Justice Jeffrey W. Johnson has been an Associate Justice of the Court of Appeal since August 3, 2009. He is a member of the Court Facilities Working Group, appointed by Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye in July 2011 to advise the Judicial Council of California on prioritization of courthouse construction projects throughout the state.
He graduated from A.C. Flora High School in Forest Acres, South Carolina in 1978. Johnson was the First Honors Graduate and a member of the school's 1977 state champion two-man debating team. He attended Duke University as an Angier Biddle Duke Scholar and graduated in 1982 with honors, earning a B.A. with a double major in political science and history. In his spare time, he was a disc jockey for the campus radio station. In 1981, as an A.B. Duke Scholar, Justice Johnson studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University in Oxford, England. He was President of his graduating class at Duke and received the 1982 President Terry Sanford Senior Leadership Award. He also served as the Class Gift Chairman for the Class of 1982's Fifth Reunion; that gift endowed a need based scholarship for Duke University undergraduates.
Justice Johnson earned his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1985 and won the 1985 Gherini Prize for the best analytical paper in the discipline of International Law: his topic -- the international law of satellite reconnaissance. While at Yale, Justice Johnson was a member of the law school's Discipline Policy Committee and Discipline Hearing Committee. He served as a graduate affiliate of Silliman College, an undergraduate residential college within Yale College. Also, from 1983 to 1985, he volunteered as a "big brother" through Yale's Dwight Hall Big Brother Adoption program.
After Yale, Justice Johnson worked as an associate with the Manatt Phelps law firm in Los Angeles. There, he gained substantial state and federal court civil litigation experience: he represented clients in trials, hearings and arbitrations in varied legal disciplines such as real estate, entertainment law, contract disputes and business contract negotiations, securities, banking matters, bankruptcy proceedings, and employment disputes.
In 1989, he was appointed an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California. In 1994, he became a Deputy Chief in the Narcotics Section of the U.S. Attorney's Office. For his work on a long-term wiretap investigation and prosecution of a nationwide crack cocaine and money laundering network, Justice Johnson received the 1995 Attorney General's Award, the second highest award given by the United States Department of Justice. From 1997 to 1999, he served on the U.S. Attorney's Capital Litigation Review Committee, which was a seven-member committee which reviewed death penalty eligible cases and recommended to the U.S. Attorney whether to seek death penalty authorization from the Attorney General in specific cases. During his tenure, he was recognized nationally as expert on the use and defense of court-authorized wiretaps in the conduct of federal criminal investigations and prosecutions. His article, "Defending Wiretaps: 'Think in the Beginning What the End Will Bring,'" was published in the September 1997 United States Attorneys' Bulletin. From 1994 to 1997, he was a faculty member of the Office of Legal Education in the U.S. Department of Justice, teaching "Evidence for Experienced Criminal Litigators."
During his ten years as a federal prosecutor, he received numerous other awards and commendations for his work on behalf of the United States, including:
Justice Johnson joined the federal bench as a United States Magistrate Judge in April 1999. While on the federal bench, he served on several committees of the United States District Court for the Central District of California:
Justice Johnson served on the Ninth Circuit's Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee from 2002 to 2010; at the request of Chief Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, Justice Johnson continued to serve on the committee after he joined the state court of appeal. That committee is dedicated to making resources and infrastructure for mediation, arbitration and other settlement processes -- in lieu of trial -- available to litigants and lawyers throughout the courts of the Ninth Circuit.
Justice Johnson received the Mexican American Bar Association's Judicial Excellence Award in 2008. In July 2009, the Coalition of Mental Health Professionals, Inc. recognized Justice Johnson with The Justice Thurgood Marshall Award for Humanitarianism and Judicial Achievement. In February 2003, the faculty and students of Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary in Los Angeles honored him with the school's Life Achievement Award as part of its Black History Month Celebration.
For many years, Justice Johnson coached boys and girls in youth soccer and youth basketball. He continues to devote many hours of his time to reading age-appropriate literature to classrooms of children and talking to them about the importance of education as well as setting and pursuing goals. Annually, during the holiday season and as otherwise needed, he works to gather and distribute toys, books, and clothing to indigent children in the schools he serves. His efforts have been recognized and honored via several California Department of Education Commendations and Los Angeles Unified School District Service Commendations:
Justice Johnson has served as a guest lecturer in trial advocacy at both the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law and Loyola Law School. He has also taught Evidence as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University West Los Angeles School of Law.
He serves on many boards of directors, including those of a charter high school and a charter middle school, and an international dramatic organization. He has served on the boards of directors of both the Association of Business Trial Lawyers and the Federal Bar Association. He is a Director of the Western Justice Center Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing opportunities for peaceful conflict resolution and diminishing the power of violence in our society.
He is a member of the United States Army Advisory Board for the Los Angeles Recruiting Station. He is also an interviewer and advisor for the Duke University Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
Justice Johnson holds a second degree Black Belt in Hapkido karate and has taught the Black Belt curriculum to numerous children and young adults.
Justice Johnson and his wife Meghan have four children.