Philadelphia associate John Yi partnered with Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Stella M. Tsai to co-author a Legal Intelligencer article titled “Judge William Marutani: An Abiding Faith in Democracy.”
Given the challenges minorities can face in the judicial system, particularly as judges and lawyers, John and Judge Tsai highlight the life and legacy of the late Judge William Marutani for inspiration. Judge Marutani served on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for 11 years, and at the time of his appointment in 1975, became the first Asian-American away from the Pacific coast states to preside as a judge of a court of general jurisdiction.
In the article, they detail his biography, including his incarceration in an American internment camp in Tule Lake, California, his military service during World War II, and his extensive legal work on civil rights matters. Judge Marutani was the first Japanese-American to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court when he represented the Japanese American Citizens League as an amicus curiae petitioner in the landmark case, Loving v. Virginia (1967).
John and Judge Tsai also recount his notable service on the bench, especially his landmark decision in Newberg v. Board of Public Education in 1984 where he enjoined the School District of Philadelphia from excluding female students from admission to Central High School based on their gender alone. Judge Marutani is remembered for his “sound judgment, fairness and dignity as a jurist.”
They conclude the article by noting Judge Marutani’s unwavering faith in—and devotion—to democracy, and how he used his career to support and improve our democracy.