Article Lauds AZA’s Elizabeth Pannill Fletcher for Superb Opening Statement July 18, 2014
HOUSTON – Attorney Elizabeth Pannill Fletcher of Houston’s AZA, or Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Mensing, delivered an opening statement to a jury in May that a respected Houston judge says is one of the best he’s ever heard, according to a recent article published by the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas.
Harris County Civil District Judge Randy Wilson noted Ms. Fletcher’s compelling opening statement in a column published in The Advocate, the Litigation Section’s 2014 summer report. In “From My Side of the Bench,” Judge Wilson included Ms. Fletcher’s entire opening statement, noting how she masterfully humanized for jurors what would otherwise have been a dull business dispute.
“The jury was enraptured by the story. At one point, my court reporter remarked that she was about to cry during the opening,” Judge Wilson writes. “Think about it – in a case involving an alleged constructive trust, the court reporter is on the verge of tears.”
The case focused on a bank’s attempt to claim money from an alleged fraudulent property sale involving the ex-husband of Ms. Fletcher’s client, an immigrant from Taiwan. But Ms. Fletcher personalized her opening statement by telling the jury the touching tale of her client’s life, including the first time the woman kissed her husband; the long hours she spent at two jobs while spending her spare time in a library learning English; and her attempts to restore her marriage despite her husband’s request for a divorce. Ms. Fletcher relied on her client’s story to explain to the jury why she loaned her estranged husband the money that the other parties in the lawsuit were attempting to claim.
“And by humanizing otherwise dry legal theories, this lawyer made her case in opening. There was no chance this jury was going to find a constructive trust attached to the money paid to (her client). There’s a lesson here for all trial lawyers,” Judge Wilson wrote.
Of course, Ms. Fletcher’s client won the case.
AZA, or Ahmad, Zavitsanos & Mensing, is a Houston-based law firm that is home to true courtroom lawyers with a formidable track record in complex commercial litigation, including energy, intellectual property, and business dispute cases. AZA is recognized in Chambers USA 2014 among the best in Texas commercial law; U.S. News & World Report and The Best Lawyers in America as one of the country’s best commercial litigation firms in 2014; and Law360 as one of only 13 Texas Powerhouse law firms. National corporate counsel named AZA one of the country’s best in client service among law firms serving the Fortune 1000. Read more at www.azalaw.com.