James McManis, name partner of McManis Faulkner, has been honored with a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award. The award is given annually to California attorneys whose achievements have had a significant impact on the law.
In the award citation, McManis’ success in Vietnamese American Community of Northern California vs. City of San Jose was highlighted. McManis, with McManis Faulkner attorneys Jennifer Murakami and James Giacchetti, represented the Vietnamese American Community of Northern California (VACNORCAL) as trial counsel against the City of San Jose. VACNORCAL sought a declaration that the City Council had violated the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act), when creating the San Jose Vietnamese business district (“Little Saigon”). The Brown Act bars secret meetings, requiring legislative bodies to conduct their business publicly. The suit arose from the City Council’s naming of the area “Saigon Business District” in spite of overwhelming support for “Little Saigon.” Suspicions of back-door politics were confirmed when an interview of Councilmember Forrest Williams revealed that prohibited conversations about the project had occurred before the vote. The City refused to concede any violation of the Brown Act.
After a month-long trial, which the firm tried pro bono, the Court held that the City had violated the Brown Act in the proceedings that led to the creation of the district, and granted declaratory and injunctive relief.
For 21 years, the Daily Journal has recognized extraordinary achievements by California lawyers through the CLAY Awards. Hundreds of nominations are received and only a small group of lawyers whose work exemplifies excellence in the legal profession is selected.