Visiting professor will teach criminal justice courses on full-time basis
After serving as Metro Nashville and Davidson County District Attorney General for 27 years, Torry Johnson will retire Aug. 31 and prepare for joining Belmont University’s College of Law as an esteemed Visiting Professor in January 2015. Appointed to Davidson County District Attorney General in 1987 and then elected for three consecutive eight-year terms, Johnson has served the communities of Middle Tennessee for the majority of his career, garnering numerous legal, leadership and community service awards along the way.
Belmont President Bob Fisher said, “Bringing Torry Johnson on board as a faculty member is truly a significant coup for our College of Law. His devotion to his work and to public service is exceptional, and the expertise he can transmit to our students will raise the bar again on the educational opportunities Belmont Law provides.”
Johnson added, “Those of us who have lived in Nashville a long time have seen what Belmont University is doing, and this institution as a whole is an exciting place to be. Joining Belmont Law allows me to be on the ground floor of a young law school, and with Judge Gonzales and his leadership, it’s an attractive place for anyone in the legal field. I’ll also add that as District Attorney, one of my great joys has been working with young lawyers and watching them grow and become professionals in the field. I look forward to marrying conversations about real world experience with the theoretical knowledge students will encounter in the classroom.
As a Visiting Professor in Belmont’s College of Law, Johnson will teach criminal justice courses on a full-time basis and is particularly passionate about the opportunity to teach prosecutorial ethics to rising attorneys. Belmont Law graduated its first cohort in May and is provisionally accredited by the American Bar Association.
College of Law Dean Judge Alberto Gonzales said, “I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with General Johnson as a member of the law faculty. His experiences in the law will be of great benefit to our students.”
After graduating from Vanderbilt Law School in 1974, Johnson spent one year as a law clerk to a federal appeals court judge before joining the staff of the District Attorney’s office. He rose through various office assignments, eventually heading up the Special Prosecution Unit that targeted career criminals. After working there for several years, he went into private practice. He later returned to the District Attorney’s office as an Assistant DA and Team Leader, before assuming the position he currently holds.
As District Attorney, he has pioneered the development of specialized groups of prosecutors to handle such crimes as child physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, drunk driving and vehicular homicide. The office also oversees the 20th Judicial District Drug Task Force that targets major drug traffickers. A strong victim advocate, Johnson was instrumental in establishing the Nashville Child Advocacy Center, now the Nashville Children’s Alliance, which offers support and counseling services for children who are sexually and physically abused. As District Attorney, he has also maintained a highly regarded Victim Witness Services program, designed to assist and encourage crime victims and help them understand the criminal court system.
Throughout his career, Johnson has held leadership roles in various legal and professional organizations. He has served as a vice president of the National District Attorneys Association and was president of the statewide prosecutors’ association. He has been a member of a number of blue ribbon commissions and task forces as well as having been on the Boards of Directors of both the Tennessee and Nashville Bar Associations. His contributions have been recognized by awards from the National Children’s Alliance, the National College of District Attorneys and the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference. In addition to his involvement in the legal community, he is also actively involved with several non-profit agencies.