June 30, 2004
 
May 1990 - The Cindy Singleton Collection

From Cindy Singleton this excerpt after cleaning out her desk during her last week at the Tarrant County D.A.'s office.

Judge: Is the defendant known by any other name?

Defense: Do you have an a.k.a?

Defendant: Hell Lady, I don't even have a car!

June 29, 2004
 
September 1997 - Every Time I See Your Face

From C. Dan Campbell of Wichita Falls (Brooks, Campbell & Grubbs), this excerpt from the deposition of a "plaintiff [who] alleged, among other things," that the bank [Dan's client], had invaded his privacy "by attempting to foreclose on additional collateral."

Q. Okay. You allege, also, that you've suffered embarrassment, humiliation, fear, frustration, and general mental anguish; is that right?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Have you seen any physician, or psychiatrist, or psychologist for your general mental anguish?

A. I haven't seen a psychiatrist, no.

Q. Have you seen a physician for treatment for your general mental anguish?

A. I do take some medication that when I - basically every time I'm around you, I have problems for about a month.

Q. Okay. What kind of medication are you taking when you're around me, Mr. Clement?

A. It's called Zantac...it goes with stress.

Q. It was prescribed for you to take regularly then?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Not just when you're around me?

A. No. I was told that I could take it regularly or I could learn to live with the problem.

June 28, 2004
 
March 1990 - Is That a Reasonable Fee?

This is from a hearing before the Texas Railroad Commission. It comes from Jack Balagia, Jr. of Austin (McGinnis, Lochridge, etc): he explains that An Unnamed Austin Lawyer is testifying in support of the reasonableness of the hourly rates being charged by his firm - which were to be passed through to the customers by the gas utility his firm was representing:

Q. [T]he client is charged for those fees (of the law firm in this Commission proceeding)?

A. That's correct.

Q. And he is also paying for those fees rather than the rate-payers. Is that not true?

A. That is correct.

Q. All right, I notice here Mr. [Name Partner] only charges $130 an hour. In fact, you are the only one I see that is charging $500 an hour.

A. Well, Mr. [Name Partner] - that's all that I see here that Mr. [Name Partner] charged on that, but that is not his hourly rate, and I don't know how that happened to be that low because that is not -

Q. Do you think he took compassion on the ratepayers?

A. I have no idea how it happened. Normally in my business - I'm not involved in the compassion business. We charge by the hour ...

June 25, 2004
 
February 2004 - The Continuance

Sharon D. Aizer, an inactive Texas Bar member now working as a staff attorney in the First Judicial Circuit in Pensacola, Fla., recently “came across the following exchange in a capital postconviction proceeding held before Judge Michael Jones in 2001.”

Mr. Ferrar: Your Honor, can we discuss scheduling?

The Court: Yes, let’s do that.

Mr. Ferrar: I note that it’s approximately 20 till six. I have no objection to continuing it. Today is my wife’s birthday.

The Court: Did you get her a gift?

Mr. Ferrar: We did a little something yesterday, so I’m not going to —

The Court: You’re not answering the question. I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t go home either without a gift. How much time do you need to go get her something?

June 24, 2004
 
July 2003 - That’s A Lot of Zeros

From Anthony A. Petrocchi of Dallas (Weil & Petrocchi). Anthony explains that “I received the enclosed letter from The University of Texas School of Law last November and, although Judge Buchmeyer’s et cetera column focuses on post-graduation gaffes, I thought this law school anecdote might make a good laugh.” He further states, “I graduated from University of Texas in May of 1983. I have no idea what class this letter refers to, I don’t know if this ‘change’ represents an improvement in my grade or not, and I sure hope lowering my grade point average to 0.0000 (that’s a lot of zeros) doesn’t hurt my now 19 year legal career too much.”

NOTICE OF GRADE CHANGE

Your grade for LAW 397S, unique number _____ , taken in the Fall, 1982, has been changed as of 10/20/01.

The original grade was , the new grade is 87.
As a result of this action, your grade point average is 0.0000.
If you have any questions about this grade change, please contact the instructor of the course.

This change to your record does not necessarily affect your scholastic status at the University. Scholastic status is reviewed at the end of each semester of registration. If you have any questions about your grade point average or about your academic record in general, please contact the Record Services section of this office.
Thank you.

June 23, 2004
 
July 1987 - Do You Swear to Tell the Truth...

Judge: (To young witness) Do you know what would happen to you if you told a lie?

Witness: Yes, I would go to hell.

Judge: Is that all?

Witness: Isn't that enough?

June 22, 2004
 
June 1987 - You Coulda Been a Contender

Court Jesters collects these Major-League Stupid Questions - "the standard against which all others are measured: - as well as some truly great contendars:

Q. Now isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, in most cases he just passes quietly away and doesn't know anything about it until the next morning?

---

Q. The 24th of December - was that the day before Christmas?

---

Q. Were you acquainted with the deceased?

A. Yes.

Q. Before or after he died?

---

Q. In your opinion, how far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?


June 21, 2004
 
January 2004 - Doing Voir Dire

This contribution is from Joseph W. Kline of Lubbock. It occurred during voir dire in a criminal case where Lubbock attorney Ron McLaurin "was questioning some prospective jurors who seemed to be having more than their share of fun at the back of the courtroom."

Right not to testify, the Judge explained to you that is a right that we all have. And why do we have that? Because it is very difficult to prove that you didn't do something. If I accused Mr. Guerrero of having had cherry pie for lunch, nobody else saw him. He went and ate lunch by himself at the park because it is a nice day, how is he going to prove he didn't eat cherry pie? That would be hard to do; right? If I accused him of having had cherry pie for lunch, and he went to lunch by himself. He didn't go with his wife. He didn't go with any of you. Nobody saw him at lunch. How could he prove he did not have cherry pie at lunch? It would be very difficult, wouldn't it? I know Mr. Lowe and Mr. Hohon, you all want to cause problems back there, but I ain't going to call on either one of you, okay? I am going to put a circle around your name.

Mr. Lowe, Mr. Hohon, how could he prove he didn't?

Mr. Lowe: Stool sample.

Mr. McLaurin: That is why I didn't want to call on you. I knew it was going to be bad. I am going to put an asterisk by your name, sir.

Mr. Hohon: I ain't going to say.

Mr. McLaurin: Did Mr. Lowe give you that answer to pass on?

Mr. Hohon: Yes.

Mr. McLaurin: Excuse me for saying pass on.

June 18, 2004
 
February 2002 - Are You a Spirit?

From Karen Hogan of San Antonio (Karen is the Court Investigator for Judge Polly Jackson Spencer, Probate Court No. One in Bexar County), this note sent to Judge Spencer by William Goodman, the court-appointed attorney ad litem “in the guardianship proceeding of the proposed ward the day after the hearing.”

Prior to the hearing, I was talking with my client, the proposed ward, about her belief in spirits, and about how her deceased husband is a spirit who lives with his spirit girlfriends in the walls behind the bathroom mirror.

At one point she asked, “Are you a spirit?” I said I wasn’t sure — and anyway, how would I know?

Well, to be a spirit,” she said, “you would have to be appointed by God.”

I guess not then,” I replied. “I’m just an attorney appointed by the judge.”

June 17, 2004
 
June 2004 - On Behalf Of Manhood In General

This contribution comes from John R. Walker of Houston (Hays, McConn, Rice & Pickering). John explains that, “In this federal case, the plaintiff, ‘Henry,’ alleged severe psychological disorders which he related to an electrical shock received at work on a U.S. Air Force Base. On behalf of the defendant, I was attempting to show that plaintiff’s psychological damages were caused by his wife’s constant nagging. I was able to find a female fact witness who was aware of the wife’s nagging and ‘constantly fussing’ at Henry.

“During cross examination of my fact witness, Seth Valerius of Fisher, Patterson, Sayler & Smith of Topeka, Kansas, valiantly attempted to steer the female witness around by suggesting that Henry actually liked the nagging. Fortunately, I was able to interpose a general objection not found in the Federal Rules of Evidence.

Q. Okay. You’re not a marriage counselor, are you?

A. No.

Q. Okay. You understand that some families argue more than other families and they are perfectly happy, you understand that?

A. I understand when a woman is trying to take over, you know, a man, that lady is just — oh, she’s just —

Q. Okay, but Henry, as far as you know, that may be exactly what Henry wants in a wife for some reason, to keep him moving, you understand that?

Mr. Walker: I’m going to object on behalf of manhood in general.

Mr. Valerius: Come to my house.

June 16, 2004
 
January 1992 - From the Trials of Buchmeyer

These things actually happened in cases I tried during the past six months. However, since appeals are pending, names of the witnesses and the attorneys will not be discussed but the attorneys know who they are.

Q. How far did you go in school?

A. About 4 1/2 miles, both ways, every day.
---

Q. Did you graduate from high school?

A. No, but I got right up to the 11th grade.
---

Q. Are you married?

A. No.

Q. So, what is your status?

A. Well, I'm single.
---

Q. What were the duties of the vice-president of the Savings & Loan?

A. To help the president, I guess.

June 15, 2004
 
April 1990 - Recalling & Recollecting

This excerpt from Brian E. Cutbirth of Abilene (McDonald & Cutbirth); the witness is an attorney, Tom C. Massey of San Angelo, who is testifying about his attorneys fees in the case.

Q. I believe earlier you stated that you were a witness in a bankruptcy hearing. Did you bill the bank when you were...

A. Yes, I did.

Q. How many hours was that?

A. I wouldn't know without recalling. It would be my time to go to Lubbock, testify, and return to San Angelo.

June 14, 2004
 
March 1990 - Did I Really Hear That?

From H. Bryan Hicks of Marble Falls (Jones & Associates), this excerpt from a deposition he took of a client represented by Ross Lavin of Burnet (Shell & Decuir).

A. I am not sure. I know I saw it in his - Whether he even gave me a copy or not, I don't know.

Mr. Lavin: Can we take a five second break, just for one second.

Mr. Hicks: Okay. We'll go off the record.

Bryan notes that Ross Lavin "apparently was unsure of how much time he would need to confer with his client, or perhaps he has just mastered the art of trial management."

June 10, 2004
 
April 1987 - Did I Really Hear That?

After granting a divorce to a very elderly couple - he was in his eighties, she was in her late seventies - the judge just had to ask why they had waited so long to get a divorce.

A. (By the husband). Because of the children. We didn't want to embarrass them, so we waited until they were all dead.

June 09, 2004
 
May 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

This is from a post-trial hearing before me; the attorney was placed under oath so he could "make a record" in connection with a motion to dismiss on Speedy Trial Act grounds.

The Court: Why don't you just do a narrative?

Attorney: I will not question myself, your Honor. I am concerned that I might impeach myself.

June 08, 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.)

June 07, 2004
 
April 2004 - He Needs No Introduction

Several years ago, I was the speaker at the graduation services at Texas Tech University School of Law. Prof. Thomas E. Baker introduced me by announcing: “Our speaker needs no introduction” — and then he sat down!!!

Well, Prof. Baker is at it again. He is now at Florida International University in Miami, Fla. — and is the co-author of a new book: “Amicus Humorize — An Anthology of Legal Humor” (Carolina Academic Press, 700 Kent Street, Durham, NC 27701). It is a collection of legal humor that has appeared in various law reviews (this is not an oxymoron) — which includes such classics as: “The Common Law Origins of the Infield Fly Rule,” “The Gettysburg Address as Written by Law Students,” and “Chicken Law in an Eggshell.”

It’s a great addition to the world of legal humor.

June 04, 2004
 
December 2003- The Grass Hit Man

From Walter R. Grimes of Houston (Grimes & Fertitta, P.C.), this excerpt from a deposition that he took.

Q. (By Mr. Grimes) Where you allege in Paragraph 7 that — the herbicide and so forth, you’ve already talked about that. You don’t know that he put herbicide on your grass, do you?

A. No. He could have relieved himself for all I know.

Q. You don’t even know that you had herbicide on your grass.

A. No. He could have used a ray gun. I don’t know what killed it, Mr. Grimes. I don’t care. We just want to be left alone.

Q. But you just know he did it. He had to have been the one who did it?

A. No.

Q. Okay.

A. No, no. He could have paid somebody to do it.

Q. You think he had a grass hit man?

A. You said it. I didn’t.

Q. A contract hit man?

A. A contract horticultural assassin.

June 03, 2004
 
January 2002 - EMAIL TO TAMARA

From Katherine D. Hayes of Austin (Katherine is an assistant attorney general in the Capital Litigation Division of the Office of the Attorney General), this statement she found in a Supplemental Motion to Remand filed with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals — which appeared at the end of the motion, right before the Certificate of Conference.

Email to Tamara with note: I need to beef up the equitable tolling argument.

June 02, 2004
 
June 2004 - The Goose Was Cooked

William Sheehy of Tyler (Wilson, Sheehy, Knowles, Robertson & Cornelius) makes his maiden appearance in et cetera with this poetic contribution.

As a commercial and bankruptcy attorney, it is a very rare occasion that I become involved in a criminal case, but my last one was one for the record books.

It all began when I received a call from a business client informing me that his “really big white goose” had been arrested and placed in the pound. He had gone to the pound to bail out his goose and was issued a ticket for violating the city’s leash law.

The facts of the case are that he and his wife had originally owned four or five geese. This really big white goose was the sole survivor and he was very lonesome. He had absolutely no fear of humans and seemed to enjoy their company. When my client and his wife moved into town, the goose came with them. When my client or his wife were not around, the goose would walk about the neighborhood looking for companionship. Apparently, one of the neighbors did not appreciate the goose as much as my client and called the animal control officer who promptly arrested the goose and took it to the pound.

My client felt the city had no right to issue a ticket since the goose had done no damage and it would be impossible to place a leash on a goose. Not ever having a case like this in all of my 40 years of practice, I immediately got a copy of the city ordinance upon which the charge was based. To my surprise, I found that the city ordinance was very specific and allowed a resident of the city to have six fowl. The ordinance specifically included a goose within the definition of a fowl and went on to require that the fowl had to be kept in a pen, coop, or other structure sufficient to prevent the fowl from leaving the premises. Failure to confine the fowl constituted a nuisance and subjected the owner of the fowl to a fine.
I had the sad duty to inform my client:

That cooked was his goose
because his goose got loose.
If home it will not stay,
it is a fine that you must pay.

June 01, 2004
 
December 1989 - Let's Be Particularly Careful Out There

And the defense attorney objects:

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 that 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.


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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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