Attorneys Battle it Out For the Most Wins
In television and film, lawyers are perpetually portrayed as unethical liars. Every state bar is conscious of that unsavory perception and ethical rules are designed in large part to combat that view. State bar ethical rules regarding attorney advertising, for instance, do not allow for even a hint of anything that sounds remotely misleading.
In Texas, that means lawyers cannot even use the type of subjective puffery that we see in pretty much any other type of advertising. Attorneys are not able to call themselves, the “best” or the “top” or the “toughest,” because those claims cannot be verified. Rule 7.02(a)(4) of Texas’ Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct says a communication is false or misleading if it:
compares the lawyer’s services with other lawyers’ services, unless thecomparison can be substantiated by reference to verifiable, objective data;
Often times when attorneys submit their ads to the state bar for review, those unverifiable terms are the most commonly flagged potential violations. That of course begs the question, what if you can verify statements with objective data? Certainly, the terms ‘best,’ ‘top,’ and ‘toughest,’ are too nebulous to be defined and likewise too difficult to verify. By what metric could you reasonably measure a lawyer’s toughness?
There are verifiable objective measures for success, however. For instance, you could compare the number of wins and dismissals for a defense attorney. Compiling that data would, of course, be a terrible chore but that is exactly what Houston attorney Jeff Ross has done. Mr. Ross’ blog, showmethejustice.com, regularly publishes criminal trial results for the Harris County area and even has an updated leaderboard of favorable results; guilty verdicts for prosecutors and dismissals and not guilty verdicts for defense attorneys.
Since 2017, Mr. Ross has even published full spreadsheets of every attorney that has a favorable trial disposition along with the criminal charge, case number, date, and type of disposition. Using this objective data, Mr. Ross has “Trial Standings” for attorneys separated into a “Defense League” and a “Prosecution League.” The 2018 winner of the prosecution league was actually a tie with both Cheryl Chapell and Keaton Forcht amassing 7 guilty verdicts. In the Defense League, Tyler Flood dominated by piling up 11 not guilty verdicts with Kate Ferrell coming in second with 6.
With the 2019 season coming in sight of the halfway point things are heating up. Currently, for 2019, five attorneys, Katherine Thomas, Whitney Rasberry, Cameron Mears, Casey Smith, and Jennifer Jordan, are tied atop the Prosecution League leaderboard with four guilty verdicts apiece. The race is extremely tight with 16 prosecutors sitting at 3 guilty verdicts and 32 prosecutors with 2. On the defense side, the league leader Jordan Lewis, is firmly in first place with 6 not guiltys to his credit. No other defense attorney has more than 2 not guiltys thus far, including last years champion and Lewis’ partner, TylerFlood.
Ross’ methods includes parsing information from the District Court’s website, and physically going from courtroom to courtroom where trials are underway to gather trial information from court bailiffs. Ross claims that it takes him 32 hours a week to compile and publish the data, a full-time job in and of itself.
It must be said that this type of data should be valuable for those looking for an attorney. If only there was a Jeff Ross in every jurisdiction.