Maria E. Stratton

Maria E. Stratton

Presiding Justice
Division Eight
Since 2018

Justice Maria E. Stratton is the Presiding Justice of the Second District Court of Appeal, Division Eight.

Justice Stratton was born in Santa Monica, California and raised in San Diego, her father’s last duty station in the United States Navy. She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Southern California and received her law degree from Boalt Hall at the University of California, Berkeley (now Berkeley Law). She served as law clerk to United States Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson at both the U.S. District Court (before his elevation) and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

After clerking, Justice Stratton worked as a Deputy Federal Public Defender at the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California in Los Angeles. She was an associate at Overland, Berke, Wesley, Gits, Randolph and Levanas for a short time before joining Talcott, Lightfoot, Vandevelde, Woehrle & Sadowsky where she practiced criminal and civil litigation for 10 years as an associate, partner, and a managing partner.

In 1993, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit appointed Justice Stratton as the Federal Public Defender for the Central District of California where for 12 years she directed an office of 60 attorneys representing indigent federal criminal defendants at the trial and appellate levels and on post-conviction habeas corpus review. She has served on the Ninth Circuit Capital Case and Capital Cost Oversight Committees and the Ninth Circuit Gender Bias Task Force Los Angeles Working Group.

In 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Justice Stratton to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, where she served as Assistant Supervising Judge of the mental health departments of the criminal division, Assistant Supervising Judge of the Van Nuys courthouse, and Supervising Judge of the probate division. From 2006 through 2018, she tried over 60 civil and criminal cases to jury verdict and presided over hundreds of civil and criminal bench trials. Justice Stratton was also active in bench and bar education.

In 2018, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. appointed Justice Stratton as an Associate Justice to the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District, Division Eight. She is presently a member of the Judicial Council’s Probate Curriculum Advisory Committee and Appellate Indigent Defense Oversight Advisory Committee and a former member of the Judicial Council’s Task Force for Criminal Justice Collaboration on Mental Health Issues and the Mental Health Issues Implementation Task force.

In 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Justice Stratton to be Presiding Justice. After receiving an “exceptionally well qualified” rating from the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation, she was unanimously confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments.

Justice Stratton is the recipient of the 2016 Ernestine Stahlhut Award from the Women Lawyer’s Association of Los Angeles, the Wiley W. Manuel Award for Pro Bono Services from the State Bar of California, and the Mort Herbert Service Award from the Los Angeles Criminal Courts Bar Association. During her career as a trial lawyer, she was recognized by the Los Angeles Daily Journal as one of the Top 75 Women Litigators in California and one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in California; by the Los Angeles County Bar Association Criminal Justice Section as Defense Attorney of the Year; and by the Women Lawyer’s Association of Los Angeles as one of the “First Women of L.A. Law.”