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Atsushi Wallace Tashima

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Wallace Tashima
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Current Court Information:
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
Title:   Senior Judge
Station:   Pasadena, CA
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Active:   1/4/1996 - 6/30/2004
Senior:   6/30/2004 - Present
Preceded by:   Arthur Alarcon
Past post:   Central District of California
Past term:   1980 - 1986
Personal History
Born:   1934
Hometown:   CA
Undergraduate:   University of California, Los Angeles 1958
Law School:   Harvard Law School 1961

Atsushi Wallace Tashima is a federal appeals judge with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit based in San Francisco. He joined the court in 1996 after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. He is serving on senior status. Judge Atsushi Wallace Tashima is the first Japanese-American in the history of the United States to be appointed to a United States Court of Appeals, and the third Asian-American.[1]

Early life and education

As a child and during World War II, Judge Tashima spent 3 years with his family in an American internment camp for the Japanese in Poston, Arizona.[1] Tashima graduated from UCLA with his bachelor's degree in 1958 and later graduated from Harvard Law with his Law degree in 1961. He also served as a U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant from 1953 to 1956.[2]

Professional career

  • Deputy state attorney general, California, 1961-1967
  • Attorney, Spreckels Sugar Division, Amstar Corporation, 1968-1972
  • General attorney and vice president, Amstar Corporation, 1972-1977
  • Private practice, Los Angeles, California, 1977-1980[2]

Judicial career

Central District of California

Tashima was nominated by President Jimmy Carter on May 9, 1980 to a seat on the Central District of California vacated by Warren J. Ferguson. Tashima was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 26, 1980 on a Senate vote and received commission on June 30, 1980. Tashima left the court on January 8, 1996 due to his appointment to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.[2] Tashima was succeeded in this position by Dean Pregerson.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals

Tashima was nominated by President Bill Clinton on April 6, 1995 to a seat on the Ninth Circuit vacated by Arthur Alarcon. Tashima was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on January 2, 1996 on a Senate vote and received commission on January 4, 1996. Tashima assumed senior status on June 30, 2004.[2]

Awards and associations

  • Trial Jurist of the Year, Los Angeles County Bar Association (1995-96)
  • Former member, U.S. Judicial Conference Committee on the Rules of Practice and Procedure[3]

Notable cases

Judges go to court over salaries (2009-2013)

     United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Peter H. Beer, et al., v. United States, 09-CV-037)

Judge Tashima was one of six judges who sued the government on a claim that Congress violated the Constitution's compensation clause and the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 by failing to honor promised judicial salary increases in five separate years. Earlier reports of the case indicated Judges Thomas Hogan and James Robertson were part of the suit, though they were not named parties in the final opinions and orders.[4]

The Ethics Reform Act requires automatic adjustment of judicial salaries every year based on the Employment Cost Index--which measures inflation of wages and benefits--unless severe economic conditions make the raise inappropriate. The U.S. Congress claimed its withholding of salary adjustments for federal judges were due to a lack of funds.[5]

On October 16, 2009, a federal claims court judge dismissed the lawsuit, citing a precedential decision titled Williams v. United States. It was held in that case that Congress could decide not to grant the cost of living adjustments so long as they did so in the fiscal year prior to that in which the increase would be payable. The judges expected and acknowledged the decision based on the precedent, but said that their hope was to overturn the Williams decision, and planned an immediate appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.[4]

On October 5, 2012, the Federal Circuit ruled in favor of the judges, overturning the 11-year old Williams precedent, and finding that Congress' withholding of the cost-of-living salary raises were illegal. The en banc opinion was written by Judge Randall Rader, who quoted Alexander Hamilton, saying, "next to permanency in office, nothing can contribute more to the independence of the judges than a fixed provision for their support."[5] The judges commented that members of their profession should not have to fear that their livelihood will be subject to reprisals from other branches of government, and that as the "weakest of the three branches of government," the judiciary "must...not place its will within the reach of political whim."[5]

The panel decided that "all sitting federal judges are entitled to expect that their real salary will not diminish due to inflation or the action or inaction of the other branches of government," and ordered the Court of Federal Claims to calculate the judges' damages and additional compensation they were entitled to.[5]

Judges Timothy Dyk and William Bryson dissented. They wrote that although the decision seemed just in consideration "to the nation's underpaid Article III judges," the overturning of the Supreme Court's clear interpretation of the law in Williams, as well as a previous refusal to re-hear the issue by the highest court, indicates that the majority overstepped its authority.[5]

In June of 2013, the judge Eric G. Bruggink ruled that each of the judges could recover about $150,000 of back-pay from the government. He also ordered the government to pay interest on the pre-tax amount of the judgment.[6]

See also

External links


Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Warren Ferguson
Central District of California
Seat #6
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Arthur Lawrence Alarcon
Ninth Circuit
Succeeded by:

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