The Emmy-award winning documentary Of Civil Wrongs and Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story , is a look back at Korematsu's long ordeal to achieve personal justice.
The matter seemed lost to the history books until 1981, when Peter Irons, a law professor writing a book about the internment, and Aiko Yoshinaga-Herzig, a Japanese American on a quest to find out why she'd been interned as a teenager, happened upon a wartime memo from a Department of Justice lawyer. The memo showed that crucial evidence had been withheld by federal prosecutors in the Korematsu case, including military reports concluding that Japanese Americans did not pose a serious threat to U.S. security.
Peter Irons knew he found a "smoking gun," and tracked down Korematsu and the other two resisters- Gordon Hirabayashi and Minoru Yasui-- to ask about reopening their cases. Irons contacted noted civil rights attorney Dale Minami, who assembled a team of lawyers--mostly Asian American, who worked countless hours pro bono.
Recalls Minami, "Peter Irons called me in May of 1982 and told me about the evidence he had found. I had read these cases in law school, but for me they were taught as intellectual exercises about the balance of rights and due process. At that time Korematsu vs United States was not linked to human tragedy, loss of homes, broken dreams, or financial losses of income that people suffered. I called my colleague Don Tamaki at the Asian Law Caucus, a community interest law firm that I helped start, and disclosed the nature of the evidence. A number of attorneys I was working with had already been lobbying for redress for Japanese Americans. All of them were stunned at the evidence and were blown away that we might be able to reopen the cases. We had the smoking gun-the things that lawyers talk about, the thing that lawyers love. We worked in secrecy because we didn't want any documents to "accidentally" disappear from the archives.
Minami, as coordinating...