May 1989 - I'm Glad We Cleared That UpJudge William L. Baskette, Jr.
of Kerr County sends this "unplanned discussion" which took place in a hearing before him:
The Court: And what is the basis of your motion? Do you have any case law or anything you'd like to cite to the Court at this time?
Attorney: In our last hearing in this case, I was left here with the thought that the Court had said based on some 25 cases of Mr. Stehling's that the Court was issuing an edict or ruling, or a ruling that he contemplated or whatever, saying that if the state —
The Court: The court doesn't issue edicts; only the Pope does.
February 2001 - Did They Really Say That?
From David L. Zedler
of Sherman, this contribution that occurred during testimony in a recent jury trial.
A. The last time I saw [the child who was the subject of the suit], she was eating a bowl of goldfish.
Mr. Zedler: You mean crackers don't you?
May 1999 - Those Jurors
From Judge Jay Patterson
of Dallas (101st District Court), this answer from a recent juror questionnaire:
20. How can we change or improve our arrangements, facilities, or procedures to make jury service better?
A: I'm not sure on the law here, but maybe make the counsel wear too-tight shoes to hasten things along?
From Judge Alvin G. Khoury
of Longview (124th District Court), these answers by two different jurors to the same question in a juror questionnaire he used in a recent capital murder trial.
35. What is the highest grade you completed in school?
36. What is the highest grade you completed in school?
April 2001 - Did They Really Say That?
From Jeffrey C. Lewis
of Texarkana, this exchange that took place during his cross-examination of the female plaintiff in a medical malpractice trial in Bowie County.
Mr. Lewis: I'm not asking you for a medical opinion, but as far as you're concerned (the defendant doctor's) surgery, his technique, what he did with your right foot, fixed all the problems you were complaining about?
Plaintiff's Attorney: Objection. That calls for a medical opinion.
Mr. Lewis: I'm not asking for that.
The Court: She's the best one to know. I would think.
Plaintiff's Attorney: I don't think she was in there when he was operating on her
Jeffrey adds: "Judge Bill Peek (202nd District Court) wisely overruled the objection."
June 1994 - What's Happening in Waco
From Crawford Long
of Waco (Crawford is the first assistant criminal district attorney of McLennan County), two criminal trial excerpts. The first is from voir dire
in a murder trial of a juror who "was rather large and [who] had on a tent dress that made her appear pregnant."
Prosecutor: Mrs. Dunlap, you don't have any children at this time?
Mrs. Dunlap: No.
Prosecutor: All right. Are you fairly comfortable at this time?
Mrs. Dunlap: Yes.
Prosecutor: You don't have any problems sitting on a jury?
Mrs. Dunlap: No.
Prosecutor: I just found out last week my wife was pregnant. I'm still excited about it. Do you have any problems at all serving on this jury? How much longer before you're expecting?
Mrs. Dunlap: I'm not pregnant
Prosecutor: I'm sorry. I thought ... I thought with that dress on...
Mrs. Dunlap: That's all right. It's the type of dress I have on.
Prosecutor (Going from bad to worse): It's on my mind. Okay ... all right. You're a very big person
. I appreciate that, ma'am.
Crawford Long's second excerpt is from "a motion for new trial hearing before Judge Bob Burdett
(184th District Court)."
Q. Now, Doctor, let me show you the affidavit that has been filed by Windel Dickerson here in this case. I believe I showed it to you a little earlier. And there is a term in there, is there not, called folie a deux
A. Folie a deux.
Q. Folie a deux
. The only - is that a French term?
Q. The only one I know is menage a trois
Mr. Charlton: Would you care to explain how you know that? I think we should have some cross-examination on this issue.
April 1996 - But Is The Defendant Credible?
From Tom Hamilton
of Dallas (Tom is an Assistant U.S. Attorney), this excerpt from a court order in a criminal case:
3. The defendant is a glib witness when it suits his interest to be such; otherwise he is unworthy of belief in his responsive testimony and maddeningly evasive. ... Furthermore, the defendant's memory is both self-serving and selective. For a man as intelligent as the defendant obviously is, he has a terrible memory for any embarrassing details. The only two witnesses I have observed in over 13 years on the bench with worse memories were self-acknowledged as brain damaged
(one from alcohol abuse).
October 1985 - How To Take a Deposition
From Jerry von Sternberg's
"I Solemnly Swear:
Q. Haw you talked to your lawyer about this deposition today?
A. Mr. Cox, shall I tell him?
Mr. Cox: Sure, go ahead and tell him.
Q. And what did he tell you?
A. Mr. Cox, shall I tell him?
Mr. Cox: Sure, go ahead and tell him.
A. He told me there was some smart son of a bitch down here trying to make you lie, but you tell him the truth, anyhow.
April 1990 - Recalling & RecollectingTerry L. Belt
of Austin submits this excerpt from the deposition of the father who was seeking to modify the child custody terms of the divorce.
Q. Do you remember the incident on the day that you came running up from the basement and explained to your wife that you were going to kill yourself?
Q. Have you blocked it out of your mind or are you saying that it never happened?
A. Never happened.
Q. You didn't go behind the shed there with your gun?
Q. Do you remember what year it was that it didn't happen?
A. 1980, I believe.
April 2007 - The Sound of Silence
This contribution is from Randy Wilson
of Abilene, who writes that several years ago in the 326th District Court in Taylor County, preceding a custody trial, before Judge Aleta Hacker, a novice attorney was conducting a closed end voir dire by asking questions of the panel such as:
Q. How many of you are married? Please signify by raising your hand.
Q. How many of you have children? Please signify by raising your hand.
Q. How many of you have been divorced? Please signify by raising your hand.
Q. How many of you have been involved in some way in a child custody case? Please signify by raising your hand.And this continues for what seems like an hour
. Finally, the novice attorney asked:
Q. How many of you have been involved in an extramarital affair? Please signify by raising your hand.
The sound of silence was deafening and there was not even the “blink of an eye.”
May 1995 - Are You Dead As We Sit Here Today?
From Kevin M. Jordan
of Orange, this Twilight Zone excerpt from his deposition of the defendant in an automobile personal injury case.
Q. What were you doing [when you worked] at Texaco?
A. I was working as a laborer in the work gang in the grease plant.
Q. Okay. And you said that you had stress-related job problems at Texaco that led you to narcolepsy; is that right?
A. Yes, I did. It was working to death
. You get in an atomic chemical facility and they put big mind control on you
, you know, and you can't do nothing but work, work, work til you're dead, you know. You just work and work and work and work and work
. There's no air to breathe. Then you get hurt; and I got hit with a pipe on my head, cracked my skull, tore the top of my head off.
Q. Do you know what year that was?
A. Yes, 1976.
Q. Did you see the doctors about that?
A. No. I just died. I'm dead see. I'm dead
. It's just that I'm a ghost, and I returned. I've already had my funeral. ... God won't let me into Heaven because I'm not good enough yet. So, I've got to stay here on Earth; but I am dead.
Q. You're dead as we sit here today?
A. I'm dead.
Mr. Jordan (wisely): Can we take a break?
September 1992 - Did She Really Mean That?
From Robert A. Rapp
of San Antonio (McCamish, Martin & Loeffler), this excerpt from the deposition of one of the female plaintiffs in a class action discrimination suit:
Q. [Did you complain to your supervisor about not being permitted to drive trucks on interstate shipments?]
A. Yes, I asked him why I couldn't go interstate, and he told me he couldn't risk somebody's marriage [by] putting them with me. And do you really want to hear what we said during the conversation?
Q. Yes, ma'am, I do.
A. You know, I'm not a real Donna Reese
. So I will just say what I said. I said, "______."
According to Robert, the witness prefaced her X-rated remarks with the statement that she "was no Donna Reed
," but the court reporter "mistakenly transcribed this as Donna Reese
because she was too young to remember Donna Reed."
May 2007 - The Letter Denying LiabilityBrian Holland
of Houston (Holt & Young, P.C.) writes that he “has carried this letter around for almost 20 years — and thought you might find it as interesting
(and amusing) as I did.”
The letter was written by a claims examiner for KM Administrative Services in Bristo, Tenn., to the claimant. It advises the claimant that “our investigation of this incident reveals no negligence on the part of Kmart. Therefore, we will be unable to make any voluntary payment with regard to this matter.”
The letter was returned to the claims examiner with this handwritten note from the claimant:
You S.O.B.’s — I’m hurten all over. Pain is shooten all thru my body. You sitten in your easy chair and me sitten down here all crippled up and broke, I’ve never been so humiliated. I’m never going back to the @#$% Kmart and @#$% on the blue light
September 2005 - “Transquips”
From Lynn Brooks of DeSoto, who is a certified shorthand reporter:
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?
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.
May 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?
This is from a post-trial hearing before me; the attorney was placed under oath so he could "make a record" in connection with a motion to dismiss on Speedy Trial Act grounds.
The Court: Why don't you just do a narrative?
Attorney: I will not question myself, your Honor. I am concerned that I might impeach myself.
May 1985 - What About Your Job?
Q. What do you do for a living?
A. I help my brother.
Q. What does your brother do?
Q. You said you went to Galveston in 1920, yet the first job you told me about was in 1946. What did you do between 1920 and 1946?
A. Well, I didn't go to work as soon as I got there.
February 1997 - The Doctors Horn In
From Gerald B. Shifrin
of Portland, Ore. - who "spent over 40 years practicing law on the Rio Grande in El Paso" - these excerpts from a newspaper story in The Oregonian
showing "how the medical profession is trying to horn in on our humor." This is "actual dictation from actual doctors, as collected by medical transcriptionists.
"The patient injured her right fifth hand
while playing basketball." ... "SKIN: Somewhat pale but present." ... "her children are 12, 10, and nine; husband is approximately the same age
." ... "Both the patient and the nurse reported passing flatus." ... "Rectal examination revealed no masses but did show yellow shoes
January 2004 - That's Good Advice!
This contribution, from Carl Pipoly and Melissa Brantner of San Antonio, is from a personal injury trial where the defense counsel violated a motion in limine by injecting the workers' compensation case into the trial. The subrogation attorney then asked the court for advice on how to handle future violations.
Mr. McLin: Your Honor, for future reference, this is going to be an issue that will be brought up again. How would you like me to handle objections?
The Court: Just ask me to put her in jail.
Mr. McLin: Okay. Thank you, Your Honor.
January 1992 - From the Trials of Buchmeyer, Too
Q. What did you do with the money you got from the land flip?
A. Bought a Mercedes 450 SL convertible.
A. Well, it was a little less ostentatious than buying a Rolls Royce.
April 1996 - Did They Really Ask That?
From Beverly Hays
of Dallas (Beverly is a paralegal with Patterson, Lamberty, etc. who "hopes this one makes the cut"), this excerpt from a personal injury deposition.
Q. Why were you in Dallas that day?
A. To see "Catherine the Great."
Q. Is she a friend of yours?
A. She's the Russian. It was the show -
Mr. McNeil: Catherine the Great.
Mr. Keith: Oh, I'm sorry
May 2007 - The Burden of ProofLarry Warner
of Brownsville writes that “the technicalities of the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof are lost on this witness for the prosecution in a public corruption case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Brownsville Division.”
DEFENSE COUNSEL: Your suspicion of the constable affected your inference, didn’t it?
WITNESS: I think there was a — different levels at different times of suspicion and ...
Q. Well, let me ask it this way. You certainly didn’t look at these [telephone] calls in the light of a presumption of innocence, did you?
A. No, I was looking at them in a, you know, factual point of view, sir.
February 2002 - Classic Typo's
From Trish Nasworthy
of Grand Prairie (Trish is an Assistant City Attorney), this mistake she spotted in an ad in the Dallas Morning News.
LITIGATION ATTORNEY needed immediately. Large plaintiff's personal injury firm seeks associate. Duties include depositions, medication
, and trials ...