When it comes to family law most decisions are left to the states. The final arbiter of legal decisions in California is of course the California Supreme Court. That being the case Californians should know who their Supreme Court Justices are. One by one I am going to cut and paste the profiles for each justice, as they appear on the Court's official website. Today we feature Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.
Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye was sworn into office as Chief Justice of California on January 3, 2011. She is the first Asian American and the second female to serve as the state's Chief Justice. After former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated her as Chief Justice on July 22, 2010, the California State Bar Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission rated her as exceptionally well qualified for the position. At a public hearing on August 25, 2010, she was unanimously confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, and in a general election on November 2, 2010, an overwhelming majority of voters elected her to that position for a term beginning January 3, 2010. Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye chairs the Judicial Council of California, the administrative policymaking body of state courts, and the Commission on Judicial Appointments.
Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye has served for more 20 years on California appellate and trial courts. In 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger nominated her to the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District. In 1990, Governor George Deukmejian appointed her to the Sacramento Municipal Court and in 1997; Governor Pete Wilson elevated her to the Superior Court of Sacramento County. On the superior court, Justice Cantil-Sakauye presided over both criminal and civil assignments. In 1997, she established and presided over the first court in Sacramento dedicated solely to domestic violence issues. In addition, she chaired the court's criminal law committee and was a member of the presiding judge's task force on domestic violence and the Home Court committee.
Chief Justice Ronald M. George appointed Justice Cantil-Sakauye to the Judicial Council of California in September 2008, at the time she served on the Court of Appeal. In that position, she served as vice chair of the Executive and Planning Committee, vice chair of the Rules and Projects Committee, chair of the Advisory Committee on Financial Accountability and Efficiency for the Judicial Branch, and co-chair of the Judicial Recruitment and Retention Working Group.
Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye was also a member of the California Commission on Impartial Courts. She previously served as a member of the Judicial Council's Task Force on Domestic Violence Practice and Procedure and chaired the Best Practices Domestic Violence subcommittee. She is president of the Anthony M. Kennedy American Inn of Court, an organization dedicated to promoting civility, ethics, and professionalism in the practice of law. Since 2007, she was a Special Master, selected by the Supreme Court to hear disciplinary proceedings before the Commission on Judicial Performance.
Born in 1959 in Sacramento, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye attended C. K. McClatchy High School (1977), and Sacramento City College (1978), before she received her B.A. from the University of California, at Davis, graduating with honors in 1980. After taking a year off to visit her ancestral homeland, the Philippines, the Chief Justice entered the University of California at Davis, Martin Luther King Jr. School of Law in 1981. After receiving her J.D. in 1984, she worked as a deputy district attorney for the Sacramento District Attorney's Office where she prosecuted a variety of criminal offenses. In 1988, she worked for Governor George Deukmejian, on his senior staff, in two consecutive capacities -- as deputy legal affairs secretary and as a deputy legislative secretary.
Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye is a former board member of several nonprofit organizations and has been active in numerous professional community organizations, including membership in the California Judges Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and the Sacramento Asian Bar Association. She has received many awards, including honors from the Sacramento Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, the 2005 President's Award from the Sacramento Asian Bar Association, the 2003 Trailblazer's award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the Filipina of the Year award and other awards from youth groups.
Chief Justice Cantil Sakauye and her husband, retired Police Lieutenant Mark Sakauye, and their two joyful daughters, are active in the Sacramento community. Justice Cantil Sakauye has been a co-leader of a Brownie and junior Girl Scout Troop and a dedicated church bazaar volunteer.
Please be sure to visit www.hardinglaw.com, the website for the law firm of Harding & Associates, for more information on California family law.