April 29, 2005
 
February 1997 - I'm Not Sober, But ...

From David L. Traylor of Dallas, this exchange that took place recently before U.S. District Judge Joe Kendall (Dallas Division, Northern District of Texas):

Judge: As you stand here today, are you sober?

Defendant: No, I'm not sober.

Judge: Are you drunk?

Defendant: No, I'm not drunk.

Judge: Are you under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

Defendant: No.

Judge: Are you drunk?

Defendant: No.

Judge: Are you sober?

Defendant: No, I'm not sober.

Judge: Perhaps sober is a word that is not in your vocabulary. I know several people like that.

April 28, 2005
 
September 1991 - No Further Questions

From Justice of the Peace Richard (Ric) Madrigal of Austin (Precinct Four), testimony from the trial of a defendant charged with public intoxication. First, the critical portion of the "direct examination of the state's chief witness," an officer with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission:

Prosecutor: Officer, can you tell us what led you to believe that the defendant was "under the influence of alcohol?"

Officer: Yes, the defendant had a glazed and glassy look in her eye.

According to Ric, the state rested after cross-examination of the witness - and then Ned Granger, "the defense attorney and a former county atttorney of Travis County, called his client to the stand, asked her to identify herself, and shot off his first question:"

Granger: Mrs. Blank, is there a medical disability you have that the court should know about?

Defendant: Yes there is.

Granger: What is it?

Defendant: I have a glass eye.

April 27, 2005
 
April 1991 - I Can Understand That

This deposition excerpt comes from Robert E. Burns of Dallas, with the explanation that although the deposition was lengthy and the subject matter complicated, the answers "were prompt, intelligent and succinct" and the witness had not smiled or given a humorous answer:

Q. ("An unusually long question.")

A. (After a brief hesitation.) That question reminds me of the little boy who dropped his bubble gum in the chicken yard; I'm confused.

April 26, 2005
 
March 2002 - And Then Things Went Downhill...

From Steven C. Laird of Fort Worth (Russell, Turner, Laird & Jones), a contribution from the trial of a medical negligence case. The excerpt is “the very beginning of the cross-examination of the plaintiffs’ nursing expert” ­ a “very attractive, statuesque nurse in her early 40’s.”

Q. All right. I don’t know why; but when I first took your deposition in Houston and even today, I get the feeling of how a dove must feel when my Russian blue cat is stalking it. Do you have cats?

A. I have two Abyssinians.

Q. Big ones?

A. Abyssinians, by nature or their breed, are small.

Q. Because of that, I’m going to try to find areas as long as I can —

A. I’m sorry. Can you clarify? You’re stating that I’m stalking you?

Q. I’m just saying, I feel like a dove in the backyard.

A. Yeah. Don’t be afraid.

April 25, 2005
 
April 2005 - The Interrogatory Response

James L. Hordern, Jr. of Houston (Thompson, Coe, Cousins & Irons) received the following interrogatory response from a plaintiff who "had been terminated from his job, as had three other relatives of his that were employed by the same firm."

Interrogatory No. 10:
Please identify any and all documents you have destroyed or thrown away which you either received or generated in 2000, 2001, and 2002 as part of your working relationship with Contractor's Advantage. If applicable, please specifically identify:
a. The type of documents thrown away or destroyed;
b. The approximate number of documents thrown away or destroyed;
c. The date or dates when any such documents were thrown away or destroyed; and
d. Whether any documents responsive to Bob Pryor's Second Request for Productions has been (sic) thrown away or destroyed, since the date you were served with process in this case.

Response:
(a-d) I do not have any documents. I was escorted out of the building and my personal property was delivered to my home as was all my family.

April 22, 2005
 
March 1994 - Classic Typos

(1) From an answer in Dallas: the plaintiff "should be required to prove each and every one [of its allegations] by a preponderance of all incredible evidence."

(2) From a Houston attorney intervention: Intervenor prays that "the court grant such other and further relief as may be justly inequitable."

(3) From a bankruptcy fee application in Houston: "a brief biological sketch of each [firm] attorney is attached."

Credits for these contributions go to (1) Gregory J. McCarthy of Dallas, (2) D'Anne Haydel of Houston (Porter & Clements), (3) Chris Reeder of New Orlenas, LA (O'Neil, Eichin).

April 21, 2005
 
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.

April 20, 2005
 
April 2005 - The Motion for New Trial

Carolyn J. White is the court reporter for Judge Rick Davis of the
272nd District Court in Bryan (Brazos County). In February of this year, they had a hearing on a motion for continuance in a criminal case.

Judge Davis noticed that the defense attorneys Travis Bryan, III and David Barron had filed a setting request on a motion for new trial, and this marvelous exchange followed:

Mr. Barron: That should have gone to Judge Smith.

The Court: It’s on the Whanger case, Motion for New Trial. Now, we haven’t had a trial yet in the first place. I will guarantee you all that you will not get a used trial. We’ll get 12 fresh jurors who have never worked together before and have not heard any evidence on this case. It will be a totally fresh trial. It will not be a used trial, not in this court.

April 19, 2005
 
September 2001 - Did They Really Say That?

From Anonymous in East Texas, these excerpts from a criminal trial involving a pro se defendant.

An excerpt from the defendant's opening statement:

[T]hey had found some marijuana up that old creek down there, and it's a state law that if they find marijuana on your property, they consecrate your property.

Here, the defendant is cross-examining his own son:

Q. Well ... can I ask you this right here? How old was you when your biological father left you?

A. The first time? The second time? The fifth time?

Q. Well, I was just put in the penitentiary once, and I ain't got out yet!

In this one, the defendant is cross-examining an explosives expert:

Q. Okay. The trailer house is blowed up from underneath?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And these people was sleeping in the bed. That's what I perceive, and it blowed them up in the air? Then when the explosion quit, they come back down?

A. Number one, as to what they were doing in the bed, I have no idea.

April 18, 2005
 
March 1998 - Maybe It's a Whole Other Country, Too

From Judge Martha J. Trudo:

The Court: Are you a United States citizen? Were you born in the United States?

Defendant: No, ma'am.

The Court: Where were you born?

Defendant: Louisiana.

April 15, 2005
 
May 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

This excerpt is from D. Bradley Kizzia of Dallas (Strasburger & Price); Brad is questioning the plaintiff's "about the medical treatment that he received immediately following his eye injury."

Q. What did they do for you [at the Texas Tech Health Science Center]?

A. They poured more eye drops on my eye and at that time I just couldn't hold my pain. I just got sick. I think I passed away.

Q. You mean you passed out?

A. Passed out, I'm sorry.

April 14, 2005
 
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.

April 13, 2005
 
November 1989 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up

From Charles W. Hury of McAllen (Atlas & Hall), this exchange from the trial of a death case in Hidalgo County. After cross-examining the defendant's foreman "concerning the use and maintenance of the product involved," the plaintiff's attorney asked a relatively standard question to establish that the deceased was a Nice Guy.

Q. Was he considered a good employee?

A. He was good but undependable.

Plaintiff's attorney then decides to try to undo the damage he has just done by emphasizing the employee's exemplary performance on the day of the accident.

Q. Well, that morning you went over to wake him up around midnight or so to tell him to be here at 5:00 and he was here at 5:00, wasn't he?

A. Yeah, it shocked me too.

April 12, 2005
 
September 2004 - The Third Commandment

From Assistant District Attorney Dan Leedy of Bellville (Austin County), this contribution from the punishment phase of a jury trial for resisting arrest. The defendant was stopped for speeding and he refused to sign the ticket. The defendant began cursing and struggling with the officer as he was being placed under arrest.

The defendant was convicted, and during the punishment phase of the trial, he called his priest as a character witness. During Leedy’s cross-examination of the priest, the following occurred:

Q. Now, would it surprise you that during a traffic stop [the defendant] broke the Third Commandment?

A. What is the Third Commandment?

Q. The one not to use the Lord’s name in vain.

A. Describe how he did that. May I ask that?

Q. Okay. I can show you that, but would that surprise you to learn that he used that type of language?

A. No.

Q. Why would that not surprise you?

A. He is a normal human being.

Q. And so would it surprise you if other obscene language was directed toward a police officer?

A. Shock me, probably; surprise, no.

April 11, 2005
 
June 2001 - Did They Really Say That?

From David K. Sergi of San Marcos (Sergi & Associates), this excerpt from the direct examination "of a rather high-strung woman in a divorce proceeding" in which David represented the husband.

Q. Has your marriage become insupportable due to a discord or conflict of personalities?

A. Most definitely.

Q. Any hope of reconciliation?

A. None at all.

Q. Are you expecting any other child other than Blake?

A. Yes, in the future.

Q. But you are not presently pregnant?

A. No, I'm not presently pregnant, no, thank God.

April 08, 2005
 
January 1997 - Classic Typos

From David M. Abner of Dallas (Shafter, Ramsey, & Mueller) this typo from the case digest from 860 S.W.2d 590:

The Court of Appeals, Poff, J., held that (1) settlement agreement reached through medication was binding and could not be repudiated.

April 07, 2005
 
October 1997 - But I've Got an Alibi!

From Cathy Talley of Austin (Cathy is a staff attorney for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals), this statement in an application for writ of habeas corpus which alleged ineffective assistance of counsel due to the lawyer's failure to interview possible witnesses:

Petitioner had alibi witnesses to testify on his behalf that he was alone at the time of the offense.

April 06, 2005
 
October 1991 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Olivia F. Dirik, a legal assistant with Busch, Ryan & Seib of Dallas, this excerpt is from a deposition taken by Faith Bruner of a defendant who had counterclaimed for damages:

Q. Have you actually sat down and added up the figures to come to this amount, $125,000?

A. No, I haven't.

Q. You haven't made any charts, any calculations?

A. No.

Q. How did you arrive at the number?

A. Well, I wanted to be fair, so I just figured that they owed me double that and I'll just take half of it

Q. How did you figure they owed you double that?

A. Because you just had to be there.

April 05, 2005
 
March 1995 - Classic Typos

1) From the jury charge in a recent trial before Judge Joaquin Villarreal of Corpus Christi: "'Gross negligence' means more than monetary thoughtlessness, inadvertence, or error of judgment ... ."

2) From a DTPA demand letter: "The plaintiffs are willing to sing a complete release for $85,000."

3) From a letter from a prospective client in California: "Also are you interested in representing me pro bono or on consignment?"

These classic typos were contributed by:

1) Sharon Emerson of Corpus Christi (Sharon is a paralegal with Kleberg & Head).

2) Scott Patrick Stolley of Dallas (Thompson, Coe, etc.)

3) Bobby D. Myers of San Antonio (Biery, Biery, Myers, etc.).

April 04, 2005
 
September 2004 - From the Classroom

P.J. Putnam 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?”

April 01, 2005
 
June 2002 - Did They Really Ask That?

From Jeffrey S. Lisson of Winston-Salem, N.C., this excerpt from a deposition he “recently took of a maintenance supervisor for a hotel at which a paraplegic woman I represent was scalded in a hotel bathroom.”

Q. [By Mr. Lisson]: Have you ever undergone any training or gone to any seminars from the American Hotel/Motel Association?

Mr. Helms: Are you talking about him personally?

Mr. Lisson: Yes. That’s why I said you.

***

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.”


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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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