Joe Morozumi Award For Exceptional Legal Advocacy

Joe Morozumi was one of the first and finest Asian American trial lawyers in the Bay Area, fearlessly trying significant civil and criminal cases, including wrongful death and first degree murder cases. Joe and his family were interned during World War II, and Joe was fiercely committed to the fight for reparations. He was also one of the earliest Asian American attorneys to represent political activists pro bono. In the late 60’s, Joe successfully represented Third World Strike protesters at the University of California, and, in the early 70’s, Joe’s passion for justice and outrage at the Vietnam War led him to the successful representation of numerous conscientious objectors and draft protestors.

In the late 1960’s, Joe discovered a group of young Asian American law students and attorneys who shared his commitment to and passion for civil rights. These law students and attorneys eventually started the Asian Law Caucus with the invaluable assistance of Joe, who unstintingly shared his vast legal knowledge, experience, and expertise, and spent countless hours mentoring these eager new attorneys. Most of all, Joe was an inspirational role model of the fearless, tireless, zealous advocate for justice for the poor and the powerless. Joe died in 1996, but his indomitable spirit and passion for justice lives on.

Click on photo for larger image. Joe Morozumi was an activist, attorney and mentor to many APA and minority attorneys in the Bay Area.

In 1997, Dale Minami, Mike Lee, and AABA established the Joe Morozumi Award for Exceptional Legal Advocacy in Joe’s name and memory. In choosing this year’s (2006) recipient, Dale said: “The Joe Morozumi Award honors the Asian American attorneys who best exemplify Joe’s spirit of uncompromising legal advocacy in matters of conscience. This year, I could think of no one more deserving than Chris Ho who demonstrates the rage and thirst for justice that Joe so fervently believed in.”

Morozumi Award Recipients

2010 – Michael Isaku Begert
Bingham McCutchen

2009 – Prof. Donna Ryu
UC-Hastings

2008 – Dean Ito Taylor
Executive Director, Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach (APILO)

Richard Konda
Executive Director, Asian Law Alliance

2007 – (not awarded)

2006 – Christopher HoLegal Aid Society/Employment Law Center

2005 – Edwin PratherRogers Joseph O’Donnell & Phillips

2005 – Patricia ShiuLegal Aid Society/Employment Law Center

2004 – William R. TamayoEqual Employment Opportunity Commission

2003 – Tracie Brown
U.S. Department of Justice

2002 – Daro Inouye
San Francisco Public Defender’s Office

2001 – Joan Haratani
Shook Hardy & Bacon

2000 – Victor Hwang
Asian Law Caucus

1999 – Lora Jo Foo
Asian Law Caucus

1998 – Edward Chen
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

1998 – Edward Chen
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

1997 – Jeff Adachi
San Francisco Public Defender Office

AABA Pro Bono Award

1991 – Helen Hui, Allen Kato and Philip Van

1990 – Rodney Low
State Bar of California
Photos of Joe Morozumi courtesy Mike Lee and Dale Minami.