D. Shawn Burkley | Associate
A proud graduate of St. John’s University School of Law – where he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper – D. Shawn Burkley practices both civil and criminal law at the trial and appellate levels. His practice-style concentrates on the opportunity to help the people involved as much as addressing the legal issues. This approach has resulted in his fellow lawyers regularly nominating him for recognition on both the Super Lawyers and Rising Stars lists.
Shawn is especially passionate about correcting inequities where he sees them. For example, within just four years of practice, Shawn was the lead attorney on a winning appeal that prevented large railroads from escaping liability for injuring individual railroad workers just because the workers had settled a prior claim. (Cal. Court of Appeal, Second Dist. Case No. B299031.)
In one of his first cases, Shawn represented a veteran of the Vietnam War who suffered from psychological scarring. When the City of Los Angeles obtained, and tried to enforce, a $1.174 million judgment against the veteran because he wasn’t able to adequately represent himself, Shawn used extensive post-judgment motion practice to get the judge to order the City to take a more humane approach. The result was a negotiated settlement with the City Attorney’s office that allowed the veteran to keep his home and a payment that was less than one-tenth of the entered judgment. (Los Angeles Case No. BC590776.)
More recently, while investigating a civil matter in a Central Valley prison, Shawn met an inmate who had already served 17 years of a life sentence. After learning the inmate had been in state prison since the age of 18 due to a conviction based on the “felony murder rule,” Shawn knew, under recent changes in the law, that the man’s sentence was unjust: he had been a “minor participant” in the events that led to his incarceration. Despite uncertainty in the courts on how to proceed and considerable resistance from the Fresno D.A.’s office, Shawn persisted with the man’s petition. He is now free and living a productive life. (Fresno County Case No. F03901030.)
Through proper examination of the evidence and facts of the case and a talent for thinking outside the box, Shawn has negotiated numerous dismissals, substantial sentence reductions (often including time served), or diversion programs that allow the accused to escape the stigma of a conviction in criminal courts. At trial, he has, among other things, convinced a jury to transform an attempted first-degree murder case (25 to life) to the lesser included offense of attempted voluntary manslaughter (3 to 11 years). He has defended his clients against charges ranging from low-level misdemeanors (DUIs, solicitation, and threats via electronic communication) to life cases (multiple rape, assault with a deadly weapon, and murder).
In civil practice, Shawn has applied the same principles to turn the tables on unscrupulous contractors by making them pay after they placed a “mechanics’ lien” for uncompleted work on the home of an elderly, unsuspecting couple. He has successfully confronted insurers unwilling to adequately compensate their injured clients for claims in automobile and motorcycle accidents. And he has unraveled complicated schemes to cheat equity stakeholders from their fair share of compensation in start-ups.
His civil work also extends to representing clients who require restraining orders or oppose orders that abuse a process that was intended as a shield rather than a sword.
Another area of practice he is especially passionate about is federal and state civil rights.
Prior to becoming a lawyer, Shawn travelled extensively and conducted business on three continents. Now returned to his native Los Angeles, he previously lived in New York for eight years and spent the better part of a decade in Europe. He speaks fluent French and conversational Spanish.
- Member: Los Angeles County Bar Association, Beverly Hills Bar Association, San Fernando Valley Bar Association, CUNY Alumnae Association, Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity, Rotary Club
- Former Committee Member: NY County Lawyers Association Foreign (International Law Committee), American Society of International Law (Disaster Law Committee), National Arts Club (House Committee)
- ACCESS IN CYBERSPACE: Reconciling Disability Rights, Regulation, and Web Accessibility (Published in Valley Lawyer)
- JOHNNY AND THE SCORPIONS: A Brief Look at the Mind of John G. Roberts (Published in Valley Lawyer)
- NEW TECHNOLOGY AND THE ANCIENT TORT OF TRESPASS: Can Fracking be Undone by One of the Legal System’s Oldest Torts? (Published in Valley Lawyer)
- WHO’S WHERE?: Looking for a Uniform Rule In Granting Law Enforcement Authorizations for Smartphone Geolocation Data (Published in Valley Lawyer)
- PUNITIVE DAMAGES ARE AN AVAILABLE REMEDY TO SEAMEN IN A GENERAL MARITIME LAW CLAIM OF UNSEAWORTHINESS (Admiralty Practicum, Joseph Calamari Admiralty Law Society)
- UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT REFUSES TO ENFORCE A FOREIGN ARBITRATION AWARD THAT DENIES TRADITIONAL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO SEAMEN BECAUSE THE AWARD IS VIOLATIVE OF UNITED STATES PUBLIC POLICY (Admiralty Practicum, Joseph Calamari Admiralty Law Society)
St. John’s University School of Law - Juris Doctor
City University of New York – Bachelor of Science Summa cum laude
Université de Lyon 2 – Mention tres Bien
- District of Columbia
- Supreme Court of the United States
- Superior, Appellate, and Supreme Courts of the State of California
- Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
- District Courts for the Northern, Eastern, Central, and Southern Districts of California
- 2021 named “Super Lawyers” Rising Star Honoree
- 2022 named Lawyer of Distinction