Richard Haynes, Flashy and Successful Houston Lawyer, Dies at 90

He made his name with a series of celebrated cases beginning in the 1970s. In 1977 he successfully defended T. Cullen Davis, a Fort Worth businessman accused of murdering his former wife’s boyfriend and her 12-year-old daughter by a previous marriage.

Mr. Haynes then turned around and won an acquittal for Mr. Davis the next year when he was charged with hiring a hit man to murder the judge who had presided over his divorce.

He made something of a specialty of “Smith & Wesson divorces,” as he called them: cases in which wives solved their marital problems by killing their husbands.

“I won all but two of those cases,” he told ABA Journal in 2009. “And I would have won them if my clients hadn’t kept reloading their gun and firing.”

In the early 1980s he defended Vickie Daniel, a former Dairy Queen worker who was accused of murdering her husband, Price Daniel Jr., the popular speaker of the Texas House of Representatives and the son of a former Texas governor.

In a case that helped establish battered-spouse syndrome as a legal defense, Mr. Haynes convinced the jury that Ms. Daniels had been victimized by her husband and that the killing had been justified.

A book about the case, “Deadly Blessing” (1987), by Steve Salerno, was made into the 1992 television movie “Bed of Lies,” with Fred Thompson as Mr. Haynes and Susan Dey as Ms. Daniel.

Mr. Haynes, who favored pinstripe suits and ostrich-skin boots, dominated the courtroom.

Unnerving his opponents, he entered without papers or folders. He did not consult notes.

He was known as a master at jury selection.

After winning an acquittal for two police officers accused of beating a black prisoner to death, he told reporters, “I knew we had that case won when we seated the last bigot on the jury.”

If the courtroom is a theater, he was its Olivier.

He once shocked himself with a cattle prod to make a point. Another time, enraged when the prosecution failed to call a key witness, he cross-examined an empty chair.

Only once did he fail to deliver an Oscar-worthy performance. Defending a gang of Florida bikers who had nailed a woman to a tree, he planned to drive a nail into his own hand to show that the procedure did not hurt all that much. At the last second, he quailed.

“Richard is bright, as fast on his feet as anyone I’ve ever seen, and has a phenomenal memory,” Jack Strickland, a prosecutor in the Davis murder-solicitation case, told The Dallas Observer in 2003. “And he’s always prepared. Having said that, he’s also a man who can stand in front of a jury and say the most outrageous things imaginable, and somehow manage to keep a straight face while doing so.”

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