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Passing of the Honorable Arthur Nakazato

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The United States District Court, Central District of California, mourns the loss of retired Magistrate Judge Arthur Nakazato, who passed away on Sunday, December 17, 2017 at the age of 65.

Judge Nakazato received his Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in 1975 from the University of Pittsburgh, where he had a double major in Economics and English Literature.  He earned his Juris Doctorate in 1978 from Temple University School of Law where he also served on the law review.

Before his judicial appointment, Judge Nakazato was a successful business trial and appellate lawyer.  He served as the founding President and founding Director of the Orange County Asian American Bar Association. He was also a founding director of the Orange County Japanese American Lawyers Association, a Central District Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, and was active in the Orange County and Federal Bar Associations. 

Judge Nakazato, the child of World War II internees, was appointed as a Magistrate Judge for the Central District of California in 1996.  He was the first Japanese American to be appointed as a Magistrate Judge in the Continental United States.  He served the Court for nearly twenty years and retired in 2016.

During his tenure, Judge Nakazato earned multiple honors, including the Trailblazer Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA); the Distinguished Jurist Award from the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association (SCCLA); the Judge of the Year Award from the Orange County Women Lawyers Association (OCWLA); the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Orange County Asian American Bar Association (OCAABA); the Alicemarie H. Stotler Award from the Federal Bar Association/Orange County Chapter (FBAOC); and recognition as the “Best Judge in Orange County” from OC Weekly.

For Judge Nakazato’s staff, members of the federal court family and his friends in the bar, his loss is monumental, and he will be truly missed for his kindness, selflessness, and sense of humor.  Judge Nakazato is survived by his wife Deborah Bau, his mother Lillian, and his brother Paul.

In honor of Judge Nakazato, the flags outside the courthouses of the United States District Court for the Central District of California were flown at half-mast from December 20-22, 2017.