Chief Justice of California, The Honorable Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye is the 2019 Recipient of NAWJ's Justice Vaino Spencer Leadership Award

Written by National Association of Women Judges|August 23, 2019|News

The Honorable Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California, is the 2019 recipient of the National Association of Women Judges (NAWJ) Justice Vaino Spencer Leadership Award. She is the first Asian-Filipina American and the second woman to serve as California’s Chief Justice. As Chief Justice she also chairs the Judicial Council of California, the administrative policymaking body of state courts, and the Commission on Judicial Appointments.

The Chief Justice will receive the award during the Wednesday, October 16, 2019 Keynote Luncheon at the O2019mni Los Angles at California Plaza, held as part of NAWJ’s Annual Conference. The Luncheon program includes ‘A Conversation’ between the Chief Justice and The Honorable Lee Smalley Edmon, Presiding Justice of the California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division Three. The Luncheon is scheduled from 12:00 pm to 1:45 pm.

As chair of the Judicial Council, the Chief Justice has made the business of judicial administration more transparent.  She opened to the public previously closed council meetings and invited public comment at the meetings. The Chief Justice has taken a leadership role in promoting civic awareness and engagement in California. She launched the Power of Democracy initiative to promote civics literacy in California's schools. The committee overseeing the initiative includes representatives from all three levels of the California courts, the State Bar, and local bar associations, as well as local and state education organizations. The project included the California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning, which was appointed by the Chief Justice and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. The task force’s final report is a blueprint to guide future policy discussions and possible legislation to improve K-12 civic learning in California. In addition, the Chief Justice, in collaboration with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction annually presents the Civic Learning Award to those schools that serve as models in promoting civics education.tani-cantil-sakauye.jpg

She was president of the Anthony M. Kennedy American Inn of Court, an organization dedicated to promoting civility, ethics, and professionalism in the practice of law. And was a member of the national Conference of Chief Justices Board of Directors.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye has received many awards. Three highlights include the honor by the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs for bringing public attention to the crisis in civic education in the public schools, Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education from the National Center for State Courts, and Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the American Bar Association.

Prior to her elevation to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye served for more than 20 years on California appellate and trial courts. Chief Justice Ronald M. George appointed her to the Judicial Council of California in September 2008. She has also served as chair of the council’s Advisory Committee on Financial Accountability and Efficiency for the Judicial Branch, a member of the Domestic Violence Practice and Procedure Task Force and chaired its Best Practices Domestic Violence subcommittee, vice-chair of the Executive and Planning Committee, vice-chair of the Rules and Projects Committee, co-chair of the Judicial Recruitment and Retention Working Group, and as a member of the Commission for Impartial Courts Implementation Committee. The Chief Justice was a Special Master, selected by the Supreme Court of California to hear disciplinary proceedings before the Commission on Judicial Performance. She worked as a Deputy District Attorney for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, and then served on the senior staff of Governor Deukmejian, first as deputy legal affairs secretary and later as a deputy legislative secretary.

The Justice Vaino Spencer Leadership Award, whose recipient is selected by the President of NAWJ, honors an individual for outstanding leadership in promoting the vision, core values and mission of NAWJ.Association of Women Judges.

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