Honorable Mario G. Olmos Law & Cultural Diversity Memorial Lecture

This annual lecture honors the Honorable Mario G. Olmos ’71 who dedicated his life to promoting equality and justice for people from diverse national, economic, racial, and cultural origins. Born on July 24, 1946, in Nogales , Arizona , Judge Olmos graduated from Reedley Junior College and University of California , Berkeley where he was named to Phi Beta Kappa. At Boalt Hall he was an Ayer fellow and a Regents Scholar. Although he was nominated to the California Law Review, he chose instead to work in the community and to recruit students of color to Boalt.

Upon graduation from Boalt, Judge Olmos worked as an attorney at California Rural Legal Services in Madera , and then as a Justice Court Judge in Parlier and Selma . In December 1982, he was appointed to the Fresno County Superior Court, where he was elected presiding judge for three consecutive years. He also served with distinction on the California Judicial Council.

During the 1980’s, Judge Olmos became known as a leader who sought to bridge the gap between cultures and races. In 1990 he died at the age of 43 in a tragic automobile accident. After his death, Judge Olmos’ family, friends, and colleagues established a trust fund to support a permanent lecture series at Boalt Hall to perpetuate the Judge’s abiding commitment to the development of law promoting equality and justice for all people. Past Olmos lecturers include the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor, Professor Peter Edelman, Joaquin G. Avila, Professor Derrick Bell, the Honorable Thelton Henderson, the Honorable Richard Paez, the Honorable Cruz Reynoso, Kamala Harris, and Monique Harden.


2008 Olmos Lecturer – Eric K. Yamamoto, University of Hawai’i

Eric 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 reparations for historic injustice. In 1984 he served as coram nobis co-counsel to Fred Korematsu in the successful reopening the infamous WWII Japanese American internment case, Korematsu v. U.S.. He worked on the legal team for Manuel Fragante in his accent discrimination case to the U.S. Supreme Court and for Alice Aiwohi in her successful Hawaiian Homelands breach of trust class action resulting in a state reparations settlement of $600 million. He has written amicus briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court, most recently as co-author in the Grutter v. Michigan affirmative action case and the Rasul v. Bush post-9/11 Guantanamo Bay mass detention case, as well as a recent amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit in Doe v. Kamemameha.

Professor Yamamoto has published two books and over fifty book chapters and law review articles. His first book on Interracial Justice (conflict and reconciliation among racial communities) received the Gustavus Meyers Award for Outstanding Books on Social Justice for 2000. His second book, Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment, co-authored with Chon, Izumi, Kang and Wu, is receiving national attention in light of its relevance to the post-September 11th tension between national security and civil liberties in America. His recent articles include: “White(House) Lies: Why the Public Must Compel the Courts to Hold the President Accountable for National Security Abuses,” which provides a strategic roadmap for activists and scholars, and “Contextual Strict Scrutiny,” which coalesces a new methodology for Equal Protection judicial review. His earlier article, “Critical Race Praxis: Race Theory and Political Lawyering,” in the Michigan Law Review, was the centerpiece of a later law review symposium on strategies for connecting racial justice scholarship with frontline advocacy.

For the year 2001 Professor Yamamoto was awarded the Haywood Burns Chair in Civil Rights for New York, where he taught and lectured, and in 2000 he received the Rockefeller Foundation’s coveted Residency Fellowship for international justice scholars in Bellagio, Italy. In 1999 he taught as a visiting professor at his alma mater, Boalt Hall Law School, University of California at Berkeley. In fall 2006 he was a featured speaker at an international conference on “Racial Reparations: A Transatlantic Dialogue” in Tour outside of Paris, France. For spring 2007 he will be the Scholar-in-Residence at the Boalt Hall Law School’s Thelton Henderson Center for Social Justice, and for the fall he will be the Scholar-in-Residence at Hokkaido University Law School’s new Center for the Study of Ainu and Indigenous Law in Japan.

Professor Yamamoto has received eight outstanding law teaching awards, including the University of Hawai`i’s highest award, the 2005 Regents Medal for Teaching Excellence, and the Society of American Law Teachers’ nation-wide award as Outstanding Law Teacher for 2005. He has also received awards for his work on civil rights and social justice – most recently the Japanese American Citizens League – Honolulu Chapter’s 2006 Distinguished Public Service Award (with Chris Iijima) and the Patsy T. Mink Award for Social Justice in 2004. In his work outside the classroom, he trains law students and new lawyers interested in social justice as part of the “Scholar-Advocate” program he helped create. He is a founding member of the Equal Justice Society and has been a member of the Steering Committee of the Campaign to Restore Civil Rights. He speaks regularly across the country and internationally on issues of racial reconciliation, reparations, national security and civil liberties.