September 29, 2006
 
January 2001 - In That Case ...

From Sean P. Healy of Tyler (courtesy of court reporter Kristy Crawford), this exchange in the 321st District Court where "Joe Shumate and Sam George were making announcements at docket call":

The Court: Okay. Do y'all want a hearing today after 11 then?

Mr. George: No. I'm not ready today your honor.

The Court: Okay. Y'all want to put it off till next Monday.

Mr. Shumate: I can't be ready today either.

The Court: Okay.

Mr. George: Well, then I may be ready.

September 28, 2006
 
March 2000 - Off-The-Wall Idiots

From Paul H. Cannon of Houston (Simons & Fletcher), these excerpts from the deposition he took of a passenger in a vehicle driven by the defendant in a personal injury case (in which Paul's client, the plaintiff, was a passenger in the defendant's car). The witness has just testified that "the defendant was driving in the rain when he made a comment about how well his new tires could stop in the rain and then he slammed on his brakes to prove it" - and slid into the back of another car!

Q. Okay. Did you - before the police ever arrived or anybody got out of the vehicle itself, did you notice anybody in the vehicle talking or discussing what had happened?

A. Yeah. Everybody was calling him an idiot.

Q. Okay. Everybody in the vehicle was calling the driver an idiot.

A. Yeah.

.....

Q. Had you ever been involved in an accident before this?

A. Yeah.

Q. As a driver or passenger?

A. A passenger.

Q. Okay. What happened in that wreck, just briefly?

A. I got in a car with another idiot, basically, I mean, I didn't - they just slammed into a house, just kind of an off-the-wall deal.

September 27, 2006
 
June 1999- How Dead Was He?

From Fred A. Helms of Austin - Fred is a staff attorney for Judge Ernest Garcia (126th District Court) - this incident from a pretrial hearing in a toxic tort case before Judge Garcia:

Plaintiff's Counsel (after handing Judge Garcia a sheaf of paper): Judge, if you will examine these cases, I think you'll see that I'm entitled to disfigurement after death.

[A pregnant pause, while Judge Garcia and Fred "stifle their laughter," and then the lawyer stammers ...]

"Oh no, not Buchmeyer."

September 26, 2006
 
January 1999 - Did They Really Say That?

From Judge Russell Austin of Houston (Probate Court No. One), this exchange from a recent heirship hearing:

Q. How long did you know your father?

A. Most of my life except when he was working.

Q. So, you're certain in your mind you knew him when he was at home.

A. Most of the time.

September 25, 2006
 
March 1987 - At The Harris County Courthouse

Judge Frank Price, asking a defendant whether anyone had promised him an easy sentence in exchange for pleading guilty:

Q. Has anyone led you to believe the governor will pardon you if you plead guilty?

A. Well, I haven't been home judge, but he might have called my mother.

September 22, 2006
 
June 1988 - How Tractor/Trailers Work

This is only one of several excerpts sent to me by Al Ellis of Dallas from a single deposition which "totally, fully, and without reservation supports the theory that depositions should never be taken!"

Q. So, if somebody was behind you -

A. Uh-huh.

Q. - directly behind you -

A. Uh-huh.

Q. - and they saw - and you were about to change lanes to your right, they would not see your front go to the - Let me start over again.

A. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Q. Okay, if somebody's behind you -

A. Yeah.

Q. - and they're - your right blinker is on -

Q. Right.

Q. - they see your right blinkers on -

A. Right.

Q. - if you had started to change lanes -

A. Uh-huh.

Q. - your back end -

A. Go ahead.

Q. - wouldn't necessarily have crossed the dividing line right at the beginning, would it?

A. All right. Well, I put it this way: The trailer follow - the trailer follow the tractor.

Q. Right.

September 21, 2006
 
March 1988 - Does Orkin Know About This?

Ben Taylor, who works as a briefing attorney for Judge Kilgarlin of the Texas Supreme Court, found this testimony in a gas explosion case (reported at 736 S.W.2d 836). He explains that the defense attorney "was attempting to cross-examine one of the plaintiff's fact witness."

Q. Did you ever see any roaches killed by natural gas.

A. I'm sure a lot of them did when it blew up.

Q. No, but I am talking about -
THE JUDGE: Did you see any mangled bodies of roaches?

A. Please repeat the question.

Q. Prior to the explosion, did you ever see any roaches that have been asphyxiated by the natural gas?

A. I wouldn't - I don't recall. I wouldn't know if a roach had died from gas.
THE JUDGE: A natural death, or -
PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: No autopsies were done on the roaches.

Q. We don't have any further questions of this witness.

September 20, 2006
 
July 2002 - From The Twilight Zone: Anxiety About the Anxiety Reducer

From Carol Darling of Dallas, on behalf of the entire "Labor & Employment Section" of Jenkens & Gilchrist, these excerpts from a deposition "taken by our unflappable section head, Bob Sheeder, in a wrongful discharge case." The plaintiff's attorney is Susan Hutchinson Holloway of Fort Worth (Molloy, Lewis & Holloway).

Q. Are you doing anything to deal with these anxiety attacks?

A. Yes. I use a brain synchronizer machine that seems to help some.

Q. You use a what?

A. Yeah. An Inner Quest brain synchronizer. An electronic form of yoga is what it is.

Q. Where did you get this?

A. From a doctor here in Dallas ... He's a dentist. I can't recall his name ...

Q. So let me get this straight: You got a brain synchronizer from a dentist here in Dallas?

A. No. I read [a newspaper] article of the dentist in Dallas who uses it ... [and] recommended it highly. And so I went to [SMU] and I inquired about it. And it's ... go ahead. You can laugh. Go ahead ...

Q. No, I'm not laughing. I'm just -

A. You never heard of it? It's - the doctor stated it's an electronic form of yoga. It puts you in a state of karma ...

Q. What do you do? You hook it up to your head or something?

A. No. All it is is a pair of sunglasses with lights in it and a headset. And it has 14 different modes.

Q. What does this thing do when you turn it on?

A. The brain only functions on one side and this allows the brain to synchronize both sides. So when you reach to pick up a cup, you use both sides of your brain instead of one side of your brain.

Q. How many sides of your brain are you using today?

A. I think I'm just using one side. I haven't used it in a while. ... The last time I used it, I didn't like the way it made me feel. I just ... don't use it as frequently as I used to.

Q. How frequently did you use this thing?

A. Once a week. ...

Q. Did it help with your anxiety?

A. To some degree, yes.

Q. Did you notice that you were using both sides of your brain instead of just one?

A. Yes, I did ... I noticed that whenever I looked around the room after using it, I seen things in more dimension, more detail ....

Q. Did it reduce the anxiety attacks substantially?

A. Yeah. I would say, yes, it did .. [but] everyone that seen me use it would laugh and snicker and kind of humiliate me to some degree.

Q. Who would see you using this thing besides your wife?

A. Well, my relatives that would come over to the house.

Q. Why would they laugh?

A. Because these little lights are going blinkety-blink and you hear these inner brain wave decibel tones. And plus you can listen to music while you're doing it. Anyway, I just don't use it all that much ....

Q. Maybe you can loan this device to your attorney, who can tell us if it's -

Ms. Holloway: I certainly need an anxiety reducer.

September 19, 2006
 
February 2001 - What The Court Reporter Heard

From Glenn A. Brown of Austin (Susan L. Florence & Associates), this classic typo from his deposition of the plaintiff in a personal injury case.

Q. What do you do to relax or have fun?

A. I like to fish, I'm an avid bicyclists, I like to garden, hiking, camping, that sort of thing.

Q. Are these activities that you used to enjoy on a regular basis before the accident?

A. Very much.

Q. Any other activities, hobbies that you liked to do before this accident?

A. I have a broad variety of interests. Those were my favorites.

Q. Can you just list a handful of others for me?

A. I'm a whine enthusiast and collector, used to be when I could afford it; I like technology ...

September 18, 2006
 
March 2000 - Classic Typos

From Fred Krasny of Houston (Fred is a staff attorney with the Gulf Coast Legal Foundation), this typo from a final Divorce Decree that he prepared "and that was actually entered."

IT IS ORDERED AND DECREED THAT, _____ shall, when he exercises his first period of possession following the entry of this Decree, return to _____ all of her music records, rug, pawn ticket for the .22 Daisy, her grandmother's guilt, deer rug and children's baseball cards.

September 15, 2006
 
March 1995 - Did They Really Say That?

From Steven C. Haley of Brenham (Moorman, Tate, etc.), this answer to interrogatories in a will contest:

Interrogatory No. Six: Did you own any life insurance policies which you claim is [sic] not subject to descent and distribution in Decedent's estate: If so, with respect to each such policy, state ... whether or not the proceeds under the policy have been paid and to whom payment was made.

Response: I have no life insurance policies other than those accruing in my favor by virtue of my employment with the state school in Brenham. Refer to the material appended hereto "Exhibit G." By the interposition of a kind providence, no proceeds have been paid on the policy to date.

September 14, 2006
 
March 1994 - Classic Typos

From Jack Kaufman of San Antonio (Kaufman, Becker):

From a State Bar Consumer Law Section publication: "Although 83 percent of cases filed by individual plaintiffs alleged darnages ..."

From Frank Rose of San Antonio (Smith, Carter):

From a San Antonio deposition notice: " ... the deposition of Crown Distributors ... will be taken before a certified short reporter of the firm of Southwest Reporting ..."

September 13, 2006
 
March 1993 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Durwood D. Crawford of Dallas (Goins, Underkofler, etc), this excerpt from "a deposition taken in connection with an asset case":

Q. How about firearms? Do you own any firearms?

A. Not anymore.

Q. Okay. Your spouse own any firearms?

A. God, I hope not.

September 12, 2006
 
June 1992 - Beware of "Experts"

From Lloyd Scurlock of Fort Worth, this excerpt from a malpractice case in which Lloyd represented the plaintiff, whose broken hip had been treated by the doctor - defendant. Lloyd explains: "The doctor had put the plaintiff in a one-and-a-half hip spica, which is a cast that goes from the armpits to the ankle on the side where the break is and to the knee on the other side. The doctor had tried to blame the plaintiff for the bad result by claiming that he had wiggled too much in the cast and had "played with his toes." On cross examination, he admitted that you can not bend at the waist in a one-and-a-half hip spica. Then Lloyd asked:

Q. Can a person touch his toes without bending at the waist?

A: (After some thought) He could if his arms were long enough.

September 11, 2006
 
July 1991 - Doing Voir Dire

From Michael Charlton of Houston, this voir dire excerpt from a criminal case tried before Judge Mary Bacon (338th District Court):

Prosecutor: Who else (on the panel has ever had your car broken into or stolen?) One the second row. State your name.

Jury Panelist: Karl.

Prosecutor: Okay. You - Karl, I want to know - Sakocius?

Jury Panelist: Sakocius.

Prosecutor: What kind of name is that?

Jury Panelist: My last name.

Prosecutor: Karl, you're not support to make me look stupid here.

Jury Panelist: It's Lithuanian.

Prosecutor: That was really not nice.

Jury Panelist: You said it was quiet in here.

September 08, 2006
 
March 1993 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Bertrand C. Moser of Houston (Pannill & Moser), two "profound questions in depositions from cases in which I'm presently involved":

Q. Before the first meeting you had with Mr. X., had you ever met him before?

A. Never.
____

Q. Can you tell me how you make a profit off that? How do you make money once you get ahold of scrap?

A. We buy it at one price and sell it at a higher price.

September 07, 2006
 
May 1996 - Thank You, Judge

From Jay Breedveld of Austin (Popp & Ikard), this rather thankful exchange between defense attorney Deke Austin and Judge Richard Mays (204th District Court, Dallas) in a murder trial.

Mr Austin: It's overruled?

The Court: Yeah.

Mr. Austin: Thank you, Judge. May I have a moment to get back to my -

The Court: Let me tell you what I'm going to do in a few minutes. This is something that you do all the time, and it's automatic [for you] to say thank you every time I make a ruling. Don't thank me for making a court's ruling.

Mr. Austin: All right, sir.

The Court: The next time you thank me for my ruling I'm going to say don't thank me for my ruling.

Mr. Austin: Thank you, sir.

The Court: See what I'm saying, don't thank me for my ruling.

Mr. Austin: Thank you for the instruction.

September 06, 2006
 
March 1995 - Objections Sustained!!

From W. Bernard Whitney of Fort Worth, two trial excerpts involving objections. The first is from a plea in an abatement hearing before Judge H.M. Lattimore (who is now on the Fort Worth Court of Appeals):

Q. You transacted this business for her because she did not seem to have any capacity for it; is that correct, sir?

A. She just could not absorb it and she needed the money. Her husband is crippled.

Q. And that was the purpose in your dealings in all of these things that have her name on them; is that correct?

A. That's right, and Mr. May said that was fine.

Defense Attorney: Your Honor, I object to that last comment. Whatever Mr. May said is hearsay. Further, it is non-responsive to the question.

The Court: Yes, that is not a proper response.

Defense Attorney: I move that the testimony about Mr. May's comment be stricken.

The Court: What do you want me to do?

Defense Attorney: I am no sure I understand your question.

The Court: I can't take it out of the record. It is there forever. I will try not to remember it and instruct myself accordingly.

Defense Attorney: Thank you.
_____

Bernard's second excerpt is from the trial transcript in a case he was asked to handle on appeal:

Q. All right. You have admitted to kissing Joanie Elliston on Christmas Eve of 1982; is that right?

A. I admit to giving her a little buss.

Q. A little what?

A. Buss.

Q. All right. What is a buss?

A. It's just like a little peck on the cheek.

Q. A meaningless asexual kiss? Is that a meaningless asexual kiss?

A. Well, it's not a sexual kiss at all. All kisses don't have to be sexual. This was just a little buss on the lips which -

Q. Okay. But using Mr. Curry as a model for Joanie, would you show the jury how that kiss was done?

A. I beg your pardon?

Mr. Curry: I don't believe we need to use me - Your Honor, what is all this? I've never heard anything like this before. Certainly I'm not going to kiss the witness.

The Court: Is that an objection?

Mr. Curry: Yes, it's an objection.

The Court: I'll sustain the objection.

Mr. Curry: I can't believe this.

September 05, 2006
 
March 1994 - Did He Really Say That?

From Judge Tom Bacus of Wichita Falls (County Court at Law No. 2) - who notes that "mental patients sometimes offer some rather profound observations during commitment hearings" - this excerpt from a recent hearing in his court:

Q. What are your feelings about being placed in the state hospital?

A. This is the only place you can act like a lunatic and be accepted by your peers.

Q. How does the medication make you feel?

A. After I took that shot, I was cater-cornered on a compass. I couldn't decide north from south or east from west.

September 01, 2006
 
March 1993 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Barret W. Stetson of Dallas, this proposed answer to an interrogatory from a "young lady that I represented...in a personal injury lawsuit":

Q. Did you have any other expenses or suffer any other pecuniary loss because of defendant's alleged negligence not asked about in prior interrogatories?

A. Yes. I've lost friends and boyfriends over this accident. How do you put a price on that? Maybe $16,400.


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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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