Attorney Profile

John T. Philipsborn


Mr. Philipsborn is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell.

Practice areas


  • California, 1978
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1985
  • Ninth Circuit, 1985
  • Second Circuit, 2017


  • University of California, MAS, Criminology, Law and Society, 2016
  • University of California, J.D., 1978
  • Antioch College, M.Ed., 1975
  • Bowdoin College, A.B., 1971


  • Certified Specialist, Criminal Law, State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization

Associations and memberships

  • State Bar of California

Biographical details

  • Fulbright Scholar, Portugal, 1989
  • Fulbright Scholar, Pakistan, 2001
  • University of California, Rosoff Distinguished Research Award, 2016
  • University of Pennsylvania, Center for Neuroscience and Society, Visiting Scholar, 2019-
  • University of California, Berkeley, Center for Law and Society, Visiting Scholar, 2019-2020
  • CACJ Lifetime Achievement Award, 2016
  • NACDL President’s Commendation 2018
  • CACJ President’s Awards for Amicus Work 2003, 2004, 2008, 2015
  • Recipient: Defenders Inc., 1983, San Diego, Excellence in Defense of the Poor
  • Spirit of CEB Award, CEB, State Bar of California/University of California, 2006
  • Awards for West Memphis Three work, 2011-1012
  • Death Penalty Focus, Award, West Memphis Three, Abolition Award, 2011-12
  • Forensic Mental Health Assoc., Cal, 2015, West Award for significant contributions
  • Judge Pro Tem, San Francisco Sup. Court, 2004–
  • Consultant: Legal/judicial education projects in Cambodia
  • U.N. War Crimes Tribunal
  • Coordinator: Intl. Conf. on Adversarial Adjudication in Criminal Cases, Lisbon, 1990
  • Evaluation of Nicaraguan Court System, 1987
  • Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program 2005–
  • Amicus Counsel for Mexico and The Philippines in select cases
  • Advisory Board, The Champion, Journal of National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 1993–
  • Editorial Consultant, CEB, 1998-2012
  • Author/co-author: Chapters 14, 15, 48 “California Criminal Law Procedure & Practice,” 1998-2020
  • 95 Journal Articles
  • Adjunct Professor, New College of Law, 1991-2007
  • Faculty, Death Penalty College, Santa Clara Law School, 1992-2019
  • Member, Board of Advisors, U.S. Prison History Museum, Alcatraz
  • Member, Bd. of Dir., CACJ, 1989-1994 and 2002-2005
  • Chair, amicus curiae Committee, CACJ, 1991-2017; Vice Chair 2018-
  • Co-Chair, Governmental Misconduct Committee, 1989-1991
  • Board of Directors, California Indian Legal Services, 1990-1997
  • Joint Advisory Committee, Continuing Education of the Bar (University of California/State Bar, 1991-1994)
  • Consultant, Criminal Law Subcommittee, CEB, 1994–
  • Criminal Law Advisory Committee, California Board of Legal Specialization, 1994-1996
  • Co-Chair, NACDL Governmental and Prosecutorial Misconduct Committee, 1990-1992
  • Member, NACDL Task Force on Risk Assessment Instruments, 2018-
  • Task Force on Preservation of Adversarial Process, NACDL, 1989-1990
  • Task Force on Emerging Democracies, NACDL, 1990-1991
  • Lecturer: Intl. Conf. on Social Justice Research; Amer. Coll. Forensic Psychiatry; Amer. Coll. Forensic Psychology; CACJ/CPDA Death Penalty Seminar; American Psychological Association; California Judges Association; ABA; CA Association of Criminalists; Forensic Mental Health Association of CA, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Counsel or amicus counsel in more than 100 published decisions, including U.S. Supreme Court, California Supreme Court, Circuit Courts of Appeal, State Courts of Appeal, published District and trial court rulings
Law Offices of John T. Philipsborn serves clients throughout California and the United States.