Joe W. Redden Jr. is a shark when he cross-examines a witness.
His firm cofounder, David J. Beck, had fun sitting front row witnessing Redden’s prowess in trials over the past 48 years. Redden’s unique talent for identifying a witness’ weak spot and pouncing on it, while restraining from asking one too many questions that could jeopardize the cross-examination, is a skill Beck said his firm will miss as it marches forward in the wake of Redden’s retirement.
Redden, founding partner emeritus, retired from Beck Redden in Houston on New Year’s Day. He is 72. Redden said the decision was difficult to make; he’ll miss the firm’s camaraderie and the excitement of handling cases. But he also felt the time was right.
Redden and his wife, Karen Redden, moved to Colorado Springs a few years ago, he said, and have plans to travel together this year. Karen, a former trial consultant, retired about a year ago. They’ll travel to the Galapagos Islands with grandchildren in March and will embark on a European cruise with friends in September, Redden said.
The boutique trial and appellate law firm has a deep bench of lawyers who are ready to lead, Redden said.
“I’m very proud of the young people at the firm,” Redden said, adding that recruitment has been a key strength of Beck Redden’s. “I think it was time to step aside and do some traveling and other things I’d like to do.”
The firm will keep Redden in its name, Beck said.
Redden has worked with Beck his entire legal career. Beck, working for Fulbright & Jaworski in the 1970s, recruited Redden to a clerkship. The firm later hired Redden, and he remained there until 1992 when he, Beck and Ronald Secrest, founded Beck Redden.
“Joe and I have been together so long, we’re kind of like the odd couple,” Beck said.
The lawyers have worked on some of Texas’ most noteworthy cases. They represented Cameron International Corporation, the Houston-based company that made a key safety device used in the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico killing 11 workers. After six weeks of trial in Louisiana, a U.S. district judge in 2013 dismissed the company from litigation. The judge found that while Cameron made and sold a blowout preventer, the companies that owned the device decided how to implement it.
Redden’s flair for cross-examining a witness shone during multiple lawsuits in which the duo represented Collagen Corp. against claims the company’s anti-wrinkle products caused serious injuries and autoimmune diseases, Beck said.
In one of those cases, the plaintiff called a doctor to testify who was not board certified. Redden underscored that during cross-examination.
No, the doctor admitted, he was not board certified. But, the doctor insisted, he was board eligible, meaning he could take a specialty certification exam.
Well, had he? Redden asked. To Redden’s surprise, the doctor had taken the exam and failed.
“You could’ve heard a pin drop in the courtroom,” Redden said.
Beck Redden’s client won that case, Redden said.
“There’s nothing more fun than a good cross-examination,” Redden said. “That’s really what I kind of live for as a trial lawyer.”
Redden also worked on the team that represented Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners against Energy Transfer Partners, in a consequential legal battle between pipeline giants that went to trial in 2014. The state’s legal community heralded the case as the most significant business dispute between two Texas companies since Joe Jamail’s epic Pennzoil-Texaco victory in the 1980s.
Though ETP emerged victorious at trial, securing a verdict that the midstream competitors had legally formed a partnership despite no such written acknowledgement existing, Dallas’ Fifth Court of Appeals reversed and found the case should have been dismissed because ETP had not met the burden of proof. The Texas Supreme Court ended the legal battle in 2020, siding with Enterprise.
“The law was made clear in Texas. We were right all along,” Beck said. “Fortunately, we had a client that was willing to go to the mat and go all the way to make certain that we were vindicated.”
As for Beck, he has no plans to retire any time soon. At 83, he says he’ll likely continue practicing “until my partners come in and take all my pads and pencils.”
Beck said he’ll miss Redden’s judgment and counsel; he normally heeded Redden’s advice.
“By God, he’s earned the right to relax and enjoy the rest of his life,” Beck said. “I take my hat off to him. It’s been a great ride.”