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Tani Cantil-Sakauye was sworn-in today by outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to become chief justice of the California Supreme Court, beginning Jan. 3.

The 51-year-old Sacramento resident will be the second woman and first non-white person to lead the state's highest court, replacing retiring Chief Justice Ronald M. George.

"Today my heart is full," Cantil-Sakauye told several hundred friends, relatives and well-wishers who crammed into the Capitol Rotunda for today's roughly 30-minute ceremony.

She conceded, however, that tough times lie ahead

"It's not a learning curve, it's a vertical climb," she said.

"I'm fully aware of the monumental, indescribable challenge ahead of me," she said. "I happily dedicate myself to that."

Cantill-Sakauye, who had served since 2005 as an associate justice for the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento, was nominated by Schwarzenegger in July for the position being vacated by George.

A graduate of the UC Davis School of Law, Cantil-Sakauye has worked as a deputy legal affairs secretary to then-Gov. George Deukmejian, a Sacramento County deputy district attorney, and as a Municipal and Superior Court judge.

Cantil-Sakauye also has been a co-leader of a Brownie and junior Girl Scout Troop, and she has been a church bazaar volunteer. She and her husband, Mark, are the parents of two daughters.

Cantil-Sakauye, daughter of a Filipino mother and a Flipino Portuguese father, will be paid $238,010 per year to oversee the largest judicial system in the world - with more than 1,700 judges, 21,000 court employees, and about 375 court commissioners and referees.

California voters supported Cantil-Sakauye's nomination as chief justice in balloting Nov. 2.

Updated about 2:40 p.m. to amend the statistic regarding court commissioners and referees.


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