Eric Yamamoto, University of Hawai’i Law Professor and EJS Board Member, Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Justice

Professor Eric Yamamoto received the 2009 Ha’aheo Award for outstanding contributions to justice for communities in Hawai’i and beyond. The award was presented by the American Board of Trial Advocates (Hawai’i Chapter), a national organization of prominent trial attorneys.

“It sounds like an exaggeration, but Eric Yamamoto truly is a model law professor in multiple ways,” said Dean Avi Soifer of the William S. Richardson School of Law. “Not only is Eric a remarkable teacher and scholar, but he has begun to create new paths towards social justice as a mentor as well as in his role as a deeply committed scholar advocate.”

Professor Yamamoto is an internationally-recognized law professor at the University of Hawai’i William S. Richardson School of Law. He is known for his legal work and scholarship on civil rights and racial justice, with an emphasis on reconciliation and reparations for historic injustice.

Professor Yamamoto was among the first legal scholars to challenge the justification for the Iraq war and to raise concerns about undermining civil liberties in that context – both in scholarly journals and in an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court in a Guantanamo Bay detainee case, Rasul v. Bush. He drew upon his national security-civil liberties expertise as co-counsel to Fred Korematsu in the successful re-opening of the leading WWII Japanese American internment case, Korematsu v. U.S.

Professor Yamamoto has received national awards over the recent years for his social justice scholarship, teaching and advocacy. He was the first Professor/Scholar to receive the prestigious American Courage Award given by the Asian American Justice Center on behalf of a consortium of civil rights organizations for his exemplary civil and human rights work undertaken during difficult times.

He was selected as the national Outstanding Law Teacher Award from the Society of American Law Teachers for his creative and impassioned teaching and scholarship with an emphasis on justice for all. He also received the inaugural Scholar Advocacy Award from the San Francisco-based Equal Justice Society for creating and initiating a national pilot project that trains law students to become sophisticated legal scholars in ways that are useful for frontline justice advocates.

A prolific writer, Yamamoto has already published two books and over sixty book chapters and law review articles on social justice. His first book on interracial justice (conflict and reconciliation among racial communities) entitled Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment received the Gustavus Meyers Award for an Outstanding Book on Social Justice for 2000.

Professor Yamamoto also worked on the legal teams for Filipino American Manuel Fragante in his accent discrimination case and for Native Hawaiian Alice Aiwohi in her successful Homelands breach of trust class action, resulting in a major reparations settlement. He served as a consultant on the African American reparations case, Alexander v. Oklahoma, and his legal work also includes many other amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court, most recently as co-author in the Office of Hawaiian Affairs v. HCDCH (Hawaiian lands) and Grutter v. Michigan (affirmative action) cases, as well as an amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit in Doe v. Kamemameha (Native Hawaiian education).

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