October 31, 2006
 
February 1999 - Lawyers are Next

From Amy K. Rosenberg of Fort Collins, Colo. (Liggett, Smith & Williams), this trial excerpt from a "marriage dissolution proceeding" in which Amy's colleague, Michael Liggett, "was cross-examing the soon-to-be ex-wife" regarding some of her expenditures.

Q. "Wynbriar," is that an antique store?

A. No, that's not. That's a tobacco shop.

Q. What did you buy for $831?

A. A fox.

Q. A fox?

A. Yes.

The Court: Wait a minute. I've got to know. You mean, an animal?

The Witness: No. He's - I have a dead animal farm. It's a stuffed fox.

The Court: A stuffed fox. Okay.

Q. You say you have a dead animal farm. You collect taxidermy?

A. Does that surprise you?

Q. What other animals do you have?

A. Lawyers are next.

October 30, 2006
 
October 2006 -Lawyers Behaving Badly

Randall E. Hand of Plano, who is vice president and senior counsel to Computer Associates, Inc., was the first to send me this very imaginative order written by Judge Pendleton Gaines of the Superior Court of Arizona (Maricopa County) in the case of Physicians Choice of Arizona, Inc. v. Mickey Miller, et al. (CV 2003-020242).

Plaintiff ’s Motion to Compel Acceptance of Lunch Invitation
The Court has rarely seen a motion with more merit. The motion will be granted.

The Court has searched in vain in the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure and cases, as well as the leading treatises on federal and Arizona procedure, to find specific support for Plaintiff’s motion. Finding none, the Court concludes that motions of this type are so clearly within the inherent powers of the Court and have been so routinely granted that they are non-controversial and require no precedential support. …

Plaintiff’s counsel extended a lunch invitation to Defendant’s counsel “to have a discussion regarding discovery and other matters.” Plaintiff’s counsel offered to “pay for lunch.” Defendant’s counsel failed to respond until the motion was filed.

Defendant’s counsel distrusts Plaintiff ’s counsel’s motives and fears that Plaintiff’s counsel’s purpose is to persuade Defendant’s counsel of the lack of merit in the defense case. The Court has no doubt of Defendant’s counsel’s ability to withstand Plaintiff ’s counsel’s blandishments and to respond sally for sally and barb for barb. Defendant’s counsel now makes what may be an illusory acceptance of Plaintiff’s counsel’s invitation by saying, “We would love to have lunch at Ruth’s Chris with/on … ” Plaintiff’s counsel.

Plaintiff’s counsel replies somewhat petulantly, criticizing Defendant’s counsel’s acceptance of the lunch invitation on the grounds that Defendant’s counsel is “now attempting to choose the location” and saying that he “will oblige,” but Defendant’s counsel “will pay for its own meal.” …

Each side may be represented by no more than two lawyers of its own choosing, but the principal counsel on the pending motions must personally appear.

The cost of the lunch will be paid as follows: Total cost will be calculated by the amount of the bill including appetizers, salads, entrees, and one non-alcoholic beverage per participant. A 20-percent tip will be added to the bill (which will include tax). Each side will pay its pro rata share according to number of participants. The Court may reapportion the cost on application for good cause or may treat it as a taxable cost under ARS §12-331(5).

During lunch, counsel will confer regarding the disputes identified in Plaintiff’s motion to strike Defendant’s discovery motion and Defendant’s motions to quash, for protective order and for commission authorizing out-of-state depositions. At the initiative of Plaintiff’s counsel, a brief joint report detailing the parties’ agreements and disagreements regarding these motions will be filed with the Court not later than one week following the lunch and, in any event, not later than noon, Wed., Aug. 23, 2006.

It is ordered:
1. Plaintiff ’s motion to compel Defendant’s counsel’s acceptance of lunch invitation is granted on the terms and conditions set forth above.

2. The parties are directed to file the joint report referred to above.

3. Further action on the parties’ pending discovery motions is deferred pending receipt of the joint report.

4. Defendant’s motion to strike Plaintiff’s proposed amended complaint is granted.

5. The oral argument set in this division on Aug. 2, 2006, at 9:15 a.m. is vacated.

October 27, 2006
 
February 1999 - Did They Really Report That?

From Ted H. Roberts of San Antonio, the following excerpt from a newspaper article in the San Antonio Express News.

CORPUS CHRISTI - Two weeks after first hearing about the last moments of the victims' lives, jurors in South Texas sentenced the man who killed the Refugio County residents to death.

October 26, 2006
 
February 2001 - Industrial Strength Stupid Questions

From Stephen B. Schulte of Kerrville (Keith, Weber & Mosty), "the worst deposition questions" he has ever heard:

Q. And finally, if we can, Mr. Manne, the - that last sentence goes on to say, you know, after you're saying that it's the position we have taken - and, by the way, let me just ask you about that. When you say "we," is that just the general "we," because you're saying it - I assume that it was both "we" being Susman Godfrey and Mr. Hussey? Do you recall there being any distinction? That is, was that something that you had ever said, or was it something just that Mr. Hussey had said, and you're using "we" in the - in the royal sense ....

October 25, 2006
 
February 1999 - Did They Really Ask That?

From Donald J. Hahn of Dallas (Collins, Norman & Basinger), this question that a lawyer asked his client in a hearing in Probate Court No. 2 (Judge Robert E. Price):

Q. Now, Mrs. Smith, is it true that you were well acquainted with John Smith as a result of the fact that you were married to him for over 55 years?

October 24, 2006
 
January 1999 - Revenue and Safety

From William E. "Gene" Storie of Austin - Gene is the assistant chief of the Taxation Division in the Texas Attorney's office - this excerpt from his deposition of the other side's expert.

Q. From your understanding of this lawsuit, is it about pipeline safety?

A. Not directly.

Q. Do sales of gas to consumers deal with safety considerations?

A. Yes.

Q. What is the relation between revenue and safety?

A. If you deliver gas in a three-ounce meter at 200 psi and you blow the house up, your revenue goes down.

[Heavy laughter by everyone, then ...]

Mr. Bernal: You asked him.

Mr. Storie: I think I did ask that.

October 23, 2006
 
October 2006 - The Suppression Hearing and the Testifying Dog

This contribution from U.S. District Judge Robert Junell of the Western District of Texas in Midland. Judge Junell conducted a suppression hearing on Feb. 3, 2005, and, as he says, “This testimony speaks for itself,” beginning with the testimony of a narcotics officer.

A. I’ve been a training officer, possibly about nine years. I was an undercover narcotic officer for about four years. And now I’m a canine officer.

Q. During your time, particularly in narcotics, you learned to recognize the smell of burning marijuana, correct.

A. Yes, sir.

Q. How long have you been a canine officer?

A. Since March of last year, 2004.

Q. Describe the training you had to go through before you became certified to be a canine officer with the Odessa Police Department.

A. We’re sent to a training academy up by San Antonio called Global Training Academy. I’m there for about a month, and then there’s a certification with the dog. And then the rest of it’s pretty much on-the-job training.

Q. Was the dog that you were currently working with attending the training with you also?

A. Yes, sir. You have to be certified with that particular dog.

Q. What’s the name of the dog?

A. It’s Boris.

MR. BRIAN CHAVEZ: Your Honor, we’d stipulate to this dog. We’ve heard testimony from the dog, so we stipulate to the dog —

THE COURT: Wait a minute.

MR. BRIAN CHAVEZ: I’m sorry. About the dog. That’s probably going to end up on —

THE COURT: I want to be sure I have this record correct. Mr. Brian Chavez, also noted as being the star in “Friday Night Lights,” on the cover of Texas Lawyer, has just stated that he has heard this dog testify before. Didn’t you hear that, Mr. Klassen?

MR. KLASSEN: That’s what I heard.

THE COURT: Mr. Adrian Chavez, you heard your brother say that?

MR. ADRIAN CHAVEZ: I heard that, your Honor.

THE COURT: Mr. Jackson, did you?

MR. JACKSON: Yes, sir, clear as a bell.

THE COURT: This is for Judge Buchmeyer.

MR. BRIAN CHAVEZ: It will probably make it.

THE COURT: What did the dog say to you? Did you and the dog have a — was this an official —

MR. BRIAN CHAVEZ: I probably won the argument, I would think, or I would hope.

THE COURT: All right. Stipulate that the dog and the canine handler are qualified.

October 20, 2006
 
January 2001 - You Wake Him Up

From Michael M. Fulton of San Antonio, this exchange that took place years ago in a trial before an elderly State District Judge who "went to sleep from time to time on the bench."

Plaintiff's Attorney: The bus ran the red light, didn't it?

Defendant's Attorney: Objection. He's leading the witness, your honor.

Plaintiff's Attorney: The judge is asleep.

Defendant's Attorney: Well, wake him up.

Plaintiff's Attorney: You wake him up. It's your objection!

October 19, 2006
 
May 2000 - We Won't Be Here All Day

From Stephen G. Wilcox of Fort Worth (Law, Snakard & Gambil), this excerpt from an adversary proceeding before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Alexander Paskay (M.D. Fla.). Stephen explains that the Debtor "is being questioned by the woman we alleged was his girlfriend (which both he and the woman denied) and to whom he had transferred numerous assets prior to the filing of the bankruptcy." The woman Betsy ________, who was appearing pro se, begins questioning the debtor after an overnight recess.

Cross Examination
(By Ms. _____)

Q. Mr. _____, did we have any conversation last night about your testimony here today?

A. (No response).

Q. Or your testimony yesterday?

A. Well, you chewed me out. You said that I was making the judge mad.

THE COURT: What?

THE WITNESS: She chewed me out. She said I was making you mad and that she wanted me to answer the questions direct so I wouldn't make you mad anymore.

(By Ms. _____)
Q. And are you prepared to do that today so we won't be here all day long?

A. Yes, Ms. _____

THE COURT: We won't be here all day long.

October 18, 2006
 
February 1999 - What Did I Just Say?

From Darryl S. Vereen of El Paso (Mounce Green, ect.), this excerpt from "the deposition of the investigating DPS trooper in a multi-vehicle truck/auto fatality collision" - where beer cans were found in the decendent's car.

Q. Did you in fact look into whether or not Mr. Craver had been drinking prior to this accident?

A. Yes.

Q. How did you go about doing that?

A. Blood sample.

Q. And did you obtain a report through the Department of Public Safety as to Mr. Craver's blood alcohol level?

A. Yes.

Q. And what was his blood alcohol level?

A. It indicated that he did not have any blood in his system at the time.

Q. Let me hand you what we will go ahead and mark as Plaintiff's exhibit -

A. Or what did I just say?

October 17, 2006
 
January 1999 - Requests for Admissions from Outer Space

From Sanford C. Cox, Jr. of El Paso, these marvelous Responses to Requests for Admissions filed by the respondent's attorney - who, understandably, wishes to remain anonymous - in a proceeding brought by the Child Protection Services (CPS) in the Child Welfare Court in El Paso.

11. Petitioner (CPS) is a state agency and has no competition from other businesses.
RESPONSE: ADMIT.

12. Some employees of Petitioner (but certainly no ____ or any caseworkers in her unit) have less skill, smarts and personality than one of Petitioner's attorney's shoes.
RESPONSE: DENY

13. Respondent has not knowingly engaged in criminal conduct.
RESPONSE: DENY

14. Respondent will not be imprisoned for two years from the date of the filing of the Petition.
RESPONSE: DENY Ms. ____ is presently serving a sentence of two years. She was charged with drug traffic/importation.

15. Elvis Presley is still alive.
RESPONSE: DENY

16. Elvis Presley is currently employed by Petitioner (CPS)
RESPONSE: DENY

17. Elvis Presley currently formulates Petitioner's policies.
RESPONSE: DENY

18. The earth has been visited by beings from another planet.
RESPONSE: DENY

19. Petitioner currently employs beings from another planet.
RESPONSE: DENY

20. Beings from another planet run Child Protective Services.
RESPONSE: DENY

Sanford adds: "While the truth of nine of the questions is denied, from conversations with various attorneys in El Paso, I have found several attorneys who are unconvinced by these denials filed by CPS."

October 16, 2006
 
October 2006 - How To Respond to a Demand Letter

Marsha E. Rule of Tallahassee, Fla., sent me this marvelous letter that her former law partner (Jim Locke, now a county court-at-law judge) received in response to a demand letter — which Marsha has saved for 20 years.

Gentlemen:

Please be advised that I represent Enterprise Drilling & Manufacturing Co., Inc., and that they went horribly broke and the banks took back all the rigs, and there is a big deficiency, and there is a big bunch of unpaid and unsecured trade debt and the principal of the corporation is in bankruptcy and if you want a judgment against Enterprise, you can have it.

If you want more details, please feel free to call. With best regards, I remain,

Very truly yours,
Vernon N. Reaser, Jr., Reaser & Wall

October 13, 2006
 
February 1999 - SPEAKING IN "lower case"

From David S. Crawford of Arlington (Perdue, Brandon, etc.), this marvelous excerpt from the transcript of a hearing before Judge Thomas Wilson Lowe III of Fort Worth (236th District Court) in a case involving a pro se, "lower case" defendant.

THE COURT: How do you wish to be addressed?

MR DORSETT: Leonard R. Dorsett not in upper case.

THE COURT: I don't know how to speak in lower case, sir ...Are you speaking in upper case or lower case, sir?

MR DORSETT: lower case.

THE COURT: (wisely): The court reporter will record this in lower case. This is Cause Number L-14534-97, Carroll Independent School District versus Leonard R. Dorsett. Is plaintiff ready?

MR. CRAWFORD: plaintiff is ready, your honor.

THE COURT: Is respondent ready? ...(No response) ... Leonard R. Dorsett, that's you. You are the respondent. Are you ready?

MR DORSETT: i have stated that i'm here as a witness, not as a respondent because i have not been properly identified ...

THE COURT: Sir, just a minute. The court really just wanted a "yes" or "no." Is that a "no?"

MR DORSETT: That's a "no."

THE COURT: Are you requesting a continuance by the court?

MR DORSETT: i don't know how to answer that, sir, because this is my first time in a courtroom. i am trying to get across to the court that i am here as a witness in lower case letter to begin with, not here as a respondent in uppercase letter.

THE COURT: The court takes note of that. Plaintiff, will you proceed.

MR. CRAWFORD: thank you, your honor.

October 12, 2006
 
February 2001 - Did They Really Ask That?

From U.S. District Judge Charles B. Kornmann of Aberdeen, S.D., this excerpt from testimony in one of his recent trials:

Q. Did there come a time when you - when the car had a flat tire?

A. Yes.

Q. What part of the flat tire - what part of the tire was flat?

A. What do you mean, which tire on the car?

Q. Let me ask that question again. What tire on the car was flat?

A. The front passenger's side.

Judge Kornmann adds: "I later explained to the lawyer that different portions of the tire were flat as the car continues to move.

October 11, 2006
 
February 1999 - Lawyers are Next

From Amy K. Rosenberg of Fort Collins, Colo. (Liggett, Smith & Williams), this trial excerpt from a "marriage dissolution proceeding" in which Amy's colleague, Michael Liggett, "was cross-examing the soon-to-be ex-wife" regarding some of her expenditures.

Q. "Wynbriar," is that an antique store?

A. No, that's not. That's a tobacco shop.

Q. What did you buy for $831?

A. A fox.

Q. A fox?

A. Yes.

The Court: Wait a minute. I've got to know. You mean, an animal?

The Witness: No. He's - I have a dead animal farm. It's a stuffed fox.

The Court: A stuffed fox. Okay.

Q. You say you have a dead animal farm. You collect taxidermy?

A. Does that surprise you?

Q. What other animals do you have?

A. Lawyers are next.

October 10, 2006
 
January 1999 - Thank Goodness, Indeed!

From Donald K. Buckman of Fort Worth (Cantey & Hanger), this excerpt from his deposition of the male plaintiff in an ADA case.

A. I was in the emergency room from approximately probably 3:00 in the afternoon until midnight and during that time saw numerous emergency room physicians and nurses, et cetera, et cetera. During that time, some of the pain had subsided, and they were probably giving me something for that. I had numerous tests, CT scans, MRI's, the test that pregnant people have to - you know what I'm talking about but I can't call the name of it, where they can visually see inside on a continuing basis.

Q. Sonogram?

A. Sonogram. Thank you. Actually had two of those.

Q. They didn't think you were pregnant?

A. No, they didn't think that. Thank goodness.

October 09, 2006
 
October 2006 - Request for a "Time-Cut"

Judge Robert Newsom of Sulphur Springs (8th District Court) sent me this “recent letter received by the court from a defendant convicted of murder in 2004 who received a sentence of 40 years.” Newsom receives numerous requests for “time-cuts,” but this one really grabbed his attention:

Dear Judge Newsom,

Sorry to bother you. Recently a fellow inmate helped me file a time-cut. I did not bother to read the time-cut before I sent it to you. I found out that the inmate who helped me suffers from a severe mental disorder.

I fear there may be some derogatory language and or statements on this time-cut. If this is the case, I offer my sincerest apologies. If, however, this is not the case, I ask that you please consider my time-cut.

Thank you for your time. Sincerely.

Judge Newsom adds: “The real question is whether the defendant can file for ‘ineffective assistance of counsel.’”

October 06, 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.

October 05, 2006
 
September 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From County Judge Ken Andrews of Graham, this marvelous(!) exchange that took place "during a teen court trial."

Defense Attorney: Why didn't you have insurance on your car?

Defendant: Because I didn't have a driver's license.

October 04, 2006
 
March 1988 - All in a Day's Work

This one was sent to me by Tom Mills - actually Thomas W. Mills, Jr., P.C. - of Dallas (Vial, Hamilton). He found it in a column written for "The Champion" (a NACDL publication), by Charles M. Sevilla, a San Diego attorney who collects excerpts from trial transcripts destined to become "Great Moments In Courtroom History."

Q. What did you do that day, during that day?

A. I went out and crushed somebody's elbow that owed me some money and then I went and kicked the door in and took care of some other people, then I went back to the hotel, took a shower, went out and talked to a police officer. And after I left him I went down and made a big scene at the hot dog stand and I came back to the Gilbert Hotel because he was getting a little bit too upset and after that, that was it. That was my daytime story.

Q. When you say you created a scene at the hot dog stand, to what are you referring?

A. Well, I said I created a scene.

Q. What did you do?

A. I was checking another biker's I.Q.

Q. What did you say to the man?

A. You know, I think I forgot.

Q. You personally fought three people?

A. Well, I wouldn't look at it as fighting three people. I look at it as a good workout.

Q. How did you almost put him in the hospital?

A. I don't know - let me crush your hip bone a little bit and see what happens.

Q. You didn't do anything wrong, did you, with this man that slipped down the stairs?

A. I helped him along.

October 03, 2006
 
July 2002 - A Senior Moment

From Patricia B. Lehtola (Lehtola & Associates) of Dallas, this excerpt from a deposition.

Q. Okay. And how old are you, ma'am?

A. 50 -

Q. Two?

A. 52, I think -

Q. One?

A. - 51. I was born in '49.

Q. I thought you were 51 or 52. I wasn't sure. I'll add it up.

A. I think I'm 51.

Q. I do that sometimes.

A. I can't believe that.

Mr. Gaswirth: It's 2002.

A. That's what I call a senior moment.

October 02, 2006
 
January 1999 - Tell Us About The Accident

From Melanie Sims Campbell of Austin - Melanie is a legal assistant to Lloyd E. Bemis III (Bemis, Roach & Reed), this excerpt from the answers to interrogatories by one of their personal injury clients.

Q. Describe in detail exactly how the accident occurred.

A. I had a green arrow on entry to intersection. Looked up, saw truck and Wham - oh no - glass in my mouth.


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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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