October 31, 2005
 
February 2001 - Did They Really Say That?

From Judge David R. Gibson of Dallas (County Court at Law No. 1) this excerpt from am affidavit filed in connection with a special appearance in his court:

11. On Nov 2nd, 1992, I attended a business meeting at the offices of Smith Import and Export Company as an observer. Also attending this meeting were John Smith, Mike Smith and Ali Smith. During the meeting, Ali Smith became enraged. He shot and killed himself. The bullet entered and excited my left shoulder, and lodged in my neck near my spinal column.

12. Therefore, I decided to leave my employment at Smith Import & Export Company.

October 28, 2005
 
March 2000 - Representing Satan

From Michael C. Maus of Sugar Land, this excerpt from a trial in Florida in which "the Petitioner was trying to get more money from the Florida Department of Insurance by asking them to retroactively apply a statute."

Petitioner: I respect the State's position, he didn't have any other choice but to represent the State. I know he would rather represent me because I have more of a case. And you know, he's doing what he's supposed to do, he is supposed to be here and try and throw me out of court, and try and get me to accept less and do - he is an attorney, so he had no choice. He was doing his job and doing what he was supposed to do. I mean, you are representing Satan but you took the job -

The Court: I don't know if he would be willing to agree to you that he was representing Satan.

Attorney for the State: Just for the record, I resent the implication. I want to state that for the record.

The Court: I'm sure you do, and as well you should.

October 27, 2005
 
April 2004 - Defining the Specialties

This excerpt from the recent deposition of a doctor comes from Richard E. Hanson of Wichita Falls (Oldham & Hanson).

Q. But when it comes to a surgeon, you’re kind of separate and distinct from all the other medical specialties; that is, you actually go in and perform surgical procedures on the human body; is that correct?

A. Well, it brings to my mind an old aphorism. Internists, which is kind of what, in part, you know, gastroenterology is, they know everything but they don’t do anything. Now, surgeons aren’t supposed to know anything, but they do it all. Now, pathologists know everything and do everything, but it’s all too late.

October 26, 2005
 
January 1992 - From the Trials of Buchmeyer

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.

October 25, 2005
 
June 2001 - Did They Really Say That?

From John R. Bankhead of Madisonville, this excerpt from the deposition of the defendant driver in a vehicle accident case. The witness is being asked about his car and about his wife, who was a passenger in the car at the time of the accident.

Q. When did you get rid of your 1985 Buick Riviera?

A. That I don't remember because I left it on the side of the road when the motor blew up.

Q. Okay. Where did you leave it on the side of the road?

A. Coming from - going to Dallas on the highway, 45.

Q. You didn't leave your wife on the side of the road, did you?

A. No. She wasn't with me at the time.

Q. Okay.

A. I should have though.

October 24, 2005
 
September 2005 - “Transquips” From Lynn Brooks

Lynn Brooks of DeSoto, who is a certified shorthand reporter, sent me a number of transcript excerpts — which she calls “transquips.” Here are a few of them:

Q. Do you have any relatives in a nursing home anywhere, or have you ever?

A. Yes.

Q. Who was that?

A. My wife’s stepmother.

Q. Is she still living?

A. She died a week ago Monday.

Q. I’m sorry to hear that. How was her health when she was in that nursing home?

Mr. Smith: Objection: Form. She died, Steve. Come on.

[Another depo, another witness.]

A. There’s a study we did for NASA where we kept college students head-down for several weeks.

Mr. Jones: I hope you paid them good money for that.

The Witness: In New Mexico, you could get them to do anything.
...

Q. Sir, are you familiar with the phenomenon of a person presenting an appearance of complete normality when, in fact, the reality they’re presenting to you is a delusion?

Mr. Smith: Objection. Form.

A. Well, are there people who have —

Q. Are there people who appear —

A. — delusions of normalcy? They may be in this room.

Q. Let me ask a different question.

A. Please do.

Q. My question, sir, is: have you met patients whom you’ve spoken to casually who have given the impression of being normal when, in fact, they were mentally deficient?

A. God, that’s a great question. Went to school with about half a dozen guys like that.

[Another depo, another witness.]

Q. Did you do anything else besides medic and cook while you were in the Army?

A. Chased the girls.

Q. You must have been hurt in some event. What type of injury did you get?

A. Finger mashed.

Q. Nothing you lost time from work from?

A. (Indicating)

Q. I’m sorry?

A. Got a burn here. I didn’t lose any time. It’s frozen.

Q. People were a lot tougher. That’s a two-year disability injury these days.

Mr. Jones: I’ll object to my own sidebar and continue.

October 21, 2005
 
January 1993 - State Your Name

From the Trials of Buchmeyer - "These things actually happened in cases I tried during the past six months. However, since appeals are pending, names of the witnesses and the attorneys will not be discussed."

Q. What is your name?

A. Sam Kotun.

Q. How do you spell your name?

A. Kotun ... (spelling) ... K-O-T-U-N.

Q. And how do you pronounce that?

A. Kotun ... like "Coat un vest."

October 20, 2005
 
February 1992 - Is It Too Late to Get Out on Bail?

From Larry Warner of Harlingen, from sentencing in a murder case:

The Court: The defendant saying nothing in legal bar, it is the order of the Court that the Sheriff of Cameron County, Texas, deliver the defendant to the Director of Corrections, and there he be confined for life.

The Defendant: Damn.

October 19, 2005
 
February 1998 - Verbal Typos

(1) From Samuel F. Biery of San Antonio (Biery, Biery, etc.):

Q. How did you happen to contact this law firm for help?

A. I was referred to by the Lawyer Refertile Service.

(2) From Anon., this statement by a federal judge in Louisiana made in response to a rather novel, but baseless argument:

The Court: I would say that you have a very spurtle imagination. Go ahead.

October 18, 2005
 
February 1998 - Did They Really Say That?

From Charles A. Hood of Port Lavaca, this excerpt from the cross-examination of his client in a divorce trial:

Q. How many times had you been married before you and Gray married?

A. One less than him.

Q. Well, how many times is that?

A. Six.

October 17, 2005
 
October 2005 - Did They Really Ask That?

Judge Robert J. Kern of Fort Bend (387th District Court) submits this exchange from a recent hearing over which he presided:

Q. Where do you live in Fort Bend County?

A. In a house.

Q. Has your house always been in Fort Bend County?

October 14, 2005
 
February 1998 - Did They Really Say That?

From Richard R. Andrews of Dallas (Richard is corporate counsel, general litigation for Texas Instruments), this excerpt from a deposition which he attended several years ago when he was in private practice in Iowa. The examining attorney (not Richard) is trying to ascertain the identities of employees of a retailer ("Wards") where the allegedly defective waterheater was purchased.

Q. Any other names that you can remember that you knew from Wards back then?

A. Well, give me a couple of days to think about it.

Q. Would you do that for me? Would you think about that? ... I will give you my card and probably contact you to see if you can remember any more names.

A. Herbie Gust might be still alive, but I think I just heard that he passed away, too. And if he is still around he would be down in Texas because I think that's where he died.

October 13, 2005
 
January 1997 - Did They Really Say That?

From Jeffrey S. Levin of Plainview (Jeffrey is an attorney with Texas Rural Legal Aid), this excerpt from a two-day deposition in a minimum wage case involving 54 migrant and seasonal farm workers. The witness is the owner of a produce shed called "Casa de Calabaza" (the House of Squash). Jeffrey explains that after two full 10-hour days, "everybody got a little punchy" and could "barely pronounce words" - and "we all laughed when nobody could pronounce Lazbuddie." Then:

Q. Was this a loan of the harvest belt or was it a lease?

A. Well, it was up in the air. He wanted to sell them to us and we said, "If we can make them work and make our deal work we will buy them from you."

Q. Okay. And, what happened to those?

A. They were returned.

Q. Well, once you went to get them over in Lazbuddie, once "Lalo" and Glenn Odom went to get them in Lazbuddie, what did they do with them?

A. Lazbuddie?

Q. Lazbuddie, I know. I'm having a hard time pronouncing anything right now.

A. Join the club, try it without teeth.

October 12, 2005
 
January 1995 - Wearing Oxygen

From J. Edwin Price(1) of Lubbock, this deposition excerpt "which may explain all of the problems (both real and perceived) of our legal system in Lubbock County. My client, the husband of the lady injured at a bowling alley, is being deposed by former State Bar President Joe Nagy and Jay Weatherby (Crenshaw, Dupree and Milam). Mr. Nagy is attempting to investigate the witness' medical history and breathing difficulties."

A. I use Dr. Karkoutly for my heart [and] Mark Johnson is supposed to have treated me for my lungs...and another one treated me...for sleep apnea.

Q. You've got one of those machines they give you to make you sleep?

A. Yeah. And I'm supposed to wear oxygen. There's buildings that you can't go into, like the courthouse. There's not enough oxygen in the air.

1. J. Edwin Price adds: "Later in the deposition, this same gentleman testifies that he believes part of the measure of his 49-year-old wife's damages lies in the fact that she had just started bowling, and can no longer bowl and has therefore lost the potential income of developing into a professional bowler."

October 11, 2005
 
May 2001 - Classic Typos

From Donna Kay Mettz of Houston, this series of typos from a pleading served on her homeowners' association (which she received as a Board Member):

VIII. Plaintiff's allege that the Defendant ... was tortuously negligent in creating and/or permitting these foul, noxious, and toxic fumes and odors to enter the adjacent townhouse of the Plaintiffs ...

XVII. While this Defendant has made some effort to abate this tortuous nuisance ... The Defendant tortuously breached their duties to the Plaintiffs. (emphasis added, of course).

Donna adds that this pleading informed her "there had been a lot of twisting, bending, and turning going on."

October 10, 2005
 
October 2005 - The Lease

Peter L. Kilpatrick of San Antonio (Langley & Banack, Inc.) sent this marvelous (!!) provision from an August 2005 lease agreement:

“13. DISPUTES. If unanimously hereafter agreed by the parties, any disputes regarding this lease shall be settled by an old-fashioned fistfight or best single draw five-card poker hand.”

Peter adds: “The lease is between friends in the Marble Falls area, who, as you might guess, occasionally play poker together. I can hear the judge now, ‘Do you want to call your first witness or do you want to take it outside?’”

October 07, 2005
 
February 1998 - Classic Typos

From Manuel H. Newburger of Austin (Barron & Newburger), a writ of execution returned in one of his cases with this notation: NOLO BOLO

From a notice filed pro se in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Dallas:

Now comes Phillip S. Bayond, a party in interest in the above and numbered case and file this Notice of Nunsuit ...
_____

From an application of Release Pending Appeal in a Northern District criminal case:

A. Likelihood to Flea and Danger to the Community
_____

From a Juror's Request To Be Excused or Postponed which, fortunately, I reviewed as the Duty Judge:

REASON FOR REQUEST: Ms. Brown appeared Jan. 8, 1996, but was not selected. Ms. Brown's father is 74 years-old and has chronic emphysema. He is on an oxygen and breeding machine.

October 06, 2005
 
January 1996 - Playing For Keeps

This deposition excerpt from Dawn K. Gibbs of San Antonio (Dawn is a legal assistant with Sparr & Associates):

Q. Don't remember his name?

A. I think his name is - he has kind of a hard name. It's hard.

Q. Henry?

A. No.

Q. Rick.

A. No.

Q. Ted?

A. No.

Q. Tony?

A. No.

Q. Bill?

A. No.

Q. Mark?

A. No. It's - I can't think of his - he has a real hard name. I can't even say it.

October 05, 2005
 
February 1992 - Would You State Your Name For the Record, Please?

Trial lawyers know that witnesses have names only for one reason: so they will have a simple, fail-safe question to begin the deposition or trial testimony. But even here, strange things may happen.

From William G. Reid of Austin (assistant district attorney), this "name discovery" in a reported murder trial(1), where the witness - who "testified that he had seen the murder victim and the defendant in a car on the morning of the murder" - began his testimony with:

Q. State your name, please.

A. Earnest Baloney(2).

_____
1. Nathan V. State, 611 S.W.2d 69 72 (Tex. Cr. App. 1981)
2. This answer reminded me of a deposition which I took years ago in my former life as an attorney. When I clearly began the deposition with "What's your full name please?," the witness responded Napoleon Bonaparte Wilson. Ever since then, I have regretted - this was obviously a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - not saying immediately, and with just the right flourish, no further questions.

October 04, 2005
 
January 1999 - How Far Did You Go In School?

At the time Judge David V. Wilson of Lufkin (159th District Court) conducted the following admonishment of a defendant charged with Burglary of a Building, he did not realize that the defendant was accused of burglarizing a school.

The Court: How far did you go in school?

The Defendant: As far as I went to school, I went inside the school, like, through the back door up the stairs.

The Court: No, how -

The Defendant: Oh, did I go to the school?

The Court: Yeah, what grade did you complete?

The Defendant: Oh, no, I didn't attend that school.

The Court: You've never attended school?

The Defendant: Oh, yeah. I've been to school.

Mr. Cook: He's not asking you if you attended that school. How - if you graduated from high school.

The Defendant: Yeah, I graduated from high school.

The Court: You graduated from high school?

Mr. Cook: He was arrested inside the junior high school. And I did the very same thing.

The Court: Okay. I figured that must be the case or - I'm not interested how far into the building you went. I want to know how many years you completed.

The Defendant: Okay.

The Court: You graduated from school?

The Defendant: Yes.

Judge Wilson adds: "This same young man appeared in my court one day this week on a revocation of his probation, but I out-foxed him this time. I asked him what was the highest grade he had attained. With a big grin he told me, 'twelfth.' "

October 03, 2005
 
September 1996 - A Christian in El Paso

From Al Weisenberger of El Paso, these excerpts from the deposition of his client in a discriminatory termination/worker's compensation case - which was being taken by James Carroll of El Paso (Spurgin & Carroll).

Q. What kind of social background interests do you have? Do you belong to any clubs or churches or other organizations of that nature?

A. I'm a Baptist.

Q. Southern Baptist?

A. No. I'm - no. Christian.

***

Q. And as I recall from the information your attorney has provided me, for health reasons, you had to leave Abilene and come back to El Paso; is that correct?

A. Yes, sir, it is.

Q. Would you explain this for the ladies and gentlemen of the jury?

A. My little boy, the one that is nine years old right now, got sick from a skin disease, a skin infection. He was born premature at birth. And it caused him to get like real bad bumps all over his body. And they told me that the reason was that he had to go to a dry climate, that Abilene was too humid for his body. So we moved to El Paso.


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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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