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Phil Downs



Phil Downs is an associate practicing with the firm’s public entity litigation team, with particular focus defending police departments and their officers against civil rights claims.

As the son of a retired San Francisco police sergeant, and the older sibling to an active San Francisco police officer, Phil is intimately familiar with the realities facing law enforcement today. As a former Captain in the United States Marine Corps, and combat veteran, Phil has lived a life providing him with a skill set well-adapted to police use-of-force litigation. Among other things, Phil lived with and trained new Iraqi National Police recruits, and embedded with their field units stationed along the Syrian/Iraqi border region. Besides working to stem the flow of weapons and fighters into Iraq, Phil trained his recruits to act under the color of authority with respect for the due process rights of Iraq’s citizenry as expressed in their nation’s provisional constitution. In addition, Phil’s extensive experience leading counter-insurgency operations throughout heavily populated areas necessarily relied on training he received from U.S. police experts, in particular use-of-force continuum training, in order to prevent harm to civilians.

Since joining the firm in April, 2015, Phil has put his experience to work, second-chairing a jury trial in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in the case of Xiong v. City of Merced, et. al. The jury trial resulted in a defense verdict for two police officers who were involved in a shooting incident in Merced, CA.


University of California, Davis, B.A. (2003)

University of San Francisco School of Law, J.D. (2014)

Admitted to Practice

State of California (2015)

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (2015)

U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (2015)

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (2015)

Speaking Engagements

Phil has spoken before police officers from departments from Marin, San Joaquin, and Fresno counties about current legal issues regarding police use of force against persons who are mentally ill.