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Francis Sargius

Posted: Tuesday, July 03, 2001 at 03:57 PM CT

Francis Sargius was born in Marseille, France, January 3, 1933, the son of Maghdeleta and Elia Sarguis (both natives of Urmie). His father died in France in 1940. Along with his mother and sister, Francis immigrated to the U.S. at the end of 1947, when nearly 15 years old. He rapidly learned English while attending local Turlock, California schools. He was inducted in the U.S. Army, and sent to Frankfurt, Germany. His assignments included French interpreting the V Corps Headquarters. Following military service, Francis attended Modesto Jr. College (A.A.) and the University of California, Berkeley (B.A. and General Teaching Credentials). While a student, he taught conversational French in various schools in the San Francisco Bay area. Soon after, he entered U.C. Hastings College of Law, continuing his legal studies at the University of Southern California (J.D.). To pursue his interest in international law, he also attended Yale University Law School (LL.M.). Once he began his law practice in Santa Barbara, he continued studies in political science at U.C. Santa Barbara (M.A.).

As a lawyer, Francis served as Santa Barbara Deputy County Counsel for three years, advising a variety of local public agencies, including County Supervisors, several Commissions and School Boards. Since 1967, he has been in private practice in Santa Barbara.. One of his first clients was the Santa Barbara Transit District which he helped create through State legislation and a local election.

His general practice has included criminal as well as civil law, but it has always been highlighted by public interest legislation (civil liberties, prisoners' rights, environmental law and the California Elections Code). He has represented a number of University faculty in cases involving tenure. He has also argued several cases before appellate courts, including a successful 7-0 reversal before the California Supreme Court (a published opinion).

Francis is a member of the California State Bar and of the federal bar. His admission before the U.S. Supreme Court was personally sponsored by the late U.S. Senator Thomas Kuchel, a personal acquaintance. His law affiliations also include the American Society of International Law, and the Santa Barbara Legal Defense Center. In the world of politics, Francis started out as a Republican who served on the County Central Committee, and as alternate on the State Central Committee. He was one of the campaign chairs for Thomas Kuchel (for U.S. Senate), and for Spencer Williams (for State Attorney General). He also worked on the Rockefeller (for President) and Christopher (for Governor) campaigns. In those days, he often worked with Michael Deaver, then a G.O.P. employee in Santa Barbara, who would go on to become a close aide to Ronald Reagan. In time, Francis found that the causes he pursued were more compatible with the Democratic Party, and this led him to change party affiliation.

Over the years, Francis has testified before Congressional Committees, the State Lands Commission, the State Senate, and other agencies. His testimony has related to protection of the environment, public disclosure laws, home rule and better government. Appointed by Governor Jerry Brown (classmate at Yale Law School), to the California State Highway Commission (1976-78), Francis was also a Director on the National Board of the UN Association of USA (1974-1980) (retired Chief Justice Earl Warren President served on the same board). President of several local environmental groups, Francis was a news fixture in the local media.

He has lectured in the Political Science Department at UC Santa Barbara, and at local high schools, and the Adult Education Program. He was honored as Santa Barbara ACLU Man of the Year in 1981-82. Although always conscious of his special heritage, in recent years Francis decided to reduce his law practice and free up more time for Assyrian-related activities. He is founder and the first President of The Fund for Modern Assyrian Studies, Inc., and the English-language editor of the Journal of the Assyrian Academic Society. He is a co-founder of the Assyrian Community Networking Conference. He pursues his passion for investigative journalism by writing a periodic column on the Assyrian internet <> When called upon by Assyrian organizations, he has been a Legal Advisor on Assyrian Refugee issues and in matters relating to Washington. He has published essays in periodicals such as The Nation, and The Natural Resources Journal. Numerous articles have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union, Sacramento Bee, and other papers.

His wife Dumarina, a native of Teheran, is marketing director for a Danish biotech company. They do considerable travel together. In addition, Francis has made a number of "friendship study trips" to destinations including China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cuba and Nicaragua. More recently, in keeping with his heightened interest in his heritage, he has paid visits to Assyrian enclaves in north Iraq, Syria, New Zealand and Australia.

Francis has three children by a previous marriage. They are Tay Sarguis, currently practicing immigration law in San Mateo, California; Tod Sarguis, who is in his final year of civil engineering studies at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo; and Nina Sarguis, who is studying plant biology in Sacramento.

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