A graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Law, J. Rhea Tannehill, Jr. has been practicing law in Oxford since 1996. Rhea worked in a firm representing individuals primarily in the areas of personal injury and criminal defense from 1996 until 2002.
In January 2003, Rhea ventured out on his own when he opened the Tannehill Law Firm, PLLC in Oxford. In his solo practice, Rhea successfully served individuals in the areas of personal injury, criminal defense, collection law (creditors), family law, and wills and estate work. During this time, Rhea was also fortunate enough to be appointed as Legal Counsel for the Oxford Housing Authority and Mississippi Region II Housing Authority, both of whom he still represents today.
In January 2004, Jay P. Carmean and Rhea joined together to form Tannehill & Carmean, PLLC. Rhea and Jay’s practice focuses largely on representing the rights of injured persons, criminal defense and collection law (creditors) in all State and Federal Courts in Mississippi. Rhea and Jay founded their firm with a common goal of providing a good service to their clients while maintaining a good working environment for themselves and their employees.
The fulfillment that comes from knowing that he helped someone is the reason Rhea primarily handles personal injury and criminal defense matters. Many people are quick to pass judgment on others they learn have been charged with a crime, but those same people are quick to look for the best legal representation they can find when they or someone in their family has been caught drinking and driving or worse. The same is true for personal injury cases. People often jeer at trial lawyers as “ambulance chasers,” yet they are quick to call one if they or someone in their family is in a car wreck or feels they have been wronged in some way. Rhea’s experience and success has allowed him to be recognized by his peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America for 2009 and 2010 in the area of personal injury.
In addition to his civil practice, Rhea currently serves as school board attorney for North Panola and Municipal Court Judge of Sardis, Mississippi, where he previously served as Municipal Court Prosecutor.
Rhea is a native of Union, Mississippi, and a graduate of Union High School. His parents, Jack Rhea Tannehill and Jane Johnson owned and operated The Union Appeal, which is a weekly newspaper, while he was growing up. Rhea helped in the family business with the printing and distribution of the newspapers and other printed materials until he graduated from high school. Jack Tannehill still owns and operates The Newton County Appeal(the successor of The Union Appeal).
Rhea received a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration and Masters Degree in Education from the University of Mississippi in 1991 and 1992, respectively. While an undergraduate at the University of Mississippi, Rhea was elected President of the Associated Student Body and inducted into the Student Hall of Fame. Rhea was an active member of the Mississippi Alpha Chapter of Phi Delta Theta Fraternity and served as Vice-President.
Rhea has served as a member of the Mississippi Army National Guard since 1992. He enlisted in Headquarters Battery, 4/114th Field Artillery of Newton, Mississippi as a cannon fire direction specialist, and did his basic training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. Rhea stayed there until his unit transformed into Headquarters Battery, 1/204th Air Defense Artillery, and he served as a crewmember on the Avenger and Man Portable Air Defense System (Stinger Missile) Weapons Systems. In 1999, Rhea accepted a direct commission to First Lieutenant in the Judge Advocate Generals’ Corps and went on to graduate from the Judge Advocate Officer Basic Course (2001) and Judge Advocate Officer Advanced Course (2007).
Now serving in the rank of Major, Rhea is the Brigade Trial Counsel for the 168th Engineering Brigade in Vicksburg, Mississippi, which recently returned (December 2009) from a year long deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Rhea was stationed at Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan Rhea served as the only JAG Officer on Forward Operating Base Sharana and rendered legal assistance to all Soldiers, civilians and contractors on the FOB. Rhea also advises the Commanders within his Brigade on military justice and general legal matters. Rhea and his wife, Robyn, maintained a website during his deployment where they share photographs and their experiences at www.thetannehillfamily.com.
During his deployment to Afghanistan, Rhea was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Bronze Star Medal and Combat Action Badge.
Rhea was also mobilized with the Mississippi Army National Guard in 2005 for almost two months with Headquarters Battery, 631st Field Artillery Brigade after Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast. His unit performed disaster relief and clean-up operations, and he was awarded the Mississippi Magnolia Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Mississippi Commendation Medal and the Mississippi Emergency Service Medal for his service.
During his 17 years of military service, Rhea has also been awarded the Mississippi War Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon (2), Army Commendation Medal, Mississippi Commendation Medal (2) and the Mississippi Recruiting Medal.
Rhea has always been an active member of the The Mississippi Bar, Rhea served as President of the Young Lawyers’ Division of the Mississippi Bar during 2006-2007, Second Vice-President of The Mississippi Bar in 2007-2008, Commissioner of The Mississippi Bar and Executive Committee of the Mississippi Bar from 2006-2008. Rhea previously served three years on The Mississippi Bar’s Professional Responsibility Committee, and was honored to serve as Chairman his final year. Rhea is currently a member of The Mississippi Bar’s Character and Fitness Committee, which he has been a member of for many years. Rhea has been honored to be selected to participate in the James O. Dukes Professionalism Program for first year law students at the University of Mississippi since its inception.
As a member of the Lafayette County Bar and the Tri-County Jr. Bar Associations, Rhea has served as President of both organizations.
Rhea has been active in the Oxford and Lafayette County communities through civic and community organizations including the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and the Oxford/Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce. Rhea is a graduate of Leadership Lafayette and former member of the Oxford/Lafayette County United Way Board of Directors.
Rhea is married to his best friend, the former Robyn McKenzie of Florence, Alabama, and they have three children, Maggie (11), Jack (8) and Molly Catherine (6) and two spoiled cats, Catfish and Hushpuppie. Robyn and Rhea are rabid Ole Miss Basketball Fans, enjoy watching their kidsâ€™ activities and drinking coffee or a cold beer on their back porch. The Tannehills are members of Christ Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Oxford, which is a church they help found and charter in 1995.