California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye offered a strong defense of her administration of the courts, saying she has instituted reforms that are making the state's judicial system more efficient.
"During the time that I have been chief we have cut the AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts) by 30 percent. We have made radical changes and we are continuing to do that," she said.
The leader of the state's judiciary was interviewed on NBC4's "News Conference" program.
Local, state and national politics
Cantil-Sakauye has been criticized by a group of lower-court judges for not doing enough to send resources to Superior Courts in the state's 58 counties. The Alliance of California Judges seized on a recent audit which questioned nearly $30 million in court staff spending. The audit noted the use of 66 state cars by staff, that some court administrators made more than the governor and had offices in three cities instead of one.
The chief justice said the audit should be put in context.
"We will take a look at the fleet of cars, the fleet of cars is used to travel statewide," she said. "We could be in Sacramento but historically we have been in three separate places (Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco) to provide services for three different component parts of California. Four percent of the judicial branch, the largest in the world, was audited over four years. We are going to look at all of the recommendations."
Cantil-Sakauye said she was pleased with the increase to the judiciary in Gov. Jerry Brown's budget, but said she would seek additional revenue in negotiations with the legislative leaders.
The chief justice was asked about Brown's selection of three Yale Law School graduates to the high court, non of them with trial experience. Cantil-Sakauye, who attended community college before attending law school at UC Davis, argued the governor's appointees offer a "balance" to the court.
Cantil-Sakauye, as with justices Carol Corrigan, Ming Chin and Kathryn Werdegar, have either been prosecutors or judges prior to their selection.
"We are now a pretty interesting mix I would say," Cantil-Sakauye said.
The chief justice said she would not take an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court if one was offered and reflected on her job as a black jack dealer at a Lake Tahoe casino when she was a law student.
"I learned how to pick a jury, how to read body language, what under the influence means and what drunk means," she said.
"News Conference" airs at 9 a.m. Sunday following "Meet the Press."