December 31, 2007
May 1993 - Did He Really Say That?

From George M. Walker of Mobile, AL (Hand, Arendall, etc.), this excerpt from "one of the first depositions [he] ever attended" - of a "retired insulator from a local shipbuilding company in an asbestos case" (so there were, "as usual, 25 defense lawyers around a conference room table peppering [the witness] with questions:"

Q. What was your father's name?

A. I don't know, we always called him "Dad."

December 28, 2007
December 1993 - Did He Really Say That?

From Leslie R. Weatherhead of Spokane, WA (Witherspoon, Kelley, etc.), this "gem from a Secret Service 'Q and A' of a guy who designed an impressive scheme to defraud banks through the use of phony checks to fictitious payees such as 'Robin Banks' and 'E. Z. Mooney'."

Q. You were the planner of everything? From the very beginning? I mean from the beginning when you went into the bank fraud business?

A. Ah....

Q. Take it city by city, might make it easier.

A. There was other people, like I say, in the beginning that was involved. When the bank fraud started and it was brought to my attention, I said that's wrong. From then on, I guess I become the ring leader.

Q. You said it was wrong, but yet, even though it was wrong...

A. It was wrong the way they was doing it.

Q. Oh, they weren't doing it correctly. OK.

December 27, 2007
February 1994 - The Criminal Stuff

From Ron Goranson of Dallas (Milner, Goranson, etc.), this trial excerpt from the cross-examination of an IRS undercover agent by Dallas lawyer G. Thomas Rhodus.

Q. Now, will you agree with me that there are certainly areas where the tax laws are complex?

A. Certainly.

Q. Okay. And technical?

A. Certainly.

Q. Okay. Would you agree with me that there are areas where the tax laws don't necessarily comport with what a person's common sense might tell him?

A. Congress wrote the tax laws.

The Court: Ours is not to reason why.

Mr. Rhodus: Very good. Thank you. But - let's not send this transcript to Washington. Okay?

December 21, 2007
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.

LITITAGATION ATTORNEY needed immediately. Large plaintiff's personal injury firm seeks associate. Duties include depositions, medication, and trials ...

December 20, 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.

December 19, 2007
June 1997 - Bankruptures

From Barbara Botello's Battery of Blunders (proofreader and librarian for the Amarillo firm of Hinkle, Cox, etc.

1. Trustee recommends that this clam be allowed ... (claim)

2. The creditor can threaten to turn the debtor into the Credit Bureau ... (in to)

3. Creditor's responsibility regarding resolution of billing heirs ... (errors)

4. A preferential right to purchase tortuously interfered with the contrast ... (tortiously)

5. I have reviewed applicants' flings ... (filings)

December 18, 2007
April 1988 - The Judge Without a Gavel

Robert F. Barnes of Hidalgo (former district judge of the 93rd and 275th district courts), was visited by a group of third-grade students from Mission on a "field trip" when he was sitting in Mission as a visiting judge. Each kid was invited to sit in the judge's chair on the bench, and one noticed there was no gavel - because, among the 42 "thank you" letters from the class, was this marvelous one:

Dear Judge Barnes,

I like your courtoom and your chair. Is a judge easy? I want to be a judge. How big is your hammer?

December 13, 2007
December 1992 - That Sounds Like My Lawyer

From David A. Wallin of Dallas ("Illustrations & Designs"), these "courtroom questions" by Canadian attorneys, as reported in a Toronto Star column by Peter V. MacDonald:

Q. And you are how old a woman, sir?

Q. And the youngest son, the 20-year old, how old is he?

Q. Was it you or your brother who was killed in the war?

Q. Were you alone or by yourself?

Q. Were you present in the courtroom this morning when you were sworn in?

December 12, 2007
December 2007 - Is That Testimonial?

This contribution is from Lori J. Kaspar, the assistant county attorney of Hood County (Granbury) Court at Law, who writes:

"The female defendant stood beside her court-appointed lawyer for her misdemeanor plea."

Visiting Judge William H. Brigham: "Ms. Smith, does your t-shirt say 'I'm really GOOD and being BAD?' "

Defendant: "Yes, your honor."

Judge Brigham (wisely): "Is that testimonial?"

December 11, 2007
January 2001 - In That Case ...

From Sean P. Healy of Tyler (courtesy of court reporter Kristy Crawford), this exchange in the 321st District Court where "Joe Shumate and Sam George were making announcements at docket call":

The Court: Okay. Do y'all want a hearing today after 11 then?

Mr. George: No. I'm not ready today your honor.

The Court: Okay. Y'all want to put it off till next Monday.

Mr. Shumate: I can't be ready today either.

The Court: Okay.

Mr. George: Well, then I may be ready.

December 10, 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.

December 07, 2007
May 1989 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up

Judge 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.

December 06, 2007
May 1990 - The Cindy Singleton Collection

From Cindy Singleton who sent me these excerpts after cleaning out her desk during her last week at the Tarrant County D.A.'s office.

Mr. Ally: Ask that you instruct the jury to disregard, Your Honor, the comment of Mr. Koos.

Court: Jury will disrgard the statement by the District Attorney estimating what Mr. Ally might think.

Mr. Alley: Or if he thinks.

Court: Or if he thinks.

December 05, 2007
April 2005 - A Marvelous Answer

This contribution from David W. Lindemood of Midland is from a CPS trial before District Judge Dean Rucker (318th District Court) in which Lindemood was the attorney ad litem for the child. The witness, who was the CASA guardian ad litem, is being questioned by Chris McCormack of Midland.

Q. As I understand your testimony about Ms. Ybarra's residence, living situation, you only went into one of the homes that she lived in? Do I have that right?

A. Two.

Q. Two. And on each occasion that you went in there, the residence was clean and orderly, generally - or actually, one was clean and orderly, and one was a little messy, a bachelor pad, as I recall now.

A. That's right.

Q. But no - other than being a little messy, it was not filthy or dirty? Umkempt?

A. It was being swept up and picked up with a shovel.

December 04, 2007
April 1990 - Recalling & Recollecting

Terry 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?

A. No.

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?

A. No.

Q. Do you remember what year it was that it didn't happen?

A. 1980, I believe.

December 03, 2007
July 2003 - Did They Really Say That?

This contribution from Ileana M. Blanco (Bracewell & Giuliani):

Q. Let's talk about McNish for a moment. You said he was a beast. He weighed about 300 pounds, didn't he?

The Court: I don't think I heard anybody say anybody was a beast.

The Witness: I didn't say anybody was a beast.

Q. I thought he said five 10 and a beast. Maybe I misunderstood.

A. Obese. I didn't say he was a beast.

Q. Obese.

The Court: Okay.

Q. Maybe my accent is -- fat. McNish was fat?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And like 300 pounds, 300-pound gentleman, somewhere in that ballpark area?

A. I'm not absolutely certain. He's certainly very overweight.

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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


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