Justice Joan K. Irion was appointed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One, in September 2003. She was found to be exceptionally well-qualified for the position of Associate Justice by the California State Bar Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission and was unanimously confirmed at a public hearing of the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Before appointment to the Court of Appeal, Justice Irion served as a San Diego County Superior Court Judge.
Justice Irion devotes substantial time to the improvement of the courts, judicial education and community outreach efforts. She is vice-chair of the Judicial Services Advisory Committee to the California Judicial Council, a frequent lecturer at judicial education courses, and was instrumental in designing and implementing the high school education program for the December 2004 San Diego Special Session of the California Supreme Court.
Justice Irion received her undergraduate degree, with high honors, from the University of California, Davis in 1974. Two years later, she earned her masters degree in the field of public administration, with highest honors, from San Diego State University. In 1979, she received her law degree from the University of California, Davis, School of Law. From 1978-1979, she served as Managing Editor for its Law Review.
After graduating from law school, Justice Irion entered private practice as a civil litigator, where she would remain for more than 20 years until her appointment to the Superior Court of San Diego County. She specialized in representing clients before taxing agencies and litigating tax matters in the trial and appellate courts. She also gained substantial experience in litigating general business, insurance and employment disputes. She was a shareholder in the law firm of Heller Ehrman White and McAuliffe from 1988, and its managing shareholder in the San Diego office from 1998 until her judicial appointment.
Throughout her legal career, Justice Irion participated actively in teaching and lecturing at a wide variety of universities, including Stanford Law School, Boalt Hall School of Law, University of San Diego School of Law, Vanderbilt University, Georgetown University, and University of Southern California. She has also spoken before numerous civic and professional groups, both domestic and international, including the Tax Executives Institute, the National Institute for State and Local Taxation, the Japanese Keidanren and the Confederation of British Industry.
Prior to her judicial appointments, Justice Irion served as a member of the State Bar Board of Governors, a member of the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission, President of the California Young Lawyers Association, a member of the Board of Directors of the Bar Association of San Francisco, a member of the Statewide Commission to Study Mandatory Continuing Legal Education, a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates, and co-chair of the ABA Tax Litigation Committee.
Justice Irion is an active member of the San Diego Lawyers Club, California Women Lawyers, American Inns of Court, the Association of Business Trial Lawyers, the American Law Institute, UC Davis Law School Alumni Association and the La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary Club.
She holds leadership positions with the National Association of Women Judges and the J. Clifford Wallace Chapter of the American Inns of Court.
Court opinions authored by Justice Irion are available to the public in the reported appellate decisions and on the Internet.
Justice Irion is married and has two stepsons.