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Sep 22nd
Home Sections Womens Section Gov. Schwarzenegger Nominates Fil-Am Woman Judge for California Supreme Court Chief Justice
Gov. Schwarzenegger Nominates Fil-Am Woman Judge for California Supreme Court Chief Justice PDF Print E-mail
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Monday, 02 August 2010 11:25



(Journal Group Link International)


Governor Schwarzenegger Nominates Filipino-American Woman Judge for California Supreme Court Chief Justice


A daughter of a Filipino farm worker has been recently nominated by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as his choice for Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court.


Associate Justice Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye, if confirmed and wins the November 2nd ballot, will become the highest Filipino American to hold a judicial position in the United States. In 1974, the late Benjamin Menor was appointed the first Filipino American in a state’s highest judiciary as justice of the Hawaii State Supreme Court.


Justice Cantil-Sakauye thanks her second-generation Filipina mother for her uncommon success and is grateful for the legacy of her strong Cebuana grandmother as well, according to a 2007 FWN (Filipina Women’s Network) Magazine 2007 interview by Fay Olympia.


“Like children of itinerant farm workers in California’s Central Valley, her mother, one of eleven siblings, had a sporadic education because she and her family followed the harvest, often having to pull out of school in the middle of the term. Despite these difficulties, they were taught to value education, to get as much learning as they could, and to appreciate these and other aspects of Filipino culture. In turn, she and her husband passed these values on to Tani and her siblings,” the FWN article added.




J ustice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, 50, has a distinguished history of public service and understands that the role of a justice is not to create law, but to independently and fairly interpret and administer the law,” said Governor Schwarzenegger in a press statement released from the state capitol in Sacramento, California. “She is a living example of the American Dream and when she is confirmed by the voters in November, Judge Cantil-Sakauye will become California’s first Filipino chief justice; adding to our High Court’s already rich diversity.”


If Cantil-Sakauye, a Republican, were confirmed, the court would be composed of four women and three men. Six of the current justices are Republicans, all appointed by Republican governors. The lone Democrat, Justice Carlos Moreno, was appointed by Gov. Gray Davis in 2001.


Cantil-Sakauye, of Sacramento, earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis.


The vacancy will be created by the retirement of Chief Justice Ronald M. George on January 2, 2011. The compensation for this position is $238,010 annually.




S ince 2005, Cantil-Sakauye has served as an associate justice for the Third District Court of Appeals in Sacramento. Previously, she was a superior court judge for the Sacramento County Superior Court from 1997 to 2004 and a municipal court judge for the Sacramento County Municipal Court from 1990 to 1997. 


Cantil-Sakauye is a member of the California Judicial Council, and is vice chair of the Rules and Projects Committee and Judicial Recruitment and Retention Working Group. She is a member of the Commission on Impartial Courts, chair of the Judicial Branch Financial Accountability and Efficiency Advisory Committee and president of the Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court.


“It is a privilege and a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to serve as chief justice of the California Supreme Court,” said Cantil-Sakauye. “I have had the distinct pleasure of being a municipal court judge, a superior court judge and an appellate court justice. Being nominated to serve on the highest court in California is a dream come true. I deeply respect the inspirational and visionary work of Chief Justice Ronald George and hope to build upon it. As a jurist, woman and a Filipina, I am extremely grateful for the trust Governor Schwarzenegger has placed in me.  I hope to show young people what they can achieve if they follow their dreams and reach for their full potential.”




T he Governor’s nomination for chief justice must be submitted to the State Bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation and confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Once confirmed by the commission, the nominee will appear on the November 2nd ballot for voter approval.


Cantil-Sakauye is married to Sacramento Police Lieutenant Mark Sakauye, who overseas Regional Transit security. They have two daughters, Hana, 14, and Claire, 11.


Currently one of only two women and one of only two persons of color in the Court of Appeal’s Third District, she was the first woman of Asian (Filipino) ethnicity to serve as judge in Sacramento County, and at 31, was one of the youngest judges in the state.


In 2005, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise reported on her appointment to the Court of Appeal’s Third District Appellate bench, noting she was “one of the first judges in the country to uphold the validity of an indictment against a suspect who could only be identified by his DNA profile.”




A graduate of C.K. McClatchy High School and while at law school at University of CaliforniaDavis, Cantil-Sakauye dealt blackjack during summers and weekends at Harrah's Lake Tahoe. She also worked as a waitress, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Cantil-Sakauye told the Bee in 2005, "One of my favorite sayings is, 'There is no one truth, only versions of it.' "

She added, "My philosophy is to really listen closely to what people have to say and try to balance it with everything they've told me and give them a fair shot to tell me what they're thinking . . . If I let them ramble a bit, point them in a direction, I learn why that person is there much better than in a question-and-answer format."

Malcolm Segal, a
Sacramento litigator, said he thought Schwarzenegger's choice would please lawyers.

"Her reputation in the legal community is that she has a wonderful ability to get along with people and to bring different views together," Segal said. "And she has, I am told, a great deal of personal charm and wit, and that's what it takes to run a court in a complex judicial system." # # #


Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at:  (


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Last Updated on Monday, 02 August 2010 11:30

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