About Judge Marutani

The Honorable William M. Marutani served as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County from 1975 to 1986. When appointed to the bench in 1975, Judge Marutani became the first Asian American outside of the Pacific Coast states to preside as a judge of a court of general jurisdiction. Judge Marutani was later elected to a full ten-year term in 1977. During his tenure, he issued the decision requiring all-boys Central High School to admit female students in 1983.

In 1942, Judge Marutani, a second-generation Japanese American, served six months in an American internment camp following the Pearl Harbor attack. Later during the war, he served in the U.S. Military Intelligence Service (MIS).

As an attorney, Judge Marutani participated in the civil rights drives in the South and helped organize the 1963 March on Washington for the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). From 1960 to 1970, he served as national legal counsel to the JACL, during which time he also served as a volunteer civil rights lawyer in cases involving the desegregation of schools and the promotion of voter registration drives in Mississippi. In 1967, Judge Marutani appeared on behalf of the JACL as an amicus before the U.S. Supreme Court to present oral argument in Loving v. Virginia, the seminal case that struck down anti-miscegenation laws in 17 states.

Up until his death in November 2004, Judge Marutani also served on numerous civic and charitable boards and commissions. Most notably, in 1981 he was appointed to the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians by President Jimmy Carter. The Commission concluded that the internment of Japanese Americans was the unjust result of racism, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.

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