March 1998 - The Energizer Bunny
From Marion J. Borchers
of New Braunfels, this excerpt from a pleading filed in a bankruptcy court in the Southern District of California. In the case, "the ex-husband of the debtor opposed the sale of land in Comal County, Texas and appealed an adverse ruling, lost three motions to stay, and then filed an ex parte motion for clarification" - which drew this response from Jeffrey Isaacs
of San Diego, Calif. (Procupio, Cory, etc.):
Response and Opposition to Ex Parte Application for Clarification of Court's Order Regarding Sale of Texas Real Property and Request for Sanctions Under Rule 9011 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure
Like the Energizer bunny, defendants just keep going and going and going ...
May 1997 - Did He Really Say That?
From Joseph G. Rollins
of Houston, this excerpt from a Trespass To Try Title case that he tried in Sherman "way back in the early 1950s." Joseph sets the stage by explaining that the witness' father had been "well known to have been an alcoholic.
Q. And your father died intestate?
A. (Halfway coming out of his seat) No, he died in a train wreck, Mr. Rollins, and you know it!!
Judge: He's just trying to find out if your daddy had a will.
A. Well, why didn't he just ask me that instead of getting personal about it.
January 2007 - The Love Fest
This contribution, from Charles W. Hury
of McAllen is an excerpt from a deposition he took:
Q. I sure will. When you set up this partnership — and by the way, I just want to make the record clear. I am not trying to trap you in any way whatsoever
. You are a man of immense experience and my respects to you. So I am not trying to trap you. You have a lawyer here, who is very able/experienced
, so please don’t misunderstand my question here. Now —
A. I have great respect for you, too, sir.
Q. Appreciate that.
Mr. Hury: All right. Now, that the love fest is over, let’s get back to the damn deposition.
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
February 2006 - So there's a Chance?
From Ryan Foster
of Houston (Ryan A. Foster & Associates), this testimony from a recent deposition in an asbestosis case:
Q: (By defense lawyer): I'll admit that's a tough sentence for me to intepret. But at least one clause of that sentence says, "smoking alone can cause in rare cases an ILO score of one over zero. Is that how you would read it as well?
A: (Expert) Well, it says rarely. But, yeah, I mean, I suppose if you were ... with all due respect, and I know you're good at this, okay. But the way you asked reminds me of the scene in Dumb and Dumber
when Jim Carey asks the girl what are the chances that we'll end up together? And she says ... "one in a million
" and he says, "so there's a chance
." It reminds me of that.
November 2002 - When I was in the Army
From Victor M. Carrera
of Edinburg (Reed, Carrera & McLain), these excerpts from a trial and a deposition.
Q. (By Mr. Shoettmer) You're an experienced businessman; you would agree with me?
A. I'm an experienced businessman in Rio Grande City, Texas.
Q. But your - but your breadth
is larger than Rio Grande City, is it not, sir?
A. Are you saying I have bad breath?
November 2001 - Did They Really Say That?
From Judge Bradley Smith
of Richmond, this exchange between a defendant and his attorney which recently took place in Judge Smith's court:
Q. Did she attend court with you?
A. Yes, sir, she did.
Q. On a friendly basis?
A. No, as a husband and wife
September 2000 - Language Is His Religion
From Curtis W. Fitzgerald, II
of Houston, this excerpt from a deposition taken in a medical malpractice case of the plaintiff, who was from Puerto Rico.
Q. And we've spent a number of hours questioning you today and you understand the English language very well?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Are you fluent in Puerto Rico, too?
Q. Okay. So, you're bilingual?
A. No, I am Pentecostal
March 1999 - Classic Typos
From Robert E. Wood
of Dallas (Winstead, Sechrest & Minick), this marvelous typo in the title of a notion to exclude an expert witness drafted by one of the firm's young associates:
Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant's Motion to Execute
October 1998 - Imaginative Objections
From Steven K. DeWolf
of Dallas (Bellinger & DeWolf), this very useful objection made by the opposing counsel.
Q. And how many patients did you see on that day, sir?
Mr. Cummings: Objection, it calls for speculation. If you know.
A. I don't recall.
Q (By Mr. DeWolf) Do you recall a single other patient that you saw that day?
Mr. Cummings: That is so unfair.
Mr. DeWolf: I like that objection, "so unfair." I like that.
The Wacky World of Pro Se
From Molly D. Shannon
of Austin (Molly is an assistant city attorney), this excerpt from the Supplemental Brief filed in the Texas Supreme Court by the pro se
appellants, Odessa Tannehill and Danny Dorris:For clarity
, Petition's Odessa Tannehill and Danny Dorris will be referred to as The Plaintiff's, Defendant's, some other status, or by name,
and the respondent's will be referred to as the Defendant's some other status, or by name.
April 1997 - A Kinder, Gentler Old Judge
From U.S. Senior District Judge Lucius D. Bunton, III
- who bills himself as "a kinder, gentler old judge" in the newsletter he writes for the district judges of the fifth circuit - this excerpt:
The Court: Mr Henry, two things. Donna is a great court reporter, and I'm sure she got all that down, but I've told you before my hearing aids can just listen so fast.
Mr. Henry: All right.
The Court: And I was in Portland, Ore. last week, and I lost one of those things. So if you see me cocking my head to the right, it's not because I like to look at that jury over there in the box; it's because the only hearing aid that I have left is in my right ear. So if you'll just slow down a little bit, I think I can get most of it in that right ear.
Then later, in the closing arguments:
Mr. Mears: Your honor, if I appear to wink at you it's because I have got a problem. I lost a contact last night. So, like you, I'm working on half of what I need. And sometimes I have to blink in order to see through these glasses.
The Court: I'll turn my deaf ear to your blind eye.
Mr. Mears: I'm sure there are a lot of people who would think that would be progress.
May 1996 - Did They Really Ask That?
From Richard T. Redano
of Houston (Rosenblatt & Redano), this excerpt from a deposition in an unfair competition case pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia:
Q. Have you felt coerced by anyone other than me
to change your testimony?
May 1995 - From The Trials of Buchmeyer
All of these excerpts are from criminal cases I tried during the past several months:
Q. How many times did you use GMHB and alcohol and go into a coma?
A. None ... that I know of
Q. Can you identify this document?
A. Identify it as what?
Q. How could I have possibly told you that?
A. With your mouth!
October 1991 - Summer Clerking
Finally! The first et cetera contributions from summer clerks from McCleod, Alexander, Powel & Apffel
of Galveston (and Houston).
From Jennifer E. Patton
, excerpts from a deposition in a real estate dispute - with Jennifer's explanation that the plaintiff's attorney is deposing the owner of some adjoining property (a doctor); that the defense attorney "had been objecting 'almost continuously;'" and that, after this went on "for quite some time" the good doctor" decided to strike back:"
Def. Attorney: I object to the responsiveness of that answer.
Q. Doctor...The Witness: Am I qualified to state my name?
Def. Attorney: You certainly are qualified to state your name, and I didn't object to that part of your testimony.
The Witness: I'm surprised.
April 1994 - Be Careful With Experts
From Steve Waldman
of Houston (Waldman, Smallwood, etc.), this deposition excerpt from the cross-examination of a neurosurgeon by William S. Jackson
of Houston (Leuders & Boanerges):
Q. Is secondary gain a conscious phenomenon or can it in some cases be a subconscious type of phenomenon?
A. It can be either/or, or both. It depends.
Q. Doctor, as you sit here today, there's no way for you to go inside the head of another individual
and to know for a fact whether or not those factors are present, is there?
A. Well, I'm a brain surgeon. I can go inside the head of an individual;
but unfortunately, I don't have the techniques to make that determination.
April 1993 - But The Title Was Just Fine
From Charles A. Hood
of Port Lavaca (Hernandez & Hood), this excerpt from a hearing on motions in a DWI case before District Judge Clarence Stevenson
The Court: Now, on the [motion to quash indictment, your concern] is that it doesn't give the name, kind, number and ownership of the vehicle he was alleged to be driving.
Mr. Hood: That's the first one, Your Honor.
The Court: Right. And that the street and highway is not alleged by general location. The manner and means of driving or operation is not specified. And that there's no allegation that this occurred in a public place. It is duplicitous.
Mr. Hood: It's just a bad old indictment, Judge.
The Court: Doesn't allege how the substances were introduced into his body. The statute doesn't give fair notice of the proscribed activity and the caption on the bill was bad. Doesn't give him notice of what the State intends to prove, fails to allege whether the alcohol concentration was .10 percent grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood per 210 liters of breath or per 67 milliliters of urine. Fails to allege .10 percent grams. And the per se violation is unconstitutional. Anything else wrong?
Mr. Hood. I think that about covers it.
The Court: You like the color all right?
Mr Hood: I'm not too crazy about that shade of pink.
The Court: Okay. Motion to quash is denied.
July 1992 - But Just How Dead Is He?
From Judge Tom Sullivan
of Houston (County Civil Court at Law No. 2) - and from his court reporter, Ron McPherson
- this excerpt from a trial before Judge Sullivan:
Q. Were Marge Pope and Cecil Melis
husband and wife?
A. I don't think so. I think they attempted to marry and that was annulled.
Q. Did they live together as far as you know?
A. About 19 years.
Q. And you testified that Cecil Melis is now dead?
A. That's correct.
Q. Do you recall when he died?
A. Very recently. This year: March, April, May. I do not recall the date.
Q. Okay. So he's not available to testify in this hearing about any matters;
is that right?
A. He would not have been available to testify from some time before.
Q. But he's not available now
A. No, not now.
Q. Because of his death
From Michael E. Mullally
of Jonesboro, AR (Snellgrove, Laser, ect.), this excerpt from the deposition of the plaintiff in a personal injury case: the deposer was Robert Coleman
of Blytheville, AR (Reid, Burge, etc.).
Q. [What about your back surgery]?
A. I had pilonidal cyst surgery on my back twice.
Q. And when was that?
A. Once was in 1972, and then again in 1976.
Q. Okay. And who was it that did those surgeries?
A. [The one in 1972] was done at Kingport, TN, and I can't recall the name of the surgeon there ... The one here [in 1976] was done by Dr. Strickland here in Batesville.
A. If you need the name of that, I can find out, of the other surgeon. He's dead now
Q. Well, he probably wouldn't answer any of my letters then, would he?
A. Well, for you sake, I hope not
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."
July 1992 - The Surprise Witness
From retired County Court at Law Judge James H. Russell
of Belton (Bell County Court at Law No. 1), this story from a "fender-bender jury case" he tried several years ago. The witness, a police officer, "was putting the usual intersection drawing on the blackboard;" then...
Juror: (Jumping to his feet): No, no! I live near there; the filling station is not where you put it. It's across the street.
Witness: (Quickly erasing and making the correction).
Judge Russell adds: "Neither lawyer objected; they were stifling laughter. That was the only case I ever tried that had un-sworn testimony from a juror."
April 1994 - Of Lawyers and Halos
From Judy Stephens
of Dallas (Judy is a briefing attorney with the Fifth District Court of Appeals), this eye-opening excerpt from the cross-examination of the eyewitness in a murder trial:
Q. Ms. Victory, why do you wear glasses?
A. Because I'm cross-eyed [sic], but I've had three operations to correct it. But it just brings everything into focus for me.
Q. Did you have your glasses on the morning [in question]?
A. No, I did not.
Q. I'm not an eye doctor, so your problem with being cross-eyed makes things not appear in focus?
A. No. What cross-eyed is, I had - my muscles were real long. So when I was a kid, I had to have my muscles cut back so that it would keep my eyes straight instead of going underneath my nose.
Q. Okay. That went well over my head ...
A. It's like - okay, like an antenna - an antenna on a T.V. It kind of just brings it into focus. It's not that I can't see you clearly. It's just that you kind of got a little halo around you
Q. My mother would be glad to hear that.
April 1993 - Uncivil Law
Attorney Three: I'm going to object to that. That continues to assume facts not in evidence, it's argumentative and it's vague. And I would ask you to specify which "manufacturers" you are referring to specifically.
Attorney Four: It's not your deposition. Just make your objection.
Attorney Three: I'm making it and I'm asking -
Attorney Four: Are you going to disrupt it?
Attorney Three: No. I'm asking him if he'll specify it.
Attorney Four: No. We're not answering your questions. You can make your objection and take it up with the court if you feel it's necessary.
Attorney Three: That's fine.
Attorney Four:Good. Shut up