Yale University

In Memoriam

Angus Macbeth

Angus Macbeth died on January 22, 2017. Below are two obituaries.

Angus C. Macbeth, lawyer who helped shape environmental rules, dies at 74

The Washington Post

January 28, 2017

Angus Macbeth
1964 graduation

Angus C. Macbeth, an environmentalist and member of an unofficial cadre of lawyers who helped shape environmental regulations in the years following the 1970 creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, died Jan. 22 at his home in Washington. He was 74.

The cause was cardiovascular disease, said a son, Hampden Macbeth.

Mr. Macbeth was among the earliest members of the Natural Resources Defense Council, organized in 1970 by a group of seven classmates at Yale Law School. It is now an organization of about 500 lawyers, scientists, and policy experts that litigates and lobbies for environmental issues at the federal, state, and local level.

Angus Macbeth
in recent years

As an NRDC lawyer in the 1970s, Mr. Macbeth helped bring about Consolidated Edison electric company’s abandonment of plans to build a power plant at Storm King Mountain on the Hudson River. On behalf of the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association, he argued in litigation that the plant would be injurious to fish in the river.

During the Jimmy Carter administration, Mr. Macbeth was chief of environmental enforcement at the Justice Department. From 1981 to 1983, he was special counsel to the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, which investigated the World War II roundup of ethnic Japanese in the United States and their confinement in camps.

He wrote a report on the commission’s work, “Personal Justice Denied,” which concluded, “Not a single documented act of espionage, sabotage, or fifth-column activity was committed by an American citizen of Japanese ancestry or by a resident Japanese alien on the West Coast.”

The report served as a basis for the 1988 legislation that gave Japanese internment camp survivors an apology, $20,000 individual reparations, and an education fund.

Angus Christian Macbeth was born May 9, 1942, in Los Angeles, where his father was a lawyer.

Mr. Macbeth grew to around 6-feet-2, and his formal manner gave off an air of confident authority. He also spoke with a slightly British accent, likely acquired during his high-school years when he attended an English boarding school.

He graduated in 1964 from Yale University, attended the University of Oxford in England, and graduated in 1969 from Yale Law School.

From 1986 to 2006, Mr. Macbeth was a partner in the Washington office of Sidley Austin, where he headed its environmental group. He was a former president of the American College of Environmental Lawyers.

Survivors include his wife of 42 years, JoAnn Engelke Macbeth of Washington; and two sons, Hampden T. Macbeth of Washington and Cullen Oakes Macbeth of Las Vegas.

Angus Macbeth Dies at 74; Special Counsel to CWRIC

Los Angeles Japanese Daily News

January 27, 2017

Angus Macbeth

WASHINGTON — The Japanese American Citizens League mourns the passing of Angus Macbeth, who served as special counsel to the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) and headed its staff.

Macbeth died on Jan. 22 at the age of 74.

The CWRIC report, “Personal Justice Denied,” and its recommendations formed the basis for the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided monetary compensation and an apology to Japanese Americans who were affected by President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066.

Established by Congress in 1980, the CWRIC was charged with investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding Roosevelt’s issuance of EO 9066 and with recommending appropriate remedies. The nine-member commission held hearings in ten cities — including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. — where over 750 witnesses provided testimony, especially in the form of personal accounts by Issei and Nisei attesting to the hardship and deprivation. Many of them had never spoken publicly about their experiences.

In an interview on the Densho Digital Archive, Macbeth stated, “…more than anything else, is just this heart-rending sense of loss. I mean, people who had spent 15, 20 years in quite routine lives and occupations. I mean, truck farmers, people who ran small stores. Just very solid, unexceptional members of a town or of a city and the way in which their lives were just completely disrupted by the exclusion and shock of it all…

“And there is again, just a very, very touching and powerful side to people who make a genuine and rich human life out of very barren and very adverse human conditions…”

The CWRIC report found that “the policy of exclusion, removal, and detention was systematically conducted by the U.S. government despite the fact that no documented evidence of espionage or sabotage was shown, and there was not direct military necessity for detention.”

The report’s title comes from its conclusion that a “grave personal injustice was done … without individual review or any probative evidence.”

The CWRIC report — which was reissued by University of Washington Press in 1997 — has supplanted Gen. John Dewitt’s faulty Final Report issued during World War II as the official government account of the incarceration.

In lauding the exemplary work of Macbeth following the issuance of its report, the chair of the CWRIC, Washington lawyer Joan Z. Bernstein, said, “His goal was to make sure our reports would be complete and accurate. He achieved that goal, doing so with his usual but truly unusual talent for making the impossible seem possible.”

When Macbeth joined the commission staff, he was a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Bergson, Borkland, Margolis and Adler and a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice.

The other commissioners were Rep. Dan Lungren; Dr. Arthur Fleming, chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Arthur Goldberg, former U.S. Supreme Court justice; former Sens. Edward Brooke and Hugh Mitchell; Rev. Robert Drinan; Father Ishmael Gromoff; and Judge William Marutani, the lone Japanese-American member. Researcher Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga also contributed to the report, which is credited not only with leading to the passage of the redress bill but also strengthening the coram nobis cases of Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, and Minoru Yasui, whose wartime convictions were overturned.