John Michael Phillips

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John M. Phillips
John Phillips Profile.jpg
Born(1975-02-04)February 4, 1975
EducationUniversity of Alabama, University of Alabama School of Law
OccupationAttorney, News Personality, Speaker, Publisher
Known forArmor of Light, Jordan Davis, CNN

John Michael Phillips (born February 4, 1975) is an American lawyer, consumer and civil rights advocate, legal commentator for national media and recently obtained a $495 million verdict on behalf of the family of a murder victim. He is licensed to practice law in Florida, New York, Texas, Georgia, Alabama, and Washington, DC. Phillips has been lead counsel in numerous nationally reported cases, including in the shooting of Jordan Davis, and represents many celebrities and athletes. He serves as lead counsel for Omarosa Manigault Newman in the litigation filed against her by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Department of Justice. [1] He was is also involved in litigation against Carole Baskin and the Disappearance of Don Lewis, which was part of the Netflix show Tiger King. [2]

Early life and education[edit]

Phillips was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, before moving to Jacksonville, Florida in 2001. He received a BA from the University of Alabama in Political Science and Criminal Justice in 1997. He attended the University of Alabama School of Law, receiving a JD in 2000. He subsequently became licensed to practice law in Florida, New York, Georgia, Alabama, Texas and Washington, DC and is also licensed before the United States Supreme Court.

Political life and civic career[edit]

In 2015, Phillips was nominated by the Mayor of Jacksonville to the City's Human Rights Commission.[3] Not without controversy, a Brunswick, Georgia pastor once asked the Mayor to force Phillips to resign his position, claiming he was biased, saying Phillips "has shown he cannot be a fair person and serve on the city's Human Rights Commission." Incidentally, the person who claimed that is serving time in prison. The mayor's office sided with Phillips and he remained on the Commission.[4] On November 14, 2017, Phillips resigned from the Commission in order to relieve any perceived conflict before filing multiple civil rights lawsuits against the City of Jacksonville.

Phillips name has been discussed in regards to political office. In 2016, he was named one of the 29 most influential people in Jacksonville, Florida by Folio Weekly.[5] He is very active in community outreach.[6]

Legal career[edit]

Phillips started his career as a civil litigation defense attorney, defending companies like Coca-Cola, Hertz and State Farm from injury claims. After over 8 years with his firm, he worked beside John Morgan and represented victims of traumatic injuries. In 2011, Phillips founded his own law office.[7] It has since expanded to a multi-state practice. He is known as a preeminent civil rights lawyer, wrongful death lawyer, sports lawyer, personal injury lawyer, commercial litigation lawyer and criminal defense lawyer.

Although he is known for his work in personal injury and wrongful death cases, he stopped George Zimmerman when he was trying to sell his client's copyrighted photograph of notorious prosecutor Angela Corey as a painting [8] and also successfully represented an Orlando man who made "Left Shark" 3-D figurines against claims of copyright infringement by singer Katy Perry.[9]

Jordan Davis shooting[edit]

In 2012, Phillips was hired by Ron Davis and Lucy McBath after the Shooting of Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn which stemmed from an argument over loud music on November 23, 2012. Police say 45-year-old Michael Dunn fired 10 times at a vehicle in which 17-year-old Jordan Davis was a passenger just after 7:30 p.m. in Jacksonville, Florida.[10] Michael Dunn was convicted of Jordan Davis's murder after two trials and remains behind bars. Jordan's death made news around the nation much like the murder case of Trayvon Martin. Phillips' perspective and a photo with the family appeared in Rolling Stone magazine in 2013.[11]

Although Joy Reid described Phillips as "a white, lifelong Republican with an Alabama drawl, who like 1.5 million Floridians, has a concealed carry permit," he is frequently praised for his fight for equal rights.[12] Phillips's experiences led to a TEDx speech, which has amassed over 300,000 views.[13] Additionally, he received a feature by BET online, spotlighting Phillips as a civil rights advocate.[14]

Feature in Abigail Disney Documentary: Armor of Light[edit]

Phillips still works with the Davis family both in aspects of the wrongful death of Jordan, but also to assist the discussion over changing controversial gun laws across the country and encourages people to be more civil with each other. His family was featured in the Emmy award winning documentary by Abigail Disney, the daughter of Roy O. Disney and niece of Walt Disney. The movie is called Armor of Light and features Phillips' story alongside his client Lucy McBath and Reverend Rob Schenck.[15] The film premiered at Tribeca[16] and went on to receive much acclaim.[17] In 2017, it won an Emmy Award for best "Outstanding Social Interest Documentary."

Howard Schneider Pediatric Abuse Cases[edit]

Phillips handled was the nationally reported case of Jacksonville pediatric dentist Howard S. Schneider. Howard Schneider was charged in a scheme to defraud Medicaid, but the allegations against him also included abuse and performing unnecessary dentistry on children, telling parents that he needed to work on one tooth and extracting several. Parents also allege that he unnecessarily restrained children with the controversial papoose board. Although he was found incompetent to stand trial, he lost his license to practice and much of his status in the community and a confidential settlement was reached.[18]

Phillips was interviewed on Nancy Grace,[19] Anderson Cooper,[20] Nightline,[21] Crime Watch Daily,[22] and others about the case.

Controversial Civil Rights Verdict[edit]

Another notable case includes Gregory Hill v. Ft. Pierce Police Department (where a man was shot by police through his closed garage door),[23] It resulted in a controversial $4 jury verdict.[24] The $4 verdict was reversed by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals after Phillips argued the trial judge erred by allowing in inappropriate evidence. [25]It will be retried.

Record Verdict On Behalf of Kalil McCoy[edit]

On January 15, 2019, Phillips and his firm received a jury verdict of $495,123,680.00, the largest known jury verdict in northeast Florida and one of the largest wrongful death verdicts in the country. Kalil McCoy, of Jacksonville, Florida, was shot in the head by Frederick Lee Wade, 19, while they rode in a car with four other friends, after an argument about opening a window. McCoy’s friends then dumped her body in a wooded area and lied about what happened. Fox News reported the victim's mother mother, Lynette Roebuck, saying, "that while the judgment won’t bring her daughter back, it acknowledges the pain her family has suffered for seven years." [26] This was on top of another prior settlement in the case.

Donald Trump v. Omarosa Manigault Newman[edit]

On August 18, 2018, it was announced that Phillips and his firm are representing Omarosa Manigault Newman in both arbitration and litigation arising out of her employment with Donald Trump, both at his political campaign and presidency. [27] After Newman published her book, "Unhinged," Phillips attended her initial book tour and subsequently picked up boxes of her belongings at the White House.[28]

Assistant of Jack Donald Lewis v. Carole Baskin[edit]

Phillips was hired in July of 2020 to represent Don Lewis’s daughters, Donna L. Pettis, Lynda L. Sanchez, and Gale L. Rathbone, along with his former assistant Anne McQueen. He now only represents Anne McQueen. He filed a lawsuit against Carole Baskin and others in early August seeking to obtain more information about the disappearance of Don Lewis and has amended that to an action for breach of contract and defamation. [29] To promote information gathering, the family and Phillips ran a commercial during Baskin's appearance on Dancing with the Stars, which went viral. [30]

Other High Profile Cases[edit]

Additionally, Phillips has handled several other nationally reported cases, including a woman was run over while sunbathing on Daytona Beach, for which he was interviewed on Today Show.[31] Good Morning America also filmed and broadcast portions of this trial in 2014, where Phillips can be seen hugging his client after a $2.6 million verdict.[32] See also Aviana Bailey v. Daytona Beach Police (where Bailey was shot by Daytona Beach Police while a passenger in a vehicle).[33]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Just during the last few years, Phillips and his office have been named as: Legal Elite, Florida Trend Magazine, SuperLawyer, by Florida Super Lawyers, Litigator Award, Trial Lawyers Board of Regents, Top 100 Trial Lawyer, by the National Trial Lawyers Association, Top 40 Under 40, by the American Society of Legal Advocates, AV – Preeminent (the highest rating obtainable), by peers according to Martindale-Hubbell, 10 / 10, by Avvo, "One of 29 Most Influential People in Jacksonville," by Folio Weekly, "Best Lawyer," by readers of the Folio Weekly, "Righteous Crusader," by readers of the Folio Weekly, "Attorney of the Month (with Photo on the Cover)," by Attorney at Law Magazine of Florida, "Attorney of the Month (with Photo on the Cover)," by Attorney at Law Magazine of Georgia, "#1 Lawyer," by readers of Void Magazine, "Face of Justice in the 904," by 904 Magazine, "Top Lawyer," by 904 Magazine, "Company with Heart," by 904 Magazine, "Best Lawyer," by Jacksonville Magazine, "Who's Who in Law," by Ponte Vedra Recorder, and many others.

Speeches and presentations[edit]

Since 2009, Phillips has spoken hundreds of times on various legal topics. He gave a TEDx talk which has been viewed over 300,000 times.[34] He also has spoken internationally in Ghana and on the BBC and to groups at Howard University and before the NAACP.[35]

Television and radio personality[edit]

Phillips has appeared on NBC's the Today Show, MSNBC, HLN, BBC, Al Jazeera, RT TV, TV ONE and regularly appears on other national media outlets as a legal correspondent. He is a recurring guest and legal analyst on HLN (CNN's Headline News program). Phillips covered the George Zimmerman verdict live from Sanford, Florida for HLN [36] and has covered other high profile cases such as Jodi Arias and Casey Anthony for national media.

From 2011 to 2013, Phillips hosted a podcast, which was aired regionally in Jacksonville, Florida called Courts & Sports. He still regularly appears on the morning radio show Lex and Terry. He represented the duo in 2012 and frequently has a call in segment where listeners ask Phillips for legal advice.


Phillips is listed as the publisher of the 33 year-old news publication Folio Weekly. [37] It was acquired by an entity known as Boldland Press, Inc., which Phillips is listed as controlling on SunBiz, Florida's corporate record search engine. Phillips also is listed as an owner of another publishing company PDJ Publishing, Inc. [38]

Personal life[edit]

Phillips resides in Jacksonville, Florida, is married and has three sons.[39]


  1. ^ Matt Soergel. "Jacksonville attorney in middle of Trump-Omarosa feud", Florida Times Union, August 2018.
  2. ^ Erin Jensen. "Don Lewis' family lawyer says ad during Carole Baskin's 'DWTS' debut sparked 'legitimate tips'", USA Today, September 2020.
  3. ^ City of Jacksonville Website
  4. ^ David Bauerlein. "Mayor's review of Human Rights Commission member finds he can act fairly in that role", Florida times-Union, July 2016.
  5. ^ Claire Goforth. "29 Agitators, Truth-Seekers & Crusaders", Folio Weekly, April 2016.
  6. ^ Stacey Readout. "Eureka Gardens children get free school supplies", WJXT, August 2016.
  7. ^ Elizabeth Morse. "A Walk in Someone Else’s Skin", Attorney at Law Magazine, January 2016.
  8. ^ Jeff Weiner. "Attorney: George Zimmerman stole photographer's work to make painting", Orlando Sentinel, January 2014.
  9. ^ Gil Kaufman. "Sorry, Katy Perry, You Can't Own Left Shark", [], April 2015.
  10. ^ Larry Hannan. "Michael Dunn/Jordan Davis trial problematic at every step", Florida Times-Union, January 2014.
  11. ^ Paul Solotaroff. "A Most American Way to Die", Rolling Stone, April 2013.
  12. ^ Joy Ann Reid. "For Jordan Davis’ parents, a bond with Trayvon’s family, and prayers for a different trial outcome", The Grio, July 2013.
  13. ^ John Phillips. " TEDxJacksonville Speech, October 2015.
  14. ^ Jonathan P. Hicks. "For Lawyer for Jordan Davis’ Family, the Case Has Been a Lesson on Race, BET, February 2014.
  15. ^ Abigail Disney. [1]. Armor of Light.
  16. ^ Tribeca Film Festival Website
  17. ^ Initial Academy Award Nominations
  18. ^ First Coast News. "Embattled former dentist judged incompetent to stand trial in Medicaid fraud case, February 2017.
  19. ^ Nancy Grace. "Disturbing video: Dentist torturing young patient?", HLN, May 2015.
  20. ^ Anderson Cooper. "Anderson Cooper Investigates", CNN, December 2015.
  21. ^ Harry Phillips. "Dentist Accused of Harming Child Patients While Making Millions of Dollars", ABC News, September 2016.
  22. ^ Ana Garcia. "Pediatric Dentist Accused of Mistreating Young Patients", Crime Watch Daily, January 2016.
  23. ^ Wesley Lowery. "Deputies say Gregory Hill pointed gun at them. After shooting, the gun was found in his pocket, "Washington Post," January 2016.
  24. ^ Eliott C. McLaughlin. "'Black lives don't matter,' lawyer says after jury awards $4 in police killing, "CNN," June 2018.
  25. ^ Melissa E. Holsman. "$4 verdict awarded to family of man killed by St. Lucie County sheriff’s deputy tossed on appeal, "TCPalm," March 2020.
  26. ^ Stephen Sorace. "Murder victim's family awarded nearly $500M in wrongful death case", "Fox News," January 2019.
  27. ^ Matt Soergel. "Jacksonville Attorney John Phillips Representing Omarosa", Florida Times-Union, August 2018.
  28. ^ Kent Justice. "Jacksonville attorney in middle of Trump-Omarosa feud", WJCT, August 2018.
  29. ^ Christopher Spata. "Family of Tiger King’s Don Lewis files lawsuit against Carole Baskin and others", Tampa Bay Times, August 2020.
  30. ^ Erin Jensen. "Don Lewis' family lawyer says ad during Carole Baskin's 'DWTS' debut sparked 'legitimate tips'", USA Today, September 2020.
  31. ^ The Today Show. "Mom run over by lifeguard truck still recovering, NBC, September 2011.
  32. ^ Good Morning America. "Sunbathing Mom Run Over by Beach Patrol Vehicle Seeks Compensation in Court, ABC, June 2014.
  33. ^ Frank Fernandez. "Woman paralyzed in police shootout suing ex-Daytona Beach officer, Daytona Beach Journal, August 2014.
  34. ^ John Phillips. " TEDxJacksonville Speech, October 2015.
  35. ^ John Phillips. " NAACP Materials
  36. ^ HLN News. "Zimmerman Verdict, HLN
  37. ^ Nick Jones. "Prominent Jacksonville attorney buys Folio Weekly", WJXT, June 2020.
  38. ^ Katie Garwood. "Lawyer John Phillips buys Folio Weekly", Jacksonville Daily Record, June 2020.
  39. ^ Marilyn Young. "Lawyer snapshot: John Phillips", Jacksonville Daily Record, March 2014.

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