Thursday, May 13, 2021

Racehorse Haynes and Criminal Trial Stories (5/13/21)

I was sharing a Racehorse Haynes anecdote with a friend and thought it might be worth posting as a light note on the Federal Tax Crimes Blog.  Racehorse Haynes was a legendary Texas criminal defense lawyer.  He has his own Wikipedia page, here. The anecdote I shared with a friend is from an ABA article on him in 2009.  Mark Curriden, Richard 'Racehorse' Haynes (ABAJournal 3/2/09), here.  The article has some good stories about Racehorse.

The anecdote I shared with my friend is this pungent advice to new criminal lawyers (wrapping up the article of anecdotes):

Haynes loves discussing his cases to teach young lawyers about trial practice. In 1978, he told attendees at an ABA meeting in New York City that attorneys too often limit their strategic defense options in court. When evidence inevitably surfaces that contradicts the defense’s position, lawyers need to have a backup plan.

“Say you sue me because you say my dog bit you,” he told the audience. “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.”

His final defense, he said, would be: “I don’t have a dog.”

Another one that my friend like was:

Haynes has lived by the advice of his mentor, legendary Texas trial lawyer Percy Foreman: “If you can prove the victim abused a dog or a horse, you can convince the jury that the guy deserved to be killed.”

“For some reason,” Haynes continues, “cats don’t apply.”

I am not sure how you fit those anecdotes into a criminal tax practice.  Perhaps it might go something like this in a tax evasion case centering on a filed tax return with intentional omissions of taxable income:

  • I didn't have omitted income.
  • If I did, I did not intentionally omit the income.
  • The devil made me do it, hence not volitional which must equate with intentional.
  • If I did, I had offsetting unclaimed deductions.  (OK I know that is a defense sometimes asserted but rarely successfully).
  • I did not sign the return.
  • I was unconscious in intensive care at the time the return was signed.  (This could be consistent with a defense that he did not sign or did not intentionally violate a known legal duty).
  • I was dead at the time the return was signed and have miraculously come back to life. (Same.)

If anyone has any specific tax trial anecdotes of the Racehorse (or  other) genre, please share them by comment or by email to me (with permission to post them either with or without attribution).


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