By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Oklahoma City, OK, Friday, July 27, 2018 – Randy Bauman has worked to defend Oklahoma death row clients for over two decades. As the supervisor of Oklahoma’s Capital Habeas Unit (CHU) for ten years, he is retiring on July 31 after 21 years of dedicated service as a federal public defender for the Western District of Oklahoma.
A group of colleagues and friends recently gathered downtown at a luncheon honoring Bauman on the 7th floor of the old Oklahoma City Post Office, now home to Oklahoma’s Western Federal Public Defenders Office.
Prior to joining the Federal Public Defenders Office in 1996, Bauman served with the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System (OIDS) in Norman, for four years.
The Capital Habeas Unit follows cases before them through all steps; Habeas in the district court, 10th Circuit appeal and clemency.
According to Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (OK-CADP) board member and attorney Jim Rowan, one way to influence outcomes in death penalty cases is to maximize the quality of legal representation through continuing education.
In 2013, Bauman contacted the late Lydia Polley (1931 – 2017), then OK-CADP chair, and Rowan, to discuss the great need for capitol case training for local defenders.
“Randy recognized that the State of Oklahoma was never going to provide enough funding to train attorneys in the professional development of capital cases,” said OK-CADP executive board member Mary E. Sine. “Randy’s outreach gave birth to what is now called the Bob Lemon Capitol Defense Attorney Scholarship Fund. Randy has always been an incredible asset to the coalition.”
Oklahoma City philanthropists and anti-death penalty advocates, the late Robert D. Lemon (1929 – 2016) and his daughter Robyn Lemon Sellers made the initial outside donation to establish the scholarship program.
Rowan said. “Randy has worked with and supported the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for almost two decades. He has nominated successful candidates to attend capital defense training such as ‘Life in the Balance.’ “
To date, 23 capital defense attorneys in Oklahoma have benefited from the Bob Lemon Scholarship Fund.
“During Randy Bauman’s many years as head of the federal habeas corpus division, he and his colleagues have been responsible for reversing eighteen death sentences,” said Rowan. “That is a remarkable statistic which would not have happened without Randy’s hard work and leadership.”
Those in attendance included Susan Otto, who has served as the federal public defender for the Western District of Oklahoma since 1992, and Bauman’s former client Sidney Scott, who was on Oklahoma’s death row for thirteen years. Randy’s wife Kim Heinze was also present for the special occasion.
“A word about Randy Bauman,” Scott said. “Who can just give ‘a word’ about the man responsible for their very existence? Randy was my appellate attorney ten plus years. We had many phone conversations, and visits. Randy became more to me than just my attorney, I thought of him as a true friend.
“The man had passion for his job, and compassion for the clients he represented,” Scott added. “He is a true hero in this world. If I had only two words to say to Randy Bauman, thank you would have to do.”
Unable to attend the luncheon, Arizona federal public defender Dale Baich, attorney for Oklahoma death row inmate Julius Jones, told The City Sentinel: “Randy is a tireless and dedicated advocate for his clients. He is a dear friend and a longtime colleague, and I, and many others, will miss his wise and calculated counsel, and being in the trenches with him.”
Born in Oklahoma City, Bauman attended the University of Oklahoma business school receiving a degree in marketing management and later received his Juris Doctorate from OU Law.
“Randy Bauman is thoughtful and compassionate,” said Rev. Don Heath, OK-CADP chair. “He cares for his clients on death row when the prison system and the rest of society dehumanizes them. Randy has worked with the Coalition to help us begin to reach out to death row prisoners, to let them know that they are not monsters, they are beloved children of God.”
CHU Assistant Federal Public Defender Emma Rolls, who will become the new Capital Habeas Unit supervisor, presented a Retirement Testimonial Certificate to Bauman, as well as a book of former client letters from over the years, along a walking stick for his future travels.
During the presentation Rolls stated, “It has been my honor and privilege to work with Randy Bauman. He is truly a hero in the world of capital litigation. Through his tenacity, compassion, and generosity, he has saved the lives of many condemned to death row who otherwise would have been executed by the State of Oklahoma.
“Because of his legal brilliance, he has incrementally changed the trajectory of the death penalty. I believe I will see the end of the death penalty in Oklahoma during my lifetime, and when I do, it will be in large part due to the efforts of Randy Bauman.
“I am both anxious and excited to assume the responsibilities of the Capital Habeas Unit Supervisor upon Randy’s retirement. No one could ever replace Randy, but I will do my best to continue to serve our clients and work to end the death penalty. “Randy taught me that the best way to honor our clients is to do the work every day, and that’s what I intend to do,” Rolls added.
Bauman responded with appreciation for his colleagues, “I am thankful for the opportunity to serve and to work with such a wonderful group of people who serve others so well and with such caring.”
Bauman’s future plans include volunteering for the ACLU of Oklahoma.
“There is no way that I believe Randy would ever be totally done helping people,” Scott said.
For more information regarding how to apply for or donate to the Bob Lemon Capital Defense Scholarship Fund, visit okcadp.org/legal-education.