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We Lost a Great Friend, Justice Harry Low

We Lost a Great Friend, Justice Harry Low

Justice Harry Low honored with the alumni award at the 2018 Dale Minami Berkeley Law Alumni Fellowship Event.

Justice Harry Low passed away last week. He was a great friend to our firm, but even more importantly, he was an outstanding jurist, supporter of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, mentor to many young attorneys, and a fierce advocate for civil rights. Our profound condolences to his wife, Mayling, and his family.

Harry was San Francisco’s first Asian American judge, a Justice of the California Court of Appeal, California’s 38th Insurance Commissioner, a mediator, an arbitrator, and leader of numerous organizations.

Despite his success, he eschewed titles and allowed us to just call him “Harry.” This reflected his humility and deep sense of humanity. You could talk to him casually and without formality with such ease in the presence of someone so accomplished.

Harry was a wonderful supporter of our firm and its attorneys. He encouraged large nonprofits to retain us, a minority-owned firm, to diversify the professionals they relied upon. He stopped evictions of our clients in Japantown during the “urban renewal” devastation removing Japanese Americans from Nihonmachi and African Americans from the Fillmore in San Francisco during the ‘60s and ‘70s, lobbied for the appointment of Asian American judges, and supported civil rights causes we fought for. He was an early activist and inspired us to continue our journey for equal rights and equal dignity.

And he did this all with grace, finesse, and civility, which belied his strong commitment to our communities. Harry had an effortless manner, as a judge, mediator, and arbitrator, which mirrored his kindness to everyone in personal interactions.

We at Minami Tamaki LLP owe a special debt to Justice Low – “Harry“ – and will honor his legacy in law, civil rights, and commitment to the community.

Dec. 16 Virtual Event ‘A Stain on American Jurisprudence: What ‘Korematsu vs. United States’ Means for Us Today’

Dec. 16 Virtual Event ‘A Stain on American Jurisprudence: What ‘Korematsu vs. United States’ Means for Us Today’

The forcible relocation of U.S. citizens to concentration camps, solely and explicitly on the basis of race, is objectively unlawful and outside the scope of Presidential authority.” – Chief Justice John Roberts on Korematsu v. United States, 2018.

Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami headlines a free virtual event on Thursday, December 16, 2021, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with Dr. Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director of the Korematsu Institute, in a discussion facilitated by actor and independent filmmaker Lane Nishikawa.

REGISTER HERE

As an attorney on the legal team that overturned the conviction of Fred Korematsu, Dale will share behind the scenes stories from the case and the implications and relevance of Korematsu in our world today.

See biographies for the panelists here.

This program is co-sponsored with the San Diego Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the oldest and largest Asian American civil rights organization in the United States. This panel is part of the program series: The Rebellious Miss Breed: San Diego Public Library & the Japanese American Incarceration. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a partner of the NEH. Visit calhum.org.

Lisa Mak Begins Term as President of the Asian American Bar Association in January 2022

Lisa Mak Begins Term as President of the Asian American Bar Association in January 2022

Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Lisa P. Mak begins her term in January 2022 as President of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (“AABA”), one of the largest Asian American bar associations in the nation and one of the largest minority bar associations in California.  

Lisa will be the first attorney from Minami Tamaki LLP to serve as President of AABA. She served as Vice President and President-elect this year, after serving as Treasurer in 2020 and as Secretary in 2019. 

The AABA 46th Annual Gala is scheduled for March 30, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency Embarcadero. Lisa chose “Speak Up, Rise Up” as the gala theme when reflecting on the anti-API hate incidents in the past few years and how our community and allies spoke up, fought back, and elevated the crisis into a mainstream issue. At the gala and throughout her term, Lisa will aspire to honor AABA’s history of speaking up for our community and to continue building that momentum while elevating our members in the legal profession and keeping our voice at the table. 

Lisa continues Minami Tamaki’s tradition of leadership in bar associations. Partner Sean Tamura-Sato and Associate Claire Choo are former AABA board members. Senior Counsel Dale Minami is a co-founder of AABA and of the Asian Pacific Bar of California. Partner Suhi Koizumi is a past president of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California. Associate Seema Bhatt serves on the board of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California. Other firm attorneys have served in numerous positions with various bar associations and legal organizations. 

A deep commitment to our communities and diversity issues guides Lisa’s service. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach and for the California Asian Pacific American Bar Association. She is actively involved in the California Employment Lawyers Association (“CELA”) and serves on the Board of CELA’s foundation. Lisa is also a past board member of the Bar Association of San Francisco. 

Lisa is an Associate in Minami Tamaki’s Consumer and Employee Rights Group. Her practice includes employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, contract claims, and labor code violations. She is experienced in litigation, from pre-litigation negotiations to trials and appeals. She also advises employees on employment contracts and severance agreements. She writes frequently about social justice and workplace equality issues, and her work has been published in Plaintiff Magazine and on the CELA Voice blog. 

Lisa has served as trial counsel in multiple trials involving a wide variety of employment disputes in state and federal court. In 2016, she was co-lead counsel on a five-week jury trial which resulted in a $3.5 million total verdict for four female officers at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. The verdict was listed in the LexisNexis “Top 10 Employment Verdicts” for 2016 and was recognized by Leaders in the Law in its “Northern California’s Leading Lawyers” 2017 publication. 

She was selected by Best Lawyers: Ones To Watch for its 2022 list and as a Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2015-2021, an honor awarded to no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in the state. In 2017, Lisa was honored with the Legal Advocate Award from the Center for Workers’ Rights and with a civil rights award from the Equal Justice Society. 

Lisa graduated from UC San Diego summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa and received her law degree from UC Hastings College of the Law. 

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee Elected to AILA Board of Governors

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee Elected to AILA Board of Governors

Minami Tamaki LLP Partner Olivia Serene Lee was elected last week to the Board of Governors for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the national association of more than 15,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law. As a board member, she will help the organization promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members. Olivia will serve a three-year term that started on June 11.  

Olivia’s new role as part of AILA’s national leadership continues her service to the organization that started in 2009 when she joined the Advisory Council of the AILA Northern California chapter. From June 2016 to July 2017, she served as the Chair of AILA Northern California. During that time, the chapter won the Platinum Award, the highest recognition for AILA chapters. Before her election to the AILA Board of Governors, Olivia served as Chair of the AILA National Diversity and Inclusion committee. She also served as faculty on local and national AILA CLE panels on topics such as O-1s, H-1Bs, entrepreneur visa options, and business immigration litigation in federal court.

Olivia also serves on the American Bar Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council and on the board of Chinese for Affirmative Action.  She is a member of the National Implicit Bias Network.  

She continues Minami Tamaki’s tradition of leadership in bar associations. Associate Lisa P. Mak serves as Vice President/President-Elect of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (AABA). Partner Sean Tamura-Sato and Associate Claire Y. Choo also serve on the AABA Board. Claire also serves as President of the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association and on the board of the Consumer Attorneys of California. Senior Counsel Dale Minami is a co-founder of AABA and of the Asian Pacific Bar of California. Partner Suhi Koizumi is a past president of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California. Associate Seema Bhatt serves on the board of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California. Other firm attorneys have served in numerous positions with various bar associations and legal organizations.

Minami Tamaki Law Firm and MTYKL Foundation to Donate $20,000 to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts in India

Minami Tamaki Law Firm and MTYKL Foundation to Donate $20,000 to Support COVID-19 Relief Efforts in India

The Minami Tamaki LLP law firm and the Minami Tamaki Yamauchi Kwok & Lee (MTYKL) Foundation announced a $20,000 donation to support COVID-19 relief efforts in India.

The donation supported a May 27 fundraiser organized by the South Asian Bar Association of North America and others, with proceeds going to UNICEF, the Association for India’s Development, and Khalsa Aid. 

The Associated Press reported that India on Wednesday documented more coronavirus deaths in a single day than any other country at any time during the pandemic, while infections continued to spread through vast rural areas with weak health systems. The Health Ministry reported a record 4,529 deaths on May 19, driving India’s confirmed fatalities to 283,248. It also reported 267,334 new infections. India has more than 26 million cases. The numbers are almost certainly undercounts.

All of us at Minami Tamaki and the MTYKL Foundation mourn the devastating tragedy of coronavirus infections and deaths. Many of our employees and clients have been personally impacted with family members or friends who have passed away or been hospitalized by the virus. Our hearts go out to the South Asian community, and we hope our fundraiser will generate more awareness and support for India as it battles the virus.

“A Night of Light to Benefit India’s Covid-19 Relief Efforts” was on Thursday, May 27, 2021. The virtual event was hosted by the South Asian Bar Association (SABA) Foundation, SABA North America, and 20-plus SABA Chapters. The benefit featured TikTok comedian Zarna Garg, Asli Baat, the University of Southern California’s South Asian Fusion A Cappella group, and Reshma Saujani, South Asian activist and founder of Girls Who Code.

Dale Minami Receives Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award from APAICS

Dale Minami Receives Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award from APAICS

The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) honored Minami Tamaki LLP Senior Counsel Dale Minami with the Inaugural Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award during its Virtual APAICS 27th Anniversary Awards Gala Dinner on May 13, 2021. 

The Award was renamed this year to reflect the outstanding contributions made by Norman Y. Mineta over a lifetime of public service.  “Receiving an award named after one of my heroes is a singular honor,” said Dale.

The APAICS’ Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a prominent Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) individual in the community. APAICS honored Dale with the award to recognize his service in devoting a lifetime to breaking down stereotypes and advocating for the AAPI community.

“You have continuously fought for the protection of the rights of people who have historically been discriminated against,” wrote APAICS President and CEO Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke to Dale. “We hope to celebrate the work that you have done and continue to do.”

Founded by former Secretary Norman Y. Mineta in 1994, APAICS is a national non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting Asian Pacific American participation and representation at all levels of the political process, from community service to elected office.

Watch Dale’s acceptance remarks below.

Audio Play ‘For Us All’ by Jeanne Sakata Features Portrayals of Dale Minami, Don Tamaki

Audio Play ‘For Us All’ by Jeanne Sakata Features Portrayals of Dale Minami, Don Tamaki

L.A. Theatre Works has released a new audio play by Jeanne Sakata titled “For Us All” based on the true story of the Korematsu v. United States coram nobis effort led by a team of young—mostly Asian American—attorneys that included Dale Minami and Donald K. Tamaki.

Purchase the audio play for $20.00 from L.A. Theatre Works. Purchase includes a virtual interview with playwright Jeanne Sakata in conversation with members of the Korematsu legal team: Lori Bannai, Peter Irons, Dale, and Don. Please note that the delivery of the audio file after your purchase may take up to 72 hours.

Directed by Anna Lyse Erikson
Producing Director: Susan Albert Loewenberg
Edward Asner as John J. McCloy
Brooke Ishibashi as Karen Korematsu, Clerk
Tess Lina as Judge Marilyn Hall Patel, Times Analyst, Clerk
Mike McShane as Lt. General John L. DeWitt, CBS News Anchor, ABC News Anchor, NBC Reporter
Derek Mio as Dale Minami
Joy Osmanski as Lorraine (Lori) Bannai, Maya
Jeanne Sakata as Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga
André Sogliuzzo as Edward Ennis, Victor Stone, NY Times Reporter
Josh Stamberg as Peter Irons
Greg Watanabe as Fred Korematsu, Eric Yamamoto
Paul Yen as Don Tamaki
Producer: Anna Lyse Erikson
Recording Engineer and Sound Designer: Neil Wogensen
Senior Radio Producer: Ronn Lipkin
Foley Artist: Jeff Gardner

Learn more in a great blog post by Lia Chang.

Synopsis: A team of lawyers use a little known legal writ to fight to overturn the conviction of Fred Korematsu, unjustly sentenced for resisting the WWII mass incarceration of all Japanese Americans on the West Coast. While the government uses every tactic to make the case go away, the lawyers and their defendant insist on nothing short of justice.

The play draws much inspiration from Enduring Conviction: Fred Korematsu and his Quest for Justice by Lorraine K. Bannai (University of Washington Press 2015) and Justice Delayed by Peter Irons (Wesleyan University Press 1989).

This L.A. Theatre Works recording is one of two sponsored by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, a state-funded grant project of the California State Library.

Remembering the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on the 10th Anniversary

Remembering the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on the 10th Anniversary

The Great East Japan Earthquake hit Japan’s Tōhoku region ten years ago on March 11, 2011, at 2:46 p.m. Japan Time (March 10, 9:46 p.m. Pacific Time).

15,900 people died from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. 9,500 people were missing in the aftermath of the disaster. A decade later, 2,500 people are still unaccounted for. More than 450,000 people became homeless as a result of the tsunami.

It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan and the fourth most powerful recorded earthquake in the world. The earthquake triggered powerful tsunami waves that may have reached heights of up to 133 feet and traveled at 435 mph up to six miles inland.

The tsunami caused nuclear accidents, primarily the level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents.

The World Bank’s estimated economic cost was $235 billion, making it the costliest natural disaster in history.

Incredible progress has been made, but the area and its people have not fully recovered. Survivors continue to mourn the loss of their families and loved ones. A phone booth in a garden on a hill in the Japanese village of Otsuchi allows “phone calls” to those who perished. There have been 240 suicides in the past decade thought to be connected with the disaster. The nuclear power plant meltdown left large areas of mountains and forest that cannot be cleared of radioactive material. Entire towns remain unsafe.

Following the disaster, Minami Tamaki joined relief efforts led by JCCCNC and helped raise $490,000 in combined donations and matches. We received thousands of donations from individuals and from dozens of the professional, community and student organizations that hosted their own fundraising efforts.

The activities were so heartwarming: a 15-year-old student who organized her own concert; numerous t-shirt sales; restaurants donating a percentage of their profits; elementary school students dipping into their piggy banks and donating pounds of coins and even their birthday money; and even preschoolers and their families organizing a garage sale.

We remain grateful to this day for the incredible generosity and outpouring of support of those who contributed.

Tomorrow, March 11, at 3 p.m. Pacific Time, the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco will host a virtual event “Unshakable Friendship Beyond Borders: 10 Years Since the Great East Japan Earthquake” remember the victims of the disaster and to thank the people of the United States for their boundless support and encouragement. The program will include a minute of silence and feature inspiring stories of Japan-U.S. exchange following the disaster. The event is free and in English, but registration is required.

Claire Y. Choo New President of San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association

Claire Y. Choo New President of San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association

Minami Tamaki LLP Associate Claire Y. Choo on January 1, 2021, began her one-year term as President of the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association (“SMCTLA”). Claire is the first attorney from Minami Tamaki LLP to serve as SMCTLA President.

Founded in 1967, SMCTLA is the leading professional organization for plaintiff’s attorneys in San Mateo County. In addition to serving as a network for members, SMCTLA provides professional advancement programs, events fostering relationships with the county’s judiciary and elected officials, and scholarships for students interested in careers in civil law or criminal justice.

As SMCTLA President, Claire sits on the Board of Directors of the Consumer Attorneys of California. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Bay Area (“AABA”) and is an active member in several bar associations, including the American Association for Justice.

She continues Minami Tamaki’s tradition of leadership in bar associations. Associate Lisa P. Mak serves as Vice President/President-Elect of AABA. Partner Sean Tamura-Sato also serves on the AABA Board. Senior Counsel Dale Minami is a co-founder of AABA and of the Asian Pacific Bar of California. Partner Suhi Koizumi is a past president of the Korean American Bar Association of Northern California. Partner Minette Kwok served as a Commissioner on the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization Immigration and Nationality Law. Associate Seema Bhatt serves on the board of the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California. Other firm attorneys have served in numerous positions with various bar associations and legal organizations.

As an attorney in Minami Tamaki’s Consumer and Employee Rights Group, Claire represents clients in a wide range of cases, such as insurance bad faith, consumer fraud, catastrophic personal injuries, and aviation-related actions.

She has significant litigation experience in individual, class, and collective actions in state and federal courts across the country. Claire has also served as trial counsel in several cases. In 2016, she was second chair in an action against the State of California which resulted in a $9.5 million total verdict for a family who suffered the wrongful death of a family member.

Claire has been recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyers Rising Star from 2013 to 2019. She was also recognized as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers in 2019.