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Closing the Korematsu Case

And at the conclusion, after he sat down, Judge Patel had already decided the case and read the statement that became the basis of her later written opinion about this. And she read it, and it was basically that the petition had raised serious issues of government misconduct. The record was there from the government's files. And one thing she said was, her last sentence, her paragraph, you know, "The Korematsu case remains on our law books, but it is a reminder to all of us of what can happen during wartime, that no group should be treated this way." And at the conclusion of that, she simply stood up and left the courtroom.

And most of us for a brief, seemed like a while, just sat there sort of speechless. And then everybody got up and there was tremendous excitement. People were crying. Everybody was running up to congratulate Fred, pound him on the back. It was really almost like a, like a party. ... Well, I remember being just flooded with emotion, being really overcome. I wasn't sure in fact that I could even speak to the press or anybody else. And I just felt overjoyed at what had happened. And in a way, of course, it occurred to me that this, I had started all of this without any real intention at the beginning. As I said, a whole series of fortuities and accidents building up, leading to this. But also just looking around. I remember sort of standing back and looking around at this audience, almost all Japanese American, and just seeing how much this affected them.


Fred Korematsu law

Date: October 27, 2000

Location: Washington, US

Interviewer: Alice Ito, Lorraine Bannai

Contributed by: Denshō: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Interviewee Bio

Peter Irons was born in Salem, MA in 1940. While a student at Antioch College, Irons became involved in political and social activism and organized demonstrations addressing racial inequality, the war in Vietnam, and workers’ rights. In 1966, Irons was sentenced to three years in prison for resisting the draft. After his release, Irons earned a Ph.D. in political science and entered Harvard Law School. While a law student, he filed a writ of coram nobis with the court and succeeded in having his conviction vacated. Irons decided on a career in teaching and eventually joined the faculty of the University of California at San Diego.

The discovery of key documents at the National Archives by Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig enabled Irons to mobilize the effort to challenge the Supreme Court rulings in the “internment cases.” The evidence was used to show the U.S. government’s misconduct during World War II by refuting the rationale of “military necessity” for the mass incarceration of persons of Japanese ancestry in 1942. Coram nobis petitions were filed in 1983 for three cases: Hirabayashi, Yasui, and Korematsu, resulting in the successful overturning of each conviction. Justice was finally served, but just as important, the victory in court legitimized the call for redress. (April 15, 2008)

Lorraine Bannai
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Lorraine Bannai

Feeling angry upon reading of Supreme Court case, 'Korematsu v. United States'

(b. 1955) Lawyer

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Lorraine Bannai
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Lorraine Bannai

Is 'Korematsu v. United States' still a threat to American civil liberties?

(b. 1955) Lawyer

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Lorraine Bannai
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Lorraine Bannai

Working on the 'case of a lifetime'

(b. 1955) Lawyer

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Dale Minami
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Dale Minami

Role of the redress movement in helping Nisei to open up about their wartime experiences

(b. 1946) Lawyer

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Dale Minami
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Dale Minami

Memories of hearing the verdict in Fred Korematsu's coram nobis case

(b. 1946) Lawyer

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Dale Minami
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Dale Minami

Impact of the Korematsu coram nobis case, historically and personally

(b. 1946) Lawyer

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Fred Korematsu
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Fred Korematsu

The Final Verdict

(1919 - 2005) Challenged the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066.

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Fred Korematsu
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Fred Korematsu

A Wrong Righted

(1919 - 2005) Challenged the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066.

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Bill Hosokawa
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Bill Hosokawa

The Strength of Evidence

(1915 - 2007) Journalist

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Chiye Tomihiro
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Chiye Tomihiro

Duties of the Witness Chair

Chaired the Chicago JACL's Redress Committee.

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Kathryn Doi Todd
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Kathryn Doi Todd

“I had no idea about studying law…”

(b. 1942) The first Asian American woman judge

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Kathryn Doi Todd
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Kathryn Doi Todd

“How did I end up going to law school?”

(b. 1942) The first Asian American woman judge

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Kathryn Doi Todd
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Kathryn Doi Todd

Opening Up Shop in Little Tokyo

(b. 1942) The first Asian American woman judge

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Kathryn Doi Todd
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Kathryn Doi Todd

The Other Two JA women lawyers in Los Angeles—Chiyoko Sakamoto and Madge Watai

(b. 1942) The first Asian American woman judge

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Kathryn Doi Todd
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Kathryn Doi Todd

On Generational Differences in JABA’s Early Years

(b. 1942) The first Asian American woman judge

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