Stephen Ross Johnson is a partner with Ritchie, Dillard, Davies and Johnson, PC in Knoxville, and is a criminal defense trial and appellate attorney. Mr. Johnson has defended criminal cases in state and federal courts throughout the United States, ranging from complex white-collar financial crimes to death penalty cases.
Mr. Johnson 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 many other federal and state courts.
In addition to his private practice, Mr. Johnson is the incorporator of the Tennessee Innocence Project and serves as the President of the Board of Directors. He has been involved in the innocence movement in Tennessee for nearly two decades. In 2000, he helped start and lead an earlier form of the Tennessee Innocence Project that later became the Innocence Clinic at the University of Tennessee College of Law, where he served as an adjunct professor and director from 2009-2018. Mr. Johnson assisted in the effort that led to the passage of the Tennessee Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001, and he has successfully litigated innocence cases that not only reversed wrongful convictions but helped establish the procedures in Tennessee for bringing newly discovered evidence claims.
Mr. Johnson has served multiple terms on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) 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 as the Associate General Counsel for the TBA. Mr. Johnson is on faculty with the Tennessee Criminal Defense College (TCDC), co-chairs NACDL’s Sixth Circuit amicus and membership committees, and actively serves on the white-collar defense, sentencing, and investment committees of NACDL. He has served on the board of the Knoxville Bar Association and is co-chair of the law office technology and management committee. He is the President and an emeritus Master of the Bench with the Hamilton Burnette Chapter of the American Inns of Court. He is a fellow of the American, Tennessee, and Knoxville Bar Foundations. For his volunteer efforts, the TBA honored Mr. Johnson with its Access to Justice Award. For many years he has been listed in Best Lawyers in America in white-collar criminal defense and has achieved an AV rating for preeminent legal ability and ethical standards from Martindale-Hubbell.
Mr. Johnson has published articles and taught lawyers, law students, members of law enforcement, and others across the country on criminal law and litigation issues. He is a graduate of the National Criminal Defense College (NCDC) and received his Doctor of Jurisprudence, with honors, from the University of Tennessee 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 attended graduate school at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, where he was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar, graduated with a Diploma in Contemporary Economic History and worked as an economist for Govan Initiative, a Scottish economic development agency. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Mr. Johnson also worked in the education, banking, retail, farming, and manufacturing sectors, and even as a juvenile probation officer and private investigator. He regularly draws on his diverse academic and vocational experiences in representing his clients.
Cross-Examination Trial Pack
NACDL’s new Cross-Examination Trial Pack includes three of our best-selling Cross-Examination resources: “Damage Control: Situational Cross-Examination Techniques Trial Guide”, "Ultimate Cross 2.0: Audio Recordings & Written Materials" and "Sample Cross-Examination Questions."
This masterful collection of cross-examination resources provide countless tips, techniques and strategies for a variety of criminal case-specific scenarios. Learn to cross-examine a variety of trial witnesses!
Death Investigation: Forensic Pathology in the Courtroom and Cause & Manner of Death (2022)
This unique program provides criminal defense lawyers with an accurate and clear overview of forensic pathology and the countless factors to consider in a death investigation and will methodically explain what happens during an autopsy to determine cause and manner of death.
You'll uncover the different types of medicolegal death investigations, what to request from your MDI expert, quality benchmarks for accreditation and certification, guidelines and standards, common terminology and frequently asked questions.
The Psychology of Persuasion & Storytelling for Criminal Defense Lawyers
This Trial Resource Guide is a masterful collection of practical tips, techniques and strategies focused solely on using the arts and sciences of persuasion to improve your storytelling skills at trial.
You'll learn how to master the ability to communicate with juries, deliver powerful openings and closings, perform convincing cross-examinations, use effective courtroom choreography and non-verbal communication, identify and develop the optimal theme and theory for your case, and offer compelling arguments during mitigation and sentencing.
Zealous Advocacy in Sexual Assault & Child Victims Cases (2022)
Defending charges of sexual assault and child abuse can be daunting — but with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be.
Every year, NACDL identifies the hottest topics and most pressing issues when defending these cases, and brings-in nationally-renowned lawyers and experts to help you prepare for battle. This year’s 13th Annual Defending Sex Cases training program is our best yet; packed with topics and speakers you won’t want to miss!