The Bulldog

The Bulldog

Bob hilliard watched the guys sprint underneath the paso del norte border bridge. He saw the officer soar from his bicycle, chase them, and goal. Then he heard the gunshots and a woman, crying out in spanish. Within the aftermath, a 15-12 months-antique boy lay flat on his again, his inexperienced t-shirt crumpled, blood spurting in red waves from his face. The mobile cellphone video, filmed on the mexican aspect of the border, turned into grainy. But it turned into clear enough for hilliard: an innocent teen had been murdered through the u. S. Border patrol. Six months later, hilliard filed a $25 million wrongful demise and civil rights violation lawsuit against the yank government, and represented the own family of the lifeless teen, sergio adrian hernandez güereca. “el paso and juárez is a tough vicinity proper now, and the border patrol retailers, they have a difficult task,” hilliard instructed a tv reporter in an interview with fox information. “however it genuinely hasn’t come down to a degree inside the courting among our international locations that we’re shooting every other’s children.” after the interview, hilliard’s voicemail at hilliard muñoz. Gonzales packed with threats. Unfazed, he absolutely forwarded the calls to the fbi. At some point of almost 30 years of trial work, hilliard has always chosen to symbolize the powerless. One of hilliard’s early clients in his solo practice turned into kelly havner, a teenager born without a arms on her proper hand. At the same time as pregnant, kelly’s mother had taken a morning illness drug referred to as bendectin. Hilliard sued the drug maker, merrell dow pharmaceuticals inc., partnering with barry nace, a washington, d. C. Attorney who had prosecuted the maximum famous of the bendectin cases. When they met, nace observed hilliard’s fairly texan demeanor proper away. “just the way he talked, his lanky movements—he reminded me a touch little bit of a cowboy,” nace says. A methodical cowboy. To put together for trial, hilliard pored over each little bit of facts nace had from previous instances. On the primary day of the trial, the choose asked hilliard to inform the jury a piece approximately the case. When he finished, hilliard recalls nace pronouncing to him, “that became exactly what i used to be going to mention in my beginning. What do i do?” hilliard spoke back, “supply your closing!” nace recollects, “he stated, ‘barry, you give the wildest closing argument you ever made.’” so nace did—imparting the jury the kind of targeted, dramatic narrative he commonly reserved for the give up of the trial—and it labored beautifully. A jury provided $30 million in punitive damages and compensatory damages of $3. Seventy five million. However when the case reached the supreme court docket of texas, hilliard observed something approximately the legal professional for merrell dow: he’d promised to raise half of one million bucks for one of the justices at the bench. Hilliard protested, and the judge recused himself. In less than 30 days, the courtroom ruled in choose of the pharmaceutical organization. But, whilst doing so, the court docket changed the admissibility popular for sure professional testimony, reverting to an vintage preferred that deprived the plaintiffs. Applying the usual required the decide to be the “gatekeeper” and make a willpower during a listening to of whether or not the professional and his critiques met the brand new “havner fashionable.” but the court docket refused to remand the case in order that hilliard may want to attempt it again under the brand new rules. As an alternative, the courtroom rendered a verdict in desire of the defendant. Hilliard poured out his frustration in a motion for rehearing that slammed the judges. “mentioned towards a hazy july sky, the 4 horsemen rode again ultimate wednesday,” hilliard wrote. “you understand them: pestilence, dying, famine, and this texas splendid court docket.” the brief nearly fee hilliard his regulation license. However to at the present time he’s pleased with it. “, i never recall bob taking a case that he didn’t strongly accept as true with in,” says dax cowart, an lawyer who labored with hilliard for five years. Hilliard’s deep affinity for protecting the helpless commenced at home. His father, an air force fighter pilot who flew the primary venture into north vietnam, attended regulation school when a prognosis of muscular dystrophy compelled him to retire from the military. Shelley hilliard became the county attorney of newton, where he prosecuted from his wheelchair. Subsequently, he sued the county due to the fact he had to drag himself up the courthouse steps on his hands and knees to get to paintings. “once he won the lawsuit, the county named the elevator ‘shelley’s shaft,’” hilliard says. Hilliard’s older brother, del, additionally had muscular dystrophy, and had suffered mind harm as a baby. Growing up, bob defended his older brother towards bullies at faculty. However at domestic, wherein the men shared a room, del provided the consolation a little brother once in a while desires. “i used to have nightmares growing up, so i would go sleep in his mattress,” hilliard says. After majoring in english on a tennis scholarship to st. Edward’s university in austin, hilliard attended st. Mary’s university faculty of regulation in san antonio, wherein he graduated with honors. Trial regulation become a herbal in shape for hilliard’s dramatic streak—he’d loved acting in excessive school performs. He worked for two years for man allison, one of the toughest trial lawyers in the country. Then, hilliard started out his very own exercise. In 1995, hilliard attended gerry spence’s trial legal professionals college in wyoming where he met dax cowart. A former soccer big name and fighter pilot from east texas, cowart had lost each palms and eyes in a sad explosion that left -thirds of his frame horrifically burned and also killed his father. He’d wanted to die, however doctors refused to allow him. Alternatively, he became forced to go through excruciatingly painful remedies. Ultimately, cowart went to regulation faculty and have become an propose for patients’ rights. Even though these days cowart says he's happy he lived, he nonetheless believes that he need to had been allowed to quit his lifestyles. The men hit it off right away and hilliard provided cowart a activity. The east texas lawyer became one of the maximum influential human beings in hilliard’s existence. “he reminded me of ways vital it's far to stay inside the second,” hilliard says. “use the ache you've got experienced to positively affect those round you.” remaining year, hilliard were given a smartphone call from a minnesota lawyer who turned into filing a lawsuit towards toyota. A family had lost three participants—a father, his nine-yr-vintage son and his 6-12 months-old niece—due to the fact a toyota camry slammed into the lower back of their car at ninety miles in line with hour. From the instant he stepped far from the coincidence, koua fong lee claimed he had been pressing the brakes. But the jury didn’t agree with him. The hmong immigrant and father of four changed into charged with crook vehicular manslaughter and sentenced to 8 years in jail. 4 years later, numerous toyota models had been recalled amid troubles of unintentional acceleration. Hilliard flew up to minnesota to help the sufferers’ family in a civil case in opposition to the carmaker, but ended up assisting out lee, seasoned bono. Toyota’s fashions with an electronic throttle manage (and so forth) gadget have been recalled, and hilliard and his group commenced searching at older fashions—like the one lee had been driving. The case played out as a excessive-stakes drama within the newspapers and on the nightly news. Despite increasing proof that lee have been telling the truth, the county prosecutor, susan gaertner, hostile a retrial. In one example, she followed a mock texas accent as she declared that no lawyer from texas became going to come back up and overturn her case, and accused hilliard of “stirring up trouble.” “here’s a news flash for mr. Hilliard: that is minnesota, no longer texas, and legal professionals in this country are expected to abide by stringent moral requirements,” gaertner stated in one statement. “in texas, we don’t knowingly put innocent guys in prison,” hilliard shot again. Last august, after a four-day listening to, wherein the plaintiff’s attorneys provided compelling proof, a choose released lee from jail. Mins later, the minnesota prosecutor announced she would now not are looking for a brand new trial. Hilliard stood on the courthouse steps and celebrated, with lee embracing him in a fierce hug. Some months later, in december, lee and his own family traveled to corpus christi to share christmas with the hilliards. “my 5-yr-old is aware of them nicely,” hilliard says. “it changed into effective stuff.” hilliard is father to six youngsters, a long time 20 months to 22 years. “he’s a superb dad,” says jacobo muñounces, hilliard’s associate of 16 years. “he devotes his lifestyles frequently to his paintings and to his youngsters.” in recent times, hilliard is busy with a case towards bp associated with the gulf of mexico oil spill; a in shape on behalf of mentally disabled residents at a corpus christi kingdom faculty who have been forced to combat every other for the natural leisure of school employees; and a case against the san angelo independent college district wherein a special wishes female become sexually assaulted via a fellow student because of the faculty’s failure to maintain a person with her always. Hilliard is likewise prosecuting a san antonio priest in a child sex abuse case. A staunch catholic, he says that the choice to take on the case has earned him complaint from a number of his fellow parishioners—but he doesn’t thoughts. “if there’s a priest doing this, he’s not part of the church that i accept as true with ought to exist,” hilliard says. “cleaning residence does not mean that you don’t like the structure. It just manner that the rats depart.”