Civil Rights Attorney

Shawn McMillan

Legal Experience

Since late 2009, my firm has specialized in prosecuting civil rights cases against county social workers and county child protective service agencies throughout Southern California. In 2014, I expanded the operation into Arizona, where I am actively engaged in litigation with the State of Arizona regarding its practices in relation to the unwarranted seizure of children from their parents.

I have been recognized as one of San Diego County’s “Super Lawyers” in the area of Civil Rights every year since 2013. In addition, I am a recognized expert in the field regarding the constitutional rights of children and parents in the context of child abuse investigations. To underscore the point, I have been invited to lecture, and have lectured regarding the civil rights implications of the work done by social workers and other law enforcement agents when they investigate child abuse allegations as follows:

  • The University of La Verne College of Law’s “Civil Rights Symposium §1983” on February 8, 2013.
  • The California Appellate Defense Counsel’s 24th Annual State Wide Conference held in San Diego on March 10-11, 2017, i.e., the constitutional implications of the work done by county social services agencies and social workers, and, how to sue them when they violate people’s rights.
  • Advokids’ course titled “Fighting for the Civil Rights of Children in Foster Care,” on February 24, 2018, sponsored by Whittier Law School.
  • Advokids’ course titled, “Child Welfare Civil Rights Litigation: Nuts and Bolts Workshop,” on October 20, 2018, sponsored by the University of San Francisco Law School.
  • Arizona State University Law School’s course titled: “Civil Rights Litigation Against Child Welfare Workers and Child Welfare Agencies, Nuts & Bolts Workshop March 2, 2019.”
  • Trojan Horse Method’s “Case Analysis” course teaching various aspects of case development specific to cases brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against government social workers and child protection agencies.
McMillan For Judge

Some of the awards and recognition I have received for my work in this highly specialized, niche, area of law include:

  • October 26, 2018, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego: “Outstanding Trial Lawyer” award for Duval v. County of Los Angeles et al., where I obtained a unanimous jury verdict against the County on the Plaintiff’s Monell claim arising from the County’s customs and practices of seizing children without obtaining warrants.
  • San Diego Magazine’s “Top Lawyers In San Diego” for 2013 through present;
  • 2014 Finalist for Consumer Attorneys of California’s prestigious “Street Fighter of The Year,” for Arce v. Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, 211 Cal. App. 4th 1455 (2012). The case formed the basis for CACI Jury Instruction number 3051.
  • California Lawyer Magazine “Attorney of the Year (CLAY Award), 2012”
  • Consumer Attorneys of California “Street Fighter of the Year, 2011”
  • Orange County Trial Lawyer’s Association “Top Gun Trial Attorney, 2007”;

In addition to significant trial court experience, I have substantial appellate experience. In the course of my practice I have filed or responded to, or assisted in the filing of, or response to more than 47 briefs in writ proceedings or appeals, several of which involved matters of first impression.

The following is a list of some of my cases:

  • Apex Wholesale v. Fry’s Elecs. (June 15, 2006, No. D041383) 2006 Cal.
  • Unpub. LEXIS 5169, at *2
  • Western Pet Wholesalers, Inc. v. Natura Pet Prods. (Aug. 11, 2005,
  • D042817) 2005 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 7286, at *1
  • Western Pet Wholesalers, Inc. v. Natura Pet Prods. (Sep. 21, 2006,
  • D047616) 2006 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8313, at *1
  • Tritek Telecom, Inc. v. Superior Court (2009) 169 Cal.App.4th 1385.
  • McCue v. S. Fork Union Elem. Sch. (E.D.Cal. 2011) 766 F.Supp.2d 1003
  • Arce v. County of Los Angeles (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 1455
  • Kemper v. County of San Diego, 242 Cal. App. 4th 1075
  • Kemper v. County of San Diego (Apr. 22, 2013, No. D059637) [2013 Cal.
  • Unpub. LEXIS 2818]
  • Marshall v. County of San Diego (2015) 238 Cal.App.4th 1095
  • Dwight R. v. Christy B. (2013) 212 Cal.App.4th 697
  • Holland v. Cnty. of Los Angeles (9th Cir. 2015) 604 F.App’x 543
  • Huk v. Cnty. of Santa Barbara (9th Cir. 2016) 650 F.App’x 365
  • Dunkle v. Dale (9th Cir. Aug. 15, 2016, No. 14-36039) 2016 U.S. App.
  • LEXIS 14966, at *1 (consultant)
  • Greenspan v. County of San Diego (S.D.Cal. Jan. 9, 2014, No.
  • 13cv210-LAB (DHB)) 2014 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 7393
  • Kasdan v. County of Los Angeles (C.D.Cal. Nov. 24, 2014, No. CV
  • 12-06793 GAF (JEMx)) 2014 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 165098
  • Deeths v. Lucile Slater Packard Children’s Hosp. (E.D.Cal. June 12, 2013, No. CV F 12-2096 LJO JLT) 2013 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 83457
  • Pellerin v. Wagner (D.Ariz. Mar. 14, 2016, No. 2:14-cv-02318 JWS) 2016 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 33425