Longform

Counsel for the Defense

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So he exchanged his weekend medical center job for one pumping gas, decided to pursue a degree in accounting and set about making a name for himself on campus. The latter he did with a vengeance. It was a time when the nation lived in fear of the Communist threat and schools across the country were requiring that students sign documents stating they had no allegiance to the Communist Party. Though still years away from his days as a lawyer, and then student body president, Haynes not only refused but led rallies against the idea. "I was damned sure no Communist," he recalls, "but the idea of making it official by signing a piece of paper seemed absolutely ludicrous. So, yeah, I raised Cain."

He's been doing so ever since. It just took him awhile to find the proper stage for his showmanship. Upon graduation, he lasted less than a month with an accounting firm that had hired him, quitting, he says, before he was fired. "I began to think that maybe a military career was the way to go," he says. For the next two years he served as a paratrooper and hand-to-hand combat instructor with the 11th Airborne Division.

"It was my wife who made me a lawyer," he says. "She wasn't particularly thrilled with the idea of me jumping out of airplanes for a living and suggested that 'as a backup' I might want to think about going to law school."

Haynes didn't need a great deal of encouragement. During his undergraduate days he'd often skipped class to visit the Harris County courthouse and watch the legendary Percy Foreman argue cases. "He was absolutely brilliant," Haynes remembers. And then he is grinning again. "Quite honestly, another thing that influenced my decision was all those Mickey Rooney 'Andy Hardy' movies. In them, Andy's father was this wise and caring judge who seemed to always have the right answer to every problem imaginable."

Thanks, then, to Naomi Haynes, Percy Foreman and the mythical Judge Hardy, the Racehorse again changed his course. And in a roundabout way, Haynes' dog, Baron, also did his part.

Which leads to yet another story:

"I'd just finished classes one afternoon," Haynes remembers, "and got this frantic call from my mother. She'd been keeping my dog for me, and he'd gotten out of the back yard and had been picked up by the dogcatcher." Haynes immediately drove to the local pound to await Baron's arrival. "In those days, all you had to do was prove you were the owner and pay a $5 fee to get your dog back."

It was early evening before the dogcatcher arrived with a truckload of yelping and frightened strays. Anxiously, Haynes pointed out his dog to the man in charge of the pound and extended a $5 bill. "He said, 'Nope, you'll have to wait until tomorrow.' We argued for some time until it was clear he was not going to let my dog go home with me. So, I just reached over, flipped the latch and told Baron to come with me."

As Haynes and his boxer were walking away, the pound administrator pulled a pistol and fired two shots into the air. "That's when I lost it," Haynes remembers. "I turned and said, 'You ignorant SOB, are you going to shoot me in the back for taking my own dog? I love him, but I damn sure don't want to die for him. I'll just sit outside the pound tonight and get him in the morning.'"

That's when the man slapped Haynes. Baron jumped into the fray, attacking the man who had struck his master. "He started hitting my dog with his pistol, so I took it away from him and tossed it into some nearby weeds."

Baron wound up back in the pound for the night. Haynes went to jail. The following day, the boy-and-his-dog story not only made the local papers but was picked up by the wire services. In short order, Haynes was released, Baron was allowed to go home, and the pound administrator was fired.

Only years later, long after being hired to work part time in Foreman's law firm, did Haynes learn that the story of his pet's rescue had a great deal to do with his getting the job. Foreman, in fact, explained that people's affection for dogs would ultimately provide the new attorney with a valuable courtroom tool. "If," Haynes' mentor explained, "you can show that the victim ever abused a dog, you can pretty well bet that your client won't be convicted."

There would, however, be lessons a young Haynes had to learn the hard way. After defending an elderly client accused of embezzling a sizable amount of money from a bank, he was feeling good about the defense he'd put on and, in fact, told his client that he felt pretty confident the jury would come back with a not-guilty verdict. "If they do," Haynes said, "I want you to be sure to thank the judge and the jury."

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Carlton Stowers
Contact: Carlton Stowers