Calif. SC chief justice to receive ABA award

Jessica M. Karmasek Apr. 10, 2012, 10:30am


SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye will receive a national award from the American Bar Association's group of women lawyers.

The Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award is awarded each year by the ABA's Commission on Women in the Profession.

Established in 1991, the award is named after the first woman lawyer in America. It recognizes the accomplishments of women lawyers who have excelled in their fields and have paved the way for other women lawyers.

The award will be presented to Cantil-Sakauye and four other recipients at a special luncheon at the ABA's annual meeting in Chicago on Aug. 5.

The other recipients are: Marcia Devins Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center in Washington; Joan M. Hall, retired partner at Jenner and Block LLP in Chicago; Arlinda Locklear, attorney at Arlinda Locklear Law Office in Washington; and Amy W. Schulman, executive vice president and general counsel of Pfizer and president of Pfizer Nutrition in New York.

Previous winners include U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Cantil-Sakauye, who was sworn into office as chief justice of the country's largest court system last year, is the first Asian-Filipina American and the second woman to serve as the state's highest-ranking justice.

Before taking her seat on the bench, she served for more than 20 years on California trial and appellate courts.

In addition to her duties as chief justice, Cantil-Sakauye also chairs the Judicial Council of California, the administrative policymaking body of California's state courts, and the Commission on Judicial Appointments.

The chief justice's first year in office was marked by the fourth straight year of budget cutbacks to the judicial branch.

"In times like these, after four successive years of severe reductions, we have 'closed' signs on courtrooms and clerks offices in 24 counties around the state. Several courts have been forced to implement staff layoffs; many more are planning layoffs," she said in her inaugural State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the California Legislature last month.

"We are already seeing worrisome and potentially dangerous delays in the resolutions of cases."

California's court system serves more than 38 million people -- about 12.5 percent of the total U.S. population.

The judicial branch's budget, which represents nearly 3 percent of the state's budget, has seen reductions of close to 24 percent since 2008.

The court system is currently facing a $350 billion budget reduction.

The cut, passed by the Legislature and approved by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, is the deepest reduction in state court history.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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