Justice Murry B. Cohen served for more than nineteen years on the Court of Appeals for the 1st District of Texas in Houston, deciding civil and criminal appeals from fourteen Texas counties.
Practice & Background
Elected to four terms from 1982 to 2000, Justice Cohen was the highest-rated appellate judge (1997, 1999, 2001) and highest-rated of 118 incumbent state judges (1997, 1999) in Houston Bar Association polls. He was named Appellate Judge of the Year in 1994 by the Texas Association of Civil Trial and Appellate Specialists, and in 1997 was recommended by the Texas Democratic Congressional Delegation to the president for nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
Having been certified in Civil Appellate Law and in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Justice Cohen focuses on appeals in Texas and federal courts and on trial procedure, including dispositive legal motions, jury charges, and post-trial motions. He has represented oil companies, insurance companies, hospitals, nursing homes, publishers, railroads, electric companies and individuals in trials and appeals in cases of breach of contract, libel, personal injury, bad faith insurance practices, injury to real estate, condemnation, and alleged criminal conduct. These have included proceedings for injunction, writs of mandamus, writs of prohibition, motions to recuse, and objections to the judge’s authority to preside. He has prosecuted and defended criminal cases ranging from minor misdemeanors to capital murder, and has served as a federal court special master, as a mediator in trial and appellate cases, as an arbitrator for AAA and CPR, and as an expert witness on attorney’s fees and on legal malpractice.
He is a life fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and the Houston Bar Foundation. He served as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Law Center from 1989 to 1994, teaching seminars in appellate procedure and advocacy, and at South Texas College of Law from 1991 to 1993, teaching seminars in appellate practice. He also writes and speaks frequently on litigation-related topics.
A sampling of Justice Cohen’s representative engagements include:
- Anderson Energy Corp. et al. v. Dominion Oklahoma Texas Exploration & Production Inc. et al., 04-14-00170-CV, (Tex. App. 2015). Reversing $2.5 million judgment against client MKM Engineers for alleged breach of settlement agreement and granting new trial.
- Gloria Hicks, v. Group & Pension Administrators, Inc., 13–14–00607–CV, (Tex. App. 2015). Reversing District Court and holding that a citizen’s email to school board trustees urging the board not to contract with plaintiff concerned a matter of public importance, was not commercial speech, and defendant was protected from suit by the Texas Anti-SLAPP statute.
- Midstate Env. Servs., LP v. Peterson, 10-13-00138-CV (Tex. App.—Waco, Feb. 21, 2014). Reversing $1.4 million judgment.
- BJ Services, S.R.L., et al v. Great American Insurance Company, 2013 WL 4779701 (5th Cir. 2013). Reversing summary judgment against insured in coverage dispute under employee theft policy.
- Texas Mutual Ins. Co. v. Ruttiger, 381 S.W.3d 430 (Tex. 2012). Overruling Texas Supreme Court decision and holding that common-law and statutory claims for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing may not be asserted against a workers’ compensation insurer.
- Chu v. Hong, 249 S.W.3d 441 (Tex. 2008). Reversing $2 million judgment and ordering that plaintiff take nothing in fraudulent transfer suit against attorney for buyer of business.
- The Chair King, Inc. v. GTE Mobilnet of Houston, Inc., 184 S.W.3d 707 (Tex. 2006). Reversing intermediate appellate court decision in class action seeking multi-billion dollars in damages for unsolicited faxes and holding that plaintiffs had no cause of action under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
- Texas Mutual Ins. Co. v. Ray Ferguson Interests, Inc., 2006 WL 648834 (Tex. App. March 16, 2006). Reversing $11 million judgment against worker’s compensation insurer in contract, tort, and insurance code action and rendering $1 million judgment for insurer.
- Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Sembera Security Systems, Inc. , 2009 WL 214573 (Tex. App. Jan. 29, 2009). Reversing $4 million judgment and ordering that plaintiff take nothing in breach of contract action arising from cancellation of workmen’s compensation policy for failure to pay premiums.
- Castle & Cooke Mortgage Co. v. Diamond T. Ranch Development, Inc., 2010 WL 4229113 (Tex. App.—San Antonio, Oct. 27, 2010). Reversal of $7 million judgment.
Awards & Accolades
- Named to The Best Lawyers in America in appellate law, “bet-the-company” litigation, and commercial litigation (2006 – 2015 and 2018)
- Recognized by Chambers USA as a top Texas appellate lawyer (2006 - 2017)
- Super Lawyers Magazinenamed Justice Cohen one of the top 100 lawyers in Texas (2010, 2011 and 2014)
- Justice Cohen has been named by the Super Lawyer Magazine as one of the top 100 lawyers in the Houston region (2003 to 2015).
- “Magna Carta- Lessons from 1215- 2014”, panel discussion before the St. Thomas More Society of Houston, with Justice Terry Jennings, Judge Charles Spain, and David Furlow, First Court of Appeals Courtroom, June 12, 2014
- “ADR on Appeal,” South Texas College of Law, with former Justice David Keltner and former Chief Justice Alice Oliver-Parrott, May 2, 2014 before the Houston Bar Association Section on Alternate Dispute Resolution
- “Briefing on Appeal,” with Justice Terry Jennings, first-year students, University of Houston Law Center, March 31, 2014
- Judged final round of moot court competition with Justice Evelyn Keyes and former Justice Wanda Fowler. Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Texas Southern University, March 24, 2014
- “Appellate Advocacy,” with Justice Terry Jennings, University of Houston Law Center, 2011-14
- “Texas Appeals – A Few Tips and a Few Tales,” to the Akin Gump Texas Litigation Partners’ Meeting, March 10, 2011
- “Oral Argument,” University of Houston Law Center, March 11, 2011
- “Texas Supreme Court Update,” Harris County Judicial Education Conference, August 9, 2010
- “Chu v. Hong: Formulating a Winning Appeal” (co-presenter), State Bar of Texas Advanced Civil Appellate Practice Course, Practice Before the Texas Supreme Court (April 17, 2009)
- “Preservation of Error in Probate Litigation” (presented to Attorneys in Tax and Probate, November 4, 2008)
- “Oral Advocacy in the Trial Court and on Appeal” (with Justice Eva Guzman, 5th Circuit Judge Jennifer Elrod and Professor Gerald Treece), South Texas College of Law Advanced Civil Trial Seminar (February 22, 2007)
- “Punitive Damages,” State Bar of Texas Advanced Civil Appellate Practice Course (September 9, 2005)
- “Post-Verdict Preservation of Error,” State Bar of Texas Advanced Civil Trial Course (November 10, 2004)
- “Preserving Error for Appellate Review and Avoiding Malpractice,” Houston Bar Association (November 5, 2004)
- “Daubert in 2004: 10 Topical Approaches to Attacking Expert Testimony,” Houston Bar Association Appellate Section (October 20, 2004)
- “Presenting Oral Argument” (with Texas Court of Appeals Justices Dori Garza, Ann McClure, Brian Quinn, and Bea Ann Smith), State Bar of Texas Advanced Civil Appellate Course (September 9, 2004).