California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye is a believer in California’s community colleges. The former Sacramento City College student who earned her associate degree in 1978 paid homage to her alma mater at the school’s 90th anniversary celebration, saying: “SCC is the place where you can start to make your dreams come true.”
It was in college that Cantil-Sakauye discovered her interest in debate and public speaking, and she won many state and national awards. Born in 1959 in Sacramento, Cantil-Sakauye earned her bachelor’s degree from UC Davis, graduating with honors in 1980. After taking a year off to visit her ancestral homeland, the Philippines, the chief justice entered the UC Davis, Martin Luther King Jr. School of Law in 1981. She later worked as a deputy district attorney for the Sacramento District Attorney's Office.
Cantil-Sakauye served for more 20 years on California appellate and trial courts. In 1990, Gov. George Deukmejian appointed her to the Sacramento Municipal Court and in 1997, Gov. Pete Wilson elevated her to the Superior Court of Sacramento County. That year, she established and presided over the first court in Sacramento dedicated solely to domestic violence issues.
In 2005, Gov. Schwarzenegger nominated Cantil-Sakauye to the Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District. Five years later, she was appointed to the state Supreme Court.
Cantil-Sakauye was sworn into office as Chief Justice of California on Jan. 3, 2011. She is the first Asian American and the second female to serve as the state's chief justice.
Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye is a former board member of several nonprofit organizations and has been active in numerous professional community organizations, including membership in the California Judges Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and the Sacramento Asian Bar Association. She has received numerous awards, including 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, the Filipina of the Year award and other awards from youth groups.