September 2002 - The "Suicide Question"
From U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcie A. Crone of Houston, this "excerpt from a recent employment discrimination" trial in her court in which the Plaintiff alleged mental anguish as well as other claims
Q. I'm not asking if you attempted suicide.
Q. I'm asking if you ever said you were going to commit suicide.
A. Oh, yes.
Q. And why did you do that?
A. To get people to talk to me, feel sorry for me, want to be around me, watch me, attention.
Q. Did you ever actually commit suicide — or — I'm sorry.
The Court: Obviously not.
Children sometimes have trouble with The Oath. Court Jesters records these things which happened when small children were asked if they knew the nature of the oath:
Q. What do you think God would do to you if you didn't tell the truth?
A. Send me to my room.
Judge: Swear him in.
Q. Now, Bobby, if we let you swear on the Bible that you will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and then you tell a lie, do you know what would happen to you?
A. Yes, sir. I'd be kicked out of Cubs.
Q. (By very stern Judge) Now, then, young man, do you attend church or Sunday School?
A. No, sir.
Q. Well, then, do your parents have a Bible in the house?
A. No, sir.
Q. Do you know who God is?
A. I don't think so, sir.
Q. Do you mean you don't know who created the universe?
A. (After a long pause) You?
July 1987 - Did I Really Hear That?
Q. What's his first name?
A. I can't remember.
Q. He's been your brother-in-law for 45 years and you can't remember his first name?
A. No, I tell you. I'm too excited! [Rising from the witness chair and pointing to Borofkin] Nathan, for God's sake, tell them your first name.
September 2003 - Bushwhacked!
From Rebecca E. Hamilton of Dallas (Sumner, Schick & Hamilton), this excerpt from a deposition in a car accident case.
Q. Do you agree that — He also testified that in his opinion both you and Melinda were bushwhacked; do you agree with that opinion?
Q. Do you know what bushwhack means?
March 1990 - Is This Column Part of the Problem?
From James H. Bjorum of Corpus Christi (Cox & bjorum) comes this excerpt from a deposition in a Longshore Harbor workers' compensation case:
Q. Are you taking medication today?
A. No. I don't have any – you're not —
Q. Did you take any pain pills today?
A. No, but I'd take one yesterday, if you're speaking of pain pills. That's all I have.
A. I haven't taken any today, but I'm quite sure sitting here, seeing as how you are going on and on, I'll have to take one because I —
Mr. Bjorum: I want an extra copy of that page. I've got to send it in to the State Bar.
Mr. Pierson: There is nothing like being honest.
January 2000 - How Alive Is He?
From Robert W. Hedrick of Fort Worth (Hartless, Patton & Hedrick), this excerpt from the deposition of the wife (Robert's client) in a divorce case.
Q. Do you have any other documents other than a franchise tax report that you claim shows that you have some ownership of stock in Tech-Lab Industries, Inc.?
A. I have a will.
Q. You have a will, your own will?
A. No, Raleigh's will.
Q. Well, Mr. Simmons' will — do you have it here today?
A. I think I have it.
Q. And it says in the will that you own an interest in Tech-Lab Industries, Inc.?
A. Should he die it says that, yes.
Q. Well, he's alive.
A. Well, I'm aware he's alive most of the time, but he's —
From Harry Herzog of Houston (Leger & Sanders) regarding a witness who refused to answer any questions until he had "a clear definition as to the meaning of truth."
Q. That first thing that happened this morning was you were placed under oath —
A. Yes, sir.
Q. — and your answer to the oath was, "As I understand that truth."
A. That's right, sir.
Q. What does that mean?
A. That means that I do not believe that there is only one truth. I believe that each person has their own truth. They hear something — I can say something and you may hear it one way and someone else may hear it another way.
Now, you could swear that I said one thing and this person could swear I said something else, because that's what they thought they heard me say.
Therefore, I'm not certain that I always know what I understand the truth to be and, therefore, I answer any question as truthfully as I understand it to be truthful. I'm not going to answer "yes" to a question, like I said, "Did you kill your wife with a knife or a gun?" Answer "yes" or "no." To me, there is more to truth than "yes" or "no."
Q. As best you understand and remember and believe the truth to be, have you given the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth today?
A. As I understand the truth, I have answered the questions you have asked as truthfully and I possibly could as I understood the truth to be.
Q. As you understand the truth to be, has your answer encompassed the whole truth?
Mr. Herzog (wisley): Pass the witness.
March 1988 - All in a Day's Work
This one was sent to me by Thomas W. Mills, Jr. of Dallas (Vial, Hamilton).
Q. What did you do that day, during the day?
A. I went out and crushed somebody's elbow that owed me some money and then I went and kicked the door in and took care of some other people, then I went back to the hotel, took a shower, went out and talked to a police officer. And after I left him I went down and made a big scene at the hot dog stand and I came back to the Gilbert Hotel because he was getting a little bit too upset and after that, that was it. That was my daytime story.
Q. When you say you created a scene at the hot dog stand, to what are you referring?
A. Well, I said I created a scene.
Q. What did you do?
A. I was checking another biker's I.Q.
Q. What did you say to the man?
A. You know, I think I forgot.
Q. You personally fought three people?
A. Well, I wouldn't look at it as fighting three people. I look at it as a good workout.
Q. How did you almost put him in the hospital?
A. I don't know — let me crush your hip bone a little bit and see what happens.
Q. You didn't do anything wrong, did you, with this man that slipped down the stairs?
A. I helped him along.
January 2001 - Who's on First?
From Judge Partida of Edinburg, these two trial excerpts that are reminiscent of the classic Bud Abbot and Lou Costello routine.
By Mrs. Dana Allison:
Q. Okay. Now you told us yesterday that you heard the quail and you said, "Duck," and you crouched down, right?
A. I said "Quail."
Q. Oh, you said "Quail?" You didn't say "Duck?"
Q. Like a duck.
A. I said, "Quail." And then I ducked.
Q. So you didn't say "Duck," and then "Quail." You said, "Quail," and then ducked. Okay. We'll get this straight.
Q. Remember earlier you were being asked as to whether —
A, The weather?
Q. No as to whether. I'm sorry.
Q. Maybe it's the way I said it.
A. I have trouble hearing.
Q. It's supposed to rain sometime.
January 2000 - A Typo Trifecta
From Bruce J. Denny of Shreveport (Cook, Yancey, etc.), this precedent-settiing Triple Typo mis (one written, two verbal):
(1) A divorce decree which provided "The parties shall not use the children or third parties as the soul means of communications with each other."
(2) A deponent who "had a little problem with his terminology – when asked by Bruce, "has your wife had any recent health problems" — answered: "No, other than a few years ago she had a baby by Syrian section."
(3) The same deponent, Bruce says, (unfortunately) gave one answer that was "head and shoulders" about the others. When Bruce asked him, "were you mad at your supervisor," the witness answered "It really got my dandruff up."
January 1995 - How Many Lawyers Have You Employed?
From Martha Hardwick of Dallas (Bauer, Rentzel, Millard & Hardwick), this excerpt from a recent deposition that she took "of a particularly recalcitrant, well-heeled, hostile, and apparently litigious physician":
Q. Dr. X, how many attorneys have you employed over the last five years?
A. I don't know. Jeez, I just — I don't know how many. Is there a limit?
Q. No. Have you — there'd better not be.
A. Are you talking about attorneys on my side or the other side when you say how many I employed?
Q. Well, that's good.
June 1988 - Did I Really Hear That?
Patrick Shaw of Dallas (Woodward & Shaw) shares this excerpt from a recent deposition in a case involving an assault.
Q. Have you ever been involved in a court proceeding before?
A. I'm dealing with a murder trial right now for my sister.
Q. Can you give me some particulars on that, are you testifying?
A. I'm going to testify next Thursday.
Q. Okay. Is your sister accused of murdering someone?
A. Shey's supposed to have been a suicide.
Q. Whose suicide was it?
A.Supposed to be that she suicided herself.
Q. She killed herself?
A. Instead of her boyfriend killing her.
Q. Her boyfriend is accused?