Wesley Kazuo Mukoyama v. City of Santa Clara

Victory! On December 30, 2020, the California Court of Appeals – Sixth District rendered a unanimous opinion affirming the decision by the Superior Court Judge Thomas E. Kuhnle ruling that the City of Santa Clara’s at-large election system diluted the vote of Asian Americans and thus violated the California Voting Rights Act (CVRA). Court of Appeal Affirmance. Acting Presiding Justice Eugene Premo, writing for the court stated, “We find no reversible error in the trial court’s interpretation of the governing legal principles and its application of the law to the evidence presented at trial.” Justice Franklin D. Elia and Justice Allison Danner joined Justice Premo in this historic decision. The Superior Court’s order in 2018, which was affirmed today, required the City of Santa Clara to conduct its City Council elections from six single-member districts rather than at-large, as the City had done since its charter was adopted 70 years ago. In all those years, Santa Clara had never elected an Asian American to the city council, but in the 2018 and 2020 elections using districts, three of the six candidates elected to the council were Asian American.

Morris Baller, who argued the case before the Court of Appeals, stated, “this decision confirms that the careful and measured decision by the trial court, finding the City of Santa Clara violated the rights of Asian American voters for years, was legally correct as well as fair in curing a historic injustice.”


For more information about the case, click on the link to the complaint filed with the Superior Court or read the press release and media materials released on the day the complaint was filed. Lead attorneys on the case for our firm are Morris J. Baller and Laura L. Ho.


Santa Clara has agreed to settle the historic voting rights case Yumori Kaku v. City of Santa Clara.  The settlement will ensure that the district election system won in court, which has already resulted in the election of three Asian American council members where none had ever been elected before, will continue.  GBDH attorney Laura Ho is quoted in an article by The Silicon Valley Voice that “the settlement agreement will avoid further costly litigation and allows the City to move on from fighting its own voters in this case to more fairly representing all of its residents.”  San Jose Spotlight also published an article about this historic settlement.

Case Documents