January 31, 2006
 
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.

January 30, 2006
 
November 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From District Judge Joe M. Leonard of Greenville (196th Judicial District of Texas), this entry in an Affidavit of a bonding company.

5. It is my desire to surrender the defendant/principal to the custody of the Sheriff of Hunt County, Texas, for the following reasons: Has not obeyed terms of Bail Bond contract. Reason to believe defendant will flea jurisdiction.

January 27, 2006
 
April 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Robinson C. Ramsey of Wharton, this excerpt from a deposition in a divorce case; Rob is questioning the husband about a family estate trust that wenty awry."

Q. When did you find out it was not the right thing to do?

A. When I wound up in jail.

Q. When was that?

A. I don't really remember when that was, I don't remember.

Q. Do you remember approximately how long it was from the time you initially set up the trusts?

A. I don't know if that was a couple of years after that, or I really don't remember when that was.

Q. What were the circumstances that led to your winding up in jail?

A. It was - we were trying to, for lack of better words, hide income. In other words - and in doing that, we got audited ... It started when we got audited, and then the IRS agent that came to the house.

January 26, 2006
 
May 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

This "two-fer" is from Darryl S. Vereen of El Paso (Mounce, Green, etc.). The first is from a default judgment hearing in a personal injury case:

Q. As far as the ringing of the ears, would you expain to Judge Parks - is this a constant thing?

A. Yes, sir. It's 24 hours a day, I imagine. I don't notice it when I'm sleeping, but it's there.

Darryl's second "pearl" is from the deposition of Darryl's client, the defendant in a truck accident case. Darryl notes, perhaps unnecessarily, that his client's wife was not present.

Q. How long have the two of you been married?

A. 117 years.

Q. Or at least it feels that way, I suppose.

A.That was a wrong answer?

Q. It may be the right answer.

January 25, 2006
 
July 2004 - The Winner: The Most Confusing Document Title

Paul J. Van Osselaer of Austin (Van Osselaer, Cronin & Buchanan) and Robert Slovak of Dallas (Gardere Wynne Sewell) — who are opposing counsel in a case on my docket — jointly submitted the following:

“Paul Van Osselaer of Austin … was hoping that the alternative relief would be granted just to figure out what is going on. He submitted this entry as a potential winner as the most confusing document title, deleting the actual names of the parties to protect the guilty. It’s from a filing in the U.S. District Court in San Antonio:

“DEFENDANT’S REPLY TO PLAINTIFF’S RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO STRIKE PLAINTIFF’S REPLY TO DEFENDANT’S OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER, OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, APPLICATION FOR HEARING.”

January 24, 2006
 
May 2001 - Did They Really Say That?

This deposition excerpt in an automobile accident case comes from Mark A. McLean of Houston. He explains that the female witness is a co-defendant represented by Wayne Adams of Houston - and that Luke Carrabba of Houston, who represented the "target" defendant in the case, was trying to get the co-defendant witness to admit an act of contributory negligence.

Q. (By Mr. Carrabba) In general, do you think if you had been going slower, you would have had a better opportunity to avoid this accident?"

A. Well, I was going below the speed limit, so I was within the law. And, yes, if I had been going like 20 or 25 miles an hour, I might have avoided it; or if I had been going a little faster, I might have avoided it. I mean, I've thought about that; but I was, you know, below the speed limit as it was.

Q. Do you think there was any reasoning by - I'm going to object to my own question as being speculative.

Mr. Adams: Sustained. That sounds bad.

Mr. McLean: Thank you, Judge Adams.

The Witness: I haven't even seen that on TV.

Mr. Carrabba: I knew it when it was coming out. I was thinking "that is so speculative, just shut up. Okay."


January 23, 2006
 
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.

January 20, 2006
 
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.

January 19, 2006
 
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 18, 2006
 
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.

January 17, 2006
 
January 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From W. Marc McDonald of Fort Worth (Bourland, Smith, etc.), this "classically confused" statement made by one of his partners, William R. Korlo, Jr. during a recent deposition.

Mr. Korlo: All right. Let me turn your attention to Plaintiff's Exhibit No. 3. I'm sorry. For purposes of the record, I've been messing up. I keep saying Plaintiff's Exhibits and I'm actually Defendant's.

So let the record reflect that I don't know who I represent.

January 13, 2006
 
February 2003 - Did She Really Say That?

From Tony J. Wilson of Houston (Sheehy, Serpe & Ware), this excerpt from a deposition of a widow in an asbestosis case who was having difficulty remembering just when she worked outside the home.

Q. Okay. Have you ever worked outside of the house?

A. Oh, for a while I worked — I don’t know just how long it was — at the school cafeteria.

Q. What school was that?

A. Oh, Jackson junior high school

Q. Was that in Pasadena?

A. Yes. In the cafeteria.

Q. About how long did you work in there?

A. Oh, I’d say a couple of years. Not too long.

Q. Do you remember what years those were?

A. Huh?

Q. Do you remember what years you worked for them?

A. No, I don’t.

Q. Do you remember what decade? Was it in the Fifties? Sixties? Seventies?

A. Let’s see. I was working there — I was working down there when John Kennedy landed on the moon.

Q. So —

A. I don’t know what year that was.

Q. — 1969?

A. It’s been a long time. Maybe so. I don’t really know.

January 12, 2006
 
June 2001 - Classic Typos

(1) From M.C. (Rick) Walton of Houston (Union Pacific Railroad), this typo he found in a classified advertisement that appeared in the Texas Bar Journal just two pages before the "et cetera" column.

There are vacancies for patent attorneys with the Navel Research Laboratory (NRL) at its Washington, D.C., and Bay St. Louis, Miss. locations.

(2) From Randy Schaffer of Houston, this typo from a petition for habeas corpus relief. ...Applicant was denied a fair and impartial judge and sentencing hearing because the visiting judge, by deferring to jury verdicts in other cases, abdicated his responsibility to assess punishment based on applicant's individualized circumstances. Applicant is entitled to be resented by a different judge.

(3) From Clifford F. McMaster of Fort Worth, this typo made by a pro se plaintiff in an answer filed in a federal civil case in an "Answer to Ordr (sic) to Show Cause": To the horrible Judge Terry R. Means ....

(4) From District Court Judge Teresa K. Luther of Grand Island, Neb., this typo from a Petition to Modify child support that is currently pending in her court: The Petitioner has a new position whereby his wages have deceased.

(5) From District Judge Joe M. Leonard of Greenville (169th Judicial District), this typo from a brief in a consumer case. The Ard court further went on to disavow the Lee decision and accept instead the descent from the Lee decision.

January 11, 2006
 
January 2005 - The Expert Witness

Harold H. Walker, Jr. of Dallas (Rose Walker, L.L.P.) writes that he could “no longer resist submitting [this] cross examination snippet” that occurred “in a wrongful death case tried a couple of years ago in Nashville before Chief Judge Robert Echols.”

The case involved the death of a high school student, and Hal and Marty Rose represented the plaintiffs. During the case in chief, “the defendant’s lawyer was trying to score some points on cross examination by quarreling with Hal’s unflappable economic expert about the discount rate used in his damage calculation,” when this exchange occurred:

Q. You took your total number and reduced it to present value, is that correct?

A. Reduced it to total.

Q. Your final findings, your figure? …

A. Reduced it to what did you say?

Q. To present value.

A. Yes, present value.

Q. That’s because money now is worth more than money 34.5 years from now, is that correct?

A. No. It is because money can ...

Q. Would you rather have a million dollars today or 30 years from now?

A. I am not choosy when it comes to a million dollars. I will take it whenever I get it.

January 10, 2006
 
January 1989 - Closing Shots

According to Jerry Lastelick of Dallas (Lastelick, Anderson & Hilliard), this story about a "Fast Mover" has been "retold many times in the Dallas District Attorney's office. It involves a defendant who entered Luther's Lounge with a double barreled shotgun, walked to the fourth booth where his estranged wife was sitting with her new boyfriend, and proceeded to dispatch the wife with both barrels -- BOOM BOOM." Because the lounge was full, "numerous eye-witnesses were available to testify. A young assistant D.A. -- not content with the testimony of four eye-witnesses (all of whom had testified that the defendant fired both barrels in succession) -- put on a witness he had not interviewed, but who had been sitting in the second booth at the time of the shooting."

Q. Were you in Luther's Lounge on the evening of March 24?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you see the defendant come through the front door carrying a double barreled shotgun?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Describe what the defendant did.

A. He walked up to the second booth behind me, and shot the deceased.

Q. (This is where the assistant D.A. got in trouble) How many shots did you hear?

A. One.

Q. One?

A. One.

Q. (In an agitated voice) Weren't you aware that four other witnesses testified the defendant shot the deceased twice?

A. If he shot twice, by the second shot I was already home.

January 09, 2006
 
October 1989 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up

John Farrow of Albuquerque (Fairfield, Farrow) - emphasizing that these questions were not asked by an attorney in his firm - sends this excerpt from a deposition in a savings and loan association case.

Q. So the Jim Trump, Sr., we're referring to is now deceased?

A. That's correct.

Q. And he's no longer affiliated with Sandia Federal?

January 06, 2006
 
January 2006 - Classic Typos

Sterling W. Steves of Fort Worth and Brenda Cubbage of Dallas have, for a number of years, coauthored “The Complete Guide to Mechanic’s and Materialman’s Lien Laws of Texas,” published by LexisNexis Matthew Bender.

However, the 2005 cover of the book “presented them with this surprise”: “The Complete Guide to Mechanic’s and Materialman’s Lein Laws of Texas.”

January 05, 2006
 
July 1996 - The Hoover Maneuver

From Dan Cutrer of Dallas, this excerpt from the trial testimony of a "Most sincere witness [who] had been hired as a 24-hour 'nurse' to a gentleman with various medical problems."

Q. But you have no training?

A. I have no certificate to prove it.

Q. I'm sorry?

A. I have not - I guess they give certificates. I don't know how to do that, but I've saved lives.

Q. How did you save lives?

A. I've saved my children's life before.

Q. How was that?

A. One time, when one of my boys was choked on ice, I was behind him and give him - I guess it's called the Hoover, up under the rib cage to cough it up.

Dan adds: "The record doesn't reflect the lengthy pause during which the lawyers bit their tongues, covered their faces, and tried their best not to laugh out loud."

January 04, 2006
 
September 1990 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Barry C. Barnet of Dallas (Susman Godfrey), this excerpt from a trial before federal Judge Lucius Bunton of the Western District; the witness was an A&M graduate with an engineering degree - and the cross-examination had "elicited testimony on the 'sine' of a one-degree angle in a right triangle."

Q. All right. Well, another thing about one of these angles is the tangent, isn't it?

A. Yeah.

Q. Huh?

A. I believe they've got sines, and they've got cosines, and they've got tangents, and they've got cotangents and things like that, yes.

Q. Okay. The formula -

Mr. White: Your Honor, I object. I think we're getting off on a tangent.

The Court: He said the proper sine... But I'm going to overrule your objection.

January 03, 2006
 
January 1995 - How Many Lawyers Have You Employed?

From Martha Hardwick of Dallas (Bauer, Rentzel, Millard & Hardwick), this excerpt from a recent deposition that she took "of a particularly recalcitrant, well-heeled, hostile, and apparently litigious physician:"

Q. Dr. X, how many attorneys have you employed over the last five years?

A. I don't know. Jeez, I just - I don't know how many. Is there a limit?

Q. No. Have you - there'd better not be.

A. Are you talking about attorneys on my side or the other side when you say how many I employed?

Q. Well, that's good.


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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.

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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

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Ernie The Attorney Searching for Truth & Justice (in an unjust world)

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