The Oregon Law Minoru Yasui Justice Award honors an Oregon Law graduate, faculty member, or friend of the School of Law whose commitment to advancing the cause of justice on behalf of underrepresented communities brings honor to the school. The award is named in honor of Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and Oregon Law alumnus, Minoru Yasui.
The 2019 Oregon Law Minoru Yasui Justice Award will be presented at the Alumni Awards Dinner on September 13, 2019.
2019: Cory Smith, JD ‘00
Cory Smith has dedicated almost twenty years of his career to protecting the rights of vulnerable populations and individual rights through policy and advocacy. As the current Vice-President of Policy, Advocacy & Communications with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) in Washington, DC he worked on behalf of unaccompanied children receive fair and appropriate treatment and due process while in the US immigration system. His commitment to advancing the cause of justice was seen through his past work as Senior Policy Counsel for Humanity United. Smith led the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) coalition which led to the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2013 and secured nearly $100 million dollars in federal funding to combat modern day slavery. In his efforts to fight for underrepresented people, Smith led a national Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform which was comprised of over 100 immigrant rights, labor, civil rights, faith-based, and community rights organizations. Through his leadership and the coalition’s efforts, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S.2611) was passed by in the U.S. Senate. Smith, who is a member of the Washington State Bar, received his JD from Oregon Law and his BA from Florida State University.
2018: Jon Patterson '13
Jonathan Patterson is the Staff Attorney at Compassion & Choices, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization dedicated to improving care and expanding choice at the end of life. He provides consultation for a wide variety of legal matters, including the issues of unwanted medical treatment, medical aid in dying, and end of life decision-making. He is a frequent national speaker on available end-of-life options and empowering consumers to make healthcare decisions in line with their values.
A Wichita, Kan. native, Jon completed his undergraduate studies in political science and psychology at Hawai’i Pacific University in Honolulu, where he worked as an educator and youth and developmental disability counselor before moving to the Pacific Northwest to attend the University of Oregon School of Law. He is very active in the Oregon legal community, currently serving as Chair of the Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and Immediate Past-Chair of the Oregon State Bar Diversity Section. Jon is also the past-president of the Oregon chapter of the National Bar Association, Oregon’s membership organization for African-American attorneys, judges, law students, and supporters. He is a past recipient of the Oregon New Lawyers Division Advancing Diversity Award.
2017: Peggy Nagae
Peggy Nagae helped found the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and is serving as its president. As lead attorney for Minoru Yasui, she successfully overturned his conviction and championed his nomination for the Presidential Medal of Honor. In 2017, Peggy won the ABA Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession Spirit of Excellence Award and the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon Voices of Change award.
In 2016, Oregon Law honored Mr. Yasui with the Jaqua E. Distinguished Alumnus Award.