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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
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California State Court of AppealsCandidate for Justice, District 4, Division 1

Photo of Joan Kathleen Irion

Joan Kathleen Irion

Associate Justice
1,696,396 votes (69.9%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • To faithfully adhere to the United States and California Constitutions and laws
  • To assure a process that is fair, expeditious and respects the dignity of all parties
  • To preserve and promote judicial ethics and integrity



Profession:Associate Justice
Associate Justice, Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division 1 — Appointed position (2003–current)
Judge, Superior Court, San Diego County — Appointed position (2001–2003)
Law Firm Member and Managing Shareholder of the San Diego Office, Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe (1988–2001)
Law Firm Associate, Jordan Keeler & Seligman (1984–1988)
Law Firm Associate, Bronson Bronson & McKinnon (1979–1984)


UC Davis School of Law J.D., Law (1979)
San Diego State University Master Degree, highest honors,, Public Administration (1976)
University of California, Davis, California B.A., high honors,, Political Science (1974)


Joan Kathleen Irion took the oath of office of Associate Justice in 2003, after being found exceptionally well qualified for the position by California State Bar Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission. The voters confirmed Justice Irion in the last general election.  She previously served as a judge of the San Diego County Superior Court.

Justice Irion’s father was a doctor in the military and, when growing up, the Justice lived in many parts of the United States. Her father retired from the military service, and the family settled in California.  Justice Irion attended the University of California at Davis where she received her undergraduate degree, graduating with high honors.  At San Diego State University she earned a master’s degree in Public Administration, graduating with highest honors. She returned to Davis, where she obtained her law degree from U.C. Davis School of Law. There, she was managing editor of the Law Review.

Following law school, Justice Irion entered the private practice of law as a civil litigator with the law firms of Bronson, Bronson and McKinnon and Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe. She was the managing shareholder of Heller’s San Diego office until her judicial appointment.  

Throughout her legal career, Justice Irion taught and was a lecturer at several universities.  She is a frequent teacher at judicial education seminars.

Justice Irion devotes substantial time to the improvement of the courts, better access for self-represented individuals within the California judicial system, judicial education and civic education for kids.  She is the Court of Appeal liaison to the Civil Appellate Self-Help workshop and appeared in an introductory explanatory video that is shown to all attending the self-help workshop. The video is available on YouTube, ­­­­­­

As a member of the National Association of Women Judges, Justice Irion developed the organization’s Informed Voters Fair Judges non-partisan education project to increase public awareness about the judicial system and to give voters the tools needed to insure judges are appointed and elected based on their character and abilities.  The project produced an Emmy-Award winning public service announcement “Fair and Free,” featuring United States Supreme Court Justice (Retired) Sandra Day O’Connor, which is available on YouTube.  Justice Irion accepted the Emmy Award on behalf of the Judges Association.

You can learn more about Justice Joan Irion on the California courts’ website,


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Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

            As an appellate justice, I strive to apply the Constitution and laws with fairness, integrity and in an even-handed manner.


Candidate Contact Info

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