S. DEREK JOHNSON-GAGE, ESQ.
An Atlantan for more than fifteen years, I have been practicing law in Georgia for over a decade. I earned a Bachelors Degree at The University of Maryland, College Park and later attended law school at Emory University School of Law, where I graduated with a Juris Doctorate in 2003. After earning my law degree, I clerked for criminal defense attorney Brian Steel in a variety of high profile cases before continuing my practice of law as a trial litigator; first in indigent defense and now over eleven years with The Gage Law Firm, specializing in criminal and probate cases involving mental illness. I now teach as an adjunct professor at Emory Law School in the area of criminal competency and insanity defenses.
I am sworn into Georgia's Superior Courts, the Georgia Court of Appeals, and the Georgia Supreme Court and I am admitted to practice law in any court of our State.
My mission as an attorney and business owner is to provide the most educated and sound advice to my clients while being immediately responsive to their needs. By putting your trust in my firm, you can be certain that:
I don't make impossible promises for the sake of getting a case--the only promises I make are to work tirelessly to get you the results you deserve and to be available to you for counsel and advice at all times.
I encourage you to voice questions and concerns and always respond to client calls and emails as quickly as I am able.
I constantly read the latest changes in the case law and statutes to ensure I'm giving my clients the most accurate advice possible.
It is my aim to be as close to a friend and family member as an attorney can be and for you to know that the advice I provide you is given genuinely with your best interests in mind.
Since becoming a private litigator, my firm has been featured at national conferences on matters of mental illness and the law, as well as on the law as it relates to estate planning and the LGBT community. In 2014, I was a featured speaker at the American Cancer Society's national conference in Atlanta, where I spoke on issues regarding LGBT families and the challenges they faced in estate planning.
In 2015, I was a panel speaker for the American Bar Association's national conference on Mental Illness and Crime, where attorneys from around the country participated in a discussion of where mental illness intersects an antiquated criminal justice system.
I have been quoted by news organizations such as USA Today, WABE's Morning Edition, and 11Alive, Atlanta's NBC affiliate.
I spent years defending clients against a variety of criminal charges, from hundreds of DUI and drug cases to major felonies, including rape, sex offenses, and cases involving the loss of life. My passion for defending those accused with crimes has been the backbone of my decade-plus career in law. Now, I take great pride in providing supplemental consulting services for the criminally accused who suffer from mental illness, as these individuals face a legal system that is often astoundingly ignorant of mental disorders. I have both personal and professional experience helping the mentally ill and have dedicated much of my career to doing so.
I have made it my life's work to help the mentally ill in circumstances where they have been swept into the criminal justice system, representing mentally ill defendants in more than 800 criminal cases over the span of my career. During my tenure in indigent defense, I helped create a special unit dedicated to advocacy for the mentally ill in the criminal courtroom and assisted the same clients in obtaining services in the community incident to the resolution of their cases. As a result, I have built an ever-evolving repertoire of resources for my clients in the community and have built lasting relationships with prosecutors who understand my aims. I feel strongly that labeling the mentally ill "criminals" is a grave injustice fueled by ignorance, and I work tirelessly to battle this stigma and give my clients the dignity of which they are often deprived as defendants in a criminal case. My mission, to the best of my abilities, is to help guide my clients through their criminal charges without sustaining a conviction on their record, and to help place them on a path to sustained maintenance of their illness and no further interaction with the criminal justice system. In order to achieve these goals, I must develop strong relationships with my clients and build lasting rapport not only with them, but with the lead attorneys handling their cases and with the judges and prosecutors involved in their prosecution, as well. I build connections with my clients unlike many other lawyer-client relationships, and I have a keen interest in their successes well after their cases have been resolved. Consequently, I maintain contact with clients and their families, in some cases years after my formal representation has ended.
My years in this field have made me intimately familiar with the psychiatric hospital system in Georgia and the convoluted law behind their implementation and operation. I know just how traumatic it can be to be hospitalized against one's will, and the anxiety and guilt from which a family must suffer during those times. I've worked to provide as much information as I can to families both for free on my website and through paid consultation services, as the hospitals can often feel like a brick wall for communication.