John Kinchen


John Kinchen is the rare trial lawyer who skillfully navigates between complex commercial litigation and high-stakes white-collar criminal matters.  John has developed a national trial practice in both arenas and in a variety of industries, including energy, financial services, health care, real estate, and telecommunications.  While John has a strong record of delivering successful results in the courtroom, his most rewarding victories are the quiet but positive resolutions that keep his clients far from any public scrutiny.

John has particular expertise in defending clients against allegations of corporate misconduct, securities fraud, health care fraud, and environmental crimes; conducting internal investigations related to such allegations; and defending and prosecuting complex commercial claims in both federal and state courts.

John sharpened his trial skills as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Texas, where he successfully prosecuted white collar crime and public corruption.  During his tenure as a prosecutor, John successfully prosecuted the District’s first ever RICO charges in a public corruption case.  After leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office for private practice, John was appointed by the Department of Justice as a special prosecutor in the high-profile prosecution of a transportation company charged with crimes related to a deadly bus fire during Hurricane Rita.

In the aftermath of the Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon looked to John for guidance with both the DOJ’s high-profile two-year criminal investigation and the ensuing multi-district civil and administrative litigation.  With John’s assistance, the DOJ investigation ended with the company avoiding all felony charges.  On the civil front, John was a trial lead for Transocean during the three-month federal multi-district litigation trial, where the company was cleared of any gross negligence finding, thereby avoiding exposure to significant fines and penalties.  John also assisted the company in successfully navigating numerous administrative investigations and proceedings before the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Environmental Protection Agency and Chemical Safety Board.

John attended Louisiana State University and the University of Texas School of Law.  He is licensed to practice in all federal and state forums in Texas.

Texas SuperLawyer by Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers, 2018-2022 (white collar defense/commercial litigation)

“Rising Star” by Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers, 2008, 2009

“Rising Star” by Thomson Reuters Super Lawyers, 2005 - 2006 (only state or federal prosecutor in the Southern District of Texas to receive the designation)

American Bar Association


“Criminal Law for Civil Litigators,” The Advocate (Summer 2008)

“Survey of Fifth Circuit Tax Cases,” Texas Tech School of Law - Law Review (Spring 1998) 

Speaking Engagements:

Adjunct Professor, South Texas School of Law, “Accounting for Lawyers” (1999 – 2009)

Adjunct Professor, University of Houston Law School, “Real Estate Tax” (Fall 1998)     

“The Mueller Report and Investigation: What They Can Teach About Federal Investigations,” Southern District of Texas Federal Bar Association (April 2019)

False Claims Act Trial Institute, Instructor, American Bar Association (November 2016)

“Deepwater Horizon:  Lessons and Reflections on Navigating High-Profile Criminal Investigations and Trials,” Houston Bar Association Criminal Law & Procedures Section (August 2016)

“Criminal Liabilities in the Business Setting,” Texas Association of Defense Counsel (Fall 2006)

“Electronic Data Discovery,” LegalTech New Orleans Conference (December 6, 2001)

“Federal Taxation and The Internet,” University of Texas School of Law (March 19)

“Employment Classification Issues and Legislative Update," Houston Bar Association, Section of Taxation (February 15, 1996)


Louisianana State University
B.S. Accounting, summa cum laude, 1990

University of Texas School of Law
J.D., 1994

Fulbright & Jaworski, 1994-1998

Senior Associate
Weil Gotshal and Manges, 2001-2003

Assistant U.S. Attorney
United States Attorney's Office, 1998-2006

Hughes Arrell Kinchen, L.L.P., 2006-2022

Smyser Kaplan & Veselka, L.L.P., 2022-Present