Available for: Mediations, Case Evaluations, Consultations, Moot Courts, Mock Trials, Special Master
Hon. Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye (Ret.) joined ADR Services, Inc. in 2023 after a lifelong career of serving the law with integrity. She previously served as the 28th Chief Justice of California.
A native of Sacramento, California, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a degree in rhetoric before earning her J.D. from UC Davis School of Law. She began her legal career as a Deputy District Attorney in Sacramento County, where she spent four years prosecuting numerous felony and misdemeanor cases in jury trials to verdict. After that, she served on the senior staff of Governor George Deukmejian in two capacities: first as Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary and later as Deputy Legislative Affairs Secretary.
Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye has served for 32 years on California appellate and trial courts, and has been appointed or elevated to higher office by three governors. In 1990, Governor Deukmejian appointed her to the Sacramento Municipal Court and in 1997, Governor Pete Wilson elevated her to the Superior Court of Sacramento County. As a Superior Court Judge, she established and presided over the first court in Sacramento dedicated solely to domestic violence issues. In addition, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye chaired the court’s criminal law committee and was a member of the Presiding Judge’s task force on domestic violence and the Home Court committee. In 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to the Third District Court of Appeal.
After Governor Schwarzenegger nominated her as Chief Justice of California on July 22, 2010, the California State Bar Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission rated her as exceptionally well-qualified for the position. At a public hearing on August 25, 2010, she was unanimously confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, and in a statewide general election on November 2, 2010, she was elected by an overwhelming majority of California voters. She was sworn into office on January 3, 2011, becoming the first person of color, first Asian-Filipina American, and the second woman to serve as the state’s Chief Justice.
As Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye was responsible for all administrative, budget, and policy decisions of the highest court in the state, while maintaining the same caseload and duties as the Associate Justices, including deciding petitions for review, extraordinary writs, and authoring court opinions that resolved the most important and conflicted areas of California law. Her tenure on the Supreme Court was marked by her rigorous analysis of legal issues and her commitment to upholding the rule of law. Additionally, she served as Chair of the Judicial Council of California, the administrative policymaking body of state courts, and the Commission on Judicial Appointments.
As head of the California judiciary, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye has championed judicial reform, working to improve access to justice, advocating for greater transparency, and reforming state court funding models that disproportionately impacted low-income individuals. She was a leader in revitalizing civic learning through her Power of Democracy initiative, which was developed to inform Californians about the courts and the role of the judiciary. In an effort to improve transparency, she opened meetings of the Judicial Council and its advisory bodies that were once closed to the public and made public comment more accessible.
Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye’s leadership has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including the 2012 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, the highest award bestowed by the American Bar Association in recognition of the accomplishments of women lawyers in the nation who have excelled in their field. In 2022, she was the recipient of the California Lawyers Association’s inaugural Judicial Excellence Award, which was established to recognize a member of the California Judicial Branch who exemplifies commitment to the improvement of the administration of justice and preserving the rule of law.
Throughout her career, Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye has remained committed to the principles of fairness, integrity, and justice. Her unwavering dedication to these values has made her a respected and influential figure in the legal community, and an exemplar for aspiring judges and attorneys.
Neutral, ADR Services, Inc. 2023-Present
President & CEO of The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) 2023-Present
Chief Justice of California 2011-2022
Third District Court of Appeal, Associate Appellate Justice 2005-2011
Sacramento Superior Court, Judge 1997-2005
Sacramento Municipal Court, Judge 1990-1997
California Governor’s Office, Deputy Legislative Affairs Secretary 1989-1990
California Governor’s Office, Deputy Legal Affairs Secretary 1988-1989
Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, Deputy District Attorney 1984-1988