FacultyFaculty/Author Profile
James E. Johnson

James E. Johnson

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

New York, NY, USA


James Johnson is a litigation partner who focuses his practice on white collar criminal defense, internal investigations, corporate compliance and corporate crisis management in connection with internal investigations. Mr. Johnson is recognized as a leading lawyer in white collar criminal defense and is commended in The Legal 500 US (2007) for his ‘calm and methodical demeanor’ as well as his ‘clear sense of high ethics and morals’.

Most recently, Mr. Johnson was lead enforcement counsel for the team representing Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Sales USA in connection with investigations into reports that drivers of certain models were experiencing unintended acceleration. The team resolved investigations being conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the attorneys general for 29 states and American Samoa.

Mr. Johnson has the distinction of having held several senior positions in the United States Department of the Treasury, including Under Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement (1998-2000) and Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Enforcement (1996-1998). He oversaw the operations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, the Secret Service, the United States Customs Service, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Office of Foreign Assets Control. In total, Mr. Johnson oversaw approximately 29,000 employees and shared oversight of an operating budget exceeding $4.2 billion. Mr. Johnson also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (1990-1996), where he rose to Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division (1993-1996). During his tenure in the Southern District, he assisted in the management of the Criminal Division while prosecuting a wide variety of criminal cases, and was detailed to the United States Department of the Treasury to serve on the White House Security Review.

Since returning to private practice, Mr. Johnson has represented individuals, audit committees and corporations in connection with a wide variety of regulatory, enforcement and Congressional matters, and has taken on several high profile public projects. He now serves as Monitor in U.S. ex rel. Anti-Discrimination Center of NY v. Westchester County. He also led Governor Corzine’s Advisory Committee on Police Standards.

Mr. Johnson has received numerous awards for his service and accomplishments in both private practice and public service. He is the recipient of the Alexander Hamilton Award (the Department of Treasury’s highest award, given to officials for excellence in service) and the Attorney General’s Certificate for Excellence in Prosecution. Mr. Johnson was recently elected as a member of the Harvard College Board of Overseers. He is former Chair of the Board of the Brennan Center for Justice and is also a trustee of the Montclair Art Museum.

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