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Leaving a Legacy

I don’t know if I have a legacy. The Appellate Court, we decide a lot of cases. I don’t know what they are, but I have decided some cases that are obviously more important than others, and I hope some of those cases will last a while and that people will think they were good decisions. But, I think besides that, I’d just like to leave a legacy that one, I’ve mentored a lot of good lawyers. Federal judges have one year law clerks, so you turn over law clerks every year. They are all recent law school graduates, and I don’t know how many I’ve had- probably over 100 over the years.

But anyway, I think those people, some of them have become judges- my law clerks- a number of them are teaching in law schools, a lot of them are lawyers in private practice and government agencies, but I think all of my law clerks I have had a hand in training them and becoming lawyers so I think the legacy I leave is probably going to be more in terms that the impact that these law clerks of mine make and the careers that they have I think many years after I am gone, I would say. 

appellate courts law legal cases

Date: July 2, 2014

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Sakura Kato

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum; Japanese American Bar Association

Interviewee Bio

Born in Santa Maria California, Judge Atsushi Wallace Tashima is the first Japanese American and the third Asian American in history to serve on a U.S. Court of Appeals. He was born to Issei immigrants and spent three years of his childhood in the Poston War Relocation Center in Poston, Arizona. When Tashima entered his first year of Harvard Law School in 1958, he was one of only 4 Asian American students at Harvard. Nevertheless, Tashima went on to lead a 34 year-long career as a federal judge. In 1980, Tashima was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California by President Carter. After serving 15 years on the U.S. District Court, President Clinton elevated Tashima to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers the nine western states on the West Coast. As as 2004, Tashima assumed senior status and currently sits in the Ninth Circuit Pasadena Couthouse in Pasadena, CA.  (August 2014)

*This is one of the main projects completed by The Nikkei Community Internship (NCI) Program intern each summer, which the Japanese American Bar Association and the Japanese American National Museum have co-hosted.

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Kathryn Doi Todd

On Working in the Appellate Court

(b. 1942) The first Asian American woman judge


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