Ioana Petrou

California appellate judge Ioana Petrou has served on the bench for over a decade without publicly affiliating herself with a political party. This ambiguity surrounding Petrou’s partisan leanings is common amongst California state judges, who run in nonpartisan elections designed to limit the influence of party politics on the judiciary. However, nonpartisan systems have drawbacks, leading some to call for reforms. This article will analyze what is known about Petrou’s political affiliations and examine the complex role of partisanship within California’s judicial selection process.

Ioana Petrou’s Background

To understand Petrou’s relationship with partisan politics, we must first look at her background and path to the bench.


Petrou earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and her law degree from Berkeley Law. These public schools have reputations for liberal ideologies, but do not necessitate partisan affiliation from their alumni.

Early Legal Career

After law school, Petrou built her legal career through positions focused on prosecution and civil litigation. She worked in private practice firms before serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York and California. This included no overt partisan involvement.


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, first appointed Petrou to California’s Alameda County Superior Court in 2010. Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, later elevated Petrou to the state’s First District Court of Appeal in 2018. This bipartisan appointment history reveals little about Petrou’s personal politics.

See also  Ryan Dibble

California Judiciary

To better understand Petrou’s relationship with political parties, we must examine California’s nonpartisan judicial selection process.

Selection and Retention

California appellate judges are appointed by the governor but face nonpartisan retention elections to stay on the bench. Superior court judges may be appointed or directly elected without party affiliations.

Nonpartisan Nature

California intentionally designed its judiciary to limit partisan influences. Judges do not declare party membership and political activities are restricted once they are on the bench.

Petrou’s Elections

With this context, we can now evaluate Petrou’s limited election history for any partisan leanings.

2018 Superior Court

Petrou won re-election unopposed in 2018, revealing no partisan ties.

2022 Court of Appeal

Facing a retention vote, Petrou was re-elected with 78.5% support, signifying broad bipartisan approval.

Analysis of Petrou’s Partisanship

With ambiguous appointments and no adversarial elections, what can we deduce about Petrou’s political affiliations?


Petrou’s bipartisan appointment history gives no definitive leanings.

Campaign Support

The nonpartisan nature of judicial campaigns means Petrou has not received official party endorsements.

Rulings and Opinions

Legal analyses show Petrou’s rulings do not consistently align with ideologies of either party.

The Role of Partisanship in State Judiciaries

This uncertainty about Petrou’s partisan leanings is common for judges in California and other states with nonpartisan selection methods. However, completely removing partisanship from the judiciary remains controversial.

Advantages of Nonpartisan Elections

Proponents argue nonpartisan systems limit partisan loyalty and special interests. Judges can rule based on laws instead of party platforms.

Disadvantages of Nonpartisan Elections

Critics counter that voters lack key information without party labels. Some argue partisan elections bring accountability and transparency.

See also  Robin Ficker

Calls for Reform

As a result, there are ongoing debates about reforming partisan influences on state courts. Suggested options include publicly financing campaigns, implementing term limits, or switching to merit-based appointments.


In conclusion, Ioana Petrou’s political leanings remain ambiguous due to California’s nonpartisan judicial selection process. She has received bipartisan appointments but limited public partisan activity. While nonpartisan systems aim to limit partisan sway, they have advantages and disadvantages that continue fueling debates over reforming state judiciaries. Petrou exemplifies how California judges often have unclear partisan affiliations, despite having influence over critical rulings and policies across the state.


  1. What is Ioana Petrou’s political party affiliation?
  • Ioana Petrou has no known official partisan affiliation. California judges run in nonpartisan elections so do not declare a political party membership.
  1. How do California’s judicial elections work?
  • California judges face nonpartisan elections, meaning they do not run on party tickets. Many are initially appointed and later face uncontested retention elections with no party labels.
  1. Has Petrou received endorsements from political parties?
  • Because judicial elections in California are nonpartisan contests, Petrou has not received endorsements from partisan organizations during her campaigns.
  1. What critiques exist of nonpartisan judicial elections?
  • Critics argue nonpartisan elections limit information for voters without party labels. Some contend partisan elections enhance accountability and transparency.
  1. What legal rulings show Petrou’s political leanings?
  • Analyses of Petrou’s judicial rulings have not revealed consistent partisan trends. Her decisions do not appear to align consistently with one political ideology.

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