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California chief justice wants review of harassment policies

SAN FRANCISCO - California's top judge on Thursday launched a review of the judicial branch's policies on harassment, discrimination and other inappropriate conduct in the workplace.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye tasked a group of judges, administrators and attorneys with considering new rules to increase awareness of bad behavior and reporting requirements.

The policymaking body for California's court system, the Judicial Council, said in March that it had paid more than $500,000 in taxpayer funds since 2011 to settle five complaints of sexual harassment against judges and other court employees.

Cantil-Sakauye said she wants to ensure that the court system is safe for all employees.

"Institutions and industries across our country, including our judicial branch, have rightfully been focusing on issues of harassment and discrimination in the workplace," she said in a statement Thursday.

The chief justice previously pushed for a revision to court rules to make it clear that courts cannot withhold the names of judges and other court officials who have entered into settlement agreements to resolve sex harassment or sex discrimination complaints.

The Judicial Council revised the policy in May. A report to the council ahead of that decision said the judicial branch may need to improve complaint processes and training to address sexual harassment and discrimination.

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