January 31, 2005
 
June 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

James P. Walker, Jr. of Dallas (McKinley, Dubner) shares an excerpt from the deposition of a bankruptcy debtor who is serving time for stock fraud at the La Tuna Federal Corrections Institution. This cross-examination is by Wade Williams of Galveston (Mills, Shirley).

Q. And so that, whether or not that money was actually being used to buy stocks, she really wouldn't know otherwise, correct?

A. That's correct.

Q. Okay. Because the confirmation slip stayed the same for a real as opposed to a fictitious stock transfer?

A. That is correct.

Q. You've talked in a lot of generalities with regard to the last 90 days and what went on. Am I correct?

A. Yeah, - whatever I testified to, that's what I said.

James astutely notes: "I am not sure if it ever gets much clearer than this."

January 28, 2005
 
May 2001 - The Full Time Stud

This contribution is from Roger L. Mandel of Dallas (Stanley, Mandel & Iola):
My partner, Mark H. Iola, was recently getting ready to pick a jury for an asbestos trial in Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois. When he received the jury panel list, he was rather astonished to find that the very first panel member, a 22-year old single male, had apparently listed his occupation as "FULL TIME STUD."


The case settled before jury selection ended, and Mark naturally introduced himself to this juror, saying that he wanted to meet anyone who could make a living at the occupation that most men would choose if they only had the choice. The juror was quite embarrassed and said that he was, in fact, a "FULL TIME STUDENT."

January 27, 2005
 
April 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From David A. Lawrance of Fort Worth (Kirkley, Schmidt & Cotten), this excerpt from an asbestos case deposition.

Q. What you have in front of you is what has been marked as Exhibit A to your answers to interrogatories, and this is a list of, by my count, close to 300 different jobsites. I think we have got 296 different jobsites. Have you seen this list before?

A. Yes, I’ve seen something that looks kind of like it. I didn’t read it through, or whatever.

Q. How was that list put together, do you know?

A. Stapled.

Q. Ask a stupid question —

A. I’m sorry.

January 26, 2005
 
July 1992 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up!

From Gary A. Walters of Denton (Milner & Walters), this excerpt from the deposition of the plaintiff in a personal injury case: Randy Stout of Denton is deposing, with Camille Milner representing the plaintiff. The deposition begins with questions about the plaintiff's "family background and her household inhabitants."

Q. Sandra Kay Lemlyn [lives with you]?

A. Yes, that's my daughter.

Q. How old is she?

A. Thirty-five.

Q. Is she employed?

A. No, sir. Not at this time.

Q. When was the last time she was employed?

A. Several months ago. She's expecting at this time.

Q. Okay. A child?

A. Yes, sir. I think that's what it is.

(Discussion off the record.)

January 25, 2005
 
April 2004 - Did He Really Say That?

The next contribution is from Stephen W. Drinnon of Dallas (Brown McCarroll, L.L.P.). They are from the same case, which was “brought by a long-haul truck driver and his wife who alleged that he was significantly and permanently injured when he opened the doors on his trailer to unload.”

The case involved whether the truck driver was aware of various Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations that were at issue in the case.

Q. (by Mr. Drinnon) Can a motor carrier allow a person to drive a commercial motor vehicle if they are not DOT qualified?

Mr. Thomas: Objection.

A. No.

Mr. Thomas: Calling for a legal conclusion.

Q. (by Mr. Drinnon) Can a motor carrier like Crete be penalized by the DOT if one of their drivers failed to comply with the regulations?

Mr. Thomas: Objection.

A. Sure.

Mr. Thomas: Calling for a legal conclusion.

A. Yes, they can.

Mr. Drinnon: Your attorney is going to make some more objections.

The Witness: Why didn’t you object earlier when I could have used you?

Mr. Thomas: Oh, is that right?

January 24, 2005
 
July 1992 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up!

From R.D. Pattillo, III of Waco (Williams, Pattillo & Squires), "two gems that occurred on the same page" of a deposition he took in a products liability case involving a death caused by a tractor/trencher. First, the distributor is being asked what oral safety instructions would have been given to the purchaser with the limited warranty card:

Q. ...What types of oral [safety] instructions would you give [to they buyer]?

A. Truthfully?

Q. Uh-huh.

A. "Sign this damn card so I can get on out of here."


Then, only 10 lines later, R.D. started to ask the distributor questions designed to show that the tractor/trencher was defectively designed because it did not have a "dead-man control safety device:"

Q. ...Do you understand what a dead-man control device would be in its application to, say, an LM-35?

A. Well, it would be a device that a dead man could switch off before he died.

January 21, 2005
 
February 1996 - Classic Typos

From P. David Wahlberg of Austin (Bender & Wahlberg), this paragraph from the Juror's Handbook given to him when he reported for jury service in Travis County:

Benefits of Jury Service

You may have had the responsible and difficult task of finding the needle of truth in a haystack of convicting evidence.

January 20, 2005
 
February 1996 - Did They Really Say That?

This deposition excerpt from Robert W. Weber of Texarkana (Atchley, Russell, etc.):

Q. His former wife, not his current wife, the one he was married to in Marshall and his son?

A. Yes.

Q. How did you happen to know them?

A. Okay, follow me, her father was married to my mother's sister.

Q. To your aunt.

A. They had twins, she died at childbirth, he remarried had other children, she was a half-sister to my first cousin and a half-brother to my first cousin. No relation to me.

January 19, 2005
 
December 2003 - David Beck, The Ghost

This deposition excerpt from Joe W. Redden, Jr. of Houston (Beck, Redden & Secrest, L.L.P.), concerns his partner, former State Bar President David Beck.

Q. Okay. What previous experience have you had working with the Beck Redden firm?

A. The — in the matter of — of United — some bank in Tyler versus St. Paul — yeah, Citizens 1st against St. Paul on page 7, I was retained by the Beck Redden firm.

Q. Who —

A. To testify on behalf of the bank.

Q. With whom at Beck Redden did you work?

A. I don’t remember.

The Witness: Do you remember?

Mr. Alexander: I think David Beck at least.

The Witness: Well, David Beck was involved, yeah, but, you know, David Beck is a ghost. I’m not even sure there is such a person.

Q. (By Mr. Veselka) You haven’t — you haven’t talked to David Beck on this engagement, have you?

A. No, uh-uh. I mean when I see David Beck, it’s on an airplane, and I usually say, “Hello,” and that’s — that’s about it. I don’t remember who I dealt with. It was a younger lawyer, very capable fellow.

January 18, 2005
 
June 2001 - The Competency Hearing

Mark D. Wilson of Houston sent me a section from a book written by the father of one of his good friends. The book, "A Dollar a Mile, Fifty Cents a Gate," by James G. Taylor, M.D., contains this marvelous (!!) excerpt "detailing some testimony at a competency hearing."

Judge Jack Pierce asked me to come over to the courthouse one day to evaluate the mental status of a man waiting in his office. Though I can't recall the man's name or the relevance of his presence before the judge, I do remember his response to a line of questioning I'd been trained to use in such situations.

I questioned him succinctly.

"Is anyone after you?"

"No."

"Are you afraid enough to feel the need of killing a person?"

"No."

"Do you hear voices?"

"No."

"Do you hear things you are unable to see?"

"Yep."

I paused and asked him quietly, "What do you think they are?"

"Mosquitoes," he answered.

My evaluation for the judge was just as concise. "Judge, in my opinion, this man is normal, and smarter than I am."

January 14, 2005
 
January 1992 - From the Trials of Buchmeyer

Actual Q & A's from trials during the past six months.

Q. Now, shortly after this, Mr. F. drowned?

A. That's what I understand.

Q. So he's dead, now?

A. Yes.

Q. So he's not here to tell his side of the story?

U.S. Attorney: Objection.

The Court (wisely): Sustained!

***

Q. What did you do with the money you got from the land flip?

A. Bought a Mercedes 450 SL convertible.

Q. Why.

A. Well, it was a little less ostentatious than buying a Rolls Royce.

January 13, 2005
 
January 1992 - Will You Swear To That?

From Robert J. Newton of Lake Jackson (Davis, Newton & Davis), this excerpt from the deposition of a city official - who was being questioned about "the lease of city property and the official's possible over-friendliness with business persons interested in leasing this property":

Q. Have you ever had any business dealing with Mr. A.?

A. No sir. I can answer the same question on Mr. B, Mr. C, and Mr. D also. I don't think any of these people have even bought me a drink. They might have, but I don't think they did. I won't swear to that, though.

Q. I won't ask you to swear to that.

A. Because of they tried to buy me a drink, I would take it. And I will swear to that.
Q. Okay.

January 12, 2005
 
January 2003 - Getting Right With The Lord

These trial excerpts from a dispute between neighbors over barking dogs were submitted by two sources: Christopher R. Johnson of El Paso (Firth, Johnston, Martinez) and Robert J. Thomas, Official Court Reporter.

A. What kind of dog is it?

Q. (By Mr. Hughes) He’s a mutt I got at the dog pound. He’s a some kind of Labrador mix, but he’s a monster, Ms. Penley. And you know what? When he barks, you know what I do? I open the door and I say, “Shut up or I’m going to rip your throat out.” And he shuts up. Now, I don’t know if he understands English, but he’s a pretty smart dog. So you actually have to take a dog — never mind. I’m just being flippant.

Let’s go back and address your problems. You want the Judge — other than — and I’m going to wrap this up because I’m boring everybody to tears. I mean, I find myself amusing but I suspect nobody else does.

(Courtroom participants nod in agreement.)

January 11, 2005
 
July 2001 - The Motion for Continuance

Scott A. Say of Littlefield (Scott is the assistant county and district attorney of Lamb County) and Warren G. Tabor, Jr. of Levelland (Tabor & Tabor) both submitted this marvelous (!!) Motion For Continuance that was filed in the 154th District Court of Lamb County by Angela French of Levelland.

TO THE HONORABLE
JUDGE OF SAID COURT:
Now comes ____ Respondent, and files this Motion for Continuance of this cause from its present setting of 4-10-2001 and shows the following: 1. This motion is filed in accordance with Article 29.03 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.

....

4. Counsel has had insufficient time to prepare for said cause.

5. Counsel's dog ate all her "decent" pairs of shoes; and counsel needs more time to purchase replacements.

6. This motion is not made for purposes of delay but that justice may be done.

January 10, 2005
 
July 2001 - That's Why I Have an Attorney

From J. Robert Arnett, II of Dallas (Sopuch, Nouhan, Higgins & Arnett), this excerpt from a deposition in one of his bankruptcy cases.

Q. All right. You understand that what you're saying here is that Mr. ____ and Mr. ____ disregarded some advice that Mr. _____ gave them?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. What facts do you have that would lead you to believe that they disregarded some advice he gave them?

A. I don't need facts. That's why I have an attorney.

January 07, 2005
 
December 2004 - Doing Voir Dire

John A. Peralta of Del Rio, an assistant U.S. attorney, was trying a misdemeanor jury trial before Magistrate Judge Victor R. Garcia. When the jury panel came in, Peralta noticed that his 10 year-old daughter's teacher was on the panel. However, when Judge Garcia asked if anyone on the panel knew John Peralta, he was stunned when the juror stood and told the entire court: "I am the parent of one of Mr. Peralta's children."

John was speechless and the silence in the courtroom was deafening. After a few moments, which Peralta said seemed like hours, she realized her mistake and corrected herself. John pretended to wipe sweat off his brow - and the court erupted in laughter.

January 06, 2005
 
December 2004 - The Helpful Witness

From Michael R. Ross of Houston (Tribble & Sanders), this excerpt from a deposition taken "in a residence converted to a law office in Conroe." The attorney asking the questions was James E. Clinebell of Houston (Law Offices of Neil S. Levin):

Q. Mrs. Bailey, my name is Jim Clinebell. I represent John Valdez in this case. Have you spoken to anybody since the accident in this case?

A. Can I stop? You have a spider. He's crawling on you. I'm sorry. It just went up under your collar. Sorry. I didn't want it to startle you. Sorry.

Q. I appreciate that.

(Witness brushed the spider off Mr. Clinebell, and there was a brief interruption).

January 05, 2005
 
October 1985 - Don't Take That Down

This excerpt from an actual deposition originally appeared in the book "I Solemnly Swear" by Houston court reporter Jerry von Sternberg (Carlton Press, 1978).

Q. Just between you and me and the lamppost, don't you feel that you can do better with any job when you are sober than you can when you have had a few drinks?

A. Don't take that down.

Q. You can't tell him not to take it down, Mr. Fields.

A. Don't take that down.

Q. You see, my point is, you can't put on the record what you want on the record.

A. Please don't, do not put that down.

Q. Mr. Fields, your talking to Mr. von Sternberg is only going to result in his putting down in the paper what you say to him, because he is required by his oath as a court reporter to take down everything that goes on once a deposition starts.

A. What am I supposed to do?

January 04, 2005
 
October 1985 - Write it All Down

This excerpt from an actual deposition originally appeared in the book "I Solemnly Swear" by Houston court reporter Jerry von Sternberg (Carlton Press, 1978).

Q. What did you do for Bullard?

A. I was shipping clerk. You put it all down. I worked two jobs. I worked at every club and private home in Houston. That is my business. Put it down. You don't have to ask me, I am telling you.

Q. Do you remember what time you started bartending and working private parties?

A. No. I was bartending when I first come to this country, and I have worked all over Houston, in every club in Houston, and I know everybody. Write it all down. I am telling you everything.

January 03, 2005
 
October 1985 - What's it All About?
This excerpt from an actual deposition originally appeared in the book "I Solemnly Swear" by Houston court reporter Jerry von Sternberg (Carlton Press, 1978).

Q. Mr. Martin, do you understand that the answers that you give to my questions today are being written down by the court reporter, who will make a transcription of your testimony and it can be introduced as evidence in the trial of your lawsuit. do you understand that?

A. Well, I'm not sure, but I thought he was doing something like that.


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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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