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An Historic Occasion

Judge Steven Jahr, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Judge Susan Harlan, Judge Don Howard, Judge Steve Hermanson and Diane Anderson take time out of a busy schedule for a quick historic photo

History was made in Amador County last Thursday, September 26, 2013, when the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, visited Jackson for a luncheon held in her honor. Judge Steve Jahr, Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, was also in attendance.

The Chief Justice and Jahr toured the Amador Superior Court, meeting with the judges and staff.  We were fortunate to have the state’s two top leaders for the judiciary in Amador County. The luncheon event was a rare opportunity for the local legal community to have a dialogue with California’s 28th Chief Justice. The luncheon was hosted by the honorable Presiding Judge Susan Harlan, honorable Judge JS Hermanson, and the Amador County Bar Association, at Tomi’s Banquet Room in Jackson.

The room was filled with people from the legal, business, and political community, as well as the general community at large.  More than 90 attendees were able to listen to the Chief Justice give a 30-minute speech.

The Chief Justice, who took office in January 2011, during a time of turmoil for the California court system, spoke of her humble beginnings in Sacramento, her early years as a prosecutor and her rise through the judiciary. Her commentary was also an assessment of the current state of the judicial branch of government.  The Chief Justice exuded optimism for the future and spoke of the importance of the local court system in maintaining access to justice.

During her speech regarding the massive judicial budget cuts that courts all over California have been facing in the past five years, the Chief Justice said, “We were not to be judged in the short term. We are moving in the right direction and as we move in that direction we can never sacrifice our integrity.”

The Chief Justice followed her speech with a question-and-answer session.  The Chief Justice gave very succinct and straightforward answers to every question. As Amador County Bar Association President, I was inspired by the Chief Justice. She is very articulate and knowledgeable, yet she never had any notes. She really listened to the questions asked and had thoughtful answers.

“I thought she was a dynamic speaker,” said Tom Blackman, of Coldwell Banker Award Realtors. “She touched on a lot of topics that were brought up in other speeches. She really impressed me, and I’m not easily impressed.”

Long-time Amador County Museum Curator Georgia Fox set up a display highlighting Amador County’s history, with a display board that simply stated “The Argonaut 1859-1948,” with black-and-white photos of local mining operations through the years. Fox, dressed in period attire, filled a table covered in burlap with artifacts, such as an old mining pan, a replica of the Kennedy Wheel, a miner’s hard hat with a carbide lamp and several pictures of judges from the 1800s to present day. Fox had one-on-one time with the Chief Justice, explaining to her all of the past history of Amador County.

“She was really interested in the history of Amador County,” Fox recalled, “and asked a lot of questions. It was a very rewarding 

In the end, it was a historical landmark event for Amador County and we were all honored by the Chief Justice’s visit.experience for me to talk to so many lawyers, judges, and officials from Amador and surrounding counties. After working at the museum for 20 years, I worked with many people but this was an experience that topped it off.”

Also on the agenda was a presentation by Sandra Kraft – ex-president of the Calaveras County Bar Association – to the Chief Justice of the book. “From the Depths of the Mines Came the Law.” It is a history of the Bench and Bar of Calaveras County, written by Mike Arken and Ted Laskin, two attorneys no longer with this bar association.  It depicts the inception, evolution, and administration of the law, from the mining days to the millennium. Unlike most history books, this one contains pictures and articles about four people still alive today. They are judges John E. Martin and Douglas Mewhinney, as well as attorneys Ken Airola and Sandra Kraft. The Chief Justice graciously accepted this gift.

Photo 1: Judge Steven Jahr, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Judge Susan Harlan, Judge Don Howard, Judge Steve Hermanson and Diane Anderson take time out of a busy schedule for a quick historic photo at Thomi’s Banquet Room.*
Photo 2: Long time Amador County Museum Curator Georgia Fox and the Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye at Thomi’s banquet room.*

from the Opinion article by Bar Association President Diane Anderson at Amador Ledger Dispatch:

Thursday, September 26, 2013 local judges and the Amador County Bar Association held a lunch at Thomi’s banquet room for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California, Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Judge Steven Jahr, the director of the Administrate court. The event was fabulous and attended by over 90 people from the legal and business community. 

But, as we all know, in order to put on an event of this magnitude, it takes many people to help. I want to thank: Frank and his staff at Thomi’s for the fabulous lunch, the people who helped transform the banquet room into the western gold rush theme complete with red checkered paper over ivory linens, miner’s lamps, mini burlap sacks filled with gold, mason jars filled with sunflowers, and the history of different mine from the area at all 12 tables, Stevie Shevey and Diane Sherborne for helping at the registration table, Gale Fairbrother for assisting me with the gift baskets that were filled with everything “Amador County,” Susan Manning from the Feed Barn for supplying the straw bales, County Supervisor Louis Boitano for lending several items, including a miner’s pick axe, a sluice box and gold miner’s pans to complete the authentic gold rush theme, and Georgia Fox for the historic displays and her wealth of knowledge that she shared with everyone in attendance. 

Additionally, I would like to thank all the local businesses who contributed to the gift baskets, including Helwig, Sierra Ridge, Terra D’Oro, Vino Noceto, Karmere, Amador Flower Farm, Volcano Press, 
Black Chasm Cavern, Amador Arts and the Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, I would like to thank the legal and business community for turning out to this special once in a life time event. We had two special guests in attendance — the Student Body Presidents from Amador High school Shania Bennett and from Argonaut High School Matt Busi. We believe it was a great opportunity for these students to be exposed to the judiciary branch of the government, which is after all the third branch of government. It was almost like a civics lesson. Thomi’s banquet room was filled with people from the legal, business and political community, as well as the general community at large. It was a good mixture of folks from all walks of life that encompass the world in general. I was honored to be a part of this great event but truly thank all of the people who helped make it so special.

Photo 3: Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, receiving her custom presents.*


Further photos* from the visit:













* all photos by Bill Lavallie

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