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Richard Lewis Tennent

About me

     If you are accused of a crime, you want positive results--not your face on the front page of the paper.  If you have been convicted and are fighting an appeal, you want a positive outcome--not hot air and a hole in your family's savings.  Competent and zealous lawyering, that is centered on the client and respects the client's dignity and privacy is Mr. Tennent's goal.  He maintains a small case load in the federal, appellate, Davidson and Williamson County courts, so that he can properly focus on each and every client.


    Richard Tennent is a founding member of Bell, Tennent & Frogge. He earns his living entirely by defending persons accused of misdeeds in the federal, state and appellate courts. On rare occasions he also does pro bono environmental and land use law.

    Over the past twenty years, Mr. Tennent has represented persons accused of the most serious offenses under our laws. He has taken eleven first-degree murder cases to jury trial, and has won acquittals or verdicts to significantly reduced offenses in eight of those. He has won not guilty verdicts on offenses including aggravated robbery, carjacking, distribution of 40 kilograms of heroin, possession of cocaine, aggravated assault on a police officer, rape of a child, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault and aggravated child abuse. Mr. Tennent has learned over and over that good citizens are wrongfully charged with terrible crimes of which they are innocent.  He has also learned that citizens are often ‘over-charged’ as he has won lesser verdicts to misdemeanors, when the government sought felony convictions.

    Mr. Tennent has successfully handled very challenging criminal appeals.  He has won reversals and new trials in cases of First Degree Murder, Rape and Aggravated Sexual Battery. One of his most challenging appeals was done in the case of State v. Ward, 138 S.W.3d 245 (Tenn.Crim.App. 2003), where he successfully challenged the dubious "scientific" theory that three unexplained deaths means murder. Other more recent successes include: State v. Fleschman 2008 WL 5130449, Tenn.Crim.App., December 08, 2008 (sentence reduced from three-years to six-months on solicitation of minor case), and State v. Williams, 2006 WL 3431920 Tenn.Crim.App., November 29, 2006 (rape conviction reversed for prosecutorial misconduct and erroneous use of DNA evidence).

    Mr. Tennent also understands that sometimes the best defense is securing mercy, justice and leniency. In the District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, over the last eight years, he has had repeated successes in securing sentences significantly below the “advisory guideline recommendation.” He understands the importance of well-crafted sentencing memorandums that help the sentencing judge see his client as full human being, entitled to respect, and possessing human dignity. Mr. Tennent’s clients are not mere numbers, but individuals with unique human stories.

    In 1994, Mr. Tennent graduated from the Vanderbilt School of Law, having earned American Jurisprudence Awards for both Criminal Law and Post-Conviction Criminal Procedure. Since law school he has earned a Master of Studies in Environmental Law from the Vermont Law School, graduating summa cum laude.  He attended Michigan State University on a National Merit Scholarship, graduating in 1990 with Honors.

           Mr. Tennent is a member of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, and serves on the amicus committee. He is licensed to practice in the State of Tennessee, the Middle District of Tennessee and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is very active in the Metro Public Schools where he has been the Chairman of Parents Advisory Council, as well as the founding PTO President of the Lockeland Design Center.aa


Practice areas


  1. Federal Crime: 35%
    10 years, 50 cases
  2. Juvenile: 20%
    22 years, 500 cases
  3. Appeals: 20%
    21 years, 30 cases
  4. Criminal Defense: 20%
    22 years, 2.5 thousand cases
  5. Education: 5%
    10 years, 4 cases


Payment types:

Cash, Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

6 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Cynthia A. Sherwood

    I endorse this lawyer.


    Cynthia Sherwood Federal crime Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

  • John Winston Heacock

    When I have client that has any kind of complex or difficult criminal issue that needs resolution, I recommend Richard. His years of experience and vast knowledge of juvenile and criminal law makes him the go-to guy on such matters in Davidson County.


    John Heacock Litigation Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

Contact info

Bell, Tennent & Frogge, PLLC Law Office

414 Union Street
Suite 904
Nashville, TN, 37219


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
Peer Review RatedMartindale-Hubbell2016
Top 100 Trial LawyerThe National Trial Lawyers2013
American Jurisprudence Award-Post-Conviction Criminal ProcedureVanderbilt University Law School1993
American Jurisprudence Award-Criminal LawVanderbilt University Law School1992
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
Founding PartnerBell, Tennent & Frogge2007 - Present
Defense AdvocateLaw Office of Richard Tennent2005 - 2007
Division ChiefMetropolitan Public Defender2001 - 2005
Staff AttorneyMetropolitan Legal Department-Nashville2000 - 2001
Assistant Public DefenderMetropolitan Public Defender1994 - 2000
Association namePosition nameDuration
TACDL-Amicus CommitteeCommittee Member2012 - Present
National Board of Trial AdvocacyMember2009 - Present
Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense LawyersMember1994 - Present
Parents Advisory CouncilChairman2015 - 2016
Legal cases
Case nameOutcome
State v. WardVictory-Conviction Reversed, New Trial Granted
State v. FleschmanVictory--Sentence found excessive and defendant released from prison
State v. PollardVictory-Consecutive Sentencing Reversed, New Sentencing Ordered
See all legal cases 
Publication nameTitleDate
Encyclopedia of the Fourth AmendmentSibron v. New York2013
Encyclopedia of the Fourth AmendmentCustodial Arrest2013
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
Vermont Law SchoolEnvironmental LawMasters - summa cum laude2006
Vanderbilt University Law SchoolLawJD - Juris Doctor1994
Michigan State UniversityInternational RelationsBA - Bachelor of Arts1990
Speaking engagements
Conference nameTitleDate
Federal Public Defender CLEMega-Cases2011
Federal Public Defender CLEHandling Child Pornography2010
Representing Clients Charged with Child AbusePsychological Issues2007