Blog

Dale Minami to Receive the 2019 ABA Medal, the Association’s Highest Honor

Dale Minami to Receive the 2019 ABA Medal, the Association’s Highest Honor

The American Bar Association announced this week that it will honor Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami, a lifelong champion of the civil rights of Asian Pacific Americans and other people of color, with the ABA Medal — the association’s highest honor — during the ABA Annual Meeting in August in San Francisco.

Minami is best known for leading the legal team that overturned the conviction of Fred Korematsu, an American of Japanese descent who was arrested for refusing to enter an incarceration center in 1942. Korematsu’s case led to the historic challenge of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II in the case Korematsu v. United States.

The ABA Medal recognizes exceptionally distinguished service by a lawyer or lawyers to the cause of American jurisprudence. Previous recipients of the ABA Medal include: Bryan A. Stevenson (2018), Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2010), and Justice Thurgood Marshall (1992).

Minami is the first Asian American to receive the award in its 90-year history.

“Dale Minami has devoted a lifetime to breaking down stereotypes and advocating for Asian Pacific Americans,” ABA President Bob Carlson said. “His work in overturning Korematsu is legal legend, but it is just one of many instances in his career where he has fought for the protection of the rights of people who have been discriminated against. His determination and commitment to the rule of law has resulted in countless people receiving justice.”

Minami was key to obtaining judicial recognition that the evacuation and incarceration of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II was unjust and illegal. Although the Supreme Court in 1944 upheld the constitutionality of the incarceration in Korematsu v. United States, Minami and his team successfully challenged that ruling 40 years later.

With documents discovered in 1981 from the National Archives that demonstrated that government officials knowingly used false evidence to justify its exclusion order, Minami assembled the legal team that petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to vacate the conviction of Korematsu and was the Coordinating Attorney initially for two other challenges to the military orders filed by Minoru Yasui in Portland and Gordon Hirabayashi in Seattle.  Serving as lead counsel for Korematsu in 1983, Minami and his team prevailed in voiding the conviction while the legal teams for Hirabayashi and Yasui overturned their convictions in separate cases.

In 2017, Minami and other attorneys from the Korematsu, Hirabayashi, and Yasui legal teams joined the legal team led by the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality and Akin Gump LLP, representing the adult children of Korematsu, Hirabayashi, and Yasui in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court review of the government’s travel ban, which resulted in the Supreme Court’s explicit repudiation of the 1944 Korematsu decision via its review of Trump v. Hawaii.

“As an attorney in a small minority-owned law firm, I was a bit surprised when Bob Carlson, the president of the ABA, even called me, then astonished when he informed me that I was chosen as the ABA Medal recipient,” Minami said.  “Given the list of illustrious past awardees, I now just think it is surreal, yet still a testament to the ABA’s recognition of Asian Pacific American attorneys as integral members of the ABA and legal profession. I am grateful.”

Minami Tamaki Investigating Allegations of Apple Monopolization of App Distribution

Minami Tamaki Investigating Allegations of Apple Monopolization of App Distribution

Minami Tamaki is investigating allegations that Apple is monopolizing the market for the distribution of applications that run on its operating system.

Consumers and developers have complained that Apple’s app store is the only place to sell and buy apps that run on the company’s mobile devices, and accuse Apple of using its dominance in the market to control pricing.

Some developers allege that Apple takes excessive commissions, charges exorbitant fees for distribution services, and sets pricing mandates that negatively impact developers’ profits.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that app users have standing to pursue claims against Apple for alleged overcharges. The justices rejected Apple’s arguments that the consumers should be considered “indirect purchasers” barred from suing for violations of federal antitrust law under the high court’s ruling in the seminal case of Illinois Brick v. Illinois.

In March 2019, music streaming service Spotify complained to the European Commission that Apple’s app store terms allow the company to give Apple’s streaming service an unfair advantage over rival services. Spotify also argued that Apple’s commission system and restrictions on apps that use non-Apple payment systems purposely limit choice at the expense of user experience.

Monopolization of the market for apps could significantly reduce developer earnings below what they would be in a competitive market, while also dampening innovation.

Minami Tamaki attorneys have experience representing individuals who have been harmed by antitrust violations. App developers who are interested in learning more about our investigation may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.

Don Tamaki Leads Tour of ‘Then They Came for Us’ Exhibit

Don Tamaki Leads Tour of ‘Then They Came for Us’ Exhibit

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Don Tamaki led a special guided tour (photos) on May 25, 2019, of the “Then they Came For Me” exhibit at The Presidio in San Francisco, organized by the Civil Rights Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA). Don is one of the leaders of the Stop Repeating History campaign.

Then They Came for Me: Incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII and the Demise of Civil Liberties” examines the terrifying period in U.S. history when the government scapegoated and imprisoned thousands of people of Japanese ancestry.

This multimedia exhibition draws parallels to tactics chillingly resurgent today featuring imagery by noted American photographers Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, alongside works by incarcerated Japanese American artists Toyo Miyatake and Miné Okubo.

Presented by the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation in partnership with the National Japanese American Historical Society and J-Sei, the exhibition tells the story of the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese American citizens and legal residents from their homes on the West Coast during World War II without due process or other constitutional protections to which they were entitled.

Visit https://thentheycame.org to learn more about the exhibit, which runs through September 1, 2019.

Thank you to Lisa P. Mak for sharing this information.

Let’s Break Down the Perpetual Foreigner Stereotype

Let’s Break Down the Perpetual Foreigner Stereotype

This post by Partner Olivia Serene Lee was originally published on thinkimmigration.org, a website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, as part of the site’s Diversity and Inclusion Blog Post Series.

May marks Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. You are forgiven if you’re not quite sure whose month exactly this is! Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) is a rather broad term and encompasses more than 50 ethnic groups from Asia and the Pacific Islands who live in the United States.

While the AAPI communities have roots that span the globe, our success stories are uniquely American.  May is a significant month in Asian American history, as it includes the first entry of an immigrant from Japan to the U.S. (May 7, 1843), the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad (May 10, 1869) in which the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants, as well as a dark time in our nation’s history with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act (May 6, 1882).

In fact, Asian American history dates back to the 16th century with the first recorded presence of Filipinos in what is now the U.S. to October 1587 around Morro Bay, California, with the first permanent settlement in Saint Malo, Louisiana, in 1763.  Less than fifteen years later, in 1778, Chinese immigrants settled in Hawaii.  From ancient, to more recent, the impact of Asian Americans on U.S. history is undeniable.

But, despite our long history in the U.S., there is still a stereotype that we are the “perpetual foreigner”, with many of us being asked the dreaded question “Where are you from?”, which is then normally followed by the question “No, where are you really from?”, or the variant “Where are your parents from?”

“Where are you really from?” is a tough question to answer, even for me. Until only a few years ago, I thought my family had just immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s.  However, through interviews with people from the Chinese American community, including AILA member Helen Hui, I learned that my family had a much more significant and lengthier history in the U.S.

In fact, I have a paternal great-great-grandfather who lived and settled in Chicago.  His son, my great-grandfather, lived in Chicago for some time before moving to San Francisco.  On my maternal side, my great-grandmother came to the U.S. as an aide to her daughters, who were acclaimed Cantonese opera singers and recruited to perform in San Francisco Chinatown theaters.  One of these singers had a life partner who was the first Chinese woman attorney in California – Emma Lum.  Her father, Walter U. Lum, was a renowned civil rights advocate and has a street named after him in San Francisco Chinatown.

Walter U. Lum was one of the founders of the Native Sons of the Golden State (renamed the Chinese American Citizens Alliance in 1915) which advocated for Chinese American rights and opposed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was finally overturned in 1943 with the Magnuson Act.  However, while the Magnuson Act overturned the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1924 only allowed a national quota of 105 Chinese immigrants per year. This extremely small quota impacted families, as it was difficult for American citizen men to bring their Chinese citizen wives and children to the U.S. This was, in fact, the case with my family, where several generations of husbands and sons were separated from their wives and children.

Walter U. Lum and the Chinese American Citizens Alliance (CACA) continued advocating to change the U.S. quota system so that Chinese families could be together.  In fact, many of our clients today benefit from the legacy of Walter U. Lum’s work, especially with our current definition of immediate relatives.

In 1936, the CACA successfully campaigned for a partial alleviation of the inhumane separation of American citizens from their wives. Through continued advocacy work, including repeatedly appearing before Congressional immigration committees, CACA succeeded in getting Congress to pass a law granting non-quota status to Chinese wives of American citizens on August 9, 1946.

The pen which President Harry S. Truman used to sign this law is housed at the CACA lodge in San Francisco, and this pen has been shown at events with the local AILA Northern California Chapter at the CACA lodge.  The passage of the 1946 act served as a basis for the definition of immediate relatives, and the CACA members on October 15, 1952 appeared before President Harry Truman’s Commission on Immigration and Naturalization to continue advocating.  Finally, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 gave us our current definition of “immediate relatives” and also abolished the national-origins quota, which limited Chinese immigration to only 105 per year.

When I look back at my Chinese American heritage, I am grateful to the Chinese American community members (including above-mentioned AILA member Helen Hui) for giving me more context to the history of my family in the U.S., for continually advocating for immigrant rights, and for teaching me our significant and long history in the U.S.  I am also grateful and proud that my own family played a part in  overturning the Chinese Exclusion Act and contributing to the concept of immediate relatives.

While the Chinese Exclusion Act no longer keeps families apart, as we know, these days there are other policies in place that do. The Muslim ban, the Remain in Mexico policy, even delays in processing at USCIS are keeping families apart and benefit no one; there have also been legislative changes proposed that would prevent families from reunifying. We’ve been down that road before and it harmed generations of children, in my case resulting in ignorance about my family’s history until very recently.  We must use the lessons of the past to halt current policies that exclude and separate immigrant families.

With confidence, I can say that my family has been here at least five generations, but due to the racist and anti-Chinese sentiments which gave rise to the Chinese Exclusion Act and national origins quota, my family was separated for generations between two continents. I don’t feel like a perpetual foreigner anymore. Now, if only people would stop asking me that question…

Don Tamaki, Dale Minami at ‘Alternative Facts’ Documentary Screening at CAAMFest 2019

Don Tamaki, Dale Minami at ‘Alternative Facts’ Documentary Screening at CAAMFest 2019

Partner Don Tamaki and Senior Counsel Dale Minami in their roles as leaders of the Stop Repeating History campaign were featured speakers in a discussion following the screening of Jon Osaki’s “Alternative Facts: The Lies of Executive Order 9066” at CAAMFest on May 18 at the Roxie Theater.

Sierra Lee of CAAM writes: “Osaki traces the fraught racist history of the World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans and untangles the intergenerational trauma of the decades-long redress movement.

“(The film) offers damning proof that the signing of Executive Order 9066 was the result of political pressure and fabricated evidence of espionage by Japanese Americans. Interviews with the family members of prominent political officials and unsung heroes of redress like Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga illuminate the racism, xenophobia and backhanded political maneuvering led to the forcible internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans.”

Read more: “Documentary Exposes Fear and Lies Behind Japanese American Incarceration, Draws Parallels to Current Anti-Muslim Rhetoric” by Akemi Tamanaha on AsAmNews.

Visit the film’s website: alternativefacts9066.com.

Alternative Facts The Lies of Executive Order 9066 collage

Dale Minami on the ‘Live Your Dream’ Podcast with Celina Lee

Dale Minami on the ‘Live Your Dream’ Podcast with Celina Lee

Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami was the featured guest of the “Live Your Dream” podcast hosted by Celina Lee.

On the podcast, Dale shared with Celina his thought on a wide range of topics.

On how the Japanese American incarceration: “My parents and older brother were put in the concentration camps. First in the horse stalls in race tracks which was Santa Anita Racetrack, which was converted into a temporary – they called it a euphemism – ‘assembly center.’ It was a prison. And then they were transported to Arkansas where they spent various amounts of time, I think it was about two years.

On the impact of the incarceration on Japanese Americans: “There have been studies [about] how even though the children of these incarcerees didn’t know much about their parents’ experience, the effects go down generations and generations – psychological issues. And for our family, and I think a lot of Japanese American families, we were pushed to be 100 percent American, which meant we barely learned much Japanese. … We didn’t know much about our culture. We were protected, so to speak by our parents so that we would never stand out as a racial minority again. In that way we would be hopefully assimilated and that the experience of being incarcerated because of your race would never happen to us again.”

On how Dale might have been Dr. Dale: “I was interested in social psychology as well. So the choice was law school, social psychology. My father thought law would be more practice. … I think deep down, the law did not protect our parents. [Many] second-generation [Japanese Americans] have issues with the law and racism. They felt that they could obtain some knowledge of law essentially to protect their families.”

Listen to the podcast here.

In addition to hosting the podcast, Celina is a career coach and lawyer. She started her career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch and worked as a corporate lawyer at Ropes & Gray LLP. She is the General Counsel and Business Development Director of AKA Study, a startup that develops artificial intelligence engine to create innovative educational services and software.

Celina is also the author of an award-wining book in Korea, “꿈을 이뤄드립니다” (“Live Your Dream”), a collection of life stories of people who overcame failures to achieve success in diverse industries.

Video: Remarks by Dale Minami at 50th Manzanar Pilgrimage

Video: Remarks by Dale Minami at 50th Manzanar Pilgrimage

Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami was one of the featured speakers at the 50th Annual Manzanar Pilgrimage, which was held the weekend of April 27, 2019, at the Manzanar National Historic Site, approximately 230 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

Manzanar was the first of the American concentration camps in which more than 120,000 Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents were unjustly incarcerated during World War II. Each year, more than 1,000 people attend the Manzanar Pilgrimage, including students, teachers, community members, clergy and former incarcerees.

The program was emceed by former California State Assemblymember Warren Furutani, one of the founders of the Manzanar Pilgrimage and the Manzanar Committee, and also featured Karen Korematsu and writer/artist traci-kato kiriyama.

From the Manzanar Committee’s Feb. 2019 announcement of the speakers: “We’re so pleased Dale Minami and Karen Korematsu will be speaking this year,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “Dale and Karen have played key roles in the long struggle for redress and reparations, as well as the current efforts to challenge the Trump Administration’s Muslim ban and xenophobic anti-immigration policies. Their experience, their message, is what our country needs to hear right now.”

“Let’s remember that 2019 is the 75th anniversary of Korematsu v. United States,” added Embrey. “Let’s remember that not that long ago, our government, the government of the United States, prosecuted and convicted a young man by withholding, altering and falsifying key evidence and then incarcerated him for no other reason than his ancestry. Fred took a stand against the unconstitutional and illegal incarceration of his family, of his community. But even though the law was on his side, a racist and undemocratic ruling prevailed. Let us not forget what can happen when hysterical, unfounded appeals to national security gain sway in our body politic.”

“What we want to project at this year’s Pilgrimage is that our history, our experience, is a cautionary story that our country must take to heart. We cannot stand by and allow this administration’s undemocratic, racist immigration policies to go unchallenged and that is exactly what Karen and Dale have been doing by fighting in the courts and in the realm of public opinion. They are two of the most effective leaders linking our community’s experience with the struggles against the anti-immigrant hysteria and Islamophobia of the Trump Administration, so really, we couldn’t ask for better speakers.”

Photos and video by Manzanar Committee (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Video filmed by Cory Shiozaki.

Minami Tamaki Investigating Allegations Against Hill’s Pet Nutrition Regarding Potentially Toxic Dog Food

Minami Tamaki Investigating Allegations Against Hill’s Pet Nutrition Regarding Potentially Toxic Dog Food

Minami Tamaki LLP is investigating allegations that Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. dog food has caused serious illness or death in affected dogs.

On January 31, 2019, Hill’s Pet Nutrition announced a recall of several varieties of the company’s canned dog food. Hill’s said that it recalled these products due to potentially elevated levels of Vitamin D. Excessive amounts of Vitamin D can lead to severe health issues in dogs, including vomiting, loss of appetite, increased thirst, frequent urination, excessive drooling, and weight loss.

After initiating this recall earlier this year, Hill’s expanded its recall of dog food products in March 2019. A list of affected products, including their date or lot codes, is available at the Hill’s Pet Nutrition recall website.

For more information on our investigation, you may contact us online or call us at 415-788-9000 to set up a free consultation.

Family of Tesla Car Crash Victim Walter Huang Files Lawsuit

Family of Tesla Car Crash Victim Walter Huang Files Lawsuit

Errors by Tesla’s Autopilot navigation system caused the crash that killed Walter Huang of Foster City, Calif., last year, claims a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Huang’s widow and family on April 26. The family is represented by B. Mark Fong of Minami Tamaki LLP, and Doris Cheng and Michael Kelly of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger.

Huang, 38, died on March 23, 2018, from injuries he suffered when the Autopilot system of his 2017 Tesla Model X drove his car into the unprotected edge of a concrete highway median.

The lawsuit alleges Tesla’s Autopilot feature was defective and caused Huang’s death. The navigation system of Huang’s Tesla misread the lane lines on the roadway, failed to detect the concrete median, and failed to brake the car, but instead accelerated the car into the median.

Huang is survived by his wife of ten years, Sevonne, their son and daughter, ages 4 and 7, and two elderly parents who depended on Huang for financial support.

“Mrs. Huang lost her husband, and two children lost their father because Tesla is beta testing its Autopilot software on live drivers,” said Fong, a partner at Minami Tamaki LLP. “The Huang family wants to help prevent this tragedy from happening to other drivers using Tesla vehicles or any semi-autonomous vehicles.”

“We want to ensure the technology behind semi-autonomous cars is safe before it is released on the roads, and its risks are not withheld or misrepresented to the public,” said Cheng, a partner at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger.

The allegations against Tesla include product liability, defective product design, failure to warn, breach of warranty, intentional and negligent misrepresentation, and false advertising.

The lawsuit also names the State of California Department of Transportation as a defendant. Huang’s vehicle impacted a concrete highway median that was missing its crash attenuator guard, as Caltrans failed to replace the guard after an earlier crash there.

The case is Sz Hua Huang et al v. Tesla Inc., The State of California, no. 19CV346663, filed in California Superior Court, County of Santa Clara. Download the complaint here.