Chris Johns advocates for people and causes he believes in. He represents individuals and businesses as they confront powerful interests on the other side: property owners in eminent-domain cases, people and organizations seeking to exercise constitutional rights, and others with a just cause in a civil trial or appeal.
Chris has won cases for clients in courts across the country—from state and federal trial and appellate courts to the United States Supreme Court. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law, where he teaches the course on eminent domain and private-property rights.
Chris grew up and attended public schools in Buckhannon, West Virginia. He went to Brigham Young University on academic and piano scholarships and, after his first year of college, served for two years as a full-time volunteer for his church in Oakland and San Francisco. Chris spent most of his time in neighborhoods unlike anything he’d ever seen in rural West Virginia. Still, he can’t imagine a better education: speaking with thousands of people about life, hopes, fears, and spiritual paths; becoming fluent in Spanish; observing communities that thrived and others that failed; and making friends with individuals from many countries and many walks of life, from gang members to high-level government officials. Chris decided during his volunteer service that he eventually wanted to become a lawyer and advocate. He studied English upon return to BYU, graduating magna cum laude in 1997.
Chris received his J.D. with high honors from the University of Texas School of Law. There, he was editor in chief of the Texas Law Review, a member of the Chancellors honor society, and a member of the Order of the Coif. He received Dean’s Achievement Awards in several of his classes. After graduation, Chris clerked for the Honorable Phyllis A. Kravitch of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
He then attended the University of Oxford, where he received a postgraduate law degree and authored a frequently cited dissertation analyzing the relationship between property and the law of obligations.
Chris entered private practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, where he worked with former Texas Solicitor General Greg Coleman in the firm’s national Supreme Court and appellate practice. He and three of his law-school classmates founded Johns Marrs Ellis & Hodge LLP, a trial and appellate boutique, and practiced together for nearly nine years.
In March 2018, Chris opened Johns & Counsel PLLC with a small, elite team dedicated to the clients and causes that mean most to him and the other members of the firm.
Chris appears on the 2018 and 2019 list of The Best Lawyers in America, a peer-selected honor. Texas Super Lawyers Magazine named him to its 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 lists of “Super Lawyers” and to its 2013 and 2014 lists of “Rising Stars.” He is also a barrister in the Lloyd Lochridge American Inn of Court. Chris has testified about property rights on invitation from the Texas Legislature, is a regular speaker at national and state CLE conferences, has received multiple pro bono service awards, helped train UT’s moot-court teams, and has appeared as a legal commentator on television news programs.
Chris is licensed in Texas and New York and is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Fourth, Fifth, and Federal Circuits, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern, Southern, and Western Districts of Texas, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, several other federal courts across the country, and all state courts in Texas.
Chris volunteers for the Boy Scouts of America and previously served as Scoutmaster to one of the highest achieving troops in Central Texas. He is also an accomplished pianist, teacher, soccer player and coach, and former Spanish interpreter.
He believes relationships are the most important thing in life. On that count, Chris is lucky married to an amazing woman, to have three beautiful and loving sons, and to share life with wonderful friends and family.
B.A., English, magna cum laude, Brigham Young University, 1997.
J.D., with high honors, University of Texas School of Law, 2002.
B.C.L., University of Oxford (Trinity College), 2004.
* Note: Chris performed all work before 2018 at other firms.
Sneha Media & Entertainment, LLC et al. v. Associated Broadcasting Co.
Civil Action No. 1:16-cv-1386 (E.D. Va. 2017):
Obtained dismissal of all claims against Indian media company in a contract and copyright dispute (currently on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit)
Peregrine Pipeline Co. v. Eagle Ford Land Partners, L.P.
No. 10-14-00162-CV (Tex. App.—Waco 2016):
Represented landowners as lead counsel, defending judgment of over $2 million for the landowners in a pipeline taking, leading to a confidential settlement following briefing and oral argument
Firefly Systems, Inc. v. Virgin Galactic et al.
Case No. 1:16-cv-00083 (W.D. Tex. 2016):
As co-counsel, represented Virgin Galactic in removing the case from state court to federal court and then obtaining a complete dismissal of the lawsuit, which compelled the plaintiff back to arbitration to face trade-secrets claims against it
Burks v. XL Specialty Insurance Co.
534 S.W.3d 458 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2015, no pet.):
Obtained reversal of trial court’s ruling, allowing former corporate officer and director proceed with breach-of-contract claim for improper denial of D&O coverage, leading to confidential settlement.
Hindes v. La Salle County, Texas
2015 WL 5037033 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Aug. 26, 2015, no pet.):
After obtaining dismissal of claims against governmental defendant in the trial court, coauthored the winning merits brief and successfully defended the dismissal on appeal.
In re State of Texas
2014 WL 4915402 (Tex. App.—Austin Oct. 31, 2014, no pet.):
Successfully defended a trial court’s order requiring the State to divulge the valuation report and work file of an appraiser it claimed was a consulting expert.
Domel v. Birdwell
2014 WL 4347815 (Tex. App.—Eastland Aug. 29, 2014, pet. denied):
With Randy Howry, successfully defended a jury verdict on appeal for a buyer asserting a negligent-misrepresentation claim related to the sale of a ranch.
In re Parker Family Trust
2014 WL 4055992 (Tex. App.—Corpus Christi Aug. 14, 2014, no pet.):
Successfully defended against a former trustee’s attempt to challenge the appointment of new trustees.
_________ v. _________ [details confidential by agreement] (2012):
In a pipeline taking, obtained a settlement of over $1.9 million for a landowner on an initial written offer of under $70,000.
_________ v. _________ [details confidential by agreement] (2012):
In a pipeline taking, obtained a settlement of over $2.2 million for a landowner on an initial written offer of under $690,000.
Jiménez v. Texas
No. 12-117 in the Supreme Court of the United States (2012):
Filed an amicus brief on behalf of the president-elect of Mexico, the governor of the State of Mexico, and the State of Mexico itself, supporting the cert petition of an undocumented Mexican woman who was deprived funds to hire a competent expert witness in a criminal case that turned on expert medical opinion.
United States ex rel. Gonzalez v. Fresenius Medical Care of North America
689 F.3d 470 (2012) (reviewing 748 F.Supp.2d 95 (W.D. Tex. 2010) and 761 F.Supp.2d 442 (W.D. Tex. 2010)):
With Ryan Downton, represented a nephrologist and his medical clinic against a disgruntled employee’s claims of Medicare fraud, with the jury and judge awarding a take-nothing verdict and judgment for our clients. Chris then argued the case to the Fifth Circuit, which affirmed the judgment.
Singh v. Newman
No. 1:2009-CV-00523 (W.D. Tex. 2011):
Working with co-counsel, successfully tried a securities-fraud case to a jury, which issued a complete defense verdict.
State of Texas v. 7KX Investments
No. 03-10-0069-CV in the Third District Court of Appeals, Austin, Texas (2011):
Coauthored the successful summary-judgment response at trial and the merits brief on appeal in an important groundwater-rights case, which settled just days before oral argument for $5.5 million (just $300,000 less than the jury verdict).
Anglo-Dutch Petroleum International, Inc. v. Greenberg Peden, P.C.
352 S.W.3d 445 (Tex. 2011):
Submitted an amicus brief on behalf of several Texas law firms and participated in oral argument, helping convince the Texas Supreme Court to reverse and render judgment in favor of a client in a fee dispute with its lawyer.
S&D Trading Academy, LLC v. AAFIS Inc.
2008 WL 2325167 (S.D. Tex. June 3, 2008), aff’d, 336 F. App’x 443 (5th Cir. 2009):
Coauthored the successful motion for summary judgment, convincing the district court to apply the Texas Securities Act to bar the plaintiffs’ claims.
Tuley v. Azle Group, Inc.
Cause No. D-1-GN-07-000143 in the 353rd District Court, Travis County, Texas (2008):
Wrote and argued BASF’s winning motion for summary judgment in a case involving chemicals spilled during transport.
_________ v. _________ [details confidential by agreement] (2008):
Authored a detailed complaint against a Fortune Global 10 company, alleging trade-secret misappropriation and other claims, prompting the defendant to agree to a high-eight-figure settlement.
Tomlinson v. Estate of Theis
2008 WL 160202 (Tex. App.—Austin Jan. 18, 2008, no pet.):
Authored the winning brief in a will challenge involving a multi-million-dollar estate.
Southwest Intelecom Inc. v. Compass Bank
253 F. App’x 372 (5th Cir. 2007):
Wrote the prevailing brief for Compass Bank, with the Fifth Circuit affirming dismissal of UCC and common-law claims.
Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp.
550 U.S. 437 (2007):
Wrote the Software and Information Industry Association’s amicus brief, which the U.S. Solicitor General cited to support Microsoft’s successful petition for certiorari.
Sereboff v. Mid Atlantic Medical Services, Inc.
547 U.S. 356 (2006):
Coauthored the winning merits brief and sat second chair for this statutory-construction case at the U.S. Supreme Court, which held 9-0 for his client.
Rowe Entertainment, Inc. v. William Morris Agency, Inc.
167 F. App’x 227 (2d Cir. 2005):
Coauthored the winning brief in an appeal where the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of civil-rights and antitrust claims against major booking agencies.
Rationis Enterprises Inc. of Panama v. Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Co.
426 F.3d 580 (2d Cir. 2005):
Briefed and argued an admiralty appeal to the Second Circuit, which reversed a liability determination and rendered a take-nothing judgment on claims exceeding $100 million.