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National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

1612 K Street N.W., Suite 1400
Washington, DC 20006


Contact: Aleli Samson

August 6, 2009

(202) 775-9555

NAPABA Mourns the Passing of Judge Robert M. Takasugi,
a Pioneer in the Legal Community

Washington, D.C. – On August 4, 2009, the Honorable Robert M. Takasugi, the first Japanese American appointed to the federal bench, passed away in Los Angeles. He was 78 years old.

“The legal community has lost a true pioneer and advocate for civil rights and equal justice,” said Andrew T. Hahn, Sr., President of NAPABA. “Judge Takasugi was a civil rights trailblazer who has left a lasting legacy for all Asian Pacific Americans.”

Michael P. Chu, President of the NAPABA Law Foundation added, “Judge Takasugi was devoted to nurturing and mentoring the next generation of Asian Pacific American and public interest lawyers. We have been proud to support the Robert M. Takasugi Public Interest Fellowship and share in his vision of promoting community service to the Asian Pacific American community.”

Robert M. Takasugi was 12 years old when he and his family were relocated from their home in Tacoma, Washington and interned with other Japanese Americans during World War II. He went on to attend UCLA and USC Gould School of Law. In the 1960s, Judge Takasugi founded a pro bono bar review course for public interest and minority law students. Judge Takasugi initially taught the course out of his home and he continued through the years to teach various subjects in the course. In 1976, Judge Takasugi was appointed to be a United States District Court Judge for the Central District of California. In 1996, he took senior status. Judge Takasugi had previously served on the Los Angeles Municipal Court and the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Judge Takasugi was recognized in 1995 as a NAPABA Trailblazer, which is NAPABA’s highest honor that is awarded annually to outstanding lawyers who have paved the way for the advancement of other Asian Pacific American attorneys. Throughout his career, he was honored with many other awards from organizations including the American Bar Association, the Korean American Youth Foundation, the Criminal Courts Bar Association, the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Judge Takasugi is survived by his wife Dorothy, his son Jon, and his daughter Lee.


The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 60 local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members represent solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes professional development of minorities in the legal profession.


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