The Southlake family attorney has already tackled
2 national headline-grabbing cases
BY MICHAEL CORCORAN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEREMY ENLOW
JESSICA JANICEK CREDITS TWO EXTENSIVE STINTS AT A HOUSTON LEGAL-TRAINING
institute with invigorating her as a family law attorney. But her level of empathy with
clients was boosted by an experience last October: the birth of her first child, Riley.
“That instant love you feel as a parent is something that’s hard to explain; you just have
to experience it,” says Janicek, who practices law at KoonsFuller in Southlake. “My work
isn’t going to change. But I now have a better understanding of what families are going
through. I can now put myself in their place and think of how it must feel.”
While pregnant with Riley, Janicek says, she thought often about Erick and Marlise
Muñoz, whose landmark case she handled in 2013. “Here they were, this happy couple,
adding to their family, doing everything right, and then one night their world came
crashing down.” Marlise was 14 weeks pregnant in November 2013 when she collapsed
due to a blood clot in her lungs and was soon declared brain-dead.
The nightmare continued for Erick when the hospital refused to take Marlise off the
ventilator, citing the Texas Advance Directives Act: “A person may not withdraw or
withhold life-sustaining treatment from a pregnant patient.” It was Erick’s understanding
that the fetus had been deprived of oxygen for an hour and was not viable but that the
doctors’ hands were tied.
He wanted to bury his deceased wife with dignity, but after having been turned down
by multiple attorneys, Erick and his parents-in-law sent out requests for legal help.
Heather King, managing shareholder at KoonsFuller, received an email about the case and
conferred with Janicek about the two of them stepping in. “The family was in so much pain,
and we felt as if we were their last hope,” says Janicek. King and Janicek took the case pro
bono and successfully sued John Peter Smith Hospital.