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20130311_HA_JUDICIARY512.JPGSeveral prominent lawyers and civic leaders have banded together to form a new group to advocate on behalf of California's courts.

The private nonprofit Foundation for Democracy and Justice "seeks to increase awareness about the relationship between adequate state funding for the administration of justice - at the state and local level - and the ability to deliver equal access to justice for all," said a news release that the group sent out Wednesday.

The organization plans to educate the public about the branches of government, with a focus on the role of the judiciary. Its formation comes after years of cuts to court funding and an ongoing division among judges about how to manage the courts under a more austere budget.

The founders of the group include:

  • Carlos Moreno, retired state Supreme Court Associate Justice
  • Lee Baca, Los Angeles County Sheriff
  • Frank C. Damrell, retired U.S. District Court Judge in Sacramento
  • Joseph Dunn, chief executive officer of the State Bar of California and retired state senator
  • Arturo González, partner in the Morrison Foerster law firm
  • Larry Kramer, president of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Edith R. Matthai, partner in the Robie & Matthai law firm
  • Mark P. Robinson, Jr., partner in the Robinson Calcagnie Robinson Shapiro Davis, Inc. law firm
  • Mark Yudof, professor at UC Berkeley Law School and former president of the University of California
  • Allan Zaremberg, president and chief executive officer of the California Chamber of Commerce

In addition, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye and Attorney General Kamala Harris serve as honorary directors of the group.

"I'm thrilled to be part of the foundation as an honorary director," Cantil-Sakauye said in a statement. "It fits in with my own efforts to promote civics education in this state, as well as what former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is doing nationally with her iCivics initiative."

PHOTO: California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye delivers her State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the Legislature in the Assembly chambers in Sacramento on March 11, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.



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