Richard Tennent is a founding member of Bell, Tennent & Frogge. He defends good people accused of bad deeds in the federal, state and appellate courts. On rare occasions he also does pro-bono environmental and land use law.
Over the past twenty years, Mr. Tennent has represented persons accused of the most serious offenses under our laws. He has taken eleven first-degree murder cases to jury trial, and has won acquittals or verdicts to significantly reduced offenses in eight of those. He has won not guilty verdicts on offenses including aggravated robbery, carjacking, distribution of 40 kilograms of heroin, possession of cocaine, aggravated assault on a police officer, rape of a child, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault and aggravated child abuse. Mr. Tennent has learned over and over that good citizens are wrongfully charged with terrible crimes of which they are innocent. He has also learned that citizens are often ‘over-charged’ as he has won lesser verdicts to misdemeanors, when the government sought felony convictions.
Mr. Tennent has successfully handled very challenging criminal appeals. He has won reversals and new trials in cases of First Degree Murder, Rape and Aggravated Sexual Battery. One of his most challenging appeals was done in the case of State v. Ward, 138 S.W.3d 245 (Tenn.Crim.App. 2003), where he successfully challenged the dubious "scientific" theory that three unexplained deaths means murder. Other more recent successes include: State v. Fleschman 2008 WL 5130449, Tenn.Crim.App., December 08, 2008 (sentence reduced from three-years to six-months on solicitation of minor case), and State v. Williams, 2006 WL 3431920 Tenn.Crim.App., November 29, 2006 (rape conviction reversed for prosecutorial misconduct and erroneous use of DNA evidence).
Mr. Tennent also understands that sometimes the best defense is securing mercy, justice and leniency. In the District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, over the last eight years, he has had repeated successes in securing sentences significantly below the “advisory guideline recommendation.” He understands the importance of well-crafted sentencing memorandums that help the sentencing judge see his client as full human being, entitled to respect, and possessing human dignity. Mr. Tennent’s clients are not mere numbers, but individuals with unique human stories.
In 1994, Mr. Tennent graduated from the Vanderbilt School of Law, having earned American Jurisprudence Awards for both Criminal Law and Post-Conviction Criminal Procedure. Since law school he has earned a Master of Studies in Environmental Law from the Vermont Law School, graduating summa cum laude. He attended Michigan State University on a National Merit Scholarship, graduating in 1990 with Honors.
Mr. Tennent is a member of the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, and serves on the amicus committee. He is licensed to practice in the State of Tennessee, the Middle District of Tennessee and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is very active in the Metro Public Schools where he has been the Chairman of Parents Advisory Council, as well as the founding PTO President of the Lockeland Design Center.aa
Jodie Bell is a founding member of Bell, Tennent & Frogge, PLLC. Licensed to practice law in both California and Tennessee, Ms. Bell is an experienced trial attorney who has handled hundreds of criminal matters at various stages in state and federal court at the trial and appellate levels. She has obtained favorable results from juries in both state and federal court.
In 1994, Ms. Bell graduated from Golden Gate University School of Law with an emphasis in public interest law. While in law school, Ms.Bell interned at the San Francisco Office of the Public Defender, the First District Appellate Project and the Women's Employment Rights Clinic. Following graduation, Ms. Bell practiced law, primarily criminal defense, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Ms. Bell moved to Tennessee in 1997 where she secured a clerkship with the late Davidson County Criminal Court Judge Thomas H. Shriver, assisting in researching issues and writing opinions. Following her clerkship, Ms. Bell began service as a Davidson County Assistant Public Defender where she handled thousands of criminal matters. She tried numerous felony jury trials including several complex first-degree murder cases. Prior to founding Bell, Tennent and Frogge, Ms. Bell continued her trial, appellate and post-conviction practice in the State and Federal Courts of Middle Tennessee, handling criminal and related matters. Because she is qualified to handle capital cases, Ms. Bell is frequently asked to handle complex first-degree murder cases where the State is seeking to impose the death penalty.
Ms. Bell is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Nashville Women's Political Caucus and the Lawyer's Association for Women. She currently sits on the CJA Panel Selection Committee for Middle Tennessee. Ms. Bell has also served as a board member for Reconciliation Prison Ministries and the Tennessee Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.