Tamarra Matthews Johnson
An accomplished first-chair trial lawyer who has won multiple cases before juries and provided strategic counseling on high-stakes matters, Tamarra consistently delivers favorable results to clients as a Partner at Wilkinson Stekloff. She made her career as a litigator at the trial and appellate levels, in complex civil and criminal cases, and has represented and counseled corporate clients involved in a range of industries, from pharma to energy, and manufacturing to sports.
In 2021, Tamarra stepped away from her role as Partner to join the Justice Department as Counselor to Attorney General Merrick Garland. For nearly two years, she served as the Attorney General’s primary counselor on matters involving the Justice Department’s criminal enforcement work, advising and working closely with senior leadership and a variety of components on some of the most sensitive policy issues facing the Department. Tamarra also acted as the Office of the Attorney General’s liaison for the Criminal Division, state and local law enforcement, the Justice Department’s law enforcement components, the Bureau of Prisons, and the Executive Office of United States Attorneys.
In 2023, Tamarra returned to Wilkinson Stekloff to continue to focus her practice on high-stakes trials and provide key strategic advice to clients. Tamarra recently represented a major chemical manufacturer in the Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFF) Products Liability Litigation (MDL No. 2873) in the District of South Carolina. The litigation, involving alleged PFAS groundwater contamination from the use of AFFF, is considered the most significant PFAS litigation in the country. Tamarra was set to serve as a member of the trial team for the manufacturer in the first bellwether trial in the AFFF MDL, which was halted on the eve of trial when the remaining parties announced a settlement to end all water-provider claims brought against the manufacturer.
Prior to her time with the firm, Tamarra served for more than a decade as an Assistant United States Attorney, litigating hundreds of white-collar criminal matters. Tamarra tried multiple public corruption and fraud cases to juries. She served as lead prosecutor and trial counsel in complex fraud cases that resulted in large monetary recoveries and the longest prison sentences handed down for white-collar crime in the District’s history.
Tamarra held the position of Deputy Chief in the Criminal Division with primary responsibility for supervising major fraud and corruption matters, and before that served as the National Security/Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council Coordinator, charging the first material support case in that District.
During her tenure as a federal prosecutor, Tamarra received the Justice Department Director’s Award for Superior Performance, and the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General’s Honor Award for Fighting Fraud, Waste, and Abuse.
- Undergraduate: Duke University, B.A. Public Policy, summa cum laude; Angier B. Duke Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa
- Law: Yale Law School, J.D.; Morris Tyler Moot Court of Appeals, Thurman Arnold Prize for Best Oral Performance and Potter Stewart Prize for Best Team Performance
- The Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor, Supreme Court of the United States
- Office of the Solicitor General of the United States, Bristow Fellow
- The Honorable Judith W. Rogers, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- Served as co-lead trial counsel in Cooney v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals et al., a bellwether case before the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in the national products liability litigation challenging the warnings that accompany Bayer Corporation’s market-leading blood thinner, Xarelto. Tamarra conducted voir dire; cross-examined plaintiff’s expert, a former FDA Commissioner; presented Bayer’s case-specific pulmonologist; and delivered opening and closing arguments with lead trial counsel. The jury returned a complete defense verdict after less than two hours of deliberation.
- Served as trial counsel in Hardeman v. Monsanto, the first federal court trial over allegations that Roundup causes Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Tamarra conducted the cross-examination of the plaintiff’s expert in epidemiology and presented Bayer’s epidemiology expert.
- Lead trial counsel in a multimillion-dollar public corruption case, resulting in several convictions, forfeiture of millions of dollars, and a 188-month prison sentence for a state official.
- Lead trial counsel in a multimillion-dollar health care fraud prosecution involving multiple law enforcement agencies and a long-standing conspiracy that jeopardized the solvency of the largest federally funded indigent care clinic in the state. The trial and related prosecutions resulted in an 18-year sentence for the leader of the scheme and a 17-year sentence for his lieutenant.
- Member of the team representing a major chemical manufacturer in the Aqueous Film-Forming Foams (AFFF) Products Liability Litigation in the District of South Carolina. The multidistrict litigation, involving alleged PFAS groundwater contamination from the use of AFFF, is considered the most significant PFAS litigation in the country. Was set to serve as a member of the trial team for the manufacturer in the first bellwether trial in the AFFF MDL, which was halted when the remaining parties announced a settlement to end all water-provider claims brought against the manufacturer.
- Trial counsel in prosecutions of several elected and appointed officials, including a sitting Alabama State Senator; the sitting Mayor of Birmingham, Alabama; the director of the Alabama State Fire College; and the director of the State’s Small Business Consortium.
- Lead prosecutor in cases against public officials and members of law enforcement who committed civil rights crimes of excessive force, sexual abuse of inmates, and violations of the Hobbs Act/bribery statutes.