Kiwi Alejandro Danao Camara (born June 16, 1984), also known as K.A.D. Camara, is a Filipino American attorney. In 2001, he became the youngest person to matriculate at Harvard Law School, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 2004. He was also involved in a racial controversy at the school that attracted national attention. He attracted international media attention in 2009 as the pro bono defense lawyer of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the defendant in the United States' first file-sharing copyright infringement lawsuit brought by major record labels to be tried to a jury.
Kiwi Danao Camara was born in Manila, Philippines, to Enrico Camara and Teresa Danao, both licensed physicians. He is a grandchild of the first summa cum laude graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, renowned cardiologist, Augusto Camara, M.D. of Iba, Zambales. At age one, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio before settling in Honolulu, Hawaii, where Camara attended the Punahou School. He wrote a medical paper on alternative treatments for rheumatoid arthritis at age 11, which was published in the Hawai'i Journal of Medicine. At 16, having skipped high school, Camara earned a Bachelor of Science in computer science summa cum laude from Hawaii Pacific University. He completed the program in two years and was recognized by the university for outstanding academic performance. The Philippines awarded him its Jose Rizal Certificate of Achievement while he was in college and later, in 2005, recognized him with a Presidential Commendation.
In 2001, Camara enrolled in Harvard Law School. There he received a John M. Olin Fellowship in Law and Economics. He held the fellowship until September 2004, at which time he took a position as a law clerk for Judge Harris Hartz of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.
Camara held a John M. Olin Fellowship for 2006–2007 and was a visiting scholar at the Northwestern University School of Law. He was previously a John M. Olin Fellow in Law and Economics at Stanford Law School and was briefly a Ph.D student in Economics at Stanford University.
Racial controversy at Harvard
In his first year at Harvard, Camara was involved in a racial controversy that would gain attention from the national media. Like many students, Camara posted his course outlines to a popular student-run website. Camara's, however, referred to blacks as nigs. For example, to summarize Shelley v. Kraemer, he wrote "Nigs buy land with no nig covenant; Q: Enforceable?" The notes were prefaced with a disclaimer that they may contain racially offensive shorthand.
Upon discovering the outline, classmate Michelle Simpson alerted other students and professors. Camara issued an apology and the outlines were promptly removed, whereupon a third student using the pseudonym "gcrocodile" e-mailed Simpson, expressing disappointment that they were no longer available. The student was later identified as then-1L Mattias Scholl. The section's professor, Charles Nesson, proposed as a didactic solution a classroom mock trial in which he would defend Scholl's right to free speech. The Black Law Student Association at the school took offense and called for a reprimand of the professor, along with another professor, David Rosenberg, who in an unrelated incident allegedly stated that "Feminism, Marxism and the blacks have contributed nothing to the scientific pursuit of legal discourse." Nesson voluntarily withdrew from teaching the torts course, and the law school dean took over for the remainder of the semester.
The following year, students protested in favor of more transparency in the selection of the next law school dean and requested a candidate in favor of affirmative action.
In an article in The New Yorker, Jeffrey Toobin covered the incident and found it "striking" that a sequence of "quirky and anomalous events generated such a consensus at the law school-that racial bias was widespread and that immediate corrective action was needed." Law professor Charles Fried described it as a "hysterical, ridiculous overreaction to a couple of unfortunate incidents." The controversy is also the subject of the book The People Vs. Harvard Law: How America's Oldest Law School Turned Its Back on Free Speech and a talk at the New England Appellate Judges’ Conference.
Controversy at Yale in 2005
In 2005, The Yale Law Journal accepted for publication an article co-written by Camara. An anonymous e-mail informed the Law Journal's editors of Camara's course outlines at Harvard and requested that his article not be published. The editors of the Yale Law Journal considered and ultimately decided to publish Camara's article. Some Yale Law students were upset by this decision, and formed a group that held protest activities and an alternative panel on "Disempowered Voices in the Legal Academy" at the same time as Camara's talk. Law school dean Harold Koh was among several dozen students and faculty who walked out of Camara's talk. Before the talk, Camara was aware of the planned protest and told The New York Times that he was happy that the comments had led to "a teaching moment" that was "a more productive thing to do than burning [him] in effigy".
Camara is currently licensed to practice law in Massachusetts and Texas. In 2009, Camara co-founded the law firm Camara & Sibley in Houston, Texas with his good friend and fellow Harvard Law graduate, Joe Sibley. Camara & Sibley is intended to become a commercial law firm that handles high-stakes trials, appeals, arbitrations, and transactions around the world.
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