March 31, 2004
 
January 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From Al Ellis of Dallas (Al is of counsel with Howie & Sweeney), this excerpt from “a routine personal injury deposition” in which he received “the final answer as to why the divorce occurred.”

Q. What was the reason for your mom’s first divorce, if you know?

A. My dad.

March 30, 2004
 
April 2004 - De He Really Say That?

This contribution is from Harvey L. Morton of Lubbock, who was presiding as the trustee over a first meeting of creditors where "a rather nervous defendant was being represented by Dan Wallis, an associate of Phil Black's office in Abilene."

Q. Did you give truthful answers to the questions asked in the Statement of Financial Affairs?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. ... Complete answers?

A. As complete as my attorney would allow.

Harvey adds: "After the laughter subsided and the order was restored, the debtor asked to amend his answer because it was "not really what I intended to say/"

March 29, 2004
 
October 2003 - Not Strange At All

From William A. Agnew, Jr. of Lufkin, this excerpt from “a non-death penalty capital appeal” before Judge Paul White (159th Judicial District in Angelina County). Charles Meyers was cross-examining a witness named David Yount when this exchange took place.

Q. And I believe you testified that they asked if we knew where to find Ben Franklin?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Who asked?

A. Daniel did.

Q. Okay. Daniel did the talking?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Daniel was interested in finding Ben Franklin?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. To what purpose?

A. To whop him.

Q. Why?

A. Something about he had jumped on one of Daniel’s supposed cousins — cousins. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t — he never said her name, that I remember.

Q. Did you find that kind of strange, somebody you don’t know coming by your house and asking for directions to find the guy he wants to beat up?

A. In Trinity County, I don’t find that strange at all.

Q. I think you’ve come up with the best line of the trial, sir.

March 26, 2004
 
June 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From District Judge Bob McCoy of Fort Worth (48th District Court), this statement made by a pro se plaintiff to Judge McCoy and defense counsel in chambers:

“I am going to sue them all for alienation of infection (sic) and I am going to do it in Federal Court.”

March 25, 2004
 
March 2001 - Classic Typos

From Mark E. Dreyer of Tulsa, Okla. (Conner & Winters), this typo from a petition he recently received which attempted to allege damages for loss of consortium in an automobile accident case.

4. Plaintiff Mary Smith is the wife of John Smith and has sustained damages for the loss of spousal contortion caused by defendants on each of them.

March 24, 2004
 
April 1995 - Well, That's Entirely Different!

Q. Well, do you agree that your wife can have a divorce? Non-contested by you?

A. Well, what does that mean, non-contested? I mean, you're making it sound like I said, yeah, you can have whatever you want, honey, just as long as you leave.

March 23, 2004
 
March 2004 - … Until The Jury Returned

This contribution is from Judge Jan Breland of Austin (County Court at Law No. 6). While waiting for the jury to reach its decision, I was passing time engaging in small talk with the defendant. We were discussing the justice system when she complimented me on my fairness and judicious manner. My ego inflated and my head swelled when she proclaimed I was the best judge she had ever seen. That is, until the jury returned and declared her incompetent.

March 22, 2004
 
May 1990 - Did I Really Hear That?

Q. Mr. Richardson, do you know a person by the name of Jesse Zambrano?

A. Yes sir, I do.

Q. Do you see Mr. Zambrano in the courtroom today?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Point him out and describe what he's wearing for the Record, please.

A. He is wearing a blue, short-sleeve V-neck velour shirt with a horse's emblem on the left chest; blue denim jeans; black belt; and black shoes.

Mr. Dies: Your Honor, may the Record reflect this witness has identified the defendant?

Court: Record may show that, I thought this was a fashion.

March 19, 2004
 
December 1989 - Let's Be Particularly Careful Out There

Attorney: I mean they could have - there's no way they could not have known about them. Their witness supposedly - I mean we have been sandbagged. I have been made to look stupid in making my opening statement. That's not fair to make me look stupid.

The Court: I'll overrule the objection.

(Apparently I was ruling the it was alright for the government to make the attorney look stupid. Either that, or I was applying the doctrine of Assumed Risk in a criminal case.)

March 18, 2004
 
April 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

Q. Now, Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?

A. By death.

Q. And by whose death was it terminated?

March 16, 2004
 
May 2002 - Are You Still Working?

From Elisa Maloff Reiter of Dallas, these excerpts from the deposition of her client by Melinder Fagin,

Q. Okay. Have you been ill recently?

A. Yes.

Q. What’s the nature of your illness —

A. I’ve had —

Q. — if it’s not too personal?

A. — chest and stomach pains.

Q. Have you been hospitalized for that?

A. Yes.

Q. And are you cleared to go back to work?

A. I guess.

Q. Okay. You’re still — are you still working?

A. I’m still alive.

Q. Okay. Well, that’s good.

(Off-the-record discussion.)

March 15, 2004
 
January 2004 - One in 100,000

From Barrett W. Stetson of Dallas, this excerpt from the deposition of a defendant in a car accident case.

Q. So the impact of the collision was severe enough to cause you a back injury?

A. Yes, sir. I mean, my back is already kind of messed up as it is. I mean, it's not like - I mean, it hurt, but I mean, I have an extra set of ribs. And I have a vertebrae that doesn't know what it is. It only happens to one in 100,000 people.

Q. Do you know what the condition is called? Does it have a name?

A. No, sir, I do not know.

March 12, 2004
 
January 2004 - Did He Really Say That?

This contribution is from Dean A. Cole of Lafayette, La. (LaBorde & Neuner), who sets the stage: "Representing the defendants, we offered significant evidence that the plaintiff had not ever been struck by a wire on the back of the boat as he claimed. We also questioned the extent of plaintiff's alleged spinal injury by pointing out that plaintiff's wife had recently filed for divorce, alleging plaintiff had parented a child with his next-door neighbor several months after the alleged accident. Plaintiff's counsel called plaintiff back to the witness stand on rebuttal, where the following exchange took place."

Q. All right. And would you have any reason to lie about getting hit?

A. No, ma'am.

Q. Why not?

A. I mean, why lie? I mean, if something happened, it happened. I mean, I'm not going to fornicate no story about the wire hitting me or not. I mean, I have no reason to be here today if the wire didn't hit me.

March 11, 2004
 
September 2003- The Three-Day Rule

This contribution, a portion of jury voir dire, is from District Judge James E. Morgan of Comanche (220th Judicial District). Judge Morgan explains that he was trying a probate case “in which the movant was attempting to establish the existence of a common law marriage between her and the decedent. … This particular venireman had a simplified test as to what constitutes a common law marriage. I almost fell out of my seat when he stated his ‘three day’ rule.”

Mr. Lawyer: What kind of evidence of commitment would be evidence that you would like to hear?

Mr. Venireman: I would like to hear — I do not know this lady. I would like to hear the facts and proof she’s been with the guy more than seven days. Back when I was — used to be a little wild myself sometimes, would be three days with somebody. That’s not a marriage, that’s just a heat, you know. To me that’s heat, but if you are with somebody more than seven days and live together, rather be his house, her house or whatever and you — you shop together, buy other things, to me, you are married. You know, that’s all there is to it. Maybe I shouldn’t feel that way. I’m a strong believer in that and I seen other people that were common-law married get along. If you don’t get along, move, leave, but if you get along you are married.


March 10, 2004
 
April 2002 - A Pie By Any Other Name

From John E. Clark of San Antonio (Goode, Casseb & Jones), this excerpt “from a hearing in Another Federal District” in a case which “slipped into an Italian mode because of the name of one of the attorneys in the case (Pizza is his real name, the lawyer pointed out, “just like the pie”).

MR. LEE: One of our concerns is that we not get a determination … that all or part of Mr. Pizza’s complaint is barred and then have a judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana decide that none of it is barred by the settlement. We want one determination of that —

THE COURT: Yes.

MR. LEE: — that is going to be binding on all concerned and my concern is that if that case in Lasagna is not before your Honor, it is not necessarily binding on the judge in the Eastern District of Lasagna.

March 09, 2004
 
February 2004 - Coming Up Roses

This contribution from David L. Tolin of Beaumont (Germer Gertz, L.L.P.) — who notes that “in the world of asbestos litigation, you take humor wherever you can find it” — is from the deposition of a Boston doctor in an asbestos case pending in Angelina County.

Q. Is it true, isn’t it, that paragraph 5.253 does not even use the words “relative risk”?

A. It says “tenfold,” and to a scientist and epidemiologist, tenfold is relative risk. The words are not there, but as I indicated, words are words, and facts are facts, and truth is truth.

Q. Okay.

A. A rose is a rose is a rose — and if you get one word wrong in a sonnet, A rose is a rose is a rose. And if you get one word wrong in the statistics, a tenfold increase is a vast increase and should satisfy any person interested in truth.

Q. Are you as sure of the facts that the line “A rose is a rose is a rose” appeared in a Shakespeare sonnet as you are of the rest of your testimony in this case?

March 08, 2004
 
July 2002 - A Senior Moment
From Patricia B. Lehtola (Lehtola & Associates) of Dallas, this excerpt from a deposition.

Q. Okay. And how old are you, ma’am?

A. 50 —

Q. Two?

A. 52, I think —

Q. One?

A. — 51. I was born in ‘49.

Q. I thought you were 51 or 52. I wasn’t sure. I’ll add it up.

A. I think I’m 51.

Q. I do that sometimes.

A. I can’t believe that.

MR. GASWIRTH: It’s 2002.

A. That’s what I call a senior moment.

March 05, 2004
 
February 2004 - Did She Really Say That?

This contribution is from Karen Arnold-Burger of Overland Park, Kansas. Karen, who is the presiding judge for the City of Overland Park (and who is a licensed Texas attorney in inactive status), received the following e-mail from a female pro se defendant who had a trial scheduled before Karen that day.

… I am not going to be able to make my court appearance today, the transmission fell out of my car and I am going to have it towed. I am sending this e-mail to request a continuance with The Court. I know this is late, but I have no other way to get in touch with The Court. I apologize for any incontinence this may have caused. Thank you.

March 04, 2004
 
January 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From Al Ellis of Dallas (Al is of counsel with Howie & Sweeney), this excerpt from “a routine personal injury deposition” in which he received “the final answer as to why the divorce occurred.”

Q. What was the reason for your mom’s first divorce, if you know?

A. My dad.

March 03, 2004
 
October 1988 - Did I Really Hear That?

A defendant was being examined about her husband's problems with the law.

Q. When was he in jail in New York?

A. I think it was 1985.

Q. What was he in jail for?

A. He went to jail for self-defense.

Q. What?

A. He shot his friend and killed him. Self-defense.

March 02, 2004
 
December 2003 - I See Buchmeyer’s Column Coming!

From William T. Sebesta of Dallas (Cozen and O’Connor), this excerpt from a deposition of a plumber who hooked up gas to a fireplace.

Q. Did you see the city inspector light it?

A. No. Now let me ask you something. I don’t think the city inspector light it because I don’t know — I don’t know. I’m not sure. But I don’t know if it was inspected or not because they did it after we pass all the inspections. They installed the fireplace after my gas inspection was passed, after all the inspections were passed.

Q. Not the final gas inspection?

A. The final gas inspection was passed. The final inspection — Well, it’s no final gas inspection, sir. When you pass gas, you pass gas. You understand? When you pass, you pass.

Mr. Griffey: I see Buchmeyer’s column coming.

March 01, 2004
 
February 2004 - One in 100,000

From Barrett W. Stetson of Dallas, this excerpt from the deposition of a defendant in a car accident case.

Q. So the impact of the collision was severe enough to cause you a back injury?

A. Yes, sir. I mean, my back is already kind of messed up as it is. I mean, it's not like - I mean, it hurt, but I mean, I have an extra set of ribs. And I have a vertebrae that doesn't know what it is. It only happens to one in 100,000 people.
Q. Do you know what the condition is called? Does it have a name?

A. No, sir, I do not know.


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About the Judge


In Memory of Judge Jerry Buchmeyer, 1933-2009
Real life Texas Courtroom Humor.
From 1980 to 2008, U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer entertained lawyers far and wide with his "et cetera" column in the Texas Bar Journal. For this page, we've reached into the vault to bring you classic material spanning two decades of courtroom humor, most of which comes straight from actual depostions and trials.


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Buchmeyer's First Podcast

In June 2006, Judge Buchmeyer was interviewed by the Legal Talk Network.

Click here to listen (Windows Media format)


Classic Articles

Labor Relations: The Wututtut Review Brimelow v. Casson (& A Strike)
June 1983

Jurisdiction: Serving Satan Mayo v. Satan & His Staff
February 1984

Judicial Reasoning: "The Law Is A Ass"
December 1983

'Tis the Season
December 1984

A Fable
March 1985

Classic Article Archive

Links

Order Buchmeyer's new book, Texas Courtroom Humor (pdf format)

Ernie The Attorney Searching for Truth & Justice (in an unjust world)

Inter alia An internet legal research weblog

Lawhaha Andrew McClurg's Legal Humor Headquarters




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