John Philipsborn


John Philipsborn is a practicing criminal defense lawyer with offices in San Francisco.  He obtained his law degree and a master’s degree in Criminology, Law, and Society in the University of California system.  His undergraduate degree and a Master’s in Education are from Bowdoin and Antioch Colleges, respectively.  During the course of his practice, the emphasis of his legal work has been on the defense of serious cases often involving questions about the reliability of scientific evidence.  He has defended numerous persons accused of capital offenses, homicides, and other felony offenses throughout various parts of the United States, in both Federal and State courts.  While primarily a trial lawyer, in part because of his lengthy tenure as Chair, Co-Chair, or Vice Chair of the Amicus Curiae Committee of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), in addition to having tried many cases he has been involved in litigations before the United States Supreme Court and numerous other reviewing tribunals around the United States, resulting in more than 100 published decisions.  He has been a lawyer with the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program since 2004 and has represented both Mexico and the Philippines in litigations in courts of the United States.  He has qualified as an expert witness on a number of aspects of the defense of cases, and has testified on the subject of the competence of individuals to be subject to trial in courts in the United States.  In addition, throughout his career, John has been involved in teaching, research and writing aimed primarily at persons practicing in the legal system.  He is a regular author or coauthor of book chapters specific to California criminal procedure and has published more than 80 times in journals and periodicals on a wide array of subjects, including forensic mental health and practice recommendations for lawyers.  He has often lectured to audiences of practicing lawyers and practicing forensic mental health practitioners.  A two-time Fulbright Scholar, he was a law school faculty member for more than 10 years, and has often presented to lawyers and students outside the United States. He was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by CACJ in 2106, the 2016 Rosoff Distinguished Research Award from the Department of Criminology, Law, and Society at UC Irvine, and in 2014, he was recognized for his contributions to forensic mental health practice by the Forensic Mental Health Association of California.  In the Spring of 2019, he was named Visiting Scholar at the Center for Neuroscience and Society at the University of Pennsylvania, thereby continuing his focus on the intersection between mental health assessment and criminal law, with recent attention on the assessment of future violence. His visit to UC Berkeley allows continuation of that focus.