In her seven years in office, Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye has emerged as one of the country’s leading advocates for equal access to justice, transparency, and the reformation of state court funding models that unfairly impact the poor.
When the Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye was sworn into office in January 2011 as the 28th Chief Justice of California she was the first Filipina American and the second woman to serve as the state’s chief justice.
In recent years, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye has raised awareness about the unfair financial impact of fines, fees, and the bail system on the poor. She is a leading national advocate calling for reform the bail system by addressing concerns about fairness and public safety. In California, she convened a Pretrial Detention Reform Work Group to study current practices and develop recommendations for potential reforms to be shared this year with Governor Jerry Brown and state Legislators.
As leader of California’s judicial branch and chair of the Judicial Council, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye has helped lead the judicial branch out of the state’s worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression. She has improved the branch’s efficiency, accountability, and transparency. When she became Chief Justice, she opened meetings at the Judicial Council that were once closed to the public and then invited public comment. Judicial Council meetings are now webcast, as are state Supreme Court oral arguments.
The Chief Justice is a leader in revitalizing civic learning in the state through her Power of Democracy initiative. She, along with other state leaders, fulfilled one of the initiative’s goals in July 2016 when the state Board of Education unanimously approved an instructional framework that encourages civic learning.
The Chief Justice has also convened leaders to address issues of implicit bias, human trafficking, and truancy—which is part of a national movement to keep kids in school and out of the criminal justice system.