Cory Briggs

Since 2015, inewsource has investigated Cory Briggs, a San Diego lawyer known for suing government agencies and developers using the California Environmental Quality Act. Our reporting showed Briggs has collected attorney fees and settlements on behalf of a network of nonprofit organizations he helped form — nonprofits that also repeatedly and persistently violated state and federal laws.

Reporters combed through thousands of pages of land records, environmental impact reports, invoices and contracts, uncovering questionable transactions, potential conflicts of interest, and a persistent disregard for state and federal laws. After publishing 10 stories about Briggs, a nonprofit closely associated with the attorney sued inewsource over our lease with San Diego State University and KPBS (where we’re based). In September 2019, the California Supreme Court dismissed the suit, which two lower courts also had rejected.

Briggs is now running for San Diego city attorney in the 2020 election.

Stay up to date on the latest stories.



Brad Racino is a senior investigative reporter and assistant director at inewsource. He has produced investigations on topics including political corruption, transportation, health, maritime, education and nonprofits.
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Brooke Williams is a former investigative and data reporter at inewsource. For The New York Times, she co-authored and built a database for a story that won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting. She also has done reporting for The Center for Public Integrity, The San Diego Union-Tribune, NPR, VICE and The New Republic.


Briggs-associated nonprofits flout state, federal laws

May 28, 2015

For years, San Diego’s well-known environmental attorney has collected attorney fees and settlements on behalf of a network of charitable, nonprofit organizations he helped form that, in many cases, repeatedly and persistently violated state and federal laws.


Cory Briggs’ land deals raise ethical, legal questions

February 23, 2015

One of San Diego’s most well-known environmental attorneys has been engaging in real estate transactions experts say are questionable and possibly fraudulent.

San Diego attorney’s environmental lawsuits could be tainted by conflict of interest

February 24, 2015

The wife of lawyer Cory Briggs, who sues local, state and federal government agencies over environmental violations, held a key position in a La Mesa company on the other side of his litigation.

Document links Briggs’ wife to his law business

February 25, 2015

New documents provided Wednesday to inewsource say the wife of a well-known environmental lawyer was vice president of his law firm at the same time she worked on projects for government agencies he was suing.

Cory Briggs responds to inewsource stories

February 25, 2015

San Diego attorney Cory Briggs published an open letter on his law firm’s website Wednesday responding to inewsource stories investigating his business practices, including potential conflicts of interest between him and his wife.

Briggs opposes San Diego City Attorney’s move to unseal transcript

February 26, 2015

High-profile environmental attorney Cory Briggs argued vigorously in court Thursday morning against releasing a document the San Diego City Attorney’s office believes is relevant to a conflict-of-interest investigation of Briggs.

Behind the Briggs investigation

March 3, 2015

In early June 2014, inewsource began an examination of Cory Briggs’ lawsuits, real estate transactions and ties to corporations and limited liability companies.

Contested transcript of San Diego attorney Cory Briggs’ wife released

March 3, 2015

Records confirm Cory Briggs’ wife was vice president of the Briggs Law Corp. for the past “twenty years,” which means she was an officer of the law firm he used to sue the city of San Diego at the same time she worked for a company on contract with the city.

Helix: Briggs’ wife did not disclose VP role in his law firm

March 3, 2015

The environmental consulting firm that employed the wife of a well-known San Diego lawyer who often sued its government clients said the employee did not disclose her professional relationship with her husband’s law firm and she should have.

Deposition and deeds convey ambiguity of Briggs-Cacciatore relationship

March 10, 2015

An inewsource investigation found a close relationship among Helix Environmental Planning, Cory Briggs and Sarichia Cacciatore, who was for many years both a vice president of Briggs’ law firm and a Helix employee.

More contradictions found in Briggs-Cacciatore land records

March 24, 2015

San Diego attorney Cory Briggs and his personal and professional partner, Sarichia Cacciatore, have signed contradictory documents about where they live and their relationship — potential felonies according to a prosecutor and mortgage fraud experts.

Briggs lawsuit, land deal ends badly for family; experts question attorney’s actions

March 25, 2015

During the Great Recession, families across the country were losing their homes, reeling from predatory lending in the subprime mortgage crisis. Gonzalo Arteaga, his wife and four children were among them.

Meet the experts for the Cory Briggs investigation

March 25, 2015

inewsource has interviewed many experts for our ongoing investigation into Cory Briggs, including professors, authors, politicians, attorneys, developers, ethicists and law enforcement.

Briggs removes lien after questions raised

March 26, 2015

San Diego attorney Cory Briggs removed a $200,000 lien he had placed on a private home after inewsource raised questions about the appropriateness of the lawyer’s real estate deals.

Briggs & Cacciatore retraction demand and our response

March 26, 2015

"We are writing to give you notice of our demand, and to make that demand, for correction and retraction of false, inaccurate, and/or misleading reporting that may have been disseminated by KPBS via television or radio on or after March 10, 2015."

San Diego Gets $143K Settlement In Briggs-Cacciatore Conflict

April 7, 2015

An environmental consulting company will pay the city of San Diego $143,382 to resolve a claim of potential conflict of interest between one of its former employees and well-known attorney Cory Briggs.

A point-by-point response to the newest Briggs-related retraction demand

April 9, 2015

For the second time, inewsource has received a retraction demand regarding our Cory Briggs investigation. For the second time, here is a point-by-point response.

Briggs-related nonprofit sues inewsource and SDSU

April 10, 2015

One of Briggs’ frequent clients, environmental nonprofit San Diegans for Open Government, filed a lawsuit Thursday against inewsource and its executive director.

Briggs subpoenas inewsource executive director

April 14, 2015

The subpoena asks for information related to an inewsource interview with San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

Cory Briggs gets paid in Sunroad debacle; no money yet to San Diego for land

April 17, 2015

The settlement between Sunroad and Briggs called for a $10,000 donation to the city in addition to a second payment based on the value of an appraisal.

inewsource’s response to Cory Briggs subpoena

April 21, 2015

inewsource has served Cory Briggs with a response to his subpoena, which you can read here.

Latest on the Briggs-Sunroad-San Diego legal case

May 5, 2015

inewsource published a story in April about a lawsuit San Diego environmental attorney Cory Briggs filed against the city of San Diego and Sunroad Enterprises in 2013 alleging a “pay-to-play scheme.”

Briggs withdraws subpoena against inewsource

May 8, 2015

After inewsource's lawyer challenged the subpoena request in court, Briggs withdrew it, saying he has already received all the information he needs from the City Attorney’s Office.

Briggs-associated nonprofits flout state, federal laws

May 28, 2015

For years, San Diego’s well-known environmental attorney has collected attorney fees and settlements on behalf of a network of charitable, nonprofit organizations he helped form that, in many cases, repeatedly and persistently violated state and federal laws.

San Diego judge warns Briggs about possible criminal prosecution

June 3, 2015

Judge Gregory Pollack said attorney Cory Briggs knew the nonprofit he represented in the litigation had been suspended by the state at the time. “Mr. Briggs may be in a whole heap of trouble,” Pollack said.

SCORE’s retraction demand and our response

June 15, 2015

One of the subjects of inewsource's investigation into San Diego attorney Cory Briggs has requested a retraction of a recent article. Here is our response.

Five major questions San Diego attorney Cory Briggs won’t answer

July 2, 2015

Despite repeated requests for answers, some big questions still stand in inewsource‘s investigation into the environmental attorney.

San Diego judge hears arguments on motion to dismiss lawsuit against inewsource

Sept. 4, 2015

A judge heard arguments to dismiss a local nonprofit’s lawsuit contesting the legality of inewsource’s lease agreement with San Diego State University and KPBS.

Judge dismisses lawsuit against inewsource, San Diego State University

Sept. 9, 2015

A San Diego judge threw out a lawsuit against inewsource, KPBS and San Diego State University, concluding that it was prompted by the inewsource’s investigative journalism.

San Diego hotel fee challenge can continue, judge rules

Feb. 1, 2016

The city and its Tourism Marketing District failed to persuade a judge to throw out a three-year-old lawsuit challenging a hotel fee used to promote San Diego’s tourism industry.

The port, the lawyer and the salesman

April 25, 2016

Massive projects are moving ahead along San Diego’s waterfront from Seaport Village through Lane Field and all the way to Harbor Island. Yet these changes are not part of a cohesive plan for the sort of world-class waterfront that distinguishes other cities.

Cory Briggs’ conduct ‘unethical and possibly criminal,’ appellate court says

Sept. 22, 2016

The state court of appeal has denied local attorney Cory Briggs more than $258,000 in fees he sought against the city of San Diego, citing “unethical, unprofessional, or even illegal conduct…”

Cory Briggs challenges court ruling that slammed his conduct

Oct. 10, 2016

Attorney Cory Briggs is asking the state appellate court to reconsider a ruling that accused him of engaging in possible “criminal conduct” in a case against the city of San Diego.

Court tones down language, but won’t give Cory Briggs attorney fees

Oct. 19, 2016

The state appellate court on Monday refused to reconsider an earlier ruling denying attorney Cory Briggs $258,629 in fees for a lawsuit he brought against the city of San Diego.

Appeals court weighs free speech in suit against inewsource

April 14, 2017

An appellate court justice questioned the motive behind a lawsuit against inewsource, saying it “has a bit of aroma about it of trying to retaliate or to prevent free speech.”

Appellate court rules in inewsource’s favor in First Amendment lawsuit

May 3, 2017

Appellate court justices ruled in favor of inewsource, rejecting a lawsuit that claimed the nonprofit news organization has conflicts of interest that taint its lease agreement with San Diego State University and KPBS.

Sanction involving San Diego attorney Cory Briggs creates legal precedent in California

Dec. 28, 2017

A state appeals court has affirmed punishing sanctions in a lawsuit involving local environmental attorney Cory Briggs for failing to obey court orders.

Cory Briggs’ law firm asks state Supreme Court to review precedent-setting

Feb. 5, 2018

The Briggs Law Corp. has asked the California Supreme Court to review a ruling that ended a lawsuit filed by local attorney Cory Briggs, drew the attention of the San Diego City Attorney’s Office and established new legal precedent.

California courts rule in favor of inewsource and San Diego State in lawsuit that tested free speech laws

Oct. 28, 2019

The California Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging inewsource’s lease with San Diego State University, bringing to a close a four-year legal battle that inewsource’s editor contends was in retaliation for its investigations of attorney Cory Briggs.