I’m Glad to be a Californian

Last Wednesday, at the San Francisco Lawyers Club Inn of Courts Supreme Court luncheon, I was honored to introduce the Chief Justice of California.

As the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, she influences how laws are interpreted. As I wrote in an earlier blog, The Case of the Winning Defendant,” court opinions matter to you as a tenant.

As an attorney who fights for tenants’ rights, I can demonstrate the way a landlord treats you is based in part by court opinions handed down over the years. (The other part, of course, is local and state laws, ordinances, and regulations.)

As a tenant attorney, I keep an eye on court opinions, specifically ones that will affect the direction of my current or future cases.

She’s inspirational

To prepare my speech for last Wednesday’s luncheon, I did a lot of research about the Chief Justice. The more I researched, the more I grew to respect and admire her not just as the Chief Justice, but as a person.

I am proud that Tani Cantil-Sakauye is the Chief Justice of my state. I’m glad to be a Californian.

The introduction speech

Here’s the speech:

If you’re a child and the hall was full, you can’t see over the big people seated in front of you.  Maybe there was a stage, but adult heads obscured the speaker. Whispers around you were distracting

It was a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall, maybe with a cracked linoleum floor and a few windows to let in the oppressive heat.

Undoubtedly Tani Cantil-Sakauye, then Tani Cantil, did not realize that this moment, this particular moment, would change her life and influence the lives of thousands of Californians.

Gloria Ochoa was speaking, a graduate of the U.C. Davis law school. Not that remarkable, until you think about it deeply. Ochoa is a Filipina woman. And she graduated from law school.

If Tani Cantil did not recognize this as an auspicious moment, her mother did.  Like all good mothers, she jabbed her daughter with an elbow and said, “You could do that too.”

It was the start of a long journey, of hard work and dedication. Undoubtedly there were many times of questioning, exhaustion, and disappointment.

But she did not give up. She persevered through hard times. She used the dream, the dream started by her mother, to propel her forward.

We never exactly know who we influence. We never exactly know what we contribute to the world.  But I say, thank goodness for Gloria Ochoa. And thank goodness for Tani Cantil-Sakauye’s mother.

Now Tani Cantil-Sakauye stands as a leader, someone to emulate. She is many things: hardworking, successful, inspirational.

Please welcome Tani Cantil-Sakauye, our Chief Justice of California.

 

A special thanks to Dan Ryan, photographer, for use of the image.

 

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