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Knut S. Johnson is a State Bar of California, Certified Specialist in Criminal Law who has a diverse criminal litigation practice in which he appears on behalf of clients in federal and state courts across the country, at both the trial and appellate courts and in habeas corpus proceedings.  He has received numerous honors and awards, including being named to the top 10 attorneys in San Diego.  Throughout his career he has taught lawyers and law students and published articles related to his practice.

In his more than 27 years in practice, Mr. Johnson has represented a wide variety of clients, both corporate and individual.  He has represented large corporations to small businesses and from judges, doctors, business owners, and other targets or defendants.  His clients have been the targets of grand jury and agency investigations, those involved in complex criminal litigation, and people charged with simple crimes.  The cases he has handled cover a wide range of subject matters, including internal corporate investigations, fraud, RICO, tax evasion, election law violations, narcotics offenses, violent crimes, smuggling offenses, monetary offenses, and complex white collar matters.  He is a graduate of various National Criminal Defense College (“NCDC”) programs, including the two week Trial Practice Institute, the Advanced Cross Examination program, and the Themes and Theories program.  NCDC is the premier training program for defense attorneys throughout the United States.

Raised in New Mexico, Mr. Johnson attend Tulane University where he received a B.S. with Honors in Earth Science.  After three years as a geologist with Gulf Oil, Mr. Johnson attended the University of San Diego School Of Law, where he received his J.D., cum laude.

After graduation and a brief stint with a civil firm, he went to work for Federal Defenders of San Diego, Inc., where he remained for six years, leaving as the Senior Trial Attorney.  Federal Defenders was and is the premier training office for attorneys handling federal criminal cases throughout the United States.  Federal Defenders required his written commitment, the “blood letter,” to work at least 60 hours a week, attend weekly training, and dedicate himself to excellence in the defense of the accused.  In practice, he worked longer hours than required and attended more training.  After leaving Federal Defenders as the Senior Trial Attorney, he joined McKenna & Cuneo, a worldwide litigation firm, before starting his own firm.

Mr. Johnson’s community involvement presently includes membership in the University of San Diego School of Law, Law Alumni Board of Directors where he is Immediate Past President of the board.  He also serves on the board of directors of Na Koa Kai, a youth organization dedicated to teaching youth Hawaiian culture and heihei wa’a (Hawaiin outrigger canoe racing).

Mr. Johnson has maintained a career long love of learning and honing his skills.  In addition to teaching other lawyers and law students, as a lawyer he has attended the National Criminal Defense College, taken law school classes, and read voraciously in the law.  Most recently, he completed an eight week MOOC on International Criminal Law by Case Western Reserve University School of Law in the Fall of 2013 and a six week long MOOC on America’s Written Constitution taught by Yale Law School in the Fall of 2014. He teaches Criminal Procedure II at the University of San Diego School of Law.


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