The New Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court

Much has been written in the last year about California’s new Chief Justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who was sworn in January 3, 2011 to replace Chief Justice Ron George.

Here are five interesting facts about California’s Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye that caught our eye:

  1. She’s the first Filipino-American justice on the California Supreme Court, and just the sixth woman to serve on the Court. Her elevation creates a majority of women on the Court (Cantil-Sakauye, Kennard, Werdegar and Corrigan) for the first time in California history. With the recent appointment of Justice Goodwin Liu, the Supreme Court also has a majority of Asian-American justices (Cantil-Sakauye, Kennard, Chin and Liu), another first for California.
  2. She’s the daughter of Filipino-American parents who were agricultural workers in the Sacramento area and both her parents, and the parents of her Japanese-American husband (Mark Sakauye, a retired Sacramento police lieutenant), spent four years in internment camps during World War II. Source: UC Davis Magazine [http://ucdavismagazine.ucdavis.edu/issues/fall10/supreme_justice.html]
  3. She’s a Cal Aggie times two, having graduated from the University of California, Davis with a degree in Rhetoric in 1980, and then a law degree from U.C. Davis King Hall School of Law in 1984. One of her law school classmates is Darryl Steinberg, California’s Senate Pro Tem. Source: UC Davis Magazine [http://ucdavismagazine.ucdavis.edu/issues/fall10/supreme_justice.html]
  4. As a teenager, she once was a babysitter for the family of George Deukmejian, then a state senator. Years later, it was Governor Deukmejian who first appointed her to the municipal court bench in 1990, apparently unaware of the connection. [“My Friend The Chief Justice” by Justice Vance Raye, California Litigation, vol.24, No.2 (2011)]
  5. She knows how to play her cards, having worked as a blackjack dealer at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe for a short period after law school. Source: California Bar Journal [http://www.calbarjournal.com/December2010/TopHeadlines/TH1.aspx]