Cory Briggs, the attorney who helped end the political career of Bob Filner, wants to stop a lot of other things in San Diego, too.

Like an expansion of the city’s Convention Center. And a half-dozen new neighborhood libraries and refurbished fire stations. And even a Jack in the Box drive-thru in North Park. All told, Briggs’ lawsuits are tying up more than $2 billion in projects across San Diego. No one paralyzes City Hall’s ability to do anything more than him, City Councilman Scott Sherman said.

“People are just scared to death Cory Briggs is going to sue over something,” Sherman said.

In fact, Briggs instills the same fear in politicians and developers all across Southern California. No attorney sues under the state’s main environmental quality law more than him.

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These lawsuits all tend to follow a formula: A local City Council approves a big-box development, like a Wal-Mart. A nonprofit with a watchdoggy name sues, with Briggs as its attorney. The developer settles the case and pays Briggs for his trouble. It’s often unclear who is against the project other than Briggs himself.

To Briggs, a 45-year-old who grew up in San Bernardino County, this relentless string of court cases has made countless developments in California better for the environment. Solar panels gleam from the roofs of Wal-Marts and hundreds of new trees have been planted because of his lawsuits.

It just so happens that the suits also have been good for his business.

The House That Wal-Mart Built

Briggs’ $1.25 million home sits near the top of a hill in Sunset Cliffs. In the front, it has a big garden with a wide view of the Pacific Ocean. Briggs’ friends jokingly refer to the place as “The House That Wal-Mart Built.”

Briggs has taken on big-box developments from Kern County to the Mexico border for a decade. He guessed he’s filed dozens of lawsuits against them.

The settlements in these cases typically are confidential, though Briggs says that’s at the developer’s request, not his. Developers, he said, don’t want to broadcast how much they’re paying off attorneys because they don’t want to encourage more lawsuits.

Briggs’ primary opponent is Wal-Mart. It’s nothing personal against the world’s largest retailer – the company just happens to want to build projects that are bad for the environment and don’t react kindly to his clients’ demands, he said. Briggs believes he’s a fierce advocate for citizens who can’t take on powerful developers by themselves.

“Do I feel good about speaking up for those folks and making sure that they get their day in court?” Briggs said. “You’re damn right I do.”

For the most part, just who Briggs is actually representing in these cases remains mysterious. Briggs rarely names any people involved in a suit unless he’s forced to by a court. Even then, the same names often spring up no matter what city he’s suing.

The nonprofits Briggs has represented over the years share some striking similarities. First, take their names. His clients have included: Smart Growth Adelanto, Build Barstow Smart, Grow Victorville Smart, Concerned Citizens of Vista, Murrietans for Smart Growth, Blythe Citizens for Smart Growth, Indio Citizens for Smart Growth, Menifee Citizens for Smart Growth, Riverside Citizens for Smart Growth, Rialto Citizens for Responsible Growth and Redlands Good Neighbor Coalition.

Then there’s how the organizations are set up. The groups aren’t what you typically think of when you hear the word nonprofit.

Most don’t receive donations. If they did, the money wouldn’t be tax-exempt because the organizations haven’t filed anything with the IRS. Those that have sent tax returns to the state attorney general’s office often don’t list any income, assets or expenses. Many are currently facing fines for not completing proper paperwork. All registered with the state through Briggs’ law office in the Inland Empire.

How Briggs gets paid in these cases is another constant. When the groups win or settle, Briggs collects attorney’s fees from his opponents. When the groups lose, he gets nothing.

The approach has proven to be profitable.

It’s relatively easy to win cases involving the state’s main environmental quality law, known as CEQA, said Jennifer Hernandez, an attorney in the San Francisco office of law firm Holland & Knight. Over the years, a group of attorneys realized developers often would rather settle CEQA lawsuits quickly than risk losing and paying even more in fees, she said. Hernandez calls the lawyers “bounty hunters.”

“You leverage four or five hours’ worth of work and a $200 filing fee,” Hernandez said. “Then you can get $50,000 to $250,000 in settlements. That’s pretty good money.”

Her firm tracked all the CEQA suits in California for three years, ending in 2012. Briggs was responsible for 32 of them, about 5 percent of the total. No lawyer in the state filed more than Briggs in that time.

Focusing on his payout misses the point, Briggs said: When his cases settle, developers make their project better for the environment.

A legal settlement with a Briggs-affiliated nonprofit made a Wal-Mart in San Bernardino use more solar energy and recycle its fixtures and cardboard. Another settlement required a Dr. Pepper bottling plant in Victorville to rely on renewable energy to power the facility. A third forced a Target in Murrieta to plant 500 trees to offset greenhouse gases it produced.

For years, Briggs has heard complaints that he doesn’t have any real clients and just creates these nonprofits to shake down developers. In court, Briggs often is asked to prove he represents an actual person. He does – but it doesn’t always go smoothly.

In the Murrieta Target case, a judge ordered Briggs to make a member of the nonprofit, Murrietans for Smart Growth, available for a deposition. He produced its president, a retired minister and affordable housing advocate named Richard Lawrence. But Lawrence lives in San Diego. The judge said Briggs needed an actual Murrietan. He put forward Felicia Munoz-Grisham, a grocery store worker.

Lawrence testified that he didn’t know the name or address of anyone from Murrieta that was part of the group even though he was its president, according to newspaper accounts. Munoz-Grisham said she was a founding member of the group, but didn’t know anyone else in it.

Soon after Munoz-Grisham’s deposition, though, the case settled. Briggs had done enough to show he had a client.

No judge, Briggs said, has ever tossed one of his lawsuits because he failed to produce a person who had an interest in a case.

Even so, questions about who he actually represents persist. Briggs’ cousin, an accountant named Karin Langwasser, serves as treasurer for many of the nonprofits Briggs has sued from. Briggs said she volunteers her time.

The website for the Inland Oversight Committee, a nonprofit from which Briggs frequently sues in San Bernardino County, posts Briggs’ law office as its contact address. The website lists someone named Anthony Kim as the organization’s legal adviser. Kim is an attorney in Briggs’ office. The website also names Ian Trowbridge, a San Diegan and a Briggs ally, as the group’s chairman. Trowbridge died more than a year ago. Since Trowbridge’s death, Briggs has sued at least nine times on the group’s behalf.

And records connect Lawrence, the San Diegan who was president of the Murrieta group, to more than a half dozen of the nonprofits. One of those groups is based in Blythe, a city on the Arizona border that’s more than 200 miles from San Diego.

In an interview, Lawrence said he didn’t know anything about developments in Murrieta, Blythe or other cities outside San Diego until Briggs told him. Lawrence belongs to a San Diego-based group called Citizens for Responsible Equitable Environmental Development. At the group’s monthly meetings, Briggs brings forward possible suits from around Southern California. The group links up with citizens who have been in touch with Briggs and live near the development to create a subsidiary organization based in that city. The local subsidiary of the San Diego group files the lawsuit, Lawrence said.

“This is a carefully designed mechanism by which we want to effect change,” Lawrence said.

Cory-Briggs-1Lawrence said he’s been an activist all his life, but Briggs turned him onto the environmental movement. Lawrence marched with Martin Luther King Jr. against Chicago’s segregationist housing policies in the mid-1960s. What he and Briggs do now reminds him of back then.

“Cory, in the environmental battle, is as important to that battle as Dr. King was to the civil rights movement,” Lawrence said.

‘Come Here Again to Cause Trouble and You’re Dead’

Two years ago, Briggs filed a lawsuit against a big-box development in Victorville, a San Bernardino city north of Big Bear Lake. Soon after, Briggs received a letter in the mail. It had no return address and the postmark was smudged. Inside was a threat pieced together using cut-out magazine letters.

“Stay out of our high desert,” the letter said. “Come here again to cause trouble and you’re dead.”

briggs magazine threat

It wasn’t the first threat Briggs said he’s received, and it wasn’t the last.

About a decade ago, Briggs hired retired Secret Service and FBI agents to perform a security sweep after a break-in at his Inland Empire office. The agents discovered, Briggs said, that someone had put keystroke-tracking software on his computers to remotely monitor what he was typing. People have threatened to beat him up after court and City Council hearings. Twice someone has thrown paint on his house in the middle of the night. The second time, Briggs chased the perpetrator down the road until she reached her getaway car.

Briggs recently told a San Diego judge about all these incidents while representing another nonprofit in a lawsuit against the city. The judge was weighing whether to order Briggs to disclose the nonprofit’s membership list. Briggs, the judge noted, frequently files lawsuits against public officials to force them to reveal records. (Five years ago, he offered to sue the city for public records on Voice of San Diego’s behalf.)

So the judge wondered why Briggs insists on government transparency, but fights to keep the names of the people he represents a secret.

The answer, Briggs argues, is simple: Individuals have privacy rights protected by the Constitution, but governments have to be open. He also fears for his clients’ well-being.

“It’s the reason why I’d rather take the heat for not being completely candid about who these folks are than run around with a list of who’s in the group,” he said.

Briggs often tears up when he talks about his clients, family and those who have helped him in life. It’s not the kind of reaction you’d expect from a combative plaintiff’s attorney. In a lot of ways, Briggs is hard to pigeonhole.

He can be acerbic in court – in one case he called the feud between Filner and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith “a no-holds-barred political death spiral.” But in regular conversation, his voice is soft and measured. Briggs prefers flip-flops and shorts in the office to suits and ties. When he’s forced to dress up, Briggs accessorizes with three hoop earrings in his left ear.

Last summer, it was Briggs and two progressive allies, former City Councilwoman Donna Frye and fellow environmental attorney Marco Gonzalez, who first blew the whistle on the scandals that forced Filner from office.

Photo by Sam Hodgson
Photo by Sam Hodgson
Attorney Cory Briggs and former City Councilwoman Donna Frye call on Mayor Bob Filner to resign at a press conference outside of Briggs Law Corporation.

People often referred to the trio all as Democrats. Frye and Gonzalez are. But even though Briggs has long worked to further left-wing causes in San Diego, he isn’t registered with a political party. Democrats, he said, think the solution to every problem is to throw money at it.

And while Frye and Gonzalez wanted to take down Filner because of his treatment of women, Briggs initially urged Filner to resign for a different reason. He believed Filner was illegally shaking down a developer. He points to that when people say he’s against developers.

Briggs comes from a civically active family in Ontario, a San Bernardino city where his parents still live. His brother Curtis is a Bay Area defense attorney who is representing reputed mobster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow in a massive bribery and gunrunning scandal. Briggs’ grandfather Homer was a local school superintendent and has a park named after him in Ontario.

Growing up, Briggs shunned civic pursuits. He preferred his life as a bassist in a 1980s hair band. Briggs would not reveal his band’s name because he didn’t want anyone to Google it. He did say he once opened for Guns N’ Roses.

Ultimately, Briggs realized he wasn’t going to be a rock star so he started taking his education more seriously. He first came to San Diego in the early 1990s for law school at California Western. Briggs likes being a lawyer because courts play by a defined set of rules.

In politics, he said, no one has to answer your questions and when people do, they’re allowed to lie. In court, you have to talk, you have to tell the truth and an unbiased third party decides who wins.

‘How Do I Do This Diplomatically and Not Get Sued?’ 

Ask Chino Mayor Dennis Yates about Briggs. This is the kind of response you get.

“Oh my god, my buddy,” Yates said. “Holy Christ. Oh yeah, do I know Cory Briggs. How do I do this diplomatically and not get sued?”

Chino, a medium-size city in San Bernardino, might be the only place where Briggs is considered even more of a scourge than he is in San Diego. Since 2010, he’s filed roughly two lawsuits a year against developments there. When Briggs threatened a lawsuit over a project during a recent Chino City Council meeting, moans could be heard within the chamber.

Cory-Briggs-2“It tends to hurt our business climate because when people come in they know they got to deal with that jerk,” Yates said. “If you want to build a birdhouse in Chino, Cory Briggs is coming after you.”

California’s environmental laws already allow an attorney like Briggs to target a city if he doesn’t think it’s following the rules. But in Chino, Briggs has out-Briggsed himself: First, he sued under CEQA – he settled a lawsuit three years ago in which he claimed the city’s development blueprint didn’t account for air-pollution increases. On top of the $215,000 in attorney’s fees he pocketed in the case, the settlement also required Chino to develop a plan to address climate change. Briggs helped put that plan together. Since the settlement, he has continued to sue, arguing the city and developers aren’t following the rules he helped create.

Briggs called Chino’s new environmental regulations some of the most stringent in the state. If the city would just follow them, Briggs said, he’d stop suing.

“We’ve beat them pretty badly and they had to get in line,” Briggs said.

Indeed, when it comes to Briggs, Yates sounds like a man defeated. The mayor ended an interview about Briggs with a personal plea.

“Help me,” Yates said.

NBC7 San Diego’s Wendy Fry contributed to this report.

    This article relates to: Government, Land Use, News, People, Science/Environment, Share

    Written by Liam Dillon

    Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at or 619.550.5663.

    john stump
    john stump subscriber

    Dr. Briggs is a great Paladin in the service of our community

    Mandy Barre
    Mandy Barre subscriber

    I am hearing    a lot of grumbling from so-called capitalists...everything B is doing is legal and within the law. So whoever says it's extortion- you are way out of line. I agree- if the projects were so great, the developers would not be settling. Period. They try to squeeze development onto every square inch to maximize their profits without much sensitivity to the environment rules/regs and neighborhoods.

    CEQA lawsuits- It's a competitive market; he's good at what he does. I wish I could have that house overlooking the Pacific too. :)

    John Beckwith
    John Beckwith subscriber

    And I thought this would be about Marco Gonzalez.....

    christine mann
    christine mann subscriber

    If you all wanna get rid of Cory get rid of CREED21 his phony non-prof that files all these bogus lawsuits. He works for housing developers especially "affordable housing" developers. Get rid of all the bogus AH requirements and no one will pay him to file these bogus suits

    tgable subscribermember

    How about totaling how much money he has made in the last decade as the ultimate CEQA ambulance chaser and job killer? The Convention Center expansion would be a good place to start. How many thousands of jobs were envisioned during construction and then in operation? Then, for the long term, how much income will be lost to the city from not having the expanded center and the ability to grow our convention business? The ripple effect is substantial, with lost hotel and restaurant jobs, service industry jobs, sales taxes and occupancy taxes to the city, to name a few. And if he is so concerned about environmental issues, he should encourage the development of more facilities that support tourism -- a clean industry with significant benefits to the region. As a native San Diegan, I find it incredibly sad that our system allows such a destructive, negative force to prosper at the expense of so many others.

    Karen Millhouse
    Karen Millhouse subscriber

    I think I just saw the San Diego Chargers wave goodbye...This sucks.

    mhcfires subscriber

    How much money will Brigg$ extort from the city for this effort? If he is such a wonderful guardian of the taxpaying citizens of the city he should not be extorting the city for legal expenses. I'm not sorry to see this financing scheme go down in flames, but I am outraged to see that this guy is making his fortune through legalized extortion.


    @DanielPJett: Still arriving late to the party, Jett? :-) How are you doing? Let's catch up soon.


    @corybriggs I was merely trying to google a local business ('Philner'), & this popped up in my feed! I don't subscribe to the local SD rags.

    Manny Chen
    Manny Chen subscriber

    if these developers were sure of their success in court, they would not settle.  sounds like someone is doing something wrong, no?

    Steven Croft
    Steven Croft subscriber

    I can imagine Cory Briggs has taken up some good causes over the years but it appears he doesn't need a good cause to file a suit. From what I have heard I would believe he knows how to manufacture a group to act as a client convincing those who are looking to be convinced that a cause exists when there is money to be made. Not illegal but not entirely ethical in my opinion. I am unlucky enough to deal with environmental regulations that were probably for the most part developed with good intentions but evolved into ridiculous obstacle courses that do nothing but waste time, paper and resources with very little or no benefit. A lot of these obstacle courses were developed due to similar lawsuits and supported by individuals or groups with good intentions but no working knowledge of the issues.

    Vi Mooberry
    Vi Mooberry subscriber

    After reading all the redundant comments below, I think it's fair to say, "Thank you to Cory Briggs!"  I was not a follower of Mr. Briggs in the Bob Filner ouster, but, all of a sudden I am.  If Mr. Briggs is working to sustain our environment and hold big corporations responsible, then I applaud him.  Keep up the good work, Mr. Briggs!  Hold our feet to the fire in the name of making this planet safer and better for future generations!  If you make some money doing it for the good of the planet, do it!  Plenty of others are making billions as they destroy the planet bit by bit!


    @CasualBrasuell More evidence that too much planning happens outside the reach of planners and broad stakeholders

    Greg Goodfellow
    Greg Goodfellow subscriber

    Enough idle bickering, people. Cory Briggs: Please detail the environmental/sustainable practices and infrastructure you implement in your own home. Now.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    Some local politicians, political appointees and some real estate developers hate Mr. Briggs because he keeps them honest and makes them comply with the law, things they are not naturally inclined to be or do.

    San Diego needs more attorneys with the courage and honesty of Cory Briggs.

    SDMiddleman subscriber

    @Don Wood

    Really? Please scroll down and read my earlier comment detailing our experience with Mr. Briggs.

    amy roth
    amy roth subscribermember

    How can one individual hold an entire city like San Diego hostage? Surely there has to be a way to decommission a public enemy like this one. Thinking of all the good works that this guy has derailed brings tears to my eyes. 

       What would New York or Chicago do to a guy like this? 

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Jim Jones If Briggs helped the community craft a climate change plan, then Briggs helped the community. That's what you asked for, something that Briggs did for the community.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Mr. Jones: I'm befuddled by your challenge to, "point out a specific instance of Briggs doing something good for our community as a whole." I had the impression that Tea Party folks like yourself are proponents of small government, opponents of government facilitated corruption, and generally of the belief that increases in government programs and services should go to a vote. It appears from the following that is much of what Mr. Briggs is involved in. As well, there is a specific example of returning funds to the public coffers that were apparently purloined through corruption. 

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    The Southwestern case would not have ended as it did, and the district would have received nothing, without SDOG's lawsuit. At least one member of the district's board has said so publicly. In fact, the settlement will not only net the district nearly $540k, but it resulted in contractors dropping their own suits against the district for far more--with no more money paid out to the contractors by the district.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Mr. Jones: Your logic escapes me.

    Geoff Page
    Geoff Page subscribermember

    @Jim Jones @Geoff Page As I said before, try reading the article.  But, if that is too much for you, here is a quote:

    A legal settlement with a Briggs-affiliated nonprofit made a Wal-Mart in San Bernardino use more solar energy and recycle its fixtures and cardboard. Another settlement required a Dr. Pepper bottling plant in Victorville to rely on renewable energy to power the facility. A third forced a Target in Murrieta to plant 500 trees to offset greenhouse gases it produced.

    A "nuisance law suit generator?"  One person's nuisance is another person's vital issue.  I'm guessing you're not an environmentalist considering the party line you are always parroting.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Jim Jones Are you prepared to provide proof that the cost of climate change is exactly zero?

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    What part are you disagreeing with?

    Your unnamed sources are mistaken. The total to be returned to the district is $642k roughly, with $100k going to my firm. The settlement hd to be approved by a judge, who concluded that it was reasonable. As I understand it, all money must be used to pay back the bonds from which the funds originally came.

    Civil lawsuits do not usually punish, and this one did not. If you do not like the consequences for the bribers, you should talk to the DA's office.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Jim Jones  You claimed that "Climate change plans are just another burden on the taxpayer". In order to prove that statement, you must provide proof that the cost of mitigating climate change is greater than the cost of climate change. Are you prepared to defend your statement?

    Geoff Page
    Geoff Page subscribermember

    @Jim Jones Just another burden on the taxpayer like clean air rules, clean water rules, handling society's wastes.  Yea, just burdens, no real benefits.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    We filed our suits after the criminal charges were filed, and my office and the DA's office never even spoke about the case.

    You should also read the indictments and pleas: nobody was required to repay a penny to the district. That call was made 100% without my input.

    The taxpayers will get more than $540k back as a result of the civil suit.

    My opinion of the San Diego judges before whom I appear is actully quite high. That's one of the reasons I am happy to take my client's cases to a court of law rather than the court of public opinion.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    @Jim Jones @Cory Briggs The people who were bribed were gone long before the settlement was proposed/approved. I have no information about any current Southwestern trustee having accepted a bribe. The ones I know are clean.

    What (realistic) alternative do you think should have been pursued?  Happy to do better the next time....

    Geoff Page
    Geoff Page subscribermember

    @Jim Jones @Geoff Page Although you prefaced this with "Derek" it appears this was directed to me.  How are plans to mitigate climate change any different from the clean air and clean water regulations and efforts over the years that have produced real results?  And, if anyone had asked to be shown how the clean air and clean water regulations provided any benefits in the first few years after they went into effect, they would have been deemed a little slow.  

    It took a long time to mess up the air and water and it has taken a long time to make improvements.  It will take a long time to measure the effects of these climate efforts,  I wouldn't expect to have to explain that to anyone as mature  - in years - as you are.  But, for people who only care about their own life spans, the lack of an immediate gain is reason enough not to try.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    Thanks for making clear that you really do not know what you're talking about. On behalf of unions? You mean the beneficiaries of the San Diego and Anaheim convention center expansions that my clients and I are fighting? Yeah, I'm definitely lock-step with them.

    Waiting for the criminal case to end? You apparently don't know what the statute of limitations is.

    If you have problems with the criminal penalties, call the DA; my clients and I will join you on the call. If you have problems with the rules governing taxpayer/citizen suits and the limited relief they afford the public, call your legislators; again, my clients and I will join you on the call. But if you have problems with accepting something substantial for certain (both money returned and other monetary claims against the district put to rest) rather than litigating for years just hoping to recover everything--if you don't think a bird in the hand beats two in the bush--then feel free to hire a lawyer and pick up the tab yourself. Constructive criticism is always appreciated, but second-guessing by people who don't know all the facts and have no skin in the game is hard to take seriously.

    Geoff Page
    Geoff Page subscribermember

    @Jim Jones I think you should spend more time reading and less time typing.  No person with a measurable  IQ who does not live in a cave can deny that man has had an effect on climate.   As for your last paragraph, I'm guessing you're never the first one to get up and dance.  And, using your logic, I guess voting is a waste of time too.  Things are accomplished by little steps all the time.  

    Geoff Page
    Geoff Page subscribermember

    @Jim Jones @Geoff Page Maybe you can explain to us how a "climate scientist" profits from the issue of climate change.  

    And don't talk about politicians.  The ones who need to appeal to a base that believes in climate change will do so just as readily as the ones who need to appeal to the base you are part of will say climate change is a myth. 

    Where do you get your statistics that the followers tend to be young?  You constantly throw out "information" as facts that you never support.  Let me guess "sloppy thinkers"  indoctrinated by right-wing media bias.

    Whose time is wasted by little steps?  If it isn't yours, why be critical.  Every construction project I have ever been a part of consisted of a series of hundreds or thousands of little steps, that's how progress is made.  What resources are being wasted, how about some actual specifics for a change? 

    Why is it people like you are always suspicious that someone's motive is always money.  Oh, right, I've already provided you a quote on that one.

    Joshua Brant
    Joshua Brant subscriber

    @Cory Briggs I like the part where Jim Jomes says Cory Briggs is supported by labor unions, and then Cory Briggs points out the fact that union workers would benefit from the convention center plans he is fighting.

    Geoff Page
    Geoff Page subscribermember

    @Jim Jones Ouch, that hurt, I've been marginalized by someone on the margin.  What "past experience" are you referring to Mr. Jones? Are you saying that belief in global warming is only some kind of blind faith and has no scientific support.  Wrong again.  And, don't attribute any "apocalyptic, end of the world beliefs" to me because I've never said anything remotely like that.  What I do believe is that climate change will bring about some serious changes we will all have to deal with.  

    Ask the people of the Maldives what they think.

    Here is a link to a very reasonable opinion piece you should look at.  I realize it comes from the dreaded LA Times but hold your nose and give it a read.

     My favorite part was:

    "If climate change isn't man-made, does that mean there's no reason to try to counter its effects? Noah's flood wasn't man-made, but he still spent the money (or at least the timber) to build an ark."

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Jim Jones  It seems the only example you can come up with of Briggs being harmful is when he acts as a watchdog to ensure the law gets enforced.

    Derek Hofmann
    Derek Hofmann subscribermember

    @Jim Jones "On top of the $215,000 in attorney’s fees he pocketed in the case, the settlement also required Chino to develop a plan to address climate change. Briggs helped put that plan together."

    Your turn. Point out a specific instance of Briggs doing something harmful for the community. Acting as a watchdog doesn't count.

    Manny Chen
    Manny Chen subscriber

    @Jim Jones  "Climate change plans are just another burden on the taxpayer, they benefit small special interests and politicians that pander to the foolish at a cost to and impact to the greater good."

    good lord!

    ___________ are just another burden on the taxpayer, they benefit small special interests and politicians that pander to the foolish at a cost to and impact to the greater good.

    you could insert just about any business into the blank...

    Richard Ross
    Richard Ross subscribermember

    Excellent piece Liam....

    Unfortunately to many of the major developers in this city are like the historic plague of locusts. It takes someone like Cory Briggs to represent the best interests of the general public against those who care less about sustainability and are all for taking the money and running.

    Geoff Page
    Geoff Page subscribermember

    @Jim Jones Perhaps you should take the time to actually read the article you are commenting on, Mr. Jones, the answer is in there.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    I don't think Liam was trying to make the case that the world is better off because of the work I've done. As the title/sub-title make clear, it is a story about how I make (part of) my living. I did not choose the topic or solicit the piece. I participated because, in my experience, doing so results in fewer mistakes--which matters given how easily people are willing to believe what they read in the press.

    That said, I know of no case in which my firm accepted money to drop a public-interest case. I hear that claim a lot, and I think it's just an easy way for those who dislike me and/or what I do to be dismissive. But I admit that I smile when I hear my opponents parrot that line because it usually means they haven't done their homework; in my line of work, it is usually helpful to face misinformed opponents.

    Here's the bottom line for San Diego: my firm wins more often than it loses (my record is better under Goldsmith than it was under Aguirre), frequently there is a settlement by which the city agrees to do X or stop doing Y, and in most cases involving developers or businesses the city pays nothing to my firm for attorney fees because the other defendants must indemnify the city.

    The other thing folks should note is that, 90 percent of the time, my firm must tell the city what it's doing wrong before suing; not doing so is usually fatal. The problem with our city is that the leaders dismiss the message because of the messenger, and more often than not the judge agrees with my client. I am happy to hear constructive criticism, but the deaf politicians also deserve to hear from taxpayers concerned about legal costs that could easily be avoided. If politicians were spending their own money, they would opt for ad hominem attacks less frequently.

    SDMiddleman subscriber

    @Cory Briggs

    You haven't answered my question regarding the $142,810 in settlements made payable for the benefit of your cousin, Karin Langwasser, rather than to your "clients" SDOG and CREED. Please explain.

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    I am not planning to do so. Your facts are wrong. Pull the court file if you want to know what happened.

    SDMiddleman subscriber

    @Cory Briggs I have copies of the checks. Document #5700724531 San Diegans for Open Government: Payment of Judgement  for Attorney fees relating to Tijuana River and Smuggler's Gulch Maintenance Project. Court judgement is in file. $1o7,100.00  check #0001267797 Payable to Briggs Law Corp Trust Account FBO Karin Langwasser. Whatever did your cousin have to do with that?

    Cory Briggs
    Cory Briggs subscribermember

    Go read the court papers. Ask the city to explain. When you do research, it is good to trace all the facts and not just pick the ones that suit your preconceived hypothesis.