Judge Felicia Corbin Johnson was elected in August 2014 to an eight-year term on the Shelby County Circuit Court, Division 1. Judge Corbin Johnson is a State of Tennessee trial court judge. All judicial elections in Shelby County are non-partisan. Judge Corbin Johnson will only have a general election on August 4, 2022. She will not have a primary election in May 2022.
Judge Corbin Johnson has worked extremely hard to serve the legal community and litigants and administer justice in a fair impartial and compassionate manner. During her time on the Court, she has garnered the respect of the lawyers who practice before her and the litigants who appear before her. Her legal intellect and keen understanding of the law is widely recognized amongst her peers and the community at large.
Judge Corbin Johnson’s court handles a variety of civil matters such as personal injury and eminent domain, medical malpractices cases, contract and business disputes, real property disputes and landlord tenant matters and a host of family law matters involving divorce, custody and parenting plans, orders of protection, child support and dependency and neglect. The Court also handles cases filed under the Tennessee Human Rights Act for discrimination, the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act involving consumers and merchants, the Governmental Tort Liability Act involving injury and damages claims against local municipalities and governmental entities such as the City of Memphis, MATA, MLGW and Shelby County and the Federal Tort Liability Act involving claims for railroad employees who are injured on the job.
Judge Corbin Johnson has bench and jury trials and jurisdiction to award millions of dollars in damages in some cases. In fact, a jury trial in her Court awarded a plaintiff suing her railroad employer for injuries sustained on the job a judgment in the amount of $5,021.016.00. The Defendant railroad filed a motion for directed verdict, or in the alternative, to order a new trial or suggest a remitter. After careful review and study, the Court denied Defendant’s motion for judgment in accordance with its motion for directed verdict or in the alternative it’s motion for a new trial but granted the motion to suggest a remittitur of the jury’s verdict from $5,021,016.00 to $4,544,573.10 based on the lack of evidence supporting the jury’s awards for future loss of earning capacity and future medical expenses, which Plaintiff accepted under protest. The railroad appealed the judgment and alleged Judge Corbin Johnson made other errors when ruling on objections during trial and other matters involving witness testimony and expert testimony. Judge Court Johnson was affirmed on all issues including the Order of Jury Verdict as remitted by the Judge. The Defendant railroad sought further review, but the Tennessee Supreme Court denied the request. After the appeal process was concluded and the judgment was final, Judge Corbin Johnson received a letter from a prominent member of the bar who wrote,
“in more than thirty years of practice, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a judge work harder, or more conscientiously, or more effectively. I was continuously impressed, as I read, [the transcript from the trial] with your attention to the evidence and arguments; your obvious determination to avoid error; your intelligence and legal reasoning, and your respect for our justice system. In Psalm 72, Solomon asks the Lord would “give the kind Thy judgments” – the “Contemporary English Version” renders it “Please help the king to be honest and fair just like you, our God.” It appears to me that someone, somewhere, has offered such a prayer for you.”
Judge Corbin Johnson was very touched when reading the letter to know that her hard work and diligence was appreciated. Judge Corbin Johnson constantly receives positive feedback and affirmation from lawyers, other judges, and the public for the work she is doing in Division 1 and how she conducts court. She is always courteous and professional, and it is very important to her that the lawyers and parties with cases before her feel respected and know their voices are heard. While they may not always agree with the outcome, Judge Corbin Johnson always wants lawyers and parties to go away knowing they had a fair and impartial hearing or trial, and they understand the law governing the case and how the court arrived at a decision. Judge Corbin Johnson gives due care to give complete and detailed rulings. One verbal ruling she gave from the bench in a domestic case was a record five and a half hours for her, and yes, a court report was present to transcribe the ruling.
Prior to her election, Judge Corbin Johnson practiced law in Memphis for eighteen years. She started her own private practice law firm in 2004 and operated it until her election in 2014. The firm was a general practice firm with four centrally located offices in Whitehaven, Raleigh, Hickory Hill, and Downtown that handled a variety of cases such as family law, juvenile, bankruptcy, criminal, general civil litigation, personal injury, probate, employment discrimination and immigration.
Prior to starting a law firm, Judge Corbin Johnson served as Vice-President & General Counsel for OmniCare Health Plan, a TennCare managed care organization in Memphis contracted with the State of Tennessee to administer the TennCare program to individuals enrolled thru OmniCare. Judge Corbin Johnson was responsible for all litigation, corporate compliance, drafting policies and procedures for HIPPA compliance when HIPPA regulations were first promulgated, risk management and subrogation. She also was instrumental in enacting legislation that allowed OmniCare and the State of Tennessee to recover more taxpayer dollars through the subrogation process. After serving as Vice-President & General Counsel for three years, Judge Corbin Johnson ultimately parted ways with OmniCare, and later filed a whistleblower action that was ultimately concluded years later.
Judge Corbin Johnson also served as an Assistant City Attorney to City Attorney Robert L.J. Spence, Jr. appointed by the Honorable Dr. W.W. Herenton, former Mayor of Memphis. Judge Corbin Johnson was assigned to the service team where she was responsible for ensuring that government officials and the various divisions of government operated in compliance with the Charter and other laws and regulations governing city government. She was a legal advisor and counselor to various divisions within city government including the Center City Commission. She was responsible for drafting informal and formal legal opinions when legal questions arose regarding city government or city council. When the city was sued and the plaintiffs challenged the city’s preference program for minority and women owned businesses in city contracts, she was specially assigned to that lawsuit and participated closely in the vetting of expert consultants to perform a disparity study on behalf of the city and other phases of the litigation. She traveled outside the state to conduct business and represent the city in this major lawsuit.
Judge Corbin Johnson also served as an Associate Attorney with the law firm of Thomason, Hendricks, Harvey, Johnson & Mitchell, currently known as Lewis Thomason. She was the first African American female hired in the history of the firm. As an associate she worked primary on insurance defense cases involving medical malpractice and personal injury. Working with so many skilled trial lawyers early in her legal career really helped prepare her for the demands and rigors of legal practice and get a chance to see first-hand how lawyers should conduct themselves, ethically and professionally in an adverse legal situation; and how important civility amongst lawyers is even when the stakes are very high, and patience is running extremely low.
Judge Corbin Johnson credits much of her success and approach on the bench to the late Honorable Chancellor Floyd Peete Jr. for his mentorship and the confidence he had in her legal intellect and work ethic when she served as his full-time law clerk in 1996 right after graduating from law school. During her time with Chancellor Peete, the Court handled one of the largest lawsuits in the history of the Court, in terms of parties and lawyers. The case was known as the Kimberly Clark litigation and many firms in the city were involved in the case in some way. Judge Corbin Johnson worked so closely with Chancellor Peete each day discussing and analyzing issues. She admired his legal intellect, his charisma and wit and more importantly the way he treated lawyers and litigants when they entered the courtroom or came to talk with him. Although he had great authority and power as a Chancellor to adjudicate cases and make important decisions that effected the everyday lives of people and businesses, he never took himself too seriously. He had a warm and gentle presence, and he always tried to accommodate the lawyers appearing before him. It was important to him that lawyers and people appearing before him always felt comfortable in his courtroom. He was always courteous and respectful to everyone and wanted the attorneys and parties to know their voices were heard even if they didn’t achieve their desired result or outcome. Judge Corbin Johnson also gives a very special acknowledgement and credit to her colleagues on the Circuit Court for the support they have given her and for the many hours spent over the years discussing cases and analyzing legal issues, legislation, and legal opinions.
Judge Corbin Johnson has worn many hats, a trial court judge, lawyer, social worker, business owner and entrepreneur, mentor, community servant and advocate while fulfilling a role and responsibilities as a wife, mother, grandmother, parishioner, and caretaker. There were many challenging times and hurdles to overcome, but persistence, determination and faith in God have always brought her through. She was raised by parents with a high school diploma, but they always instilled in her the importance of education and to be kind, trustworthy, to always help those in need of a helping hand. For over forty years, Judge Corbin Johnson has practiced being her brothers and sisters’ keeper and enriching the lives of others in many ways. She has worked very closely with victims of domestic violence, the homeless, developmentally challenged individuals, at risk youth, mental health consumers and the elderly providing a variety of services including case management, counseling services and direct care.
After a diverse career in social and human services spanning fifteen years, Judge Corbin Johnson decided to go to law school in 1993 at the age of thirty-three. She graduated at the age of thirty-six receiving a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1996 from the University of Arkansas, Little Rock where she received several awards for top grades in her law school classes. In 1995, she transferred from UALR to attended Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law as a visiting 3L law student. While attending Cecil C. Humphreys, she earned the top grade in Trial Advocacy for her trial skills, trial prep and representation of a defendant in a mock criminal trial. The Honorable Ronald Lee Gilman, a senior judge on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and former partner with a large law firm in Memphis, was her Trial Advocacy professor. Receiving the honor and being recognized for the hard work and skill she displayed in her Trial Advocacy class was very meaningful because she received it from Professor Gilman, a highly skilled and preeminent trial lawyer.
Judge Corbin Johnson also pursued a Master of Business Administration at Christian Brothers University, while practicing as a lawyer, but took a leave in to care for her ill mother with stomach cancer. She never returned to complete her MBA because she opened her own law practice, and the demands of the practice and family didn’t leave much time to continue her studies at CBU. While she was very close, but didn’t finish her MBA, her studies at CBU have really helped her in her own law practice and in cases in her court involving business and financial transactions such as a recent case whereby the valuation of a specialty business was a major issue in the lawsuit.
Judge Corbin Johnson’s entire life, in both the public and private sectors, as well as her legal career have prepared her well to serve the citizens of Shelby County as a trial court judge and to fulfil the awesome responsibilities of the position and make important decisions each day that have long, far reaching, and serious consequences for the litigants, lawyers, public, businesses and community in general.
Additionally, her membership and leadership in various bar associations and community organizations have further prepared her for service. Judge Corbin Johnson has never sought awards. For Judge Corbin Johnson it is always about service to others, the people, the community and fulfilling God’s purpose for her life. That has given her great joy and satisfaction her entire life and still does to this day.
Judge Corbin Johnson has always looked for ways to improve and enrich the lives of other people in any venue or arena she is involved in. The legal community knows she was a fierce legal advocate for her clients yet always courteous to the opposing party. Prior to practicing law, and for fifteen years, she was a champion for so many people fighting each day to improve the quality of their lives and to effect positive change. As a judge, she is vigilant and determined each day she takes the bench to make sure voices are heard and justice is served. In cases involving children, she gives special due care to ensure the best interest of each child is achieved. Special attention is given to ensure that the elderly, seniors and self-represented (pro-se) litigants are not forgotten or taken advantage of when they appear before the Court without legal representation. It is also important to Judge Corbin Johnson that all individuals and businesses having cases in her court have a level playing field and a fair and impartial proceeding/adjudication and the same rules and courtesies apply to all parties.
Judge Corbin Johnson is very proud of her work with the Greater Memphis Junior Golf Tour, an organization she founded and operated to provide a venue for junior golfers to play and compete in weekly golf tournaments in Shelby County, Tennessee. The tour had over 150 junior golfers from all over Shelby County including children of members of the Memphis bar. Many junior golfers played the Vince Gill Junior Tour based out of Nashville, but that tour ended in July right before school started in August. Many of the junior golfers in Shelby County were competing in national golf tournaments like the Pepsi Little Peoples Golf Tournament in Quincy, Illinois every summer and Judge Corbin Johnson wanted to create a venue in Memphis where junior golfers could play and compete year-round, so they could improve their skills and be more competitive in the national tournaments with other junior golfers who lived in warmer climates like Florida and were able to play, practice and compete year-round. The junior golfers on the Greater Memphis Junior Golf Tour played through the month of December so the additional five months really helped the golfers improve their skills. The golfers played private and public golf courses in Shelby County. With the help of the head pros from the golf course and the Commercial Appeal who posted the golfers’ scores each week, the tour was a great success, and the junior golfers had a lot of fun playing golf and competing weekly. During the two-day championship in December, the junior golfers could have a personal caddy. On the regular tour they carried their own bags. One of the junior golfers, who has gone on to play professional golf, had John Patrick Daly a professional golfer on the PGA tour caddy for him during the championship. Some of the junior golfers on the tour have gone on to have careers playing professional golf or working in the golf industry.
Judge Corbin Johnson is the current President of the Northwest Shelby Rotary Club. The Northwest club cover parts of Millington, North Memphis, Raleigh, Frayser and Bartlett. Over 35,000+ clubs work together worldwide in Rotary International to promote peace, education, fight disease, provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene, prevent sex trafficking of women and children, and grow local economies. Locally, rotary clubs engage in service projects and activities that make a difference in the lives of people in their communities. The Northwest club will be hosting a membership meeting in October for individuals and businesses to learn more about and join the Northwest Shelby Rotary Club. For more information, email NWShelbyRotary@gmail.com.
Judge Corbin Johnson is so thankful and appreciative for the love and support she has received as she works hard each day to make a difference in the lives of people in our community and especially the children and families appearing in her Court. Most of the lawyers and court personnel know that Judge Corbin Johnson is completely vested in the children and young people who her rulings effect. No matter what is occurring on any given day, when cases involve children or the best interest of a child, those cases receive top priority no matter how much time it takes. Judge Corbin Johnson even conducted a court hearing one evening until 10:00 p.m. because she had to remove four young children from a living arrangement that was very unsafe for them and she could not risk them remaining in that home one more night given the testimony and evidence presented in the hearing that day. There are many other instances wherein Judge Corbin Johnson gives extra time and attention to the parties and families, and no matter what the outcome is or who prevails, she often tries to encourage them and end the trial or hearing on a positive note.
Judge Corbin Johnson understands how difficult it is to be a party in a lawsuit and makes it a point to reassure the parties throughout the process, when possible. Equally, Judge Corbin Johnson is very supportive of the lawyers that practice in her courtroom because she understands the difficult job and demanding responsibilities lawyers have representing their clients. Whether its additional time to complete discovery, the need for a continuance to prepare more fully, additional time to supplement a brief or memorandum at law on a dispositive motion, or just the flexibility with scheduling matters due to family or personal obligations, Judge Corbin Johnson is always going to work with the lawyers and their clients.
Judge Corbin Johnson has proven to be steady, consistent and lawyers and litigants know what to expect when they have a case in her court. Judge Corbin Johnson’s also attributes her success on the bench and the operation of the court and case management process to the Division 1 team consisting of the Courtroom Deputy Clerk, Law Clerk, Legal Assistant and Deputy Sheriff. Bryant Bailey, mostly known as Bailey, is the Courtroom Deputy Clerk. He is the son of attorney and former County Commissioner Walter Bailey and the nephew of the later Honorable Judge D’Army Bailey who the civil and criminal court houses are named after. Bailey has worked with multiple judges over his twenty plus years with the Circuit Court and he has a wealth of knowledge and skills that facilitates the smooth and orderly function of the Court. Judge Corbin Johnson and Deputy Clerk Bailey have worked together since September 2, 2014, her first day on the bench.
Attorney Jhasilyn Heyward presently serves as Judge Corbin Johnson’s law clerk. She started during her third year of law school at Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and has continuing serving two additional terms, even after passing the bar and receiving her law license in 2020. Judge Corbin Johnson has worked closely with other law clerks during her time on the bench. Her first law clerk was W Preston Battle, IV currently with Baker Donelson. Preston served two terms. Dylan Gillespie currently with Hickman, Goza & Spragins, Jeffrey K. Moore, Jr., formerly with the Reaves Firm and Brandi L. Boyd currently with Butler Snow each served a full year term. Judge Corbin Johnson also worked closely with Suzanne Brown currently with Rogers, Brackin & Davis and William Lipsey currently with Bill Easterly & Associates in Nashville. Both clerked during the summer after completing their first year of law school. The hard work, talent and collective efforts of the law clerks have helped Judge Corbin Johnson analyze complex legal issues and issue well-reasoned rulings and opinions.
Judge Corbin Johnson has also had the pleasure of working with Jennifer Stonecipher for the last seven years. Jennifer has over thirty years with Circuit Court and handles most of the administrative tasks for the judge and Division 1. She is very dependable and always does whatever is asked in a prompt and timely manner. Last, but certainly not least, is Officer John Stillwell, a Shelby County Sherriff’s Deputy, who has a very important role as part of the team. Officer Stillwell always has a pleasant and cheerful demeanor and always tries to help the lawyers and litigants, and jury members as best he can. He works hard each day to make sure everyone is safe, and the courtroom runs smoothly. There are many other individuals who work in the Shelby County Circuit Court Clerks’ office and the Shelby County Sheriffs’ office that have an important role in helping Judge Corbin Johnson provide a level of service and safety necessary to operate her court.
Judge Corbin Johnson is a long-standing member of Temple of Deliverance Church of God in Christ. She also enjoys worshipping and fellowshipping with other denominational and nondenominational churches in Shelby County. In her personal time, she loves spending time with her family. While she doesn’t get to spend as much time as she would like with her son and granddaughter Heaven, age 8, she absolutely adores them and cherishes the time they spend together. Judge Corbin Johnson loves spending quiet time outdoors on a sunny day soaking up the sun. She also enjoys reading, watching movies, listening to music, cooking, great food, landscaping and working outside in the yard. She also loves taking care of and playing with her four dogs, Cash a Bully, Ghost a French Bulldog, Bingo an American Bulldog and Cookie, a Cane Corso.
Judge Corbin Johnson very much appreciates and extends a special thank you to the legal profession, clergy, business and civic organizations, government officials and entire Shelby County community for the confidence you have had in her these last seven years and she asks that you continue to have confidence in her as she moves forward to re-election.
Thank you for taking time to visit our re-election website.
Please stay safe and take care of yourself, your family, staff and loved ones.