The Last Redress Court Case?
By John Ota

Last December 8, in what may be the last redress court case, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit heard arguments in Los Angeles on Robert Murakami’s appeal of the government’s denial of his redress claim.

Murakami, of Monterey Park, was born in Chicago on August 23, 1945, just a month after authorities had lifted the individual exclusion on his father. Murakami argued that he was eligible for redress because, by the time the government lifted his father’s exclusion order, it was too late for the family to return to Los Angeles before his birth. Therefore, Murakami claimed he was deprived of liberty by being excluded from his parents’ home as a result of government action when he was born.

The Civil Liberties Act of 1988 states that any Japanese American who was deprived of liberty as a result of government action related to the internment is eligible for compensation. However, the Department of Justice rejected Murakami’s claim, saying that once the father’s exclusion order was lifted, he was no longer “excluded by law” and therefore not eligible.

“I was encouraged by some of the judges’ comments, but given the conservative nature of this appeals court, I think it will still be an uphill battle,” said Murakami’s attorney, John Ota of Minami, Lew & Tamaki in San Francisco. A decision by the appeals court is expected in two to three months.