Categotry Archives: Law

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Kenji Ito

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Categories: Law

Kenji Ito, an attorney who was once accused of being a Japanese spy, died on Aug. 10 from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 94.
Ito earned his law degree at the University of Washington in 1935. Once he was admitted to the bar, the school sent him on a yearlong debate tour around the world. When he returned, Ito gave speeches to civic groups about the Sino-Japanese War. He took the rhetorical position in favor of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, a move that would have unforeseen repercussions years later.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. The next day, Ito was arrested by the FBI, charged with being a Japanese spy and held on a $25,000 bond. Five months later, Ito was acquitted by an all-white jury. His ordeal was not over, however. Ito and his family were then rounded up, along with 110,000 other Japanese Americans, and placed in detention camps. During his imprisonment, Ito offered free legal assistance to the other detainees.
When the war ended, Ito moved to Los Angeles and became the first Japanese American admitted to the California state bar after World War II. Ito spent 50 years practicing corporate law and helping former detainees reclaim their lost property. He also served five terms as president of the Southern California Japanese Chamber of Commerce.

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Wesley Speakman

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Categories: Law

Wesley Speakman, a veteran Miami police officer, died on July 30 of complications from a stroke. He was 78.
Born and raised in South Florida, Speakman dropped out of high school in his junior year to enlist in the Navy. He served his country in World War II as an aviation machinist mate on the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier.
Speakman joined the Miami Police Department when he returned to America in 1948. During his 27 years on the force, Speakman secured the waters around Miami and coordinated rescue efforts as part of the Harbor Patrol. He was also the department’s first licensed pilot.
Speakman retired in 1975, then took a job monitoring motion sensors in the Sinai Desert region between Egypt and Israel.

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Edward McKie

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Categories: Law

Edward F. McKie Jr., a Washington lawyer who successfully argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that microorganisms were patentable, died on July 31 of congestive heart failure. He was 78.
McKie graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and received his law degree from Georgetown University. In 1960, McKie co-founded the Washington D.C. law firm Irons, Birch, Swindler & McKie, the predecessor firm to Banner & Witcoff. He was a member of the Advisory Committee to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and on the International Industrial Property Panel for the U.S. Department of State. He also testified before various Congressional committees on patent matters.
McKie was best known for representing Ananda Chakrabarty, a scientist who sought to patent a genetically engineered bacterium capable of breaking down crude oil. Chakrabarty’s application was denied by the Patent Office because regulations said living things could not be patented. After 10 years of litigation, McKie argued the Diamond v. Chakrabarty case before the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that a live, artificially engineered microorganism could be patented.
McKie also spent 38 years teaching intellectual property law at Georgetown University. He received a Silver Vicennial Medal in 2002 for his loyal and distinguished service at the school.

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Daniel O’Connell

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Categories: Law

Daniel J. O’Connell, a veteran police officer of the California Highway Patrol, died on July 30. Cause of death was not released. He was 86.
O’Connell studied civil engineering in college, but the Great Depression forced him to leave school before graduation. He took a brief stint as a salesman for a beverage company before dedicating his life to law enforcement.
In 1941, O’Connell became a California Highway Patrol officer. During World War II, he guarded the Monterey coast from enemy submarines. He was drafted in 1943 and served two years in the Navy before returning to the CHP.
As he rose through its ranks, O’Connell took on many tough policing assignments, including the civil rights riots in the 1960s. After he retired in 1971, O’Connell helped police widows and retirees obtain and manage their benefits.

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Ben Munson

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Categories: Law, Medicine

Dr. H. Benjamin Munson performed abortions in South Dakota even before it was legal to do so.
Munson believed women had the right to safely end a pregnancy, and he risked his medical practice and well-being by performing abortions at a Rapid City clinic in the late 1960s. At the time, he was the only physician in the entire state willing to perform the procedure.
In 1969, Munson was arrested and charged with performing an illegal abortion. He won his case at the circuit court level, but the state appealed, and the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled against him. His case was still in appeals when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973 with the Roe v. Wade case.
“He thought it was absolutely essential that women have the right to make that decision themselves. That’s what it was all about for him,” said Homer Kandaras, Munson’s attorney.
Munson died on July 27 of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 87.

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