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John M. Runfola
  • Attorney


San Francisco, CA





John M. Runfola is a highly experienced and effective criminal defense attorney whose cases have drawn national and international attention. He has succeeded in winning favorable results for clients at trial and through skillful pretrial work and negotiation.

For over 40 years, Mr. Runfola has received an "AV" rating* and been rated by his peers as a Preeminent Lawyer in the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. Martindale Hubbell has ranked attorneys based upon a confidential peer review process for over 94 years.

Achieving an "AV" rating indicates that a lawyer is ranked at the highest level of professional excellence by members of the judiciary and practicing attorneys in his area of specialization. The "A" signifies the highest level of legal ability while the "V" denotes "very high" adherence to the Professional Code of Responsibility in conduct, ethics, reliability and diligence.

Mr. Runfola is a life-time member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, a member of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, and a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Prior to starting his own practice in 1986, Mr. Runfola worked as a deputy public defender in Marin County and San Francisco, California, where he gained invaluable courtroom experience. He has become a seasoned trial lawyer who prides himself on being involved in developing investigation strategies, motion work and client preparation.

Mr. Runfola has a deep commitment to justice, is keenly aware of the daunting task a defendant faces when accused of wrongdoing by the federal or state government and is willing to do everything in his power to aid the client in his or her fight. He comes from a tradition of the strongest legal advocacy and ethics, having seen his father, Joseph Runfola, achieve great success as a criminal defense lawyer and a groundbreaking president of the Erie County Bar Association in New York state. Joseph Runfola, among other accomplishments, created a committee on sex discrimination well ahead of its time, and headed the Bar Association's Aid to Indigent Prisoners Society and its Prisoner Release Program. Like his father, John Runfola truly listens to and is a tireless advocate for his clients. Above all, he works with his clients to achieve the most favorable outcome of their situation.

Areas Of Practice

  • Criminal Defense

Bar Admissions

  • California, 1980
  • U.S. District Court Northern District of California, 1980
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1980


  • University of San Francisco School of Law, San Francisco, California
    • J.D. - 1980
    • Honors: magna cum laude
  • San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California
    • M.A. - 1980
  • State University of New York at Buffalo
    • B.A. - 1973
    • Honors: magna cum laude
    • Major: Political Science
    • Major: Sociology

Honors and Awards

  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, life-time member

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Lawyers Club of San Francisco, Member
  • California Trial Lawyers Association, Member
  • Bar Association of San Francisco, Member, Criminal Justice Committee
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Member, 1985 to 1992
  • State Bar of California, Member
  • California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Member
  • Erie County Bar Association

Past Employment Positions

  • Marin County, Public Defender, 1981 to 1981
  • San Francisco, Public Defender, 1981 to 1984

Pro Bono Activities

  • National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Member


  • Phi Beta Kappa