Local 2 talks one-on-one with Houston attorney Rusty Hardin

Hardin discusses his high profile clients to his humble beginnings

By Dominique Sachse - Anchor

HOUSTON - Local 2 Anchor Dominique Sachse recently sat down with Houston Attorney Rusty Hardin for a one-on-one interview.

Hardin has defended big names like Roger Clemens and accounting firm Arthur Andersen, plus the estate of billionaire J. Howard Marshall, taking on Anna Nicole Smith.

"You've represented some pretty high profile clients," Local 2's Dominique Sachse said.

"Yeah, you know and I don't understand how that happened," Hardin said. "Because it's all happenstance."

Happenstance or not, Hardin is a legal legend in Houston with a winning track record that has earned him celebrity status. But Hardin wasn't always a sure bet.

"And did I read correctly that every law school turned you down except SMU?" asked Sachse.

"Yes. Actually, there used to be a trivia contest in the DA's office," Hardin replied. "What senior prosecutor was rejected by 22 out of 23 law schools?"

Before he was a defense attorney, Hardin spent more than 15 years as a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

"Kind of a hard right turn going from being a prosecutor to being a criminal defense attorney," Sachse said.

"You know there are a lot of good people that get in trouble and do things they shouldn't have done or accused of doing they shouldn't have done," said Hardin.

"But then often times we see attorneys defending people who seem to be so in the wrong, and people always wonder how does the attorney sleep at night?" Sachse asked.

"Ah, well, because he or she recognizes their responsibility is not to be judge and jury themselves, but to help somebody make sure law enforcement crosses all their t's and dots all the i's, and everybody is treated fairly," Hardin said.

Hardin is known for building relationships with juries.

In the Marshall trial Smith declared Marshall the light of her life. So Hardin played Debby Boone's famous ballad during closing arguments. He won the case, which led to an infamous line, uttered by Smith.

"How many times did people shout at you, 'Screw you Rusty!'" asked Sachse.

"It wasn't three weeks ago I was on a Southwest Airlines flight and putting up a bag and some blue haired lady in the back yelled, 'Screw you Rusty!'" Hardin said.

"What was your takeaway from that whole trial?" Sachse asked.

"I loved the jury. I got a picture of the jury, the whole jury here," said Hardin.

Hardin has spent more than 35 years practicing law in Texas. So what does the future hold?

"How much longer do you see yourself doing this?" Sachse asked.

"The deal I have with the partners in this firm is, folks, I want to do this as long as I don't embarrass you and me," Hardin replied. "At the moment that happens, when I've stayed too long, I want you all to let me know."

Hardin said he is dearly in love with Tissy, his wife of 42 years. He has two grown sons, one is a Houston police sergeant, the other an HISD teacher, and four grandchildren.

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