Rusty Hardin, founder of Houston’s Rusty Hardin & Associates LLP, was featured in the national legal news service Law360’s Trial Pros series in a Q and A about his trial experience. A copy of the story is available here and the story on Law360‘s site is here Trial Pros: Rusty Hardin (subscription required).
Mr. Hardin answers a series of questions. For example, he notes that his most interesting trial was: “The defense of pitcher Roger Clemens because I so deeply felt that he was the victim of a congressional witch hunt that observed no rules and in which they were mindless about how they were ruining a man’s reputation in a totally meaningless exercise.”
Mr. Hardin says the most unexpected or amusing thing he has encountered so far in trial was: “During litigation over the hundreds of millions of dollars in the estate of the late J. Howard Marshall II, the questioning of the one-time Playboy centerfold Anna Nicole Smith took on a life of its own. She was on the stand about four days in response to a counterclaim from the defense.”
“I asked Anna Nicole how she spent $100,000 a week, she responded with ‘Rusty, It’s very expensive being me,’ I smilingly said we could both agree on that. I never expected that experience to take on a life of its own so much so that now, 17 years later, total strangers still come up to me and say what she said from the stand: ‘Screw you, Rusty.'”
Mr. Hardin discusses how his trial prep includes developing a theme for the case as early as possible. “You have to be careful, though, and not develop a myopic theme before you are deep enough into the facts to be sure your view of the case can be satisfied. You need this so that at the beginning and the middle of the trial you can do what the jury has to do at the end of the trial — fit the facts into the law. It’s a three-pronged approach. You absorb the facts gathered from witnesses and documents, you mold them into the theme of your case and you fit that into the controlling law that will be given to the jury.”
And Mr, Hardin said his best advice to a lawyer on the eve of their first trial is to listen. Listen in ” jury selection, in direct examination and in cross examination. I would advise them to listen and to not be so bound up in your trial preparation that you fail to constantly be listening to witnesses in a way that is unencumbered by your expectations.”
And he named two trial lawyers outside his firm he admires and they are Chip Babcock of Jackson Walker in Houston and Michael Attanasio of Cooley in San Diego.