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Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye's Views on Justice, Diversity and More

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By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on October 25, 2013 10:02 AM

Recently, Scott Shafer, host of KQED's The California Report, interviewed California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye about some issues facing the California justice system.

For California lawyers without the time to listen to the full discussion, here are some of her thoughts as expressed in the interview.

Justice

Budget Costs

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye stated that budget cuts resulting in layoffs, court closures and reduced hours has had the effect of undermining justice. She noted that disparities in income have resulted in a "two-tier system of justice" with low- and middle-income people, and smaller business suffering more. Those with the means, use alternative, private methods to resolve conflict.

Prisons

Noting a "sea change in California" citing advances such as more resentencing, more parolees on the streets and in county jails than in prisons, and certain three-strikes offenders getting resentenced under Prop 36, the Chief Justice was still not surprised by the Supreme Court's rejection of Governor Brown's appeal of the prison caps.

Juvenile Justice

The Chief Justice sees juvenile justice as a high priority because once a child is in the juvenile justice system, it's more likely that they will end up in the adult system.

Diversity

When first appointed Chief Justice, the media pointed out that she was the first female, Latina, Filipina chief justice in the U.S., and she was "startled" by the attention because she had been on the bench for 20 years. It "reawaked old memories of starting out being the diverse person in the group."

She also noted that the California courts have "long way to go to reflect California's diversity."

Proposition System in California

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye wrote the unanimous opinion that the Supreme Court famously disagreed with on the Prop 8 standing issue. Even so, she believes the California initiative system is "still intact," noting California's decision is still controlling in California.

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