Law Offices of John J. Hughes

Law Offices of John J. Hughes

With an Emphasis on Maritime Injury Law

Firm Overview

Founded in 1955 By Mansfield Davis, for over a half century these offices have been dedicated to providing the highest quality of personal representation in state and federal trial and appellate courts to those who have suffered injury or wrongs. We provide legal services to merchant seamen, longshoremen and harbor workers, recreational and professional fishermen, boaters, divers, and crew and passengers of cruise ships in all types of maritime injuries. We also provide legal representation to persons in general civil litigation matters including motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, dog bites, public entity liability, discrimination, wrongful termination, and civil rights violations.

Mr. Hughes brings practical experience to the representation of victims of marine injuries having served on ships and boats of various types as a naval officer. He also holds a Senior Advanced Diver certification from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), is active in sailing, and is a member of U.S. Sailing. He has received the highest rating by Martindale Hubbell.

Main Office

Main Office
1200 Gough St., Suite One
San Francisco CA 94109






Law Offices of John J. Hughes will represent your Maritime legal matters.

Practice Areas:
-Maritime Law
-Admiralty Law
-Personal Injury
-Maritime Personal Injury

Admiralty/Maritime History:

The terms "admiralty" and "maritime" are frequently used interchangeably. "Admiralty," refers to the body of law and procedures that govern matters related to the carriage of goods or passengers on the high seas and navigable inland waters. The term "maritime," however, is a far more general term.

The source of modern day admiralty law is hidden in the ancient past . It is thought by some scholars that it may be traced back as far as 900 B.C. to the island of Rhodes in the eastern Mediterranean. Whatever its origin, it is very old indeed, and doctrines clearly recognizable to today's admiralty practitioner may be found in several medieval maritime codes. Special courts arose in the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Baltic trading states to enforce what was accepted by these states as a form of international law arising from the longstanding customs of the sea. Of particular interest to us is the system established in England where courts set up under the cognizance of the Lord High Admiral were, in the latter part of the 14th century, given jurisdiction to hear civil cases limited to "a thing done upon the sea." This system of separate Courts of Admiralty was still in existence throughout the time England colonized North America. Colonial courts were set up under the Vice-Admiralty in British North America and given expanded jurisdiction to hear criminal and civil matters involving colonists. Following the Revolutionary War, the newly formed United States incorporated the English judicial system. Our constitution together with the Judiciary Act of 1789, give the federal judiciary cognizance of matters which were within the jurisdiction of the British Admiralty. The system of separate admiralty courts with separate procedures was continued in the United States until 1966, when the courts were unified. Even though they are now unified, separate and distinct admiralty procedures are still available and the substantive law applied to decide cases, whether in state or federal court is the body of federal admiralty law.

This interesting history of admiralty law has very real consequences to those who find themselves pressing claims within the admiralty jurisdiction. The criminal and civil law with which we are most familiar is derived from the English common law. The law of admiralty, however, having had its origin in the Mediterranean and European sea trade, more closely resembles the European civil law system than the English common law. One significant difference which proved an irritant to our colonial forefathers given the expanded jurisdiction of the British Admiralty Court in the American colonies is the lack of jury under admiralty procedures. Fortunately provisions of law make it possible, in many cases, to maintain an action in the various state courts, or on the "law side" of the federal court, and to retain the important right to a jury trial and other common law remedies. Even in such cases, however, the substantive law applied to decide the case is the law of admiralty.

The Substantive Law of Admiralty:

Admiralty law provides a whole range of rights and remedies to those injured within its jurisdiction. Those rights and remedies may vary according to the status of the person making the claim. For example, the remedies available to a member of a crew are quite different from those available to a passenger. Admiralty law also affects the defenses which might be raised against a claim. In some cases making available defenses unknown to the common law, and in other cases removing defenses long established and accepted in common law cases. For these reasons it is important for anyone with a claim arising on or adjacent to the oceans or waterways to seek the advice of an attorney knowledgeable in this area of practice.

John J. Hughes

Law Offices of John J. Hughes

Mr. Hughes is licensed to practice law in the State of California in State and Federal trial and appellate Courts. He brings practical experience to the representation of victims of marine injuries having served on ships and boats of various types as a naval officer. He also holds a Senior Advanced Diver certification from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), is active in sailing, and is a member of U.S. Sailing.

Mr. Hughes was graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 1965 with the degree of Bachelor of Science in the field of mathematics. In 1980 he received his Juris Doctorate from California Western School of Law, Magna Cum Laude, and in 1981 he was awarded the degree of Master of Laws in Admiralty, With Distinction, by Tulane University.

Military Service:
Mr. Hughes served as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy and is a veteran of the Viet Nam War. He served aboard an ocean going minesweeper, a destroyer, and was Officer-in-Charge of one of the Navy's three patrol air cushion vehicles (hovercraft) assigned to inland waters and overland missions in Viet Nam. He also served as Commanding Officer of Mobile Mine Assembly Group, Unit Eight. Significant awards and decorations include the Bronze Star with combat "v" distinguishing device, the Navy Achievement Medal with combat "v" distinguishing device, the Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation with star in lieu of second award, the Meritorious Unit Citation, Viet Nam Service Medal with one silver and two bronze stars, the Vietnamese Honor Medal First Class, the Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and the Republic of Viet Nam Civil Action Medal. He is a graduate of the Navy's acclaimed Destroyer School in Newport, Rhode Island, a six month intensive course of class room, simulator, and shipboard instruction in every facet of vessel operations


1981, California

Law School:
California Western School of Law, J.D.

-Bar Association of San Francisco
-San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association
-Consumer Attorneys of California
-American Association for Justice (Member, Section on Admiralty)

Fellow: American Association for Justice National College of Advocacy (Advocate).

Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, 1966-1976

-Taylor v. Moram Agencies, 739 F.2d 1384 (9th Cir. 1984)
-Wade v. Tschudi, Shipping Co. A.S., 2009 AMC 237 (N.D. Ca. 2009)
-Stacy v. Rederiet Otto Danielsen, A.S., 609 F.3d 1033, 2010 AMC 1782 (9th Cir. 2010)


California Western School of Law
Juris Doctorate,