Richard Haynes (lawyer)

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Richard "Racehorse" Haynes (April 3, 1927 – April 28, 2017) was a Texas criminal defense attorney. He became a star of the legal world after prevailing in a series of seemingly impossible murder trials in Texas in the 1970s and 1980s.[1] Time magazine named him one of the top defense attorneys in the nation.[1]

Law practice[edit]

A native of Houston, Texas, Haynes graduated from the University of Houston Law Center in 1956, and was admitted to the State Bar of Texas on April 23, 1956.[2] He was involved in landmark cases such as The State of Texas v. John Hill (a basis for the book Blood and Money), and the notorious T. Cullen Davis murder and later solicitation of murder trials in Fort Worth, Texas, both of which ended in acquittals.[3] He also represented Morganna, a.k.a. "The Kissing Bandit," [4] and Vicki Daniel, who was the wife of Price Daniel Jr.. His successful defense of Vicki Daniel established battered spouse syndrome as a legal defense in the state of Texas.[1]

Haynes described the secret to his legal advocacy as having an answer to any question from a judge or prosecutor, or being prepared to change the subject.[1] At an American Bar Association seminar in New York in the late 1970s,[5] Haynes explained how to plead in the alternative: "Say you sue me because you claim my dog bit you. Well now, this is my defense: My dog doesn't bite. And second, in the alternative, my dog was tied up that night. And third, I don't believe you really got bit. And fourth, I don't have a dog."[1]

When he first began practicing law, Haynes would sometimes ask his clients to thank the judge and jury after their acquittal. He ended the practice after one client said, "Ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank each and every one of you. And I promise you that I will never, ever do it again."[1]

Haynes once cross-examined an empty chair when the prosecution failed to call a key witness. His courtroom theatrics included shocking himself with a cattle prod to make a point. In defending a biker gang that had nailed a woman to a tree, Haynes planned to drive a nail into his hand to show the jury it wasn't that painful, but changed his mind at the last second.[6] Such flamboyant tactics comprised a small part of Haynes' legal strategy, however. As journalist George Cartwright would declare: "[Trials] are won through careful attention to detail and by hard scientific analysis of situations and evidence. Haynes prepares himself for a case by cramming down books and articles on criminology, pathology, ballistics, psychology, crime-scene investigative technique, whatever is called in for a particular case."[7]

Military record[edit]

Haynes served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II and, after receiving an accounting degree from the University of Houston in 1951, he was drafted into the United States Army and served as a paratrooper and hand-to-hand combat instructor with the 11th Airborne Division during the Korean War.[6]

During the Battle of Iwo Jima, Haynes was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for pulling two wounded and drowning Marines from the water after their landing craft overturned.[6]

Personal life[edit]

Haynes was born in Houston, where he later established his law practice. His father was a plasterer[1] who struggled financially, so at the age of 2 Haynes was sent to San Antonio to live with his grandmother, where he stayed until he was 8 years old.[6]

At 5'7" in height, Haynes was an excellent boxer. He was the Texas amateur welterweight champion in the 1940s.[1]

A football coach gave Haynes the nickname "Racehorse." The coach said Haynes couldn't carry the ball through the opposing team's line but ran toward the sideline "like a racehorse."[1]

Haynes died on April 28, 2017 in Livingston, Texas.[8]

In books and movies[edit]

G.W. Bailey appeared as Haynes in the 1981 film Murder in Texas, which is based in the events arising from the death of Joan Robinson Hill. Dennis Franz appeared as Haynes in the 1995 film Texas Justice,[9] which is based on the book Blood Will Tell by Gary Cartwright.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Schudel, Matt (29 April 2017). "Richard 'Racehorse' Haynes, colorful Texas lawyer who won high-profile murder cases, dies at 90". The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  2. ^ Record, Richard Haynes, State Bar of Texas.
  3. ^ Steve Sailer (15 October 2014). "Gone Girl: The Last Villainess?". Taki's Magazine. Retrieved 20 May 2018. The jury decided that Mrs. Davis had it coming and acquitted Mr. Davis. In all the excitement, however, everybody forgot that he had first murdered his 12-year-old stepdaughter in cold blood to keep her from alerting her mother. (Soon after, the FBI arrested Davis for handing a hit man $25,000 to kill the judge in his divorce case. Despite audio and videotape, Racehorse got him off again).
  4. ^ Gonzales, J.R. (April 14, 2015). "30 years ago: Morganna the Kissing Bandit". Houston Chronicle.
  5. ^ "How Cullen Davis Beat the Rap". Texas Monthly.
  6. ^ a b c d Grimes, William (28 April 2017). "Richard Haynes, Flashy and Successful Houston Lawyer, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  7. ^ Gary Cartwright. How Cullen Davis Beat the Rap Texas Monthly, May 1979
  8. ^ "Richard 'Racehorse' Haynes, legendary Texas attorney, dead at 90".
  9. ^
  10. ^ Judy Wiley (22 February 2017). "Texas Monthly writer Gary Cartwright dies at 82". Star-Telegram. Retrieved 20 May 2018. Cartwright may be best-known in Fort Worth for his 1979 book "Blood Will Tell," about the Davis case, which became the TV movie "Texas Justice."

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