Monday, July 2, 2012

A Simple Reading with Mr. Haynes

Tomorrow at 11:30 a.m., members of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers' Association will gather in front the Criminal Justice Center and take turns reading portions of the Declaration of Independence in observance of Independence Day.

It was an occasion started by HCCLA two years ago, and one that is quickly spreading across criminal courthouses around the country.  For the first time tomorrow, I will be one of the readers, and I couldn't be more honored to participate.

I suppose to the average cynic (which I think that many of us who practice criminal law are pre-disposed to be) the event may seem a little hokey and idyllic in front of a building that hears the cases of some of the worst miscreants that Harris County has to offer.  After all, the signers of the Declaration probably had no concept of the heavily tattooed and pierced misbegotten members of the community that walk in and out of the front door of the building charged with atrocities that would make Ghengis Khan blush.

But it isn't hokey. It isn't hokey at all.

It is never hokey to take a moment to remember that the principles our Nation was founded upon mean as much to us today as they did almost a quarter of a century ago.  Despite how much the facts of the cases may change, the principles remain the same.

One of the readers tomorrow will be Richard "Racehorse" Haynes.   He will be reading second -- right after HCCLA President Chris Tritico.

Mr. Haynes commands a lot of respect in the Criminal Defense community.  He is a living legend.

Long before Dick DeGuerin, Rusty Hardin, F. Lee Bailey, or Alan Dershowitz translated being a criminal lawyer into being a celebrity, you had Mr. Haynes.

He is, without a doubt, the Godfather of Harris County and Texas Criminal Defense Attorneys, if not Defense Attorneys across the country.

His work on some of Texas' most notorious cases -- from the Blood & Money defense of Dr. John Hill to the astounding acquittal of Cullen Davis -- have earned him a solid place in the history of criminal law.

But that isn't why I'm so honored to be reading alongside Racehorse Haynes tomorrow.

In 1945, Racehorse Haynes was part of the United States Marine Force who fought at Iwo Jima.

He was 17 years old at the time.

No matter how cynical you are, how could you not possibly be moved by hearing the words of the Declaration of Independence coming from someone who fought at Iwo Jima?

The implications of him reading those words on the front steps of our criminal courthouse could not be more simple nor more complex.

I've been reading about Racehorse Haynes since I was in Junior High.  I've watched him work since I first became a prosecutor.  I've marveled at his skills as a litigator.  In many instances, I've wondered how in the hell he got the results he got.

But at the end of the day, I've always held him in the highest esteem.

Not for what he did in a courtroom . . .

. . . but for what he did on a Pacific Island during World War II in 1945.

Even if you find the idea of watching a group of defense attorneys read the Declaration of Independence not to be worth your time, hearing those words from a World War II veteran is something that you should be proud to tell your family about on every Independence Day for years to come.

11 comments:

patti said...

I was so honored to read last year. How amazing and special to have Mr. Haynes take part tomorrow. I am sorry to miss it. Thank you for your words Murray.

Patti

Thomas Hobbes said...

How truly unfortunate that the reading will take place when some of the people most in need of a reminder - the building's day-to-day occupants - are elsewhere.

Happy Fourth!

Anonymous said...

in front of a building that hears the cases of some of the worst miscreants that Harris County has to offer

Funny. I know you mean your clients, but the first thing I thought of were the ADAs.

Rage

Roger Chappell said...

Rage, sometimes you are a complete ass. Murray, thank you for reminding us about Mr. Haynes' heroism. He is one of a very few survivors of one of the most brutal campaigns in the Pacific and in our American History. That was a day when Marines were truly fearless and did what simply had to be done to protect our interests around the world. And he lied about his age in order to serve his country. Stick that in your eye Rage!

Semper Fidelis Richard "Racehorse" Haynes! Happy 4th of July.

Roger Chappell

Anonymous said...

"Rage sometimes you're a complete ass."

Your assessment of Rage's character is overly gracious. On a day when we honor a handful of brave men who dared to tell the Crown to stick it up their collective arses and signed their names to that paper, I find it odd that people who live in anonymity like cowards on blogs like this and others are given so much credence.

Bill Morris

Anonymous said...

I saw the news coverage. Todd really needs to lose that beard. He's probably scaring little kids with that thing.

Anonymous said...

Bill Morris and Rage-

employees of HCDAO are not cowards nor miscreants. They don't enjoy the same rights and privileges that most Americans celebrate on this day. They work under a tyrant who runs an autocracy. The other reason we celebrate the 4th is because the tyrant has been overthrown and greater freedom in on the horizon. Like the Swamp Fox's men, we have been forced to "shoot" from behind trees at tyrannical forces of the Crown. Let Freedom ring!

Thomas Hobbes said...

I'm not going to defend Rage. He certainly can defend himself and doubtless has had to do so on many occasions.

However, I want to gently point out that we all are situational cowards to some extent. After all, even our founding fathers were guilty of pseudonymous writings during the formative years of our country.

Anonymity doesn't give credence, a word that speaks to the value of a thought as determined by the reader. But anonymity does give voice to those who otherwise might be intimidated into silence. Perhaps that is worth celebrating.

Anonymous said...

The Reading sends a message that at least some of us are united against the daily tyranny that occurs in the courthouse. The judges are all invited to watch, not to read. They have all year to read it and to read the Bill of Rights. I am happy to send them a copy or they can go down to the first floor and read it on the wall.

Robb Fickman

Anonymous said...

Easy, Francis

Roger Chappell said...

Very well said Mr. Hobbes