Wednesday, September 26, 2007

HARP And What Can Be Accomplished!

Takuji Yamashita became a member of the Washington State Bar Association 99 years after he graduated from the University of Washington School of Law and passed what was then an oral bar exam.

In 1902 the state of Washington required that its attorneys be United State citizens. The interpretation of the federal law as it related to citizenship was that it was only available to people of Caucasian or African decent. Takuji Yamashita was an Asian born in Japan. The Washington State Supreme Court rejected his application to practice law.

Fresh out of law school Yamashita argued his case before our state's highest court where despite an excellent academic record, having passed the bar exam, having picked up his naturalization papers from the Pierce County Superior Court, and having given an impassioned argument, he lost. He was denied admission to the Washington State Bar.

Yamashita went on to become a strawberry farmer and hotel keeper. He continued to fight to make Asians eligible for naturalization. He challenged Washington State's Alien Land Law, which prohibited "ineligible aliens" (still Asians) from owning land, in the United States Supreme Court in 1922. Again he lost.

He was one of the 110,000 Japanese-Americans interned during World War II. He lost his income and his holdings.

In 2001, the Washington State Supreme Court corrected the wrong committed against Yamashita. In response to a petition from the Asian Bar Association of Washington, the University of Washington School of Law, and the Washington State Bar Association, Yamashita was inducted into the Washington State Bar Association, forty-two years after his death.

Yamashita's case is just one example of what can be accomplished today to correct the past. The vehicle available to us? HARP.

Craig Manson of GeneaBlogie, and one of our fellow GeneaBloggers, has created the Historical Appellate Review Project (HARP) to right past wrongs and injustices.

Craig describes the project this way:

"Using state-of-the-art genealogical and legal research techniques, HARP will investigate cases of allegedly ne'er-do-well ancestors and render an opinion as to whether they were likely guilty or not, whether they got a fair trial, and whether they might b eligible for a pardon. In certain select cases, HARP might actually go to court to clear the name of a wrongly accused or wrongly convicted ancestor.

The purposes are to educate and inform the present generation about the truth of their forebears. Often, it won't be pretty. Sometimes, it'll be historically miraculous! HARP might actually succeed in setting the record straight."

There are certain requirements:

(1) The case must be at least seventy-five years old. That is, seventy-five years must have passed since the last court order in the matter.

(2) The accused must be deceased. Anyone, not just relatives, may submit a case to HARP.

(3) There will be a fee--a reasonable one. HARP reserves the right to change the conditions at any time. Complete details are available by e-mailing HARP.

Do you have a case that needs to be reviewed? Present it to Craig at HARP.

Good luck Craig this is a wonderful endeavor!


Goldsmith, Steven. "Takuji Yamashita." Washington State Bar News, March 2001, 22-23.

Washington State Bar News Cover. Photograph. 2001. Digital image. Privately held by footnoteMaven, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Preston, Washinton. 2007.


Blogger Colleen said...

Your posts are always so detailed! I like to read them so that I can get tips on making great posts.

By the way, you've been tagged. If you like to participate in tags, great, if not...that's okay! I don't often but after reading some blogs regularly, it's kind of cool to see how people organize their space!

September 28, 2007 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...


What a lovely compliment, thank you.

Remember when you see my office that a messy office is the sign of an organized mind. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


September 28, 2007 at 2:36 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home