August 31, 2005
 
November 1989 - Let's Be Particularly Careful Out There

From Judge James A. Blackstock of Angleton (County Court at Law No. 3 and Probate Court), this bit of direct examination by the state's attorney who is interrupted by an objection by the guardian ad litem for the children.

Q. Describe your daughter, Dianna, for me.

A. Dianna's a smart girl. She's a pretty girl.

Q. What's her personality like, Mr. S____?

A. Well, for the past few years, all I've seen her is for visitation; so, it's hard to get a handle on that.

Q. You have no idea what her personality is like?

A. Being that she was taken from my home in 1985, I haven't had enough contact with her to really know much about the things she likes to do.

Ad Litem: Objection, Your Honor, the witness is testifying.

Father's attorney: Which is exactly what he's supposed to be doing, Your Honor.

Court. Overrule the objection.

Judge Blackstock notes that the imaginative objection, although overruled, was apparently effective because the jury voted unanimously to terminate parental rights.

August 30, 2005
 

October 1989 - I'm Glad We Cleared that Up

Theodore A. Hargrove, III of San Angelo sends this story about the Very First Divorce Client of Judge Royal Hart (51st Judicial District, Tom Green County):

His client, the wife "lived on a ranch and apparently got none of the benefits of grocery shopping. When going through the list of required questions to have the divorce granted, Judge Hart realized he had never inquired of his client as to why she wished to get a divorce."

Q. Tell the Court why you want this divorce.

A. Well, I just can't eat any more deer meat.

The divorce, of course, was granted.


August 29, 2005
 
June 1989 - For the Record

From a deposition taken this year by Victor M. Carrera of Corpus Christi (Wood, Boykin):

A. Well, she always would say that her shoulder would hurt around this area here (indicating).

Q. You are pointing to the top of the shoulder area on up to the neck?

A. Yeah, to this area (indicating).

Q. Okay.

Mr. Bonilla: Of the right side.

A. I don't remember which side.

Mr. Carrera: I thought it was Margarite's left side that hurt.

Mr. Bonilla: Well, he's complaining -- I mean, he's pointing to his right side.

Mr. Carrera: Oh, he's pointing to the right side.

Mr. Bonilla: Yeah. Right. I want the record to reflect that the witness did point to the right side.

Mr. Carrera: Which may be the wrong side.

Mr. Bonilla: But that's for the record.

August 26, 2005
 
April 1990 - Recalling & Recollecting

Terry L. Belt of Austin submits this excerpt from the deposition of the father who was seeking to modify the child custody terms of the divorce.

Q. Do you remember the incident on the day that you came running up from the basement and explained to your wife that you were going to kill yourself?

A. No.

Q. Have you blocked it out of your mind or are you saying that it never happened?

A. Never happened.

Q. You didn't go behind the shed there with your gun?

A. No.

Q. Do you remember what year it was that it didn't happen?

A. 1980, I believe.

August 25, 2005
 
January 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From Al Ellis of Dallas (Al is of counsel with Howie & Sweeney), this excerpt from “a routine personal injury deposition” in which he received “the final answer as to why the divorce occurred.”

Q. What was the reason for your mom’s first divorce, if you know?

A. My dad.

August 24, 2005
 
January 2001 - Did They Really Say That?

From Judge Juan R. Partida of Edinburg, (275th District Court, Hidalgo Court) this excerpt from prove-up of an uncontested divorce:

Mr. Oxford: As to the personal property, the 1991 Ford pickup goes to Mr. Salinas. The 1984 Jeep Cherokee goes to Mrs. Salinas. Mrs. Salinas gets to keep the shotgun she inherited. Mr. Salinas keeps weapons and fishing gear plus one .243 Remington model 788 rifle goes to him. The furniture goes to Mrs. Salinas. He gets personal items including his clothes. The chickens go to Mrs. Salinas. He will keep his son, to the extent allowed, and his wife to the extent allowed ...

Q. Mrs. Salinas, you have been present during the recitation of this proposed agreement. Are you asking this court to enter a divorce decree reflecting this agreement?

A. Yes, sir.

Mr. Oxford: Ask the court to enter the agreement as per our dictation into record. And Mr. Ornelas (husband's attorney) will be kind enough to prepare it.

The Court: Yes, sir. I know you mentioned chickens, but who keeps the roosters? Are there any roosters?

Mr. Oxford (wisely): Generally, there - the roosters will follow the chickens.

Mr. Ornelas: That's right -

The Court: I agree.

Mr. Ornelas: That's a rule of law there, your honor.

August 23, 2005
 
October 2002 - "A/K/A Bubba"

From David A. Rutledge of El Paso, who found the style of this case so interesting that he sent a copy to Jay Leno as well as "et cetera."

The State of Texas, Plaintiff
v.
Cox, Sylvester, A.K.A. Butler, Sylvester, A.K.A. Sylvester Butler, A.K.A. Bubba

August 22, 2005
 
June 2002 - Tell Us What You Really Think

From J. Robert Arnett II of Dallas (Sopuch, Nouhan, et. al.), this deposition testimony "taken in a trespass/nuisance by dumping case between neighboring landowners" in a case that recently settled.

Q. Do you have any idea where _____ is now?

A. I hope he's dead. I have no idea other than I hope he's dead.

Q. How about _____ ?

A. I hope he's on top of him dead. But that's all I know.

August 19, 2005
 
June 1992 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Bradley N. Randall of Beaumont (assistant city attorney), this excerpt from an assault by theft trial in which the victim's girlfriend established new heights in profanity-less name-calling. She is being questioned by the defendant, and has just testified in detail about his "off-color language."

Q. But you've called me names, too.

A. Not in that language.

Q. You called me a Neanderthal.

A. That's right. I called you a Neanderthal and a cretinous yahoo.

Bradley adds: "The defendant was found guilty, but his sentence was probated due to these mitigating circumstances."

August 18, 2005
 
November 1991 - I Know Just What You Mean

From Michael P. Setty of Pittsburg (Texas, of course), this classic from the recent deposition "of a plaintiff with a long history of alcoholism and erratic speech and behavior;" Michael sets the stage by explaining that "The plaintiff filed suit to cancel a conveyance that was signed in an attorney's office in Mt. Vernon, Texas. During the deposition he was asked how long it took him to travel from his home to the attorney's office in Mt. Vernon."

Q. Okay. How long does it take you to get from where you live to Hicks' office in Mt. Vernon?

A. It's from where I live it's to 14 miles to Mt. Pleasant, 14 miles to Pittsburg, and 14 miles to Mt. Vernon, I am 14 miles from nowhere any which way I go and that's another 14 to come home, that's 28 miles throwed away.

August 17, 2005
 
April 2000 - Aggressively Ambivalent

From Tom Alleman of Dallas (Winstead, Sechrest & Minick), this remarkable excerpt from an amicus curiae brief filed in a software antitrust case by a Harvard Law School professor:

ConclusionFor the foregoing reasons, in the manner described, this Court may conclude either that the government has succeeded in establishing a "separate product" for purposes of "tying" under Section 1 of the Sherman Act, or that it has not.

Respectfully Submitted,

August 16, 2005
 
June 2005 - He Had To Ask

David W. Townsend of Garland (Brown, Brown, Chandler & Townsend) contributed this deposition excerpt, with the comment that "Scott Freshour of Austin nailed it on his cross of my neuro-surgeon. He just couldn't restrain himself."

Q. I want to ask you about one of the things you said is that vertebral artery (sic injuries) are almost uniformly lethal, correct?

A. That's correct.

Q. This man died, correct?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. That's pretty lethal, isn't it?

A. Oh, yes.

Q. That's kind of a silly question, I know, but I had to ask it.

August 15, 2005
 
June 1987 - Did I Really Hear That?

George A. Kelt, Jr., a United State Magistrate in Houston, discovered "this bit of testimony given by the young widow in the case concerning the fracus" in State of Texas v. Charlie Coleman:

Q. Do you remember what day of the week Nov. 29, 1980 was?

A. It was on a Saturday.

Q. Were you or your husband working that day?

A. No, sir.

Q. Sometime during the day of Nov. 29, 1980 did something unusual happen, ma'am?

A. Nothing except my husband got shot.

Q. About what time of the day was that?

A. It was about 2:30 or a quarter to three, something like that.

August 12, 2005
 
January 2005 - Did They Really Say That?

From Joe. G. Roady of Houston (Hirsh & Westheimer) this contribution "in a Juror Information Form" used in Judge Robert Frost's 116th District Court in Dallas:

In the block for information concerning the 'Highest Level of Education,' one prospective juror wrote 5'6".

August 11, 2005
 
June 1987 - Did I Really Ask That?

Court Jesters records this question asked by a Vancouver lawyer: "what colour were the blue jeans?"

As well as the Canadian lawyer who single-handedly (or mouthily) asked these immortal questions:

Q. How long have you known your brother?

Q. Were you alone or by yourself?

Q. How long have you been a French Canadian?

August 10, 2005
 
January 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Judge Jerome Jones, probate judge in Galveston, this marvelous exchange - which took place in a will contest trial when the attorney was examining "a woman friend" of the deceased.

Q. And so you had a conversation with the deceased prior to his death.

A. Yes, I did.

Q. When was this?

A. About three months after his wife's death.

Q. What did he say?

A. Well, he asked me to marry him.

Q. And what did you say?

A. I said, "Isn't that a little bit soon?"

Q. And what did he say?

A. He said, "Well, she's as dead as she's ever gonna be."

August 09, 2005
 
June 2005 - Classic Typos

From James E. "Jay" McGregor, Jr. of Waco (Flowers, Davis, Menard & Witt), this settlement demand he received from the plaintiff's attorney in an automobile accident case:

If we cannot settle the claim, I am in agreement with you that we need to set same for medication.

August 08, 2005
 
November 1991 - Verbal Typos

From J. Patrick Gallagher of Fort Worth (The Fillmore Law Firm), this excerpt from his deposition of the plaintiff - who was claiming that he sustained a groin injury "on-the-job" when he was hit by a forklift:

Q. When did you first experience pain after the accident?

A. Immediately. I was bruised and skinned pretty good, and I - my right tentacle had swollen to the size of a hard baseball.

Q. Your right what?

A. Tentacle.

Q. Tentacle?

Plaintiff's attorney: Testicle.

Mr. Gallagher: Testicle. Okay.

The witness: Whatever.

August 05, 2005
 
November 1991 - The "Amen" Corner

From Bryce J. Denny of Tyler (Lawrence & Lawrence), excerpts from the closing argument made by his opponent - David J. LaBrec of Dallas (Strasburger & Price) - in "a wrongful termination case tried earlier this year in Tyler:"

Mr. LaBrec: Ladies and gentlemen, it is not the role of the jurors in this case ... to second-guess the wisdom of the decision of the Malakoff City Council. It is not your role to second-guess whether or not they were wise in deciding ultimately to terminate [the plaintiff] or for the chief of police [of Malakoff] to recommend that they do so. ... It doesn't matter whether you are sympathetic with [the plaintiff's] plight. Anyone is sympathetic with the plight of someone who has lost their job, for whatever reason.

This case, as we told you at the outset, this case is about duty. This case is about public service. This case is about the duty of [the plaintiff] to the public. This case is about the duty of the chief and the city council to the public to provide them safe streets. And it also at this point involves the duty of you as jurors to render a fair and impartial verdict.

The chief did his duty. He may have made a mistake in the process, granted, but the chief did his duty. The city council, the elected officials, the policymakers of the city did their duty. Did [the plaintiff]? Think about the conduct, too, of [this police] officer. He has a duty. He has a duty as a public servant. I need not tell you what it says in the Bible, let he who is without fault, cast the first stone.

Juror: Amen.

Mr. LaBrec (wisely): Thank you, your Honor.

Bryce Denny adds: "This was when I knew we should have settled the case."

August 04, 2005
 
April 2002 - A Pie By Any Other Name

From John E. Clark of San Antonio (Goode, Casseb & Jones), this excerpt "from a hearing in Another Federal District" in a case which "slipped into an Italian mode because of the name of one of the attorneys in the case (Pizza is his real name, the lawyer pointed out, 'just like the pie.')"

Mr. Lee: One of our concerns is that we not get a determination ... that all or part of Mr. Pizza's complaint is barred and then have a judge in the Eastern District of Louisiana decide that none of it is barred by the settlement. We want one determination of that -

The Court: Yes.

Mr. Lee: - that is going to be binding on all concerned and my concern is that if that case in Lasagna is not before your Honor, it is not necessarily binding on the judge in the Eastern District of Lasagna.

August 03, 2005
 
October 2001 - What "Spell Check" Didn't Catch

From Michael D. Schattman of Arlington (Hill Gilstrap), this error in pleading filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Sherman which proves that "Spell Check" lacks classical education in Latin.

Motion to Reinstate and Convert to Chapter 7

No hearing will be conducted on this motion unless a written objection or request for hearing is filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Clerk, Wells Fargo Bank Building, 660 N. Central Expressway, #300B, Plano, Texas 75074 within twenty (20) days from the date of filing of this motion, unless the court, sue sponte, or upon timely application of a party in interest, shortens or extends the time for filing such objection or request for hearing.

August 02, 2005
 
March 1988 - The Law and that Guy Newton

From Richard McCarroll of Austin (Brown, Maroney) "offers the following in a case where the expert for the plaintiff professed to have expertise in physics":

Q. You claim to have expertise in physics. Please tell us what Newton's first law is?

A. (Pause) Well, I don't believe I remember that.

Q. Who was Newton?

A. I believe he is the guy who came up with the first law.

Richard adds: "This expert, who became known for the rest of trial as 'Newton,' also did not know how many feet were in a mile, nor could he convert miles per hour to feet per second."

August 01, 2005
 
June 1989 - Did I Really Say That?

From a telephone hearing conducted by one of the bankruptcy judges in Dallas: the judge has been advised that 12 attorneys are ready for him on the conference call.

The Court: Okay. Thank you. I'm going to give the decision on the motion. I'm going to go through it all and make findings and conclusions of law and give an opinion ... if any of you can't hear me, let me know.


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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)

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Lawhaha Andrew McClurg's Legal Humor Headquarters




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