Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Lorraine Bannai Interview
Narrator: Lorraine Bannai
Interviewers: Margaret Chon (primary), Alice Ito (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: March 23 & 24, 2000
Densho ID: denshovh-blorraine-01-0029

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MC: You described your optimism when you decided to take the case. Would you, in retrospect, do you think that you were realistic about how easy or how difficult it would be to bring a case against an adversary such as the United States Government?

LB: No. I don't think we were realistic at all, mainly because we had no idea what we were getting into. We had no way of knowing at that point in time what was going to be involved in the case. We didn't know what kind of defense the government would mount. We didn't know what route the case would take, how complex it would become. We didn't know what kind of resources would be required. All of us had, as I said, were fairly recently out of law school, had very small offices and very under-funded offices -- at least in the initial group. So we really didn't know. When we started getting into the case, it was certainly probably much more than we had ever imagined, but I don't think that we felt that it was overwhelming or too much. We just took each day as it came, and adjusted as we needed to. For example, there was a lot of word processing involved and a lot of typing and a lot of photocopying, and we had no ability to do that. We did all of the typing ourselves most of the time, and did this photocopying on this really tiny, primitive photocopy machine, and then realized that we probably really needed some more help.

One attorney was with a medium-sized firm in San Francisco, Bob Rusky, and he was able to bring his firm in, and they had a secretarial pool, and they had big, fancy photocopy machines. And it was just wonderful. It was like, wow, we could actually do this great office work now. The ACLU of Northern California brought in one of its cooperating attorneys. It was Heller, Ehrman. And they were able to bring in some of that administrative secretarial support that we so much needed. So just as a small example, there were all of these things involved in conducting the case that we had no idea about, and we just kind of dealt with them as they came up.

We ended up getting thousands of documents out of the case, government documents that had to be read and indexed. And one of the people on the team sat down and wrote a computer program way before they were any of these litigation document control programs that exist today. He wrote a program from scratch, using probably DBase 3, a very primitive version of DBase 3, and wrote a program whereby we could summarize the documents and index them by sender, date, recipient, cc's, and, and then organize and categorize the information with dozens and dozens of law students reading these documents and, and summarizing them. So there were a lot of things involved that we didn't anticipate, but we just handled when they came up.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2000 Densho. All Rights Reserved.