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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland Announces Departure of Veteran Department Employee, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Johnson

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Arkansas

      LITTLE ROCK— Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced the departure of Assistant United States Attorney Michael Johnson from service to the Eastern District of Arkansas U.S. Attorney’s Office today.

      Mr. Johnson previously retired in 2010 after serving the Department of Justice continuously for 37 years. However, in 2018, after determining that the office could benefit from Mr. Johnson’s expertise related to prosecuting racketeering, white collar and public corruption offenses, U.S. Attorney Hiland asked Mr. Johnson to return to the office for a two-year term to guide and train career prosecutors related to that expertise. Mr. Johnson agreed to do so and has provided a great public service to the office during these past two years.

      During his previous tenure with the office, Mr. Johnson developed an expertise in the investigation and prosecution of public corruption, white collar crime and racketeering offenses. Mr. Johnson was the architect behind seventeen racketeering cases including the prosecution of former Arkansas Legislator Nick Wilson; former Sheriff Cooledge Conlee; former prosecuting attorneys T.J. Hively and Dan Harmon; the prosecution of white supremacists Chevy Kehoe and Danny Lee; Bruce Nabors and Craig Keltnor; Don Pennington; Ron O’Neal and others. During his current two year association with the office, Mr. Johnson was extensively involved in the investigation and indictment of a case involving a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud the federal government.

      Mr. Johnson graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Washington State University and received his J.D. with Honors from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington.  He then began his storied career with the Department of Justice, where he served as a trial attorney and senior trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice from 1973 through 1984. During that time, he investigated and prosecuted criminal cases involving racially motivated violence and criminal police misconduct. He was also responsible for civil litigation involving complex enforcement of voting rights cases pursuant to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and discrimination in places of public accommodation. 

      In 1984, Mr. Johnson was the 34th person in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice named as Senior Litigation Counsel, a meritorious designation reflecting his advocacy skills in complex litigation. That same year, Mr. Johnson became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Arkansas, where he served as the Senior Litigation Counsel until becoming the Criminal Chief and First Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1993 until 2000. After the departure of U.S. Attorney Paula Casey in 2001, he served the office as Acting U.S. Attorney until the appointment of U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins in December of 2001. 

      From August 2003 through October 2004, Mr. Johnson was on assignment to the Republic of South Africa, where he was responsible for overseeing the development of organized crime and racketeering prosecutions. Since 2004, Mr. Johnson has returned to South Africa on a regular basis to continue his work with the South African government as a legal advisor on organized crime and racketeering matters, including conducting three Judicial Colloquiums for trial court and appellate court judges on the principles of racketeering and money laundering.

      In 2004, he returned to his role as a line prosecutor with the Eastern District of Arkansas until 2007, when he became the Senior Legal Advisor to Acting U.S. Attorney Jane Duke. He retired from the Department in 2010 and began devoting his full attention to teaching others. 

      In addition to his public service as a career prosecutor, beginning in 1985, Mr. Johnson served as an adjunct professor at the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, where he taught Evidence, Criminal Law, White Collar Crime, Trial Advocacy and Advanced Trial Advocacy. He also coached the National Trial Advocacy Competition Team. 

      In August 2010, he became Counsel for National Programs for the National Center of Justice and the Rule of Law (NCJRL) and Visiting Professor at the University of Mississippi Lamar School of Law. He designed and taught seminars on Fourth Amendment and trial issues to judges and taught White Collar Crime at the Bowen School of Law.

      In 1987, Mr. Johnson became a faculty member for National Institute of Trial Advocacy and continues to teach there. In 2010, he became the Program Director for the National Session in Louisville, Colorado, and has served as Team Leader, Assistant Team Leader, and faculty member for the National Session on numerous occasions. He has also served as Team Leader, Assistant Team Leader and faculty member for the Southern Regional in Dallas, Texas; the North Central Regional in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; the Western Regional in San Francisco, California; the Northwest Regional in Seattle, Washington; and programs in Dublin, Ireland and Edinburgh, Scotland. 

      Mr. Johnson has also been the Program Director and faculty member for numerous in-house custom programs for both public agencies and private firms. He has also been a core faculty member for NITA’s on-line deposition training program. He participated as a faculty member in the pilot on-line program for the Exceptional Advocacy Training Program conducted by NITA January-April 2010.

      During Mr. Johnson’s time with the Department of Justice, he has received the following awards from the Department: Award for Outstanding Litigation of Complex Financial Crime; Commendation by the Attorney General; Appreciation by the Attorney General; Commendation by Assistant Attorney General; Appreciation by Assistant Attorney General; Special Achievement, Special Commendation and Appreciation by the Attorney General’s Advocacy Institute, the United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Arkansas, the Eastern District of Louisiana, and the Middle District of North Carolina. 

      He has also received achievement awards from the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Drug Enforcement Administration; United States Customs Service; United States Secret Service; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; United States Postal Inspection Service; and the Internal Revenue Service. These awards include Exceptional Service in the Public Interest, Special Recognition, Outstanding Achievement, Outstanding Prosecution, and Certificates of Appreciation.

      His other commendations include appreciation awards for Service as United States Attorney, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas; Service as Intermittent Legal Advisor to the Republic of South Africa, Office of Overseas Prosecution and Development, United States Department of Justice; Service as Legal Advisor to South African Police Service, South African Police Service; and the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission.

      U.S. Attorney Hiland would like to recognize Mr. Johnson for his distinguished and accomplished career of public service to the Department of Justice, and for his commitment to justice and the people of the Eastern District of Arkansas.

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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the

United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, is available online at




Updated December 15, 2020

Office and Personnel Updates