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08/04/2010

One year ago: Robert M. Takasugi

August 4, 2010 |  6:20 am

Takasugi A victim of Japanese American internment during World War II, federal Judge Robert M. Takasugi had a sensitivity for targeted groups that he demonstrated often during his 36-year judicial career.

Takasugi described the three years he spent at the internment camp at Tule Lake, Calif., as "an education to be fair."

The veteran jurist handled a number of high-profile cases, including a 1980 case that led to a Los Angeles Police Department ban on choke holds and the 1984 cocaine-trafficking trial of automaker John Z. DeLorean.

He was seen as the epitome of judicial restraint, keeping a straight face and calm demeanor even during outrageous courtroom antics.

Takasugi was also known for having a high standard for prosecutors and demanding that the government make a strong case for classifying something as a matter of "national security."

"He was vigilant that the power of prosecutors not be abused," said Andrea Ordin, who appeared before Takasugi when she was a U.S. attorney in the late 1970s. "The prosecutors during the years I was there became better advocates because of it."

Among Takasugi's other high-profile cases: a battle between a University of California historian and the federal government over the FBI files of former Beatle John Lennon, and a 2002 ruling in which he threw out an indictment against seven Los Angeles residents who had been accused of fund-raising for an Iranian group listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department.

For more on the judge, read Robert M. Takasugi's obituary by The Times.

-- Michael Farr

Photo: Robert M. Takasugi. Credit: Associated Press

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