John Michael Phillips (born February 4, 1975) is an American lawyer, consumer and civil rights advocate, legal commentator for national media and former radio show host of Courts & Sports, a nationally broadcast radio show. He is also a Human Rights Commissioner for the City of Jacksonville. Phillips has been lead counsel in numerous nationally reported cases, including in the shooting of Jordan Davis, and represents many celebrities and athletes. 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 and also successfully represented an Orlando man who made left shark 3-D figurines against claims of copyright infringement by singer Katy Perry
Early life and education
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, Georgia and Alabama and before the United States Supreme Court. Phillips resides in Jacksonville, Florida, is married and has two sons.
Political Life and Civic Career
In 2015, John was nominated by the Mayor of Jacksonville to the City's Human Rights Commission. 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.” The mayor's office sided with Phillips and he remains on the Commission.
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. He is active in the community.
Phillips started his career as a civil litigation defense attorney, defending companies from injury claims. After over 8 years with his firm, he worked beside John Morgan (lawyer) and represented victims of traumatic injuries. In 2011, John founded his own law office.
Jordan Davis Shooting
In 2012, John Phillips was hired by Ron Davis and Lucy McBath after their son, after the Shooting of Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn after an argument over loud music on November 23, 2102. 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, while Davis sat in a car with three friends. 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. John's perspective and a photo with the family appeared in Rolling Stone magazine in 2013.
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. Phillips's experiences led to a TEDx speech, which has amassed over 300,000 views. Additionally, he received a feature by BET online, spotlighting Phillips as a civil rights advocate.
Feature in Abigail Disney Documentary: Armor of Light
Phillips sill works with the Davis family both in aspects of the wrongful death of Jordan, but also to assist the discussion over changing controversial "Stand Your Ground" laws across the country and encourages people to be more civil with each other. It landed his family a spot in the 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 John's story alongside his client Lucy McBath and Reverend Robert Schenck. The film premiered at Tribeca and went on to receive acclaim.
Howard Schneider Pediatric Abuse Case
Another case which John handled received prolific media attention is the case of Jacksonville pediatric dentist Howard S. Schneider. John was interviewed on Nancy Grace, Anderson Cooper, Nightline, Crime Watch Daily, and others about the case. He teamed up with renowned lawyer James R. Moriarty to investigate similar cases.
Former Howard Schneider was charged in a scheme to defraud Medicaid, but allegation also included performing unnecessary dentistry on children, telling parents that he needed to work on one tooth and extract several and physical abuse. Parents also allege that he unnecessarily restrained children with the controversial papoose board. He was recently found incompetent to stand trial.
Other High Profile Cases
Additionally, Phillips has handled several other nationally reported cases, including Erin Joynt who was run over while sunbathing on Daytona Beach, where he was interviewed on Today Show. Good Morning America also filmed and broadcast portions of this trial in 2014 , where John can be seen hugging his client after a $2.6 million verdict.
Other notable cases include Gregory Hill v. Ft. Pierce Police Department (where a man was shot by police through his closed garage door), as well as Aviana Bailey v. Daytona Beach Police (where Bailey was shot by Daytona Beach Police while a passenger in a vehicle) and others. He has multiple other million and multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements.
Speeches and Presentations
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. He also has spoken internationally in Ghana and on the BBC and to groups at Howard University and before the NAACP.
He has written law reviews and news pieces and has advised governments about legal and policy reform and been featured on the cover of several regional and trade magazines.
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 corespondent. He is a reoccurring guest and legal analyst on HLN (CNN's Headline News program). John covered the George Zimmerman verdict live from Sanford, Florida for HLN and has covered other high profile cases such as Jodi Arias and Casey Anthony for national media.