Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye gave a brief but wide-ranging interview to KQED last month.  In the interview, the Chief said:

— Cuts to the courts’ budget have “undermined justice” and “contributed to a two-tier system of justice” where those who can’t afford private alternatives to the court system will get a “second system of justice.”

— She was not surprised that the United States Supreme Court didn’t intervene to relieve California from a federal order to reduce its prison population.

— Because of recent changes in the 3-strikes law and other sentencing laws, “we’re looking at a sea change in criminal justice in California.”

— The juvenile justice system is a priority for her.

— Coming from a minority community, her “lenses take in a little bit more.”

— Diversity in the judiciary “makes a big difference,” including allowing “the public to have confidence and trust in our public institutions.”

— In Hollingsworth v. Perry, where the United States Supreme Court held that ballot initiative proponents do not have standing under federal law to defend initiatives in court even though the California Supreme Court held they do have standing under California law, she read Justice Kennedy’s dissent “with many cheers.”

At the end of the interview, the reporter surprised the Chief Justice by producing a deck of cards and asking her to briefly reprise her pre-legal career role as a black-jack dealer.  She was a good sport about it.