John Briscoe is a poet, author, and internationally recognized trial lawyer who has argued before the California Supreme Court, and tried and argued cases before the United States Supreme Court and the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. Briscoe was born July 1, 1948 in Stockton, California. In 1966, Briscoe graduated from St. Mary's High School in Stockton and enrolled at the University of San Francisco (USF), which his late father had attended. Briscoe married in 1969 and divorced in 1972, the year he earned his Juris Doctor from USF, published his first law review article, and published his first poems in San Francisco Quarterly. Between 1972 and 1980, Briscoe practiced in the Land Law Section of the California Attorney General's Office, where he argued several cases against the United States and against other states in the original jurisdiction of the US Supreme Court. In 1976, Briscoe married Valerie Breton with whom he has two children, John Paul, born in 1981, and Katherine, born in 1983. In 1980, Briscoe entered private practice in San Francisco specializing in real property and environmental litigation. He has represented diverse natural resource interests; the nation's largest title insurers; several US states, including Alaska, Hawaii, Georgia, and California; the American Territory of Guam; and many city and county governments. Overseas, Briscoe has represented the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the Republic of Korea, the State of Kuwait, and the United Nations Compensation Commission, among other clients. Briscoe has published numerous legal articles on natural resources, land use, land title, and international oceans law. He has also authored books on the culinary history of San Francisco, the history of California wine, as well as his own poetry. He has taken several literary awards, including the Oscar Lewis Award for Western History in 2020. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Law of the Sea Institute at UC Berkeley, and has taught as an adjunct professor at UC Hastings College of Law. Briscoe served as president of the San Francisco Historical Society, numerous other nonprofits, and he is co-owner of Sam's Grill & Seafood Restaurant, the fifth-oldest restaurant in the United States. In 2003, Briscoe married Carol Sayers, and they live in Novato, California. In this oral history, Briscoe discussed all these topics with details on several cases argued in the US Supreme Court, as well as his friendships and collaborations with legal legends like Philip C. Jessup, Stefan A. Riesenfeld, and Louis F. Claiborne.




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