September 28, 2007
 
September 1991 - No Further Questions

From Justice of the Peace Richard (Ric) Madrigal of Austin (Precinct Four), testimony from the trial of a defendant charged with public intoxication. First, the critical portion of the "direct examination of the state's chief witness," an officer with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission:

Prosecutor: Officer, can you tell us what led you to believe that the defendant was "under the influence of alcohol?"

Officer: Yes, the defendant had a glazed and glassy look in her eye.

According to Ric, the state rested after cross-examination of the witness - and then Ned Granger, "the defense attorney and a former county atttorney of Travis County, called his client to the stand, asked her to identify herself, and shot off his first question:"

Granger: Mrs. Blank, is there a medical disability you have that the court should know about?

Defendant: Yes there is.

Granger: What is it?

Defendant: I have a glass eye.

September 27, 2007
 
June 1992 - A Bill Reid "Two-fer"

From William (Bill) Reid of Austin (assistant district attorney, and chief of appellant division), this excerpt from a sentencing hearing before Judge Jon Wisser of Austin (299th District Court).

The Court: The State of Texas v. Nathaniel Brown, before the court today for sentencing, the defendant having been found guilty by a jury of the offense of burglary of a habitation.

The Defendant: Can I say something now? Excuse me your honor, I would like to say something. I want you to know that I feel like it wasn't no fair trial and I would like to have another trial because I don't feel like I've been treated right on this case. You know, really I do have a drug problem and the night that occurred, I did not burglarize the woman's house, you know, and when I first got out of TDC I was asked to get into some kind of treatment and I couldn't get in there. Your honor, I stayed sober for 10 years in Alcoholics Anonymous in the state of Texas. The only thing I can say [is] I did not do it and the good Lord in Heaven know I didn't.

The Court: The good Lord may know you didn't do it, bu he didn't speak to the folks on the jury, I'm afraid. They all thought that you did it.
____

Also from Bill Reid, this contribution to my still-growing "Unbelievably Dumb Questions" files - which Bill discovered in the portion of the record quoters in Combs v. State, 643 S.W.2d 709, 718 (Tex. Cr. App. 1988).

Q. Okay. After he got her out of the bathtub, was she alive or was she dead?

A. Dead.

Q. And after she was dead, was she saying anything like that?

A. No.

Bill adds: "The court was merciful enough not to disclose who asked this question."

September 26, 2007
 
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.

September 24, 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?

 
September 1995 - But How Dead Is He?

From Magistrate Judge Stephen H. Capelle of Austin (W.D. Texas) this excerpt from the plaintiff's witness list in a products liability case - which, fortunately, was discovered by his law clerk, Shelli Wakefield, while she was reviewing a motion to compel.

Plaintiff's Witness List
The Plaintiffs Reserve the Right to Call One or More of the Following Witnesses:

David Neveu, Deceased
Route ____, Box ____
Bryan 77802
(Stephen adds: "Although I realize plaintiff's lawyers need to cover every possible witness in their disclosures, this appears to be a bit excessive.")

September 21, 2007
 
September 2007 - That's How Vegas Works

Ryan Morris, who is a second-year law student at the University of Texas, was working for a small firm in Austin when he came across this excerpt in a deposition from a probate case where a party was testifying about his bank account:

A. I take a thousand out every time I go to Vegas.

Q. A thousand? Out of savings?

A. And I come back with zero.

Q. That's how Vegas works.

September 20, 2007
 
April 1993 - There Goes Our Man

From Edward J. Marty of Tyler (a briefing attorney with the 12th Court of Appeals), this excerpt from a hearing on the defendant's motion for new trial in a criminal case. The jury foreman, "Mutt" Mallory, is being questioned about the allegation that the jury's verdict of guilty had been based upon some information obtained "outside the courtroom":

Q. Now, Mr. Mallory, do you remember the events that occurred on Nov. 30th after the jury returned the guilty verdict?

A. Pretty well.

Q. Okay. Did the jury go back into the jury room for a recess at that time?
A. Yes.

Q. Okay. Now, while you were in the jury room, did anything unusual occur?

A. Well, yes, I believe it did.

Q. Could you tell the court what that was?

A. Well, one of the jurors went to the coffee urn sitting in the window and he said, "there goes our man" and of course, a lot of them got up and looked, you know, and Richard [the defendant] was running down the street, they said. Now, I didn't see him. He was already behind the
building when I saw him.

Q. Okay.

A. They said he could outrun cars.

September 19, 2007
 
November 1992 - What About His Job?

From Dennis R. Burrows of Lubbock (McCleskey, Harriger, etc.), this deposition excerpt in a suit brought by the plaintiff on behalf of his stepbrothers.

Q. Now, let's talk a little bit about what your stepbrothers do. What does James do for a living?

A. He is a maintenance man at one of the motels in Jacksonville, FL.

Q. What about Floyd?

A. Floyd, right now he is working for the government, the state.

Q. Which state.

A. Texas.

Q. What does he do for Texas?

A. Well, whatever you do when you are incarcerated in the pen.

Q. He is in the pen?

A. Uh-huh.

September 18, 2007
 
July 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

Jim D. Bowmer of Temple (Bowmer, Courtney) sent me a couple of stories "about our great friend Percy Foreman." One time when Percy was questioning a prospective juror of German heritage in Comal County, which is not noted for its leniency against criminal defendants. It wa a murder case. The questioning had been centered on the venireman's concept of reasonable doubt." Finally, Percy asked:

Q. What would you do if you thought the defendant was innocent?

A. (After a long period of silent deliberation) Oh, about two years.

September 17, 2007
 
June 1985 - How Did the Accident Happen?

This excerpt from an actual deposition originally appeared in the book "I Solemnly Swear" by Houston court reporter Jerry von Sternberg (Carlton Press, 1978).

Q. What happened then?

A. The last thing I remember I see a car up in the air, and I knew I was being turned. I blacked out for a little bit.

Q. There was a collision, right?

A. That's right. I heard somebody groaning, and I knew it was me.

September 14, 2007
 
May 1995 - A Lawyer Term of Art [sic]

From Frederick J. McCutchon of Corpus Christi (Wood, Boykin & Wolter), this excerpt from the deposition of a witness "for a company that sells a certain blended product" - with this explanation: the witness is "being questioned by the attorney for the buyer company about the allegedly substandard quality of the blended product"; this exchange "may single-handedly inspire a new edition of Black's Law Dictionary."

Q. If somebody makes a complaint about a chemical they get and says, "This didn't work. It doesn't seem like what was in the test kit. It's not working."

A. Okay.

Q. Or, "It's taking a lot more. It seems to be more dilute that it should be. It looks more dilute. It acts more dilute. This isn't the way it worked when we had it in the test kit. ... So, we can't figure out what's going on, unless maybe y'all are doodeedoing with the product." If someone makes an accusation that specific, would you keep the product and retain it?

A. Doodeedoing, can you define that? That's apparently a -

Q. That's a lawyer term of art. It means - it means altering, messing with it, diluting it without letting anybody know who should know.

September 13, 2007
 
May 1994 - Did He Really Say That?


From R.D. (Spike) Pattillo, III of Waco (Williams, Pattillo & Squires), this excerpt from his deposition of the defendant truck driver - who had rammed the truck of Spike's client, who was asleep by the side of the highway in his legally parked truck "around midnight on a Sunday night." After the defendant admitted that he had driven approximately 28 hours straight at the time of the accident, Spike "framed this piercing question":


Q. Immediately after you hit [my client's] trailer, what did you do?

A. I woke up.

September 12, 2007
 
April 1994 - Did He Really Say That?

From Robert P. (Bob) Latham of Dallas (Jackson & Walker), this excerpt from the deposition of the plaintiff-wife in a wrongful death case (in which Bob and Michael L. Knapek represented the defendant):

Q. Did you know that your husband [Hosea] was not reporting all of his income [to the IRS]?

A. No, I did not.

Q. When did you find out?

A. I didn't find out.

Plaintiff's Attorney: Hold on. Stop. Let's stop right there ... She's already testified that Hosea didn't report all the income. I don't knw that any further testimony would be necessary.

Mr. Knapek: Why didn't they report all the income.

A. I reported all that - you know, I reported as far as what I knew.

Q. You've testified that Hosea brought home cash, about $300 a week, right?

A. Yeah, approximately.

Q. So you would have known that when these tax returns were prepared, correct?

A. Correct.

Q. That tax return doesn't reflect that, does it?

A. No.

Plaintiff's Attorney: Don't answer anymore questions ... She's already said she didn't report all of the income. She had information as to what Hosea brought home. You and I both know that nobody ever reports all the income they ever make.

Mr. Knapek: I don't know that. I know's it a crime not to.

Plaintiff's Attorney: We're not talking about crimes, we're talking about tax evasion. We're talking about the fact that people do it.

September 11, 2007
 
October 1992 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up!

From Mark H. Giles of Corpus Christi, this "response [which] caught me by surprise in a recent divorce case":

Q. Now Mr. Russell, Mrs. Russell said that you hit her so hard that you knocked her from the dining room into the kitchen. Is that true?

A. That's a damn lie. I hit her so hard she dropped right where she was - out cold.

September 10, 2007
 
July 1991 - Is That With One "N" or Two?

From Alyson Couch Dover of Dallas (baker, Glast & Middleton), this excerpt from a deposition taken by Mark J. Zimmermann (with two "n's") with this explanation to Set The Scene: the suit "involved allegations by Plaintiffs, two lady ranchers from Abilene, that the Big Bad Bank caused their ranch to go broke. The "expert witness" of F.O. "Buster" Welch centered around the fact that he was the Plaintiff's neighbor, he didn't go broke and they did, therefore the Big Bad Bank ran the Plaintiff's ranch into the ground. As the deposition went on, Zimmeramann attempted to establish the proposition that one needed to be able to read and understand a bank statement in order to be successful in the ranching business. Just when Zimmermann thought it was safe, the enclosed exchange occurred. No one in attendance at the deposition understood what Buster said. Neither has anyone who has read the transcipt."

Q. All right. So, you need to be able to read your bank statement, for example, if you are going to be successful at this business?

A. Well, no, I tell you what, I have seen people that oculd not read a financial statement or bank statement that was the best ranchers there ever was. I knew two old men out there that wound up multi-millionaires out there in West Texas ... and neither one of them had an education, and they split up when they got old, and they asked, "How did you all ever figure that out? How did you ever arrive at how to split that?" The other one didn't talk much and the one that did said, "Well, it was easy. He didn't wear socks and I smoked."

Q. Notwithstanding your story, however, I didn't take your statement to be an advocacy of ignorance.

A. No. They had the art and that is more important than the ability to read any kind of financial statement. I can show you people that can read all kinds of financial statements, that can read Wall Street and they can't ranch. I can show you people that can hardly sign their name that can make money ranching. There is a saying in our business, the dumber the farmer the bigger the potato. And it is an art, it is a gift.

September 07, 2007
 
September 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From Sharon Emerson of Corpus Christi (Sharon is a Paralegal/Marine Investigator for the Kleberg Law Firm), this exchange that took place during "a summary judgment hearing concerning negligent hiring and subsequent embezzlement, before visiting Judge Henry G. Schuble."

Judge Schuble: Well, you hired a convicted criminal, didn't you?

Defendant Attorney: No, Your Honor. He was a shoplifter.

September 06, 2007
 
July 1998 - Basic Truths

From Gerald Pruitt of Fort Worth, this excerpt from the deposition of the plaintiff who alleged civil rights violations against a city police officer, Richard Henderson, assistant city attorney, begins his examination with:

Q. Mr. Martinez ... we have a few questions to ask you. What is your height, sir?

A. Five, seven.

Q. And what is your weight today, approximately?

A. Approximately 160.

Q. Were you about the same weight back in July of '94?

A. No. No, sir. I don't know how much I weighed.

Q. Were you heavier or lighter?

A. Lighter...

Q. What do you attribute your weight gain of the last three years?

A. What do you mean by -

Q. What do you think caused you to gain weight?

A. Eating.

Q. Eating. Afraid that's universal.

September 05, 2007
 
June 1997 - Correspon-dense

From Barbara Botello - who claims to be a proofreader and librarian for the Amarillo firm of Hinkle, Cox, etc. - has amassed a truly inedible collection of typographical errors. Here are some of the best ones from Barbara Botello's Battery of Blunders.

Your price is in the mail ... (prize)

I have not received any correspondence from our former wife's attorney ... (your)

Enclosed are the correction documents we repaired ...

These models will stimulate the proposed transfer of power ... (simulate)

I have given the information to the executioner ... (executor)

Please sign the enclosed Quick-Claim deed ...

Thank you for your patients in this matter ...

September 04, 2007
 
September 2007 - Great Law Firm Names

This marvelous contribution is from Bill Baskette of San Antonio (Law Offices of Bill Baskette), who writes:

While I was away on a weekend trip through Arkansas, I looked through the Yellow Pages to view some lawyer ads.

I had to send this one to you because the name of the firm has to be more than a coincidence: "RUSH, RUSH & DELAY."

Baskette adds: "Does this have to do with whether you are seeking a Plaintiff (Rush - they do personal injury) or Defense (Delay). They also handle criminal cases.


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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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In June 2006, Judge Buchmeyer was interviewed by the Legal Talk Network.

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Classic Articles

Labor Relations: The Wututtut Review Brimelow v. Casson (& A Strike)
June 1983

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February 1984

Judicial Reasoning: "The Law Is A Ass"
December 1983

'Tis the Season
December 1984

A Fable
March 1985

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