Rusty Hardin will tell you that choosing a lawyer is a very personal decision.
If you’re going to go to war – Rusty’s done that – you better make sure the people by your side are those whom you trust with your life. Because your life, your livelihood, or the company you work for may hang in the balance.
If you’re up against the state and its prosecutors – Rusty’s been one of them – you need someone who knows how those prosecutors think and work. That will guide what they do and what you need to prepare for.
And if you’re going to have any chance at all of winning – Rusty’s done that more than a few times too – it’s likely to be based on your lawyer’s ability to investigate and gather the information that proves your case. Even the most passionate argument needs the facts to back it up.Read More
That’s what you get with Rusty Hardin and it’s why his long list of clients (Dow Jones, ExxonMobil, Arkema, Rice University, Arthur Andersen, trusts and a corporation established by J. Howard Marshall II against Anna Nicole Smith, the Houston Texans, Rudy Tomjanovich, Warren Moon, Wade Boggs, Scottie Pippen, Steve Francis, Calvin Murphy, Rafer Alston, and Roger Clemens, to name just a few) chose to hire him.
In Rusty, those companies and individuals also got someone whose work played a significant role in changing the way that criminal defense cases play out in Texas. In an episode of the Trial Tested podcast, produced by the American College of Trial Lawyers, Rusty discussed the way he approaches a trial and some of his biggest cases. You can listen to his interview here.
Though he has a well-established reputation as a civil and criminal defense lawyer, Rusty got his start in the law on the other side. Following graduation from law school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, in 1975, Rusty began his legal career as an assistant district attorney in Houston. Over a period of 15 years, he tried over 100 felony cases, not losing one. He tried 14 death penalty cases and earned wide recognition for his cross-examination skills in several high-profile trials. In recognition of his trial skills, he was named Texas Prosecutor of the Year by the State Bar of Texas and was featured in numerous publications profiling his work.
Rusty entered private practice in 1991 as a founding partner of Hardin, Beers, Hagstette & Davidson, maintaining a civil and criminal trial practice at both the state and federal levels. In 1994, he was named Chief Trial Counsel for the Whitewater Independent Counsel’s Office, serving under both Bob Fiske and Ken Starr. In 1996, he established Rusty Hardin & Associates. Since then, Rusty has tried over 70 jury trials, split fairly evenly between civil and criminal cases. It’s this work — pleading cases before juries — that Rusty enjoys most. “I love the challenge of trying to persuade a group of strangers to my point of view,” Rusty says. “From my years of experience on both sides of the courtroom, whether prosecuting or defending a client, I have found that juries almost always do the right thing. Even when I disagree, I can see how they got there.”
Rusty and the firm made headlines in a high-profile case involving chemical company Arkema Inc. The company, along with its executives, was charged when tanks full of organic peroxides caught fire at its Crosby, Texas, plant during the Hurricane Harvey disaster in August 2017. Arkema’s CEO and the plant manager were indicted on charges of reckless emission of an air contaminant. In a case plagued by prosecutorial misconduct, Rusty and his team were able to have all charges dismissed. In another matter, Rusty represented Army officer and astronaut Anne McClain, who had been accused by her estranged spouse of hacking into a bank account during her time on the International Space Station. The charges, entirely fabricated, were eventually dropped after a thorough investigation discovered that Ms. McClain’s spouse repeatedly lied under oath to federal prosecutors.
Rusty is also the founder of Texas People Against Crime, a statewide organization dedicated to addressing criminal justice issues from the perspective of crime victims and law enforcement. A nationally recognized speaker on trial tactics, Rusty is often approached to counsel lawyers on dealing with the media during high-profile cases. His three rules for media relations: “Always return their calls. Always tell them the truth. If you can’t talk to them, explain why.”
Rusty is a Senior Fellow and past President of the Litigation Counsel of America, the trial lawyer honorary society. He serves on the Advisory Board for both the Trial Law Institute and the Diversity Law Institute. In 2015, Rusty was named a “Trial Ace” by Law360, given a Lifetime Achievement award by Texas Lawyer, named a “Lion of the Texas Bar” by The Texas Lawbook, and inducted into both the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and the American College of Trial Lawyers. A member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, he has been recognized as a Best Lawyer in America each year since 2016 and named on the Texas Super Lawyers listing since 2003. In 2020, he was inducted as a Texas Legal Legend by the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas.
Before attending law school, Rusty taught American history at Montgomery Academy in Montgomery, Alabama, and spent five years in the U.S. Army, leaving with the rank of captain after 15 months in Vietnam. He also spent a year as a legislative assistant to Congressman Charles R. Jonas, Republican, of North Carolina. He is licensed to practice in the state of Texas, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Rusty and his wife, Tissy, were married in 1970. They have two sons, Russell and Thomas. Russell is a high school teacher in Houston and Thomas is an officer in the Houston Police Department.