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Stephen Ross Johnson has been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 29th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America© and as “Lawyer of the Year” for his work in Criminal Defense: White-Collar, in Knoxville, Tennessee. He has been selected for inclusion in Best Lawyers every year since 2011, and this is the 2nd time he has been chosen as “Lawyer of the Year.”

Johnson is a criminal defense trial and appellate attorney who has defended criminal cases in state and federal courts throughout the United States, ranging from complex financial crimes to death penalty cases.

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 currently serves as the Treasurer of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Johnson is Past President of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Past Chair of the Tennessee Bar Association Criminal Justice Section, served as Associate General Counsel for the Tennessee Bar Association, and served on the board of the Knoxville Bar Association. He is Past President of the Hamilton Burnett American Inn of Court.

Johnson is the founding Past President of the Tennessee Innocence Project. For many years, he was an adjunct professor and director of the Innocence and Wrongful Convictions Clinic at the University of Tennessee College of Law Legal Clinic.

Johnson has served multiple terms on NACDL’s Board of Directors and serves as Sixth Circuit Vice Chair of NACDL’s Amicus Committee and Chair of NACDL’s Membership Committee. Also, he is a Trustee of the NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice (NFCJ).

Johnson received his Doctor of Jurisprudence, with honors, from the University of Tennessee College of Law. He also holds a Diploma of Contemporary Economic History from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Economics from Carson-Newman University. Johnson is a graduate of the National Criminal Defense College.


Best Lawyers is the oldest and most respected lawyer ranking service in the world. For almost 40 years, Best Lawyers has assisted those in need of legal services to identify the lawyers best qualified to represent them in distant jurisdictions or unfamiliar specialties. Best Lawyers lists are published in leading local, regional, and national publications across the globe.

View Stephen Ross Johnson’s profile on Best Lawyers