David Cromwell Johnson

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David Cromwell Johnson (May 28, 1942January 2, 2003) was a Birmingham criminal attorney, partner in the firm of Johnson and Cory and Johnson, Liddon, Bear & Tuggle. Johnson was known for his tenacious and flamboyant style of defense.

Johnson, a Florida native, earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1964 from Stetson University in Orlando and his Juris Doctorate from the Birmingham School of Law in 1972. He practiced from 1973 to 1978 in the offices of the Jefferson County District Attorney.

Johnson was a patron of Alabama artist Nall and served as Treasurer for the Board of Directors of the N.A.L.L. Foundation.

He died at his Crestline home in 2003 of natural causes, survived by daughter Dagney Johnson, also an attorney. Sympathies to his family were made by the Birmingham City Council by formal resolution.

Notable cases

  • Johnson successfully defended outdoorsman Archie Phillips in a well-publicized 1995 illegal hunting case that was appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court.
  • His defense of Shirley Henson stemming from an infamous 1999 road-rage shooting in Shelby County resulted in the lesser charge of manslaughter and a 13-year sentence.
  • In 1986 he successfully had the results of the Democratic gubernatorial runoff reversed after documenting that "illegal crossover voters" who had already cast ballots in the Republican primary had given Charles Graddick the win over Bill Baxley.
  • He represented Jim Folsom, Jr. in a criminal ethics probe.
  • As lead attorney for Governor Don Siegelman in his own ethics probe, Johnson called for the recusal of lead prosecuter, U. S. Attorney Leura Canary on the basis that her husband, Bill Canary, had close ties to Siegelman's political opponents. He also alleged that her office was leaking Grand Jury documents, famously displayed a birdcage containing three "singing" canaries as a prop during the news conference.
  • He defended John Smith, the state's environmental director, against theft charges.
  • He defended Joseph Akin, a nurse at Cooper Green Hospital charged with killing a patient.
  • Johnson defended Moody mayor James Sollie against corruption charges.
  • He defended Irondale mayor David Krider against extortion charges.
  • He defended Shelby County teacher Peggy Lowe against charges of conspiring to off her sister's husband.
  • He represented Jett Williams in her paternity lawsuit against the estate of Hank Williams, Sr.
  • He also represented Arthur Lee Thomas, an indigent Ensley man against murder charges.
  • He was on Richard Arrington, Jr's defense team when the Mayor was held in contempt of court and threatened with jail.


  • Robinson, Carol and Tom Gordon. (January 3, 2003) "Defense Lawyer Johnson Dies at 60". Birmingham News.