Rusty Hardin, Houston-based litigator and founder of Rusty Hardin & Associates, was recently featured in Law360’s Trial Pros series, which you can read here. The nationally known lawyer began his career as a prosecutor in Houston before starting a private practice where he works on both civil and criminal cases and often helps high-profile clients from the sports, political and business worlds.
Mr. Hardin says pitcher Roger Clemens’ perjury case over allegedly lying to Congress about using performance enhancing drugs was the most interesting he’s worked on:
I so deeply felt that he was the victim of a congressional witch hunt that observed no rules. The only reason Roger Clemens ever testified before Congress, was because he was unwilling to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights. He was unwilling to refuse because he believed so strongly that he had done nothing wrong. The first trial ended in a mistrial because of government mistakes… but when we got the not guilty at the end of the second perjury trial, it was an incredibly satisfying moment.
His biggest advice to new trial lawyers:
To listen and 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. [You] may miss incredible nuggets that both the jury and the facts scream out to be further examined. I’ve never seen a trial where we were not able to elicit favorable information that we never expected and didn’t see coming. Total preparation can free you up… thereby allowing you to be able to pounce on the unexpected.
The most unexpected or amusing thing he’s experienced while working on a trial:
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 a life of its own. It was interesting to watch a witness say and do whatever outrageous things come to their mind in a totally unstructured way that made cross-examination a wonderfully extemporaneous experience. I asked Anna Nicole how she spent $100,000 a week, she responded with ‘Rusty, it’s very expensive being me.