June 2001 - The Guesstimate
From Jon C. Papin
of Chicago, Ill. (Broderick, Steiger & Maisel), this excerpt that took place when he was in trial in a commercial case in Florida. The exchange "took place between the plaintiff businessman and the defense lawyer."
Q. So please look at the December difference and tell the court what your... how far off your guesstimate was between the letter you sent Ms. Battista and the profit and loss statement guesstimate.
A. Twenty-four percent.
Q. Your guesstimate for the December of 1997 sales was almost a quarter off of your sales for that month.
A. So what?
Q. Can you explain to the court how your guesstimate can be 24 percent off of the actuals? What was wrong with your guesstimate?
A. I was guessing
January 2004 - That's Good Advice!
This contribution, from Carl Pipoly
and Melissa Brantner
of San Antonio, is from a personal injury trial where the defense counsel violated a motion in limine by injecting the workers' compensation case into the trial. The subrogation attorney then asked the court for advice on how to handle future violations.
Mr. McLin: Your Honor, for future reference, this is going to be an issue that will be brought up again. How would you like me to handle objections?
The Court: Just ask me to put her in jail.
Mr. McLin: Okay. Thank you, Your Honor.
December 2001 - The Whole Enchilada
From District Judge Bob McCoy
of Fort Worth (48th Judicial District of Texas), this exchange which recently took place in his court:
Presiding juror to bailiff: Do we answer the questions and then deliberate, or deliberate and then answer the questions?
June 1988 - A Pretty Good Woman
of Plainview represented a wife injured in an automobile accident in Hale County, the deposition is of her husband, but Mark explains that the wife was present during the entire deposition.
Q. All right. If you - can you, perhaps characterize what effect this neck injury has had on your wife and upon your day-to-day living?
A. Well, of course, you know, I can't feel her pain. I guess, every day, or she complains with, you know, the neck pains. So I assume that she has. Well, I know she has pains, or I wouldn't have to do the vacuuming all the time.
Q. Did you do that before?
A. Well, no, not much.
Q. But you get to do it real regular now?
A. Mostly all the time.
Q. Okay. Is there any other thing you have to do now that you didn't do before?
A. Yeah. Mow the lawn, too.
Q. You mean she mowed the grass before this happened?
A. Yeah. She was a pretty good woman until she got hurt.
Q. How did you get her to mowing the grass?
A. Just leave it grow until she done it.
Q. Until she just wouldn't put up with it anymore, she would get out there and do it?
A. She would get out there and mow it.
Q. And now you do that?
A. Yeah, I have to do that now.
Q. Is there anything else that you have to do now that you didn't do before?
A. Well, not a great deal. Of course, I try to help her more around the house more than I did, but maybe that's just her nagging.
Q. All right.
Attorney: (No doubt looking at the wife): Fellow takes that oath seriously, doesn't he?
Q. She taking any medications or -
A. Lordy, I don't know.
Q. All right, sir. Other than you doing the vacuuming and mowing the grass, does she do most of the other house cleaning or -
A. Well, I guess what she can't get me to do. Of course, she does the majority of it.
December 2003 - Did He Really Say That?
This contribution, which is from Jack B. Boone
of Austin, relates to a trial in Memphis, Texas, where Jack was defending the accused in a murder case.
The defendant had been shot twice. A key issue was the rapidity of the two shots. Jack needed to eliminate the concept of premeditation between the firing of the two shots. He needed the only eyewitness to testify that the two shots occurred quickly, with practically no separation between the explosions.
The witness was having some trouble understanding the reasoning behind the question and was not very helpful. So in a last ditch effort, the life of his client in the balance, Jack asked the witness to say the word “Bang” followed by the same word “Bang” exactly in the speed as he heard the shots ring out near his head.
To which the witness quickly realized the importance of the question and responded, “Oh no, Mr. Boone, it was more like BOOM BOOM!!
After the judge and jury regained their composure, Jack thanked the witness and sat down.
The defendant was found guilty of negligent homicide, placed on probation, and sent home.
December 1987 - The New Criminal Rules
Professor J. Thomas Sullivan
of SMU School of Law discovered this "interesting slip in either the prosecutor's or the reporter's understanding of biological funtions," in a 1987 Dallas trial.
Q. Officer, is that your arrest report reflecting the incident regarding the defendant in this case?
A. Yes, sir, it is.
Q. Is that a true and exact copy of your report?
A. Yes, sir, it is.
Q. Is that also the document that was referred to yesterday during the course of cross-examination by defense counsel, when he was cross-examining?
A. Yes, sir, it is.
Q. Your Honor, at this time pursuant to the new Criminal Rules of Evidence the state would offer into evidence State's Exhibit No. 4 as a copulation
of Court's Exhibit No. 3A-1, 3B-1, 3C, 3D, 3F, and 3G.
The Court: Correct.
Defense Attorney: Copulation of it?
The Court: Right
Defense Attorney: We'll object...
April 2002 - As An Old Country Boy Would Say…
From Assistant U.S. Attorney Denise Williams
of Lubbock, these “Funnies” committed by defense attorney Randy Taylor of Dallas during a criminal trial before U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater.
Q. All right. … Now, you don’t know anything — as an old country boy would say, you don’t know pea-turkey-dog about that, do you?
A. No, sir. …
Q. All right. And then down below that somebody has written another date down below that in handwriting, human handwriting; is that correct?
A. True. …
Q. Now, can you tell me between the fall of ’92 and April of ’93, are you claiming that you had any business with Mr. Jordan or any of his compadres? That’s a Hispanic word for amigos. …
THE COURT: They’re two different issues. It might be 404(b) or not and be admissible as subject matter, but as you know it takes the 801(d)(2)(E) to get the exception to the hearsay.
MR. TAYLOR: Does that mean I win?
THE COURT: I’m going to sustain the [government’s] objection.
December 1987 - Did I Really Ask That?
of Dallas writes that the "now-deceased, and always humorous, Tarrant County Medical Examiner, Dr. Felix Gwodtz was testifying [at a Civil Service Commission hearing] regarding the death of a suspect who was shot approximately 30 times" by Fort Worth Police Officers:
Attorney: Mr. Gwodtz, when you saw this man he was in pretty bad shape.
Dr. Gwodtz: Counsel, when they get to me they are all
in bad shape.
October 2001 - Classic Typo's
(1) From U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish
of Dallas, this typo from a Fifth Circuit pro se
brief filed in an appeal from the U.S. District Court in Dallas in a case originally assigned to Judge Barefoot Sanders
I, James Washington Jr., filed this case on the 23rd day of June 2000. To the Honorable Bear Feets Sandals
, United States Federal Court, Dallas, Texas.
I, James Washington Jr. do not understand why the case was referred to the Honorable Paul D. Stickney, United States Magistrate Judge and the Honorable Jerry Buchmeyer, United States District Judge Case 3:01-CV-487-R.
(2) From Becky Beaver
of Austin, this excerpt from a pleading filed by opposing counsel in a case Becky was involved in last year. Petitioner has repeatedly and relentlessly threatened to have Respondent committed without any means of release.
Petitioner knows that Respondent is extremely venerable
to such threats and Petitioner enjoins administering such threats.
(3) From E. L. Caraway
of Fort Worth (Watson, Caraway, etc.), this typo in a discovery response he received from the plaintiff’s attorney in a property damage case.
An as yet undermined
account representative for the Plaintiff will appear to testify to Plaintiff’s records.
October 2004 - Louisiana Law — Legends and Laughs
The following selection is from a marvelous book co-authored by Judge Henry Politz
, formerly the Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (now deceased). One of my former law clerks, Wendy Hickok Robinson
, who is a partner with Gordon Arata McCollam Duplantis & Eagan, L.L.P. in New Orleans, gave me a copy.
The defendant had committed what could only be described as a particularly stupid felonious act.
The witness had shared a jail cell with the defendant for several years. An issue before the court was the defendant’s legal competence. After the customary scene setting questions, the following question and answer ensued:
Q. What was your impression of his behavior and his psychological state at that time?
A. Well, he had his lights on, but nobody was home.
September 2004 - From the Classroom
of Dallas (Thompson & Knight) recently spoke to a class of fourth-grade students at the Rosemont Elementary School as part of the Dallas Bar Association’s “Lawyers in the Classroom Program,” where he received a question about his background.
He explained that he flew helicopters for the U.S. Air Force for nine years before he attended law school. A little boy in the back of the classroom eagerly raised his hand.
When P.J. called on him, the boy asked, “Did you fly during the Civil War
May 2001 - Did I Really Say That?
From Roger A. Berger
of Houston, who was defending a hospital emergency room group in a malpractice case, this excerpt from the deposition of the administrator of the Group. The question by the plaintiff's counsel was intended to define the different types of emergency room patients - but it elicited a literal answer.
Q. What's the difference between a bed and a chair?
A. One you lay on, one you sit on.
January 1997 - Classic Typos
From Joe Werner
of Dallas (Haynes and Boone), the verbal typos committed by a member of the Dallas School Board:
- That's fraud in the seducement of the contract.
- Their school choir is a wonderful group that sings Acapulco.
- We do not allow any profound language at council meetings.
April 1991 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up
This trial excerpt is from a case tried before a certain federal judge in Dallas:
Q. Just what did you do to prevent the accident?
A. I closed my eyes and screamed as loud as I could.
April 1991 - Did I Really Ask That?
From Jimmy Morris
, this trial excerpt from one of his criminal cases:
Q. Are you related to Johnny Darrell Bailey?
Q. And what is the nature of that relationship?
A. I'm his mother.
Q. And you have been all of his life; is that right?
A. Yes, sir.
June 1990 - Did I Really Hear That?
From a labor arbitration hearing involving Ralph Phinney
of Dallas and Durwood Crawford
, also of Dallas:
Q. Yes, sir, Steve, in your engineering course did - in preparing you to move into management, did you have any courses to relate to people?
A. I don't believe - no, I don't believe I took any specific courses in - in - other than a - I guess, I had one course related to how to get along with people?
A. No. It was courtship and marriage. Probably the most valuable course I've had.
Arbitrator: He topped you on that one, didn't he?
Phinney: Well, it looked like he might've been a good bowler.
October 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?
From Steven Ellinger
of Houston (Law Offices of Raymod H. Stauffacher), comes this deposition excerpt - with the disclaimer that "to my knowledge, [my client's daughter] was a high school student, and not a resident of TDC, at the time she took the [driver's] course."
Q. Did they offer a driver's course in high school?
A. Classroom only and she did take it.
Q. Okay. Now, she took a written test, didn't she?
A. Related to that, yes.
Q. Okay. Dd you take her down there to take that written test?
A. You mean to The Department of Corrections
A. - or whatever you call those.
Q. Department of Public Safety
October 1989 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up
From Stuart Smith
of Waco (Naman, Howell), this excerpt from a deposition in a lawsuit in which "one of the issues was whether the defendant had called the plaintiff ' a marketing idiot
' in an internal memo.
A. Mr. ___ was not an idiot; Mr. ___ was not an idiot; I reserve judgment on Mr. ___.
Q. Because you never met him or because you met him and you couldn't tell from talking to him?
A. I could not tell from personal conversation if he qualifies for idiot status or not.
Q. All right. Of course, he was a graduate student at Baylor University, wasn't he?
A. That may be a handicap.
Q. Do you think it's possible to be a Baylor student and graduate student and be an idiot?
A. As a longhorn, that is possible.
January 2004 - Did She Really Ask That?
From Robert A. Bragalone
of Dallas (Cooper & Scully), this excerpt from a deposition he recently attended.
Q. And where are - how are you calculating that? How old do you believe Damien was when he was born? We'll start there.
Mr. Bragalone: Object to form. That's one of those for Judge Buchmeyer.
Ms. Vaughan: Let me rephrase that.
A. From the discharge -
Q. (By Ms. Vaughan) That one would have definitely been misleading. Let me rephrase that.
February 2002 - The Purple Trader
From Bruce A. Campbell
of Dallas (Lawson Fields), this excerpt from a pro se Motion to Quash Indictment filed in an unauthorized use of a motor vehicle case.
2). There is no evidence tending to place the Defendant at the sean [sic] of crime, or any witness in which can identify the defendant as being the actual purple trader
February 2002 - Waxing Poetically
From Phillip C. Umphres
of Dallas (Phil is an Assistant U.S. Attorney), this beginning to a Motion to Dismiss that he recently filed in a criminal case:
RESPONSE OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR RELIEF UNDER 28 U.S.C. § 2255
I. Motion to Dismiss
Ricky Lacardo McGee
Just couldn’t wait to be free.
So he filed an appeal
And said, “Boy, what a deal, I’ll try and undo my bad plea.”
Not content to await fate in the Fifth
He said, “I’ll give my old lawyer the shrift,”
So he filed a petition
For sentence remission And claimed his P.D. was adrift.
But the law only gives you one chance
At a time to decide where to dance,
So we’re forced to implore
That this court do no more
Than consider his Motion askance.