The newest member of the Cohen Defense Group, Phil Cozens, is a hard-nosed felony defense lawyer with years of experience handling everything from drug cases to murder. Phil brings with him a vast knowledge of criminal law from years of trying cases throughout the region as well as a comprehensive knowledge of the federal court system.
Phil ran his own practice from 1985 until June of 2021 when he joined Cohen Defense. Says David Cohen, “When I ran into Phil in court and sought his opinion on attorneys who might be a good fit for our practice, I was overjoyed by his offer to join us after decades as a lone wolf.” According to Phil, “Much of my work involves sitting in a room alone reading. The pleasure of this firm is the discourse, talking with other attorneys about ideas,” Phil says. “Mentoring more.”
When Phil was eight years old, the most popular show on TV was Perry Mason. Phil was transfixed. “The guy’s the smartest guy in the room. He always gets his clients off.” Inspired, Phil worked his way to an undergraduate degree from UC Berkeley, followed by a law degree from USC Law School. He worked at the Sacramento DA’s office before a short stint in business litigation, but soon found that his heart was in criminal defense, where things happen fast, and the stakes are high.
Phil is a tireless and meticulous researcher who savors diving into the minutiae of law. “I’m a great believer in studying and looking up everything – doing my research. I’m thorough. I’m really good at knowing the tiny parts of sentencing guidelines in federal court, for example, which is key because U.S. attorneys won’t take a case unless they know it’s winnable, so most cases are pled.”
David Cohen can attest to Phil’s dedication: “Early in my career, I traveled to a continuing education seminar in San Diego and ran into Phil on the plane. I had seen Phil’s work in court and been impressed, but what really impressed me was that while other passengers were reading magazines, Phil was reading the new appellate opinions from the California Supreme Court and the Courts of Appeal. That level of devotion to finding resources in the law that could help his clients made a big impression on me.”
Married nearly 30 years and with grown children, Phil is an avid swimmer. He played water polo at Cal and was president of the local recreational swim league for four seasons. Phil has coached everything from soccer to basketball to T-ball, but his biggest successes came from coaching high school water polo. He coached twelve seasons at Rio Americano, coaching the winning section championship team in 1995. At Jesuit High he coached the section championship teams in 2010 and 2011 before retiring.
In addition to working on behalf of his clients, Phil has published articles in law journals addressing Pitchess Motions and the effects of Miranda rulings. A member of the California bar, Phil is admitted to practice before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and before the federal bench in the Eastern and Northern Districts of California.