Judge Jean Dandona was born at West Point, New York, and raised in a military family. After graduating from West Anchorage High School, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree (cum laude) and secondary teaching credential from the University of California at Santa Barbara. In 1978 she graduated from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law (Order of the Coif, Thurston Society).
Judge Dandona was a civil litigator for twenty years in the fields of personal injury, wrongful death, product liability, professional liability, business, real property, contract, and construction law. She served as a court-appointed arbitrator and settlement master. In 1999 she became a research attorney for the Santa Barbara Superior Court and in 2001 became the Santa Barbara supervising research attorney. In 2008 she was appointed Judge of the Superior Court by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Judge Dandona is assigned to a criminal felony and misdemeanor trial calendar and the Appellate Division. She has presided over the Veterans Treatment Court and currently presides over the Substance Abuse Treatment Court and the Clean & Sober treatment court calendar.
Judge Dandona is the co-chair of the Santa Barbara Superior Court Judicial Education Committee as well as the Criminal Rules and Forms Committee and the Education Committee. She is a member of the court's IT Committee and the Odyssey Implementation Committee, which oversees the implementation of the court's new case management system. Judge Dandona also serves as a member of the Santa Barbara County Law Library Board of Trustees.