February 2003 - Did She Really Say That?
From Tony J. Wilson of Houston (Sheehy, Serpe & Ware), this excerpt from a deposition of a widow in an asbestosis case who was having difficulty remembering just when she worked outside the home.
Q. Okay. Have you ever worked outside of the house?
A. Oh, for a while I worked — I don’t know just how long it was — at the school cafeteria.
Q. What school was that?
A. Oh, Jackson junior high school
Q. Was that in Pasadena?
A. Yes. In the cafeteria.
Q. About how long did you work in there?
A. Oh, I’d say a couple of years. Not too long.
Q. Do you remember what years those were?
Q. Do you remember what years you worked for them?
A. No, I don’t.
Q. Do you remember what decade? Was it in the Fifties? Sixties? Seventies?
A. Let’s see. I was working there — I was working down there when John Kennedy landed on the moon.
Q. So —
A. I don’t know what year that was.
Q. — 1969?
A. It’s been a long time. Maybe so. I don’t really know.
February 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?
From Mary Strand
, a staff attorney for the Tyler Court of Appeals, this testimony from a hearing on temporary child conservatorship - by witness who had "obviously not been testifying as expected":
Q. Let me ask you this: Have you been frank
in your answers?
A. No, I've been telling the truth.
December 1986 - Did I Really Hear That?
Q. What is your name?
A. Ernestine McDowell.
Q. And what is your marital status?
October 1991 - Did I Really Ask That?
From Judge Joseph H. Hart
of Austin (126th District), this passage from an early 1991 hearing.
Q. What happened to this man she was taking care of [at the home care facility]?
A. He's deceased now.
Q. Was he taken out of the home when he had to go to the hospital - he had to be admitted to the hospital?
Q. And he died and he didn't come back?
June 1987 - Did I Really Ask That?
J.Q. Warnick, Jr.
, the United States Magistrate in Lubbock, contributes these penetrating questions:
Testimony by the defendant's 16 year-old daughter in a criminal detention hearing established her age and the fact she lived in the defendant's house. Then...
Q. Have you ever lived any other place?
A. No, Sir.
Q. So you were living at this house when you were born?
October 2001 - Did They Really Say That?
in East Texas, these excerpts from a criminal trial involving a pro se
defendant. Here, the defendant is cross-examining his own son:
Q. Well...can I ask you this right here? How old was you when your biological father left you?
A. The first time? The second time? The fifth time?
Q. Well, I was just put in the penitentiary once, and I ain't got out yet!
October 1988 - Did I Really Hear That?
Defendant was being cross-examined about her use of false names:
Q. Have you ever used the name Sharon Prentis?
A. Yes, I did, because I knew James Prentis.
Q. But why were you using his last name?
A. Well, we were living together.
Q. O.K. Were you married?
A. No, but he was my common law date for about six years.
November 1991 - Is That Objectionable or What?
From Michael M. Essmyer
of Houston (Essmyer & Handy), this excerpt from the deposition of his client taken by the defense attorney, Andy Taylor
Q. What is it that you know about this lawsuit?
Objection [by Mr. Essmyer]: Object to the form of the question as being overly broad, object to it as being vague, and object to it as calling for a legal conclusion, and object to it as calling for speculation.
Respnse [by Mr. Taylor]: Other than that, it was a good question.
October 2003 - Clear Up Any Possible Confusion
of Dallas found this "clarification" reported in the Los Angeles Times:
Q. Does Mr. Brown frequent that general locale with regularity?
Q. Well, does Jerry hang around the pool hall a lot?
July 1987 - Did I Really Ask That?
Ronald J. Nelson
of Dallas contributes this excerpt from a deposition involving Taylor Hicks of Houston (Andrews & Kurth).
Q. Did you have any telephonic communication with - yourself, relating to negotiating the terms of these contracts in these months?
Mr. Hicks: I want to hear that question back. (After question was read back by the reporter): I object to that question as totally unintelligible.
Q. Do your best [to answer], would you?
A. I didn't talk to myself on the telephone.
Q. Not only don't you talk to yourself, you don't talk to anyone.
Mr. Hicks: Objection to counsel's sidebar and argumentative interjection into the record and instruct the witness to disregard those natures of statements and ask that we get back to question and answer.
May 2001 — Did They Really Say That?
This deposition excerpt in an automobile accident case comes from Mark A. McLean of Houston. He explains that the female witness is a co-defendant represented by Wayne Adams of Houston - and that Luke Carrabba of Houston, who represented the "target" defendant in the case, was trying to get the co-defendant witness to admit an act of contributory negligence.
Q. (By Mr. Carrabba) In general, do you think if you had been going slower, you would have had a better opportunity to avoid this accident?"
A. Well, I was going below the speed limit, so I was within the law. And, yes, if I had been going like 20 or 25 miles an hour, I might have avoided it; or if I had been going a little faster, I might have avoided it. I mean, I've thought about that; but I was, you know, below the speed limit as it was.
Q. Do you think there was any reasoning by - I'm going to object to my own question as being speculative.
Mr. Adams: Sustained. That sounds bad.
Mr. McLean: Thank you, Judge Adams.
The Witness: I haven't even seen that on TV.
Mr. Carrabba: I knew it when it was coming out. I was thinking "that is so speculative, just shut up. Okay."
September 1989 - Let's Be Particularly Careful Out There
Edward W. Lavin
of San Antonio sends this trial excerpt which involves his good friend, Gus Fennerty
. The case is a "DWI" case where the defendant, an elderly female, steadfastly pleaded "not guilty"; the prosecutor is examining the arresting officer:
Q. Now, officer, where was the defendant when you first encountered her?
A. She was still in her car, with the motor running, and the car was off the road and straddling a large log with all four wheels off the ground and spinning.
Q. And what about this incident led you to suspect that the defendant was intoxicated?
A. I climbed on the log and knocked on her window, which was closed. She rolled the window down and gave me a strange look, then looked at her speedometer. Then she looked up again and said, "How can you be keeping up with me. I'm doing 40 miles an hour?"
Edward notes that the defendant changed her plea "immediately after this testimony."
September 1996 - The Wonderful World of Pro Se
From Sharon Kiel
of Dallas, who recently heard the following announcement in a Dallas municipal court when the case against John Jones, defendant was called:
Defendant: Here, and I will be appearing as myself.
May 1985 - Were You In The Military Service?
Q. Have you ever been in the services?
A. Yes, sir. I went in in '40 and came out in less than 90 days. I was too old for what they wanted, they said.
Q. Were you given some sort of medical discharge?
A. No. I was given an unconditional release. I didn't have enough teeth, they said.
Q. I see. You were just getting too old, huh?
A. I told them I thought I was there to fight them, not bite them.
July 1989 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up
Judge Catherine Stayman
of Dallas sends this "testimony from today's trial" (in which "the father is testifying in support of his
mother - the children's paternal grandmother - gaining custody of his children"):
Petitioner's attorney questions father:
Attorney: How old are you?
Attorney: Have you known your mother personally for several years?
Attorney: How long?
Father: About 15 years or so.
March 1994 - Matters of Opinion
this 1989 order entered by Judge Donald E. Walter
It is hereby ordered that defendant, Thomas A. Grant, III, is prohibited from introducing any evidence at trial concerning whether James C. Steele has an illegitimate child; whether James C. Steele has burned a live cat; and whether James C. Steel has ever bitten the head off of a live frog.
February 1989 - Verbal Typos
From Richard Stephens
of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Dallas:
A. Now, I'm not calling [the IRS agent] a liar, but I thought she was asking if I had a bank account with enough money to pay all of the taxes.
Q. O.K. You said you weren't calling her a lawyer
. Oh - that must be a Freudian Slip...