Trip Johnston began his legal career in 2001 as a law clerk on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown in San Diego. After completing his clerkship, he became a trial attorney with Federal Defenders of San Diego in 2002 and was promoted to a supervisory role in 2008.  After 13 years at Federal Defenders, over 30 felony jury trials, a dozen oral arguments before the Ninth Circuit, and numerous trial and appellate victories, Trip entered private practice with the formation of Clarke Johnston Thorp & Rice.

Trip has represented clients in a vast array of criminal cases, from drug importation, alien smuggling, and illegal entry to capital murder, wiretap cases, armed robbery, RICO conspiracies, and the representation of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. For several years, he chaired the training committee for Criminal Justice Act lawyers in the Southern District of California, and has given updates on Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit case law for the last four years.  He also remains active in the community as a district representative to the Southern District, a committee member of the Ninth Circuit’s Attorney Admissions Fund, and an invite-only member of the Criminal Defense Lawyers Club in San Diego.

Trip graduated magna cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2001, gained membership in the Order of the Coif, and was an executive editor of the Georgetown Law Journal.  Trip also obtained his masters degree in English literature at Georgetown, and he received his undergraduate degree cum laude from Duke University in 1994.

Ellis M. Johnston III

Primary Practice:
Federal Criminal Defense,
Trial and Appellate