Friday, April 28, 2017

Racehorse Haynes

Richard "Racehorse" Haynes passed away this morning.  In today's world, the term "Legend" is thrown around a little too often for my taste, but it was a term that couldn't be more appropriate in describing Mr. Haynes.    For anyone who has had even a passing interest in Texas Criminal Law over the past sixty years, his name was synonymous with, quite simply, being regarded as the Greatest Criminal Defense Attorney. Period.

Basketball had Michael Jordan.  Texas Law had Racehorse Haynes.

When I was in Junior High up in Bryan, a friend of mine's father died, and his wealthy family ended up in a huge legal battle over his estate.  When my friend's mother hired Racehorse Haynes, it was the talk of the town.  You would have thought that Abraham Lincoln was coming to argue a case.  If I recall correctly, the case settled relatively quickly after Mr. Haynes' signing onto the case.

It wasn't until much later that it occurred to me that Mr. Haynes wasn't really known for his experience in Probate and Will cases.  I suppose his reputation was all the case actually needed.

His trials across the state were legendary, and he was legendary for winning them.  If you haven't read Blood and Money or any of the literature on the Cullen Davis trial, you are truly missing out on understanding the legal system and traditions in Texas.

I can't say that I ever really got to know Mr. Haynes.  Although he continued practicing law in the CJC right up until a few years ago, we never had anything together.  I would see him in court and on the elevators from time to time, and it always felt like a celebrity sighting.  He was a relatively short man, who was pretty quiet.   If you didn't know who he was when you saw him, you would never guess that you were in the presence of a Marine who fought at Iwo Jima, or Texas' most famous trial lawyer.

I have often said that the greatest thing about working as a criminal lawyer in Harris County, Texas is that you get to walk amongst Giants.  Our prosecutors, our defense attorneys, our crimes, and our stories are simply the best.

Racehorse Haynes was the indisputable King of those Giants.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Clearly a loss.

But I wonder who the HCCLA'ers are going to suck up to now.

Anonymous said...

It is sad when some don't know the difference between recognizing pure talent, and sucking up. Richard was a truly outstanding lawyer. He always had a kind word for me, and a smile on his face. That great generation is passing, and soon there will be none left.

Richard will be greatly missed.


And, oh by the way, I'm a retied career prosecutor

Anonymous said...

He was my inspiration to become a lawyer from watching the Cullen Davis trials on the news. He had a way of making you feel like he personally knew you for 30 years even if he didn't know who you were. Truly a loss for the defense bar

Anonymous said...

Get on the listserve, Mr. Career Prosecutor.

Tom said...

When I was a baby lawyer, I had a tough jury trial coming up. I joined Richard for a cup of coffee on the basement of the old criminal courthouse and he spent about a half hour telling me how to voir dire the jury. And as I recall, he bought the coffee.
What was that worth to my client? A hell of a lot.
Richard was a giant.