Are text messages key in Deshaun Watson lawsuits? Attorney has used tactic before


Houston super-attorney Tony Buzbee knows how to get to the bottom of an NFL player’s personal life.

It often starts with their phones – text messages, Instagram messages, photos and more.

This time his target is Houston Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is being sued by Buzbee on behalf of 16 women who have accused Watson of sexual misconduct.

But eight years earlier, Buzbee had a different NFL opponent and a strategy that is expected to be similar to his against Watson.

In 2013, Buzbee’s law firm hired a digital forensic expert to retrieve 1,794 text messages between the phones of Buzbee’s client and NFL star Mario Williams, according to court records obtained by USA TODAY Sports. Buzbee then used some of the text messages he found from the former Houston Texans No. 1 draft pick to turn the screws on him in a civil lawsuit over a diamond engagement ring.

“After forensically recovering the texts he sent ... it is clear that the facts Williams asserted in his lawsuit are completely and utterly false,” Buzbee told the court then.

The stakes are higher in the 16 civil lawsuits Buzbee has filed against Watson, who denied wrongdoing in a statement before the first complaint was publicly available. According to Buzbee and the lawsuits, key evidence comes from Watson's electronic devices. It also could boost Watson’s defense, depending on what was written.

Such evidence is “incredibly important because it is the record-keeper of a conversation,” said Gary Kessler, a digital forensics expert who is not involved in the Watson case but has been conducting forensic exams on mobile phones since 2006.