May 01, 2017 The essence of the now-late Richard “Racehorse” Haynes
Richard “Racehorse” Haynes
When I signed up for the 1995 Trial Lawyers College, that was before the college had transitioned from including several big-name lawyers on faculty to primarily relying on Gerry Spence, those lawyers who have attended the full three to four-week program, and such great non-lawyer professionals as psychodramatist Don Clarkson and acting teacher Josh Karton.
Of course no trial lawyers program should emphasize fame among its teachers. However, fame should not cancel out having the lawyer on the faculty — and Gerry Spence’s has been the biggest name on the college’s roster with the most fame — lest the result be insularity and groupthink.
Houston’s Richard “Racehorse” Haynes — nicknamed for his athletic skills and dubbed “Race” for short — was at the college for a day or two during the first week of the program. What immediately struck me about Race was that this trial lawyer who had already reached stunning heights of success and fame, displayed no big ego. He enjoyed interacting with the college’s attendees during the day, and by night at the campfire. He was garrulous and spoke in a homespun way. He had a Ducati motorcycle, dropped a Masonic reference into a story, and enjoyed storytelling.
The Trial Lawyers College emphasizes the necessity of being our best real selves in our trial work and persuasive craft, and Race came across as completely real. To not be real is to be fake, and fakeness is a fraud and complete weakness.
Race loved criminal defense, and told me that his civil litigation practice brought in the main part of his income. He was once hired to join a litigation team for the main if not sole purpose of cross examining a particular witness.
Race passed away on April 28, 2017, at the age of ninety. Although I only knew him for that short time at the college, he left a positive impression on me by showing as his down to earth self that flashiness is not necessary for being a great persuader, nor for convincing people with the greatest financial resources in selecting a lawyer.
His obituary described a man who overprepared for trial and walked into the courtroom with no notes. Race’s easygoing manner clearly did not detract from the long and solitary stretches of time and commitment before trial that are needed to persuade successfully in the courtroom. Houston Chronicle’s Mike Tolson confirmed the same by pointing out that Haynes earned his living and climbed the social ladder “not by gimmickry or sleight of tongue, as casual accounts seem to imply, but by a studied appreciation of the art of trial defense.” “Haynes was more workhorse than racehorse.”
Deeply thanking and bowing to Richard “Racehorse” Haynes, 1927-2017.