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May 19, 2016
Over 20 Covington lawyers attended a very special event: “A Man of Quiet Bravery,” a re-enactment of Korematsu v. United States, honoring the courage of Fred Korematsu in fighting for the civil rights of Japanese-Americans. The Asian Pacific American Bar Association of DC (APABA-DC) organized the event.
Mr. Fred Toyosaburo Korematsu was convicted for remaining in San Leandro, California during World War II, in violation of several military orders excluding United States citizens of Japanese ancestry from specified locations along the Western seaboard. In 1944, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed his conviction. 40 years later, the Honorable Marilyn Hall Patel of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted his petition for writ of coram nobis and vacated his conviction.
The event featured a re-enactment of Mr. Korematsu’s Supreme Court and coram nobis proceedings, with state and federal judges and other esteemed members of the local legal and civil rights communities playing roles. Over 200 members of the DC legal community attended.
Covington has a proud history in connection with this case. Charles Horsky, a former Covington partner, argued on behalf of Mr. Korematsu in the Supreme Court. Covington has continued our history of fighting against discrimination. In 2014, Ben Block and Bill Murray filed an amicus brief in a civil rights suit against the New York Police Department on behalf of Mr. Korematsu’s daughter, Karen Korematsu, and the children of two other Japanese-Americans who challenged the World War II detention orders. Mr. Block delivered brief remarks at the event regarding Covington’s commitment to defending civil liberties, which were followed by a touching and personal speech by Ms. Korematsu on carrying her father’s legacy forward to the next generation through the Korematsu Institute and other endeavors. More information on the Korematsu Institute is available on its website.
Covington was the lead sponsor for the event, and associate Nooree Lee, who serves on the APABA-DC board of directors, coordinated Covington’s involvement.