August 31, 2004
 
May 1990 - Many of Us Have the Same Problem Tom

Jerome Aldrich of Angleton (and a Brazoria County assistant district attorney) sent this trial excerpt with the simple observation that it "shows that all prosecutor Tom Selleck (not related to the movie star of the same name) and the defense attorney, Lloyd Stansbury, wanted during jury voir dire was an UNBIASED jury."

Mr. Selleck: I certainly thank ya'll for your time and you've been very helpful to myself. Anybody that has any questions of me based on anything I've said? Okay. Thank you.

Ms. Grigsby: You're not going to use the back row?

Mr. Selleck: Well, I'm a laywer and if I talk to the back row it will take another 45 minutes.

Ms. Grigsby: You know what, I find you very attractive and I might be biased in a different sense. I'm afraid I might decide for you.

Mr. Selleck: That's a first for me I assure you, but thank you.

The Court: Counsel, you have exceeded your 45-minutes, if that helps you any.

Mr. Selleck: Thank you, Your Honor. The judge has given me my out. Thank you very much.

The Court: Mr. Stansbury.

Mr. Stansbury: Thank you, Your Honor.

Unidentified Juror: Let's see you top that.

Mr. Stansbury: I'm not even going to try.

August 30, 2004
 
May 1990 - The Cindy Singleton Collection

From Cindy Singleton who sent me these excerpts after cleaning out her desk during her last week at the Tarrant County D.A.'s office.

Mr. Ally: Ask that you instruct the jury to disregard, Your Honor, the comment of Mr. Koos.

Court: Jury will disrgard the statement by the District Attorney estimating what Mr. Ally might think.

Mr. Alley: Or if he thinks.

Court: Or if he thinks.

***

A. Charles Ray Trimble and Charles Lee Trimble. Charles Ray being the father, I believe; Charles Lee being the son.

Q. And - and Charles Ray being the one that's the older of the two -

A. Yes, sir.

Q. - is that correct?

August 27, 2004
 
March 2004 - Classic Typos

These typos were discovered by Scott Wallace of Dallas (Scott is a staff attorney who, among other things, helps me with the pro se prisoner petitions out of the Allred Unit in Wichita Falls).

1. Plaintiff’s Motown to Amend Original Complaint.

2. Emergency Request for Temporal Restricting Order.

August 26, 2004
 
September 1987 - And It's My Bicentennial, Too

In San Francisco, an attorney representing a client whose car was involved in an accident with a government vehicle, directed a series of canned interrogatories to the defendant, the United States of America. The results:

Q. State all names by which you have been known.

A. United States of America: as a portion thereof Confederate States of America ... various portions have been known as Louisiana, Quebec, Mexico, and the Oregon Territory.

Q. Place of your birth, your residence, and occupation.

A. Philadelphia, PA, July 4, 1776. Defendant resides on the North American continent between Mexico and Canada, as well as in the extreme portion of said continent known as Alaska. Defendant resides as well in Hawaii and in certain insular areas. Occupation is that of a nation.

Q. State Social Security number, height, weight, and color of hair, and eyes.

A. Defendant's height is that of Mount McKinley and weight so substantial as to defeat calculation. Defendant lacks Social Security number, hair, and eyes.

The plaintiff's attorney complained that Asst. U.S. Attorney Peter Shackter should "seek a more appropriate form for his humorous pretentions" and should provide responsive answers "if [Shackter] has purged himself of his penchant for playing games on government time." In response, Shackter relied upon the standard "foolish questions, foolish answer" defense. (Austin American Statesman 1972) (courtesy of Frank Elliott of Dallas and Baker, Mills).


August 25, 2004
 
October 2002 - How Far Did You Go In School?

From John E. Haught of Beaumont, this excerpt from the plaintiff’s deposition.

Q. Where is your place of birth?

A. The hospital in Kountze, Texas. That’s the hospital I was born in.

Q. How far did you go in school?

A. I’m not sure. Just in Silsbee. Approximately estimating about eight miles or so.

August 24, 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.

August 23, 2004
 
April 2003 - Let’s Don’t Go There

From Ronald F. Yates of Horseshoe Bay, this excerpt from a “Hearing on a Motion to Enforce.”

Q. And you understand that — did you know by the way that the trip to Oklahoma was to attend a funeral? Did you know that?

A. I couldn’t attend my sister’s wedding in Oklahoma because I didn’t have any money so I don’t think it matters of the event.

Q.But you described it to the Court as a vacation, did you not?

A.Yes, I did.

Q. But you wouldn’t necessarily consider a funeral a vacation, now would you?

A. I guess it would depend on whose funeral it was.

The Court: Let's don't go there.

August 20, 2004
 
February 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From Charles W. Hury of McAllen, this excerpt from one of his recent depositions.

Q. Who has the most experience within the AC department of those -

A. Of all of those?

Q. - eight men or seven men that you just named?

A. Experience or years with the district?

Q. Well, years with the district -

A. There's a difference there. We have one guy that's been there for, geez, about 20-some years, and he still doesn't know nothing.

Q. Who's that?

(Laughter)

A. I don't think he agrees, but it's true.

August 19, 2004
 
April 2003 - Did I Really Say That?

From Ben Bateman of Amarillo, "this transcription error ... from a recent tax opinion by a respected Texas jurist who edits a popular humor page in the Texas Bar Journal."

Therefore, Decedent not only 'stood on both sides of the transaction,' but, for all intesive purposes, was both sides of the transaction.

August 18, 2004
 
January 2000 - The Forces of Light v. The Powers of Darkness

John Albach of Dallas "received a proposed lease from a landlord in Pennsylvania for retail space" in which his long-time client, Half Price Books, was interested. John found "nothing unusual" until he reached this provision:

47. END OF THE WORLD. The occurrence of the end of the world prior to the complete performance by Tenant of the terms, covenants and conditions of this Lease ... shall permit Landlord to accelerate and demand payment for all charges which remain as an obligation of Tenant under this Lease, and Landlord's collection of monies due from Tenant may be pursued by an immediately available procedure. For all purposes hereunder ... such notice [shall] be given to Tenant by the then prevailing medium of communication. Landlord shall be deemed aligned with the Forces of Light and Tenant shall be deemed allied with the Powers of Darkness notwithstanding either party's final ordered placement.

August 17, 2004
 
December 2002 - Never Too Late

From Travis E. Kitchens, Jr. of Groveton, Texas (Evans & Kitchens), this excerpt from the prove-up “of Mr. Moody Bourke’s divorce that occurred on Sept. 24, 2002, in the 411th Judicial District Court in Groveton, the Honorable Robert Trapp presiding.” Travis adds that Mr. Bourke was “67 years of age [and] Mrs. Bourke [was] 66 years of age, and the parties were married on June 26, 2000.” The questions are by Travis Hines, of Trinity.

Q. (By Mr. Hines) Okay. Were there any children born of the marriage?

A. No.

Q. Is she expecting a child at this time?

A. No.

Q. Okay.

A. Thanks for the compliment though.

August 16, 2004
 
June 2004 - Classic Typos

Charles W. Hury of McAllen received this last page of an apartment lease guaranty form from a friend whose son is attending Texas A&M.

7. Binding Nature. This Guaranty shall be binding upon and unsure to the benefit of the parties hereto and there respective heirs, legal representatives, successors and assigns.

Charles adds: “Apparently … the parties to the contract, in an unusual flash of honesty, are actually admitting they do not have a clue as to how a guaranty actually works.”

August 13, 2004
 
July 1991 - Tales From Beyond The Crypt

From H. Harmen Camp (of McAllen), two somewhat eerie deposition excerpts. The first is from the deposition which Harmen took of a man suing the "county for violation of his civil rights":

Q. Earlier, you mentioned a Doctor Rodriguez. Where is his office; do you know?

A.

(Lawyer talk)

Q. The doctor is in Inferno?

A. I don't know where Hell is.

Q. Why is the doctor...

A. When I go there, I'll write back and tell you where it is.

The second excerpt is from the deposition of a jailer:

Q. Have you received knowledge that there have been people that have died in there in cells under questionable conditions.

Attorney: Objection. The witness can't answer unless you clarify that question.

Q. OK. People have claimed that they have been killed (in the jail). Was it true or not?

August 12, 2004
 
November 2002 - A Good Answer

From Judge Don Higginbotham of Williamson County (Georgetown), this excerpt from one of his jury trials — in which the defense attorney is asking the police officer what effect field sobriety tests would have on obese people.

Q. (By Mr. Kinard) Without mentioning names, would you look around this room and see how many people that you can see — without mentioning names — that are obese?

THE COURT: You better not look over in this direction.

THE WITNESS: He asked me to look around the room, Judge.

THE COURT: Yeah, but he can’t put you in jail for contempt.

THE WITNESS: This is true.

Q. (By Mr. Kinard) How many people are obese?

A. Judge Higginbotham is not, sir.

Q. Let’s get that squared away. You and I will stipulate to that.

THE COURT: Good answer.

August 11, 2004
 
October 1989- Did I Really Hear That?

W.R. Barnes of Odessa credits Gus Locker with this penetrating cross-examination of a doctor - which "every overweight, lawyer in the state should appreciate."

Q. Has the pain in her back stayed basically the same as far as you can tell?

A. I guess sometimes it's worse and sometimes it's better.

Q. Do you think it would help Ms. Venske if she lost some weight? I'm not one to talk -

A. Neither am I . My own personal feeling is that the medical risks of obesity are greatly overstated by thin doctors.

Mr. Barnes: I love it.

A. And I don't know if losing weight would help or not.

August 10, 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.

August 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.

August 06, 2004
 
May 1991 - And Now For a Quickie

From William J. Wade of Lubbock (Crenshaw, Dupree & Milam), this "allegedly" true story about a young lawyer in the Lubbock area who "was trying his first jury case. He worked very hard on his final argument. He took the time to write it out in long hand and revise it and then the next day, he stood before the jury and in a most serious voice began his summation:

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury COMMA."

August 05, 2004
 
May 1991 - That's Clear Enough, Thank You!

From Judge Weldon S. Copeland of McKinney (Collin County Court at Law No. One), this trial excerpt from testimony & a witness who just answered that he "was a high school student:"

Q. How are you classified?

A. Just a normal student. Just trying to get by.

August 04, 2004
 
September 1988 - Did I Really Ask That?

From Leonard Cruse of Galveston (Martin, Cruse), this excerpt from a deposition taken of his client by the opposing attorney:

Q. How long did Dr. Payne treat you or see you or take care of your family?

A. Since I was about eight years old.

Q. Until when you left?

A. Yes, sir. He still sees me today.

Q. Okay. So he's your doctor again?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. I take it he's living then?

A. Yes, sir.

August 03, 2004
 
May 1990 - The Cindy Singleton Collection

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

Jury Note (from a six-person, misdemeanor jury):

"We are hung 4 to 3."

August 02, 2004
 
December 1985 - Clear Up the Possible Confusion

Q. Were you alone in the car?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you driving?


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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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