woman to be elected president of the State Bar. She is a founding board member of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association and served as Vice President of Victory Together, the primary group that advocated for the voter-approved MLK, Jr./Civil Rights Day in Arizona.

Loo graduated from the University Of Virginia School Of Law in 1985 and from Fordham University in 1982. She was admitted to the practice of law in Arizona in 1988 and has served on the State Bar of Arizona’s Board of Governors for seven years.

The State Bar of Arizona has honored Loo as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year and for Outstanding Achievement in Advancing Equal Opportunity in the Profession.

In addition to those elected, Young Lawyers Division President Alexia J. Peterson of DeConcini McDonald Yetwin & Lacy PC (Phoenix) joined the Board. The YLD president receives an automatic seat on the Board during their one-year tenure.

State Bar of Arizona SBA_Logo_Color

Board members of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association for 2016-17 (photographed at C-Fu Gourmet, Chandler, Ariz., April 14, 2016.

Board members of the Arizona Asian American Bar Association for 2016-17 (photographed at C-Fu Gourmet, Chandler, Ariz., April 14, 2016.

Back on April 14, the Arizona Asian American Bar Association hosted its 20th scholarship fundraiser and installation banquet. It was as remarkable and delicious as ever. In fact, this event broke all records, as about 450 people crowded into C-Fu Gourmet in Chandler to collaborate and hear from great speakers such as Incoming State Bar President Lisa Loo.

I recommend you read AAABA President Amanda Chua’s letter here. And to see more photos and some great video regarding the legal pioneers who were honored that evening—Thomas Tang, Dr. Pearl Tang, Anthony Ching, and Wing Ong—go here.

L to R: Then-AAABA President-Elect Amanda Chua, State Bar of Arizona President-Elect Lisa Loo, then-AAABA President Nicole Ong, April 14, 2016.

L to R: Then-AAABA President-Elect Amanda Chua, State Bar of Arizona President-Elect Lisa Loo, then-AAABA President Nicole Ong, April 14, 2016.

Nonprofit boards generally don't look like this anymore. But if they did, can you spot the attorney?

Nonprofit boards generally don’t look like this anymore (if they ever did). But if they did, can you spot the attorney?

As far back as I can recall (and that recall gets shorter every day), lawyers have played a valuable role on the boards of nonprofits. They could lend a hand—hopefully not opining beyond their skill-level—while getting better known in the community. Win–win.

It seems to me that as law practice has gotten tougher and more challenge-filled, those attorneys who seek out board positions has decreased. If I’m right, that would be unfortunate, as nonprofit organizations do more and more of the heavy lifting in our society, and they need more and more specialized services. Lawyers can still be of service.

That challenge was in mind when I came across a meeting notice (from the ever-informative Arizona Asian American Bar Association) about a “nonprofit board speed networking event.”

Here’s their description: “Typically it is very hard to just jump on an organization board, but there are hundreds of nonprofits in the Valley seeking innovators and professionals like you to help them build their organizational capacity.”

Foundation for Senior Living FSL-logoSo true, so why not attend the event tomorrow?

Hosted by Polsinelli Law Firm, the event occurs Thursday, October 29, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

The special-guest moderator is Tom Egan, President and CEO of the Foundation for Senior Living, who “will share how organizations and board members can build strong partnerships to help grow the organization and your professional skills and network.”

And when event organizers say “speed,” they mean it. Attendees will spend three to five minutes learning about each of the nonprofit’s programs and services. Who knows? You may feel a deep connection that you’ll want to act upon.

Where: Polsinelli Law Firm (at Cityscape in downtown Phoenix), 1 E. Washington St. #1200, Phoenix, AZ 85004

For additional information, email attorney Nicole Ong at nicole.ong@dlapiper.com.

AAABA Arizona Asian American Bar Association logoTalented and smart law students in Arizona are being encouraged to apply for an esteemed scholarship named for former Judge Thomas Tang. The sponsor is the Arizona Asian American Bar Association.

The application (link below) is straightforward, and it includes a question that applicants must answer (in no more than two pages):

“What is the importance of diversity in education and employment and how will your education, background, and perspective on diversity be a benefit as a leader in society and in relation to your law practice?”

The deadline is Friday, March 20, 2015, at 11:00 p.m.

ABA President-Elect Paulette Brown

ABA President-Elect Paulette Brown

Anyone who attended this week’s John P. Morris Memorial Lecture at ASU Law School may have a jump-start in conceptualizing their essay. That’s because ABA President-Elect Paulette Brown spoke on “The Importance of Diversity & Inclusion in the Law.” It was the 15th annual Morris Lecture, and she also spoke in celebration of Black History Month. (Thank you to NAPABA President George Chen for the heads-up.)

Here is more background from AAABA:

Do you know a law student who attends a law school in Arizona?

If so, then encourage him or her to apply for The Thomas Tang Law Scholarship, which is funded by AAABA and awarded in honor of the late Judge Thomas Tang. Up to four scholarships may be awarded in an amount of at least $2,000 each.

Awards will be presented at AAABA’s annual installation and scholarship banquet to be held on Wednesday, April 15, 2015.

Additional information about the scholarship can be found in the application, which you can download here.

NAPABA_logoIn the upcoming Arizona Attorney Magazine, I talk about a national legal event coming to our state—the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association convention. More to come soon.

But in the meantime, convention organizers are putting together an event that helps military personnel. Your help may be needed—and you need not be a convention registrant to step up.

Attorney Jared Leung is President of AAABA, the Arizona affiliate. And he has issued a call for help. When are you needed? Sunday, Nov. 9, from 7 am to noon.

What’s happening? NAPABA is donating money and volunteer hours to assist Phoenix-based “Packages from Home.” Attendees will assemble 300 care boxes of comfort foods for military men and women stationed overseas.

As Jared says:

“The Project is absolutely wonderful, as we are packing food boxes for military men and women based overseas. These boxes must be packed in a certain way and inspected carefully because of security and shipping reasons. You will receive training on-site and assist others volunteers, who are attendees of the Convention from all over the country. You do not need to have registered for the NAPABA Convention to volunteer in this event, and we encourage you to bring a friend, family member, or significant other to come as well.”

See the flyer below for more information.

For more information or to RSVP to lend your assistance, contact Jared at jleung@fclaw.com.

More detail about the Convention is here.

AAABA Packages From Home event

AAABA members and past recipients Hon. Kenneth Lee and Hon. Paul Tang present AAABA’s newest recipient, Hon. Joan L. Wagener, with “The Book” at her investiture ceremony on July 11, 2014 at the Arizona Superior Court in Pima County. Fellow members Briana Chua, Amanda Chua and Shijie Feng attended. (Photo: AAABA)

AAABA members and past recipients Hon. Kenneth Lee and Hon. Paul Tang present AAABA’s newest recipient, Hon. Joan L. Wagener, with “The Book” at her investiture ceremony on July 11, 2014 at the Arizona Superior Court in Pima County. Fellow members Briana Chua, Amanda Chua and Shijie Feng attended. (Photo: AAABA)

This week, I read a news story that reminded me of one of the Arizona legal community’s most evocative honors: awarding a gift of a children’s book.

The Arizona Asian American Bar Association has been giving “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein since 1994. To merit the honor, you must be Asian American and be named a judge. The most recent honoree was Judge Joan L. Wagener.

You can read an Arizona Daily Star article on the recent event here.

As AAABA reports: “The Book was originally presented to Hon. Thomas Tang by the State Bar of Arizona Committee on Women and Minorities in the Law in 1994. The late Hon. Thomas Tang believed the story of The Giving Tree illustrated the duties and dedication of those that dedicated their lives to public service.”

“AAABA presents the book to its members who are appointed to a State or Federal bench. Judge Wagener will hold ‘The Book’ until the next Asian Pacific American Judge in Arizona is appointed.”

The organization listed its past recipients, including:

Judge Kenneth Lee (1997 to present), Pima County Superior Court

Judge Paul Tang (2001 to present), Pima County Superior Court

Judge Rosa Mroz (2004 to present), Maricopa County Superior Court

Judge Christopher Staring (2010 to present), Pima County Superior Court

Judge David Cunanan (2012 to present), Maricopa County Superior Court

Judge Joan Wagener (2014 to present), Pima County Superior Court

Four Asian Pacific American judges pre-date the tradition of passing down “The Book.”

Judge Thomas Tang (1963 to 1970), Maricopa County Superior Court; (1977 to 1993), Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals

Judge Harry Gin (1975 to 1994), Pima County Superior Court, Presiding Judge

Judge James Don (1978 to 2000), Pinal County Superior Court, Presiding Judge

Judge Brian Ishikawa (1995 to present), Maricopa County Superior Court

Follow the Arizona Asian American Bar Association on Facebook.