A Year of Legal Triumphs

Renowned criminal defense lawyer Dan Cogdell reflects on a year of high-profile cases and a career spotlight in a Paramount series.

Group of male and female lawyers standing in front of building
Image by Cogdell Law Firm


John Fields

February 8, 2024 03:25 PM

The year 2023 marked a significant chapter in the storied career of criminal defense lawyer Dan Cogdell. The year began with him making a pivotal decisionto reopen his firm in downtown Houston after a brief stint with BigLaw.

“I enjoyed my time with a larger firm, but the red tape and bureaucracy that is systemic in any larger firm often means that lawyers aren’t always assigned to cases based solely on their skill set,” he says. “Now that I’m back to running my own firm, I can do exactly that.”

In April, Cogdell was spotlighted in Paramount’s five-part series “Waco: The Aftermath,” which focused on his role in the Branch Davidian trial three decades ago. In the series, Cogdell is portrayed by actor Giovanni Ribisi, whose credits include Saving Private Ryan, Boiler Room, Avatar and Sneaky Pete. “It was a bit surreal to watch someone else play me, but Gio did a great job and he was a lovely guy to work with throughout the process” says Cogdell. Ribisi faithfully recreated Cogdell’s efforts in that trial which resulted in an acquittal of all charges brought against his client in that matter, Clive Doyle.

As summer arrived, Cogdell and his team, which now includes veteran lawyer Sean Teare (currently running for Harris County District Attorney), represented the CEO of a concert promotion firm that co-produced the Astroworld/Travis Scott concert in Houston. Tragically, several concertgoers lost their lives during the concert. Thanks to the efforts of Cogdell and his team, the Harris County Grand Jury ultimately decided not to bring any charges against that client.

Fall brought the resolution of another high-stakes matter as Cogdell and his associate, Anthony Osso, were part of a team that successfully represented Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in his impeachment trial. Paxton, with Cogdell’s assistance, was acquitted on every article of impeachment brought by the House in the trial before the Texas Senate. Cogdell continues to represent Paxton in an ongoing state securities fraud case.

Just 36 hours after the Paxton acquittal, Cogdell and Osso traveled to Dallas to begin a federal bribery and kickback trial in Dallas. After almost three months in trial, a mistrial was declared for their client in the matter.

“Trials are not an opportunity for on-the-job training,” Cogdell observes. “They are a bloodsport and need to be viewed as such if you want to succeed for your clients; our many wins at trial are evidence of that. After forty plus years of trying cases all over this Country I believe my skill set in a courtroom is significant. That being said, it is the preparatory process that makes or breaks the result that happens in trial. As Nick Saban has said repeatedly, ‘it is the process that predetermines the outcome.’ I will put our process up with anyone else’s. Our opposition might be smarter or younger or have gone to a more prestigious school than usbut they won’t ever outwork us.”

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