Richard B. "Dick" Miller, the greatest Texas trial lawyer of his era, died on the 5th of April 2013 at the age of 87.|
Richard was born on the 6th March 1926 in Cherokee, Oklahoma to Helen and Paul Miller. Richard's mother died shortly after his birth. Richard's childhood and young adulthood years were difficult. As a result of conflicts with his father, Richard dropped out of high school in the 11th grade at the age of 17 and promptly enlisted in the United States Marine Corp in June, 1943. Because of his high enlistment test scores, he was initially assigned to the Japanese Language School, but the last thing he wanted was more school. After his numerous requests, he was transferred to a Marine Scout Sniper unit. Showing the initiative and work ethic he would later exhibit in his law career, Richard worked out after hours to better prepare for battle.
And battle he saw. On the 19th of February 1945, at the age of 18, Richard and his platoon landed in the first attack wave on the Japanese held island of Iwo Jima. He fought with great courage and distinction, dragging several wounded marines to safety while under heavy enemy fire. Richard was one of only four Marines in his platoon of forty-four who was not wounded or killed on Iwo Jima.
When the war ended, Richard enrolled at the University of Tulsa and excelled academically. After two years at Tulsa, Richard transferred to Harvard College. Following his first year at Harvard undergraduate and without first obtaining an undergraduate degree, Richard convinced the Dean of Harvard Law School to admit him. In 1952, Richard graduated from Harvard Law School with honors, having never received a high school or college diploma.
Upon law school graduation, Richard joined the trial department of Baker Botts in Houston. Learning from several great Baker Botts trial lawyers, Richard's career flourished. His hard work, quick wit and take no prisoners attitude made him a courtroom star. As he gained trial experience, he, in turn, mentored up and coming young Baker Botts trial lawyers. Ultimately, he became head of the trial department.
In 1983, after over thirty rewarding years at Baker Botts, Richard formed a boutique trial firm later known as Miller, Bristow & Brown. Richard and his partners tried many high profile cases with great success, and many clients sought his help when their very existence or livelihood was threatened. One such "bet the company" case was Bolton v. Tesoro Petroleum Co., a case which, if lost, would have bankrupted Tesoro. After Richard successfully defended Tesoro, the Tesoro CEO said: "Dick saved our company. That's all there is to it."
When Richard retired in 2003 after more than 50 years of trial practice, he had tried well over 300 cases to jury verdict, losing less than 10 cases. He successfully handled thousands more cases that never reached verdict. Richard was absolutely fearless in the courtroom. As he said: "After dodging bullets on Iwo, what's there to fear in the courtroom?" Richard will be remembered as one of the great cross-examiners of all time. After a bristling cross examination of his opponent's lead witness, the Chief Judge of the Southern District of Texas said to Richard, on the record, "Mr. Miller, if this was college football you would win the Heisman."
Richard was never embarrassed by the loss of the famous Pennzoil v. Texaco case, a "whopper" of a loss as he described it. Those in charge at Texaco, like all of Richard's clients, knew that they had the best lawyer who gave his utmost to their representation. Remaining fierce and competitive, Richard never allowed the Texaco loss to define him. Richard was the quintessential trial lawyer - always completely prepared, tough, tenacious, quick on his feet, brilliant, humorous when appropriate and charming when needed. Above all, and, always, he placed the interests of his clients first.
Richard was an avid golfer, attaining a three handicap at one point. He was also a skilled photographer who loved to use and collect fine cameras. He was a sharp dresser, too.
While Richard was Marine tough at trial, his love, devotion and generosity to his family was uncompromising. His love and leadership will be greatly missed by all.
Richard is survived by his wife of 21years, Anne James Miller, whose love, care and devotion to Richard has been remarkable, his children Marsha Miller Timby, David Richard Miller and wife Lisa; his grandchildren Mary Allison Comfort and husband Greg, Robert Mitchell Timby, Kyle David Miller and wife Emily, and Scott Thomas Miller; his great granddaughter Margaret "Maggie" Grace Comfort; his brothers Phil Miller, Robert Miller and Rodney Miller; his cousin Joyce McNickle and husband Bernard. Richard is also survived by his former wives, Roberta Allison Miller and Jerry Ann Miller, who each played important roles in his life. He is preceded in death by his parents and his brother Jimmy Miller.
Friends are cordially invited to gather with the family and share remembrances of Mr. Miller from half-past five o'clock in the afternoon until eight o'clock in the evening on Wednesday, the 10th of April, in the grand foyer of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston.
At a later date, the family is to gather for a private inurnment in Helena, Oklahoma.
In lieu of customary remembrances, and for those desiring, contributions in Richard's name may be made to the Texas Heart Institute, Development Office, MC3-117, P.O. Box 20345, Houston, TX, 77225; the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 4002018, Des Moines, IA, 50340; or the
Published in Houston Chronicle from Apr. 7 to Apr. 9, 2013