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About me

Mr. Johnson is a trial and appellate attorney whose practice is focused on the defense of persons and companies accused of white-collar crimes, major felonies, and other serious matters in federal and state courts. He has argued or briefed cases before the Supreme Court of the United States; the Supreme Court of Tennessee; the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Sixth, and Seventh Circuits; all federal district courts in Tennessee; the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals and Tennessee Court of Appeals. He has been admitted to practice on a pro hac vice basis in a number of other federal and state courts.

Mr. Johnson has been defense counsel in jury trials and hearings in state and federal courts involving a wide variety of criminal offenses, including charges of theft of trade secrets, racketeering, money laundering, health care fraud, illegal gambling, government contract fraud, wire and mail fraud, bank fraud, perjury, firearms offenses, illegal drug distribution, assault, child abuse and neglect, internet crimes, rape, other sexual offenses and homicide. He has also successfully defended persons at jury trial in murder prosecutions when the death penalty was sought. Mr. Johnson has represented persons wrongfully convicted of serious felony matters on appeal and collateral review, to include direct appeal, state post-conviction, coram nobis, and federal habeas corpus proceedings. He also represents health care providers and other licensed professionals in disciplinary matters. 

Mr. Johnson serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), co-chairs NACDL's Sixth Circuit amicus committee, and is a past President of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (TACDL). For three consecutive years he served as chair of the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) Criminal Justice Section, and he is the Associate General Counsel for the TBA. Mr. Johnson is on faculty with the Tennessee Criminal Defense College (TCDC), and is an active member of the white-collar defense, sentencing, forfeiture, mental health, and membership committees of NACDL. He serves as the chair of the technology committee of the Knoxville Bar Association (KBA) and is a Master of the Bench with the Hamilton Burnett Chapter of the American Inns of Court. For his volunteer efforts, the TBA honored Mr. Johnson with its Access to Justice Award. He is listed in Best Lawyers in America in the area of white-collar criminal defense.

Mr. Johnson is an adjunct professor with the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he supervises third year law students in the Innocence and Wrongful Convictions Clinic, an initiative he has been involved in for over a decade. He has published articles and taught lawyers, law students, members of law enforcement, and others on the topics of trial practice, wiretapping, ethics, federal grand jury investigations, the death penalty, pretrial preparation, forensics, jury selection, cross-examination, and other criminal law and litigation issues. He has been quoted or profiled in the Tennessee Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, Newsweek and the National Law Journal. He is listed in SuperLawyers, Cityview's Top Attorneys, Martindale-Hubbell, and the Knoxville Business Journal's 40 Under 40.

Mr. Johnson is a graduate of the National Criminal Defense College (NCDC) at Mercer Law School in Macon, Georgia. He received his Doctor of Jurisprudence, with honors, from the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he served on the Constitutional Law Moot Court Team and the Moot Court Board, was a member of Transactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law, chaired the Speaker Series and UT Pro Bono, coordinated the Homeless Project, and was the founding director of the Tennessee Innocence Project. Among other honors, he received the Excellence in Criminal Advocacy Award and the Dean's Citation for Extraordinary Contributions to the College of Law.

Mr. Johnson completed his undergraduate education at Carson-Newman University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in International Economics with a minor in Political Science. He was an honors student and president of the Bonner Scholars, who created the Stephen Ross Johnson Service and Leadership Award and named him its first annual recipient. Mr. Johnson was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to the United Kingdom, where he obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Contemporary Economic History from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and worked as an economist for Govan Initiative, a Scottish economic development agency. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Mr. Johnson worked in the education, court, banking, retail, farming, and manufacturing sectors, and also as a private investigator. He regularly draws on his diverse academic and vocational experience in representing his clients.

Mr. Johnson enjoys distance running and cycling, has coached youth basketball, and is an active member of his church and community. He is married to the love of his life and best friend, Amy Benner Johnson, and has two children. The most important titles he holds are husband and daddy.


Practice areas


  1. White Collar Crime: 50%
  2. Criminal Defense: 50%

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Contact info

606 W Main St Ste 300
Knoxville, TN, 37902-2623


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
Access to Justice AwardTennessee Bar Association2002
Excellence in Criminal AdvocacyUniversity of Tennessee College of Law2002
Dean's CitationUniversity of Tennessee College of Law2002
Stephen Ross Johnson Service and Leadership AwardCarson-Newman College Bonner Scholars1998
Ambassadorial ScholarRotary International1998
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
PartnerRitchie, Dillard, Davies & Johnson, P.C.2000 - Present
Association namePosition nameDuration
National Association of Criminal Defense LawyersBoard of Directors2013 - Present
Tennessee Bar AssociationAssociate General Counsel2013 - Present
Knoxville Bar AssociationChair, Law Office Management and Technology Committee2012 - Present
Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense LawyersPresident2011 - 2012
Tennessee Bar AssociationChair, Criminal Justice Section2006 - 2010
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
University of GlasgowContemporary Economic HistoryDiploma, Post-graduate1999
Carson-Newman CollegeInternational EconomicsBA - Bachelor of Arts1998
University of Tennessee College of LawN/AN/AN/A