The Orange County Bar Association (OCBA) presented Hon. Francisco P. Briseño with its prestigious Franklin G. West Award during the OCBA's 2011 Judges' Night and Annual Meeting, held Jan. 20, 2011, at The Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif. The highest honor bestowed by the OCBA, the Franklin G. West Award was established in 1971 in memory of the late Judge Franklin G. West, a highly respected jurist whose tenure on th ebench from January 1939 to March 1965 constituted the longest term ever served by a judge in California at that time. Each year, the OCBA presents the West Award to an outstanding attorney or judge whose lifetime achievements have advanced the cause of justice and the law.
A pillar of the Orange County legal community for more than 40 years, Judge Francisco P. Briseño exemplifies the legacy of Judge Franklin G. West through his dedication to the cause of justice and commitment to serving his country and community, including fellow members of the bench and bar, the litigants who appear before him, and particularly local youth. Going above and beyond the call of duty, Judge Briseño takes great care to treat others with respect and courtesy both in and out of the courtroom and expending his own time, energy, and resources to have a positive impact on young people’s lives, whether presiding in Juvenile Court or inviting busloads of Orange County students to participate in a celebration of Law Day held on the steps of the Old Courthouse.
“In a profession where ego and hubris are all too common, Frank’s humility and unassuming nature is extraordinary,” said fellow West Award recipient Justice Kathleen E. O’Leary. “Although I know Judge Briseño does his best to avoid the limelight, I cannot think of a more deserving recipient of the Franklin G. West Award.”
Upon his admission to the California State Bar in 1969, Judge Francisco P. Briseño served as Orange County Deputy District Attorney for eight years, heading the District Attorney’s Office’s Homicide Unit from 1975 to 1977. Appointed to the Santa Ana Municipal Court by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1977, Judge Briseño was one of the youngest judges in the state and Orange County’s second Hispanic judge. Elevated to the Orange County Superior Court in 1979, Judge Briseño is currently a Senior Judge and the longest actively serving judge in Orange County history.
Judge Briseño’s military experience spans over three decades in the United States Marine Corps. He is a recipient of both the Bronze Star and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.
While serving on the Orange County Bar Foundation’s advisory board, Judge Briseño was instrumental in launching Programa SHORTSTOP, a Spanish language and cultural adaptation of the SHORTSTOP program. Judge Briseño helped obtain a grant to fund the family-based intervention program for Hispanic youths aged 9 to 17 and recruited Spanish speaking attorneys to volunteer their services assisting troubled youth.
In 2010, Judge Briseño was awarded the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which has since been renamed as the Francisco P. Briseño Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Any judge will tell you it is an honor and privilege to serve this community as a trial judge,” Judge Briseño wrote in the November 2010 issue of Orange County Lawyer magazine. “At times, the proceedings are egregious and people are not at their best, but the chance to apply yourself to matters that require your best efforts and occupy a position where each day you learn from others is a special gift.”
Judge Briseño is the 41st recipient of the Franklin G. West Award.