Knox D. Nunnally of Houston, who was recognized in 2000 as one of Texas Lawyer’s 100 Legal Legends, was remembered today at a memorial service in Houston. He died on July 16 at the age of 69. A former standout University of Texas football player, Nunnally was a defense attorney who practiced for more than 40 years at Vinson & Elkins in Houston. He was still a partner in the firm at the time of his death.
“He was a stellar trial lawyer who tried and won some of the most significant cases of our day against some of the greatest trial lawyers of our time,” says V&E partner Morgan Copeland Jr., who was recruited to V&E by Nunnally and worked closely with him over the years. “He was a tremendous human being with a great family,” says Copeland, who gave one of several eulogies at the memorial service today.
Nunnally participated in more than 100 trials that ended with jury verdicts over his career, according to his biography on the firm’s website, and he successfully defended big companies in major litigation, but Copeland says Nunnally was particularly proud of a recent case.
Nunnally represented a Marine captain in the first Marine Corps court of inquiry in 50 years. He told Texas Lawyer in 2009 that the 17-day fact-finding proceeding took place in January 2008 at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The court decided in May 2008 that Nunnally's client, who was a classmate of Nunnally's son in the U.S. Naval Academy, acted within the rules of engagement.
“He had a tremendous knack for finding what was fair” and what justice really meant in that particular case, Copeland says.
In an interview in 2000 for "Legal Legends: A Century of Texas Law and Lawyering," Nunnally said it was important for jurors to look at a defense lawyer as a “straight shooter.”
“You have to be a good guy,” Nunnally said in that interview. “You can’t take as many chances being flamboyant as I think plaintiffs lawyers can.”
The Houston Chronicle reports that Nunnally died of complications from brain cancer.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys