The American 

Law Institute 88th Annual Meeting, May 16-18, 

2011. San Francisco

Tani Cantil-Sakauye

Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye was sworn into office as Chief Justice of California on January 3, 2011. She is the first Asian-Filipina American and the second woman to serve as the state’s Chief Justice. After former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger nominated her as Chief Justice in July 2010, she was unanimously confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, and an overwhelming majority of voters elected her to that position in a general election in November 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 than 20 years on California appellate and trial courts. In 1990, Governor George Deukmejian appointed her to the Sacramento Municipal Court; Governor Pete Wilson elevated her in 1997 to the Superior Court of Sacramento County, where she 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. She also 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. In 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger nominated her to the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District.

Chief Justice Ronald M. George appointed Justice Cantil-Sakauye to the Judicial Council of California in September 2008. She has 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 cochair of the Judicial Recruitment and Retention Working Group.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye was also a member of the California Commission for Impartial Courts. She previously served as a member of the Judicial Council’s Domestic Violence Practice and Procedure Task Force and chaired its 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 has been 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 Sacramento City College before receiving her B.A. from the University of California, Davis, graduating with honors in 1980. After spending a year visiting the Philippines, she entered the U.C. Davis, Martin Luther King, Jr., School of Law, receiving her J.D. in 1984. Following her graduation, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye worked as a deputy district attorney for the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, where she prosecuted a variety of criminal offenses. In 1988, she served on the senior staff of Governor George Deukmejian in two 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 the California Judges Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and the Sacramento Asian Bar Association. Her many awards include 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, and the 2003 Filipina of the Year Award.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and her husband, retired Police Lieutenant Mark Sakauye, and their two daughters are active in the Sacramento community.

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