August 31, 2007
 
October 1997 - And You, Sir, Are Adios


From Versal Rush of Wichita Falls (Versal is the first assistant public defender), this exchange that took place in a competency trial before Judge Keith Nelson (78th District Court). The client believed that he spoke to Elvis and animals (especially a certain rooster); he claimed to have been, among other things, "a lawyer, judge, doctor, porno producer/director/star, parapsychologist," etc. He actively and frequently "participated in the trial," beginning when he asked Judge Nelson, "What was the origin of the words, 'voir dire'. Then, as Versel was presenting his closing argument concerning his client's incompetencies, suddenly:


Defendant (standing up): Ladies and gentleman of the jury, get me a real lawyer.


Judge Nelson: You ... sit down and be quiet.


[defendant gets louder and louder]


Judge Nelson: I said sit down and be quiet.


Defendant: You, sir, are an _______. And you, sir, are a jerk.


Judge Nelson: And you, sir, are adios.


[Bailiff removes the defendant kicking and screaming from the courtroom.]


The jury found the defendant incompetent in less than 10 minutes. After the verdict, Versal says, "the jury members came up to me, hugged me, and said I didn't get paid enough, but it would be all right."

August 30, 2007
 
April 1995 - Unaccompanied By My Awareness

From Jerry D. Cain of Blacksburg, Va. (Jerry is general counsel of Virginia Tech), this handwritten demand letter from a person who had never been a student at Virginia Tech - but who, because of his Obvious Flair With Words, deserved "to have his hospital bills paid, which the university did in exchange for a release of all claims":

Risk Management Office:

On the day of Oct. 28, 1988, just prior to 5 p.m., exiting Newman Library, turning left down the walk-ramp and coming out of underneath the overhanging face of the library, i [sic] experienced a very overwhelming sensation. A tremendous and sudden blow, perceived as a blinding flash, sent me flailing to the ground.

There seems to have been a slight blank out - several seconds I cannot recall. I remember up to immediately following the impact. Very next, I remember lying in bushes near the entrance area of the library, yelling out, wriggling with pain. By then several people had gathered around in concern. Since the crowd could not have appeared there immediately, at least several seconds had elapsed unaccompanied by my awareness; I cannot remember how long.

Just as I had revived perception, I glanced on the walk what I consider to be a smashed flower pot, plant matter, and soil. When asked by a passer-by what had happened, I declared that something had fallen on me. I cannot rightly say with conviction the nature or exact location of the strike with regard to my form. At first I was sure I had been hit squarely atop the head; but this seems unlikely as no superficial injury to the head resulted. Because I was quite unsettled and dazed and then led directly away from the scene to the infirmary and then to the hospital, my recollection of details is vague.

Based on my own feeble understanding of culture as lived by this community, I see no reason that the wealthy university couldn't help, at least with the hospital bills, persons caused injury by the frivolous neglect of employee.

Sincerely, etc.

Jerry adds: "I have never been certain whether frivolous neglect is more or less egregious than ordinary negligence.

August 29, 2007
 
May 1994 - From The Twilight Zone

From W. Bernard Whitney of Fort Worth, this excerpt from the deposition of the defendant-husband in a case involving the mental and physical ability of his wife - who was "the testatrix in 1984 and who subsequently died in May 1992":

Q. Okay. And then do you recall the time in September of 1984 when she was using the commode and she fell, and she fell off the commode and hit her head?

A. No, sir, I don't because just before she passed away she was still using the commode and they didn't nobody hold her on it.

Q. So you're saying in September 1984 she didn't fall off the commode?

A. She did not, she sat there until the day they took her to the hospital and died [in May 1992].

August 28, 2007
 
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?

August 27, 2007
 
January 1998 - Classic Typos

(1) From a letter confirming the mediation date of a Dallas mediator:

The fee for a dull day of mediation is seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) per day.

(2) From objections to interrogatories in a Houston case:

Objection; Defendants objection to this interrogatory is that it is over board and seeks information irrelevant and immaterial to subject litigation and is not likely to lead to discovery of inumerable evidence.

These classic typos were contributed by (1) Scott A. Barber of Garland (Brown, Brown, etc.); (2) James A. Dunn of Houston (Bennet, Dunn, etc.)

August 24, 2007
 
January 1992 - From the Trials of Buchmeyer

Q. What did you do with the money you got from the land flip?

A. Bought a Mercedes 450 SL convertible.

Q. Why?

A. Well, it was a little less ostentatious than buying a Rolls Royce.

August 23, 2007
 
June 1987 - Did I Really Ask That?

Court Jesters records this question asked by a Vancouver lawyer: "what colour were the blue jeans?" As well as the Canadian lawyer who single-handedly (or mouthily) asked these immortal questions:

Q. How long have you known your brother?
Q. Were you alone or by yourself?
Q. How long have you been a French Canadian?

August 22, 2007
 
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?

A. Nothing.
***

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.

August 21, 2007
 
July 2007 - Uncle Bubba

Judge A. Lee Harris of Hillsboro has a docket that is composed of approximately 50 percent family law cases. Recently he had a divorce case between a young couple with a 20-month-old child.

The petitioner (dad) was proving up the agreement. When he concluded, the attorney asked the respondent's attorney if "that is everything?" The respondent's attorney muttered something about "the uncle" and this exchange followed:

Q. Okay. You also agree that your uncle would not - I guess his name is Bubba; is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay - would not drive - the child would not be a passenger in any car that he is driving; is that okay?

A. While he's drinking or when he's sober?

Ms. Atty 1: Not driving at all.

Q. (By Mr. Atty 2) Do you have any problems with that? Let's just say he doesn't drive with the child.

A. No problem.

August 20, 2007
 
March 2001 - Classic Typos

From Robert G. Moll of Houston (Hill, Rivkins & Hayden), this typo from the responses to his request for production.

11. Please produce all documents, correspondence, and memoranda relating to Plaintiff's allegation that "all conditions precedent necessary to recovery have been performed or have occurred."

Response: Objection, this request exceeds the scope of discovery permitted by the Texas Rules of Civil Produce. Tex. R. Civ. P. 93(12).

Robert adds: "I think [this citation] has something to do with the veggie libel law."

August 16, 2007
 
April 2000 - Can You Be More Specific?

From Jeffrey J. Brookner of Morristown, N.J. (Riker, Danzing, Scherer, et. al.), this exchange following the attorney's question concerning "why the witness closed the special-finance department at his car dealership."

A. It was a pain. The department was a pain. It was different from what we're used to, not our kind of business necessarily.

Q. Okay. When you say it was a pain, can you be more specific?

A. A pain in the ass.

August 15, 2007
 
June 1999 - Please Repeat After Me

From Robert J. Malinak of Houston (Baker & Botts), this trial excerpt that was sent to him by "a credible New York lawyer."

Clerk: Please repeat after me: "I swear by Almighty God."

Witness: "I swear by Almighty God."

Clerk: "That the evidence that I give..."

Witness: That's right.

Clerk: Repeat it.

Witness: "Repeat it."

Clerk: No! Repeat what I said.

Witness: What you said when?

Clerk: "That the evidence that I give ..."

Witness: "That the evidence that I give ..."

Clerk: "Shall be the truth and ..."

Witness: It will, and nothing but the truth!

Clerk: Please, just repeat after me: "Shall be the truth and ...

Witness: I'm not a scholar, you know.

Clerk: We can appreciate that. Just repeat after me: "Shall be the truth and ..."

Witness: "Shall be the truth and ..."

Clerk: "Nothing ..."

Witness: Okay. (Witness remains silent).

Clerk: No! Don't say nothing. Say: "Nothing but the truth ..."

Witness: Yes.

Clerk: Well? Do so.

Witness: You're confusing me.

Clerk: Just say: "Nothing but the truth ..."

Witness: Okay. I understand.

Clerk: Then say it.

Witness: What?

Clerk: "Nothing but the truth ..."

Witness: I WILL say nothing but the truth!

Clerk: Please, just repeat these four words: "Nothing - but - the - truth ..."

Witness: What? You mean, like, now?

Clerk: Yes! Now. Please. Just say those four words.

Witness: "Nothing. But. The. Truth."

Clerk: Thank you.

Witness: I'm just not a scholar.

August 14, 2007
 
February 1998 - We'll Leave The Lights on For You

From Linda (Lynn) J. Skinner, CSR, of Marshall (Linda is the court reporter for the 71st District Court), this incident that occurred during a civil docket call by Judge Sam Baxter:

The Court: John Doe v. Motel 6. What says the plaintiff?

(Reporter's Note: No response)

The Court: (Directing his remark toward counsel for Motel 6) Counselor, did you all forget to leave the light on?

August 13, 2007
 
October 1996 - Classic Typos

(1) From Renee Lafont, CLA, of Houston (Renee is the case manager on a large toxic tort case), this title from the witness list filed by one of the defense attorneys"

"Notice of Fat Witness Depositions To Be Taken"

(2) From Christopher R. Johnston of El Paso (Studdard & Melby) these excerpts from the definitions in a discovery request:

"Said terms shall be construed ... to make the discovery request inconclusive rather exclusive."

"Files shall mean and refer to any complication of 'documents' in a folder, box, binder, file or other device used for the purpose of organizing or storing."

August 10, 2007
 
April 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From Judge Robert P. Brotherton of Wichita Falls (30th District Court), this Motion for Judgment Nunc Pro Tunc filed by the parents in an adoption case which alleged:

1. The Decree Termination Parental Rights and Granting Adoption of Stepchild was signed on July 22, 1998, and filed on Aug. 6, 1998.

2. The decree signed herein was incorrect due to the child's first name was not misspelled correctly.

Movants pray the Court grant the Motion for Judgment Nunc Pro Tunc.

Judge Brotherton adds: "Upon considering the motion, I granted it, and I believe that the child's name is now misspelled correctly."

August 09, 2007
 
May 1995 - Did He Really Say That?

From David Kent of Dallas (Hughes & Luce), this quote from a Dallas attorney who had driven to Denton to offer legal advice to three SMU students who had been arrested and charged in a highly publicized criminal case:

[The attorney] said he did not know how the students planned to post bail or who would represent them in court. "These are young men who are going to college without a lot of money," the attorney said. "they are innocent until proven broke."

August 08, 2007
 
September 1992 - Simple Questions, Simple Answers

From John A. Buckley, Jr. of Galveston (Greer, Herz & Adams), these excerpts from a deposition taken by Andrew Mytelka of the same firm; John explains that they represented a couple "who were attempting to purchase a piece of property from the La Porte State Bank" - but the deponent-intervenor "was claiming that he had a right of first refusal which the bank had not given him the opportunity to exercise."

Q. Please state your name for the record.

A. Mat Wiggins.

Q. And your address, please?

A. 707 Bay, in Kemah.

Q. Did you pay any monetary consideration for them to give you the right of first refusal?

A. I don't recall. I'm sure I probably did, knowing the bank.

Q. [And do you have any records anywhere] of what you paid the bank for that right of first refusal?

A. If there were any records, they probably existed, but they probably burned down at the house last year.

Q. Where was this house located?

A. In Kemah. At 707 Bay.

Q. At the beginning of this deposition, you told me that you reside at 707 Bay...did you rebuild this house?

A. Not yet. [Well], I don't actually reside there...[I'm staying] at the Airport Inn right at this second.

Q. Okay. Where do you physically reside?

A. It depends on what night.

Q. Where do you physically reside on Monday night?

A. It depends on how I feel.

August 07, 2007
 
December 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Edward W. Stuebing of Marble Falls, this excerpt from testimony in a case he was hearing years ago as an Administrative Judge on the Interior Board of Land Appeals. He explains the case involved the validity of a mining claim; the government's expert, a mining engineer, had just testified "that the claim was not supported by a discovery of a valuable deposit of mineral because it could not be mined at a profit," and therefore was not 'valuable' in an economic sense." Then, the cross-examination:

Q. All right, Mr. Doe; you have stated that in your opinion this claim would lose money based on the cost of mining it by conventional mechanical mining methods. But what if my client mined it entirely by hand; drilled and blasted by hand, mucked out the adit by hand, sorted and milled the rock by hand, concentrated the ore by hand? Could he then make a few dollars profit from that kind of operation?

A. I honestly don't know.

Q. You don't know! You really don't know? You're supposed to be an expert, Mr. Doe. Please tell the court what else you don't know.

A. Huh?

August 06, 2007
 
September 1992 - Hung Juror Halts Trial

From Judge Temple Driver of Wichita Falls (89th District Court), this marvelous story from one of his criminal jury trials: "After awaiting for a missing juror to return to court at the end of a recess, I sent my bailiff looking for him. When the bailiff returned, he approached the bench and whispered:" Judge Driver, we have a problem. I found the missing juror in the restroom, and he has a hung zipper.

According to Judge Driver, "the problem was solved after we found a repairman with the proper equipment." However, the next day, a story about this amusing incident (written by Lois Luecke, the courthouse reporter) appeared on the front page of the Wichita Falls Times, with this deadline: "Hung Juror Halts Trial."

August 03, 2007
 
April 2001 - Classic Typos

From M. Michele Greene of Midland, this typo from a letter concerning settlement documents:

... in the Release and Compromise Settlement of All Claims document on page 2, I would ask that you include at the end of item number 4, "and violations of Section 17.46 of the Defective Trade Practice Consumer Act."

August 02, 2007
 
April 2000 - Classic Typos

From L. Kip Schiller of Gainesville (Henry, Hatcher & Schiller), this marvelous(!) typo from the police officer's report in a DWI case handled by his firm.

OBSERVATIONS:

ON 10-30-99 AT APPROXIMATELY 2230 HOURS, I DEPUTY _______ WAS ON ROUTINE PATROL FOR THE _______ COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT. I WAS TRAVELING WEST BOUND ON US 82 APPROACHING CR 173. I NOTICED A VEHICLE AT CR 172 SWERVE VERY EROTICALLY INTO THE RIGHT LANE OF TRAFFIC ...

August 01, 2007
 
March 1999 - California Voir Dire

From Paul Bernstein of Berkeley, Calf., this excerpt from yet another trial before Judge Lance Ito.

The Court: What do you like to do in your spare time?

Prospective Juror 4: I like to travel and hike. I like the outdoors.

The Court: And how would you describe yourself?

Prospective Juror 4: Easygoing, happy person, very friendly.

The Court: Is there anything else you think we should know about?

Prospective Juror 4: Yes.

The Court: What is that?

Prospective Juror 4: I'm on depressant medication. I suffer from severe migraine headaches, and they put me on Prozac for three months. Then they stopped that and now I'm on a new medication, you know, on trial, see if it works or not.

The Court: Any problems today? Any problems presently with that?

Prospective Juror 4: No. No. No.

The Court: Good.


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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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