2 of Houston’s most prominent attorneys go toe-to-toe in statements about Deshaun Watson case

HOUSTON – Two of Houston’s most prominent attorneys traded barbs in statements regarding the Deshaun Watson case.

The Texans quarterback is facing nearly two dozen lawsuits from women claiming sexual misconduct. On March 20, attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the women suing Watson, announced affidavits and other evidence would be handed over to Houston Police for investigation.

However, Buzbee then released a statement on Instagram indicating that would not happen. He cited concerns he raised during his mayoral campaign about the department’s management under former Chief Art Acevedo. While not claiming any type of favorable treatment, his statement raised the issue that the son of Watson’s attorney was on HPD’s command staff.

Buzbee later said it was his clients who voiced concerns about the familial relationship.

“Call it what you want, rookie mistake, tactical blunder, unforced error, I think it matters,” said KPRC 2 legal analyst Brian Wice.

Wice is critical of Buzbee for not following through with his original comments.

“Your client’s credibility, turns in large part on your credibility, and when you make a promise as a lawyer during opening statements, you better deliver,” said Wice. “When you make a promise in the court of public opinion at a press conference in your office you have to deliver that as well, otherwise, people are kind of rolling their heads and thinking ‘wait a second.’”

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, is also seizing Buzbee’s comments to cast doubt on the accusations. Hardin also addressed the issue of his son.

“His latest excuse for failing to go to law enforcement is also his lamest. Anyone who has dealt with HPD, as I have for many years, would know that Mr. Buzbee’s suggestion that the Department would overlook legitimate complaints based upon a family connection of one of its officers is ludicrous,” Hardin wrote. “I would respectfully suggest that Mr. Buzbee’s failure to go to law enforcement does not result from some baseless fear that HPD will not fairly investigate. Instead, it is from the knowledge that his parade of anonymous allegations could not survive the rigorous inquiry of trained investigators or the need to attest to the truth of the allegations under oath.”

Buzbee shrugged off the criticism.

“It may be that Tony Buzbee knows more than Rusty Hardin when it comes to what is going on in this case,” Buzbee said. “I am not saying complaints won’t be filed, but that is up to my clients. Also, not every allegation takes place in Houston. Some are alleged to have occurred in other cities and other states and it would only be appropriate to file those complaints in those jurisdictions.”

Buzbee further wrote, “Note that most of what we have heard from Watson’s camp so far is focused on me. If I were in their shoes I’d focus on attempting to mount a credible defense rather than continue to criticize me. (Twenty-one) women have filed suit, alleging serious allegations. In response, Watson’s camp goes out and finds 18 women to say they weren’t assaulted. Talk about ‘lame.’”

“I have to make sure my clients are treated with dignity and respect. This case is not about Tony Buzbee and Rusty Hardin,” Buzbee added.

When KPRC 2 checked with HPD, we were told investigators have not yet received any formal statements. Officials with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said if anything is presented to them, it will be handed over to HPD for investigation.