November 2004 - The Dog Ate the CitationCheryl S. Lay
of El Paso (Leslie & Lay, P.C.) serves as an associate municipal court judge — and she recently had this motion presented to her to recall a warrant:
“DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO WITHDRAW A
WARRANT AND TO SET MATTER FOR HEARING”
2. Defendant is a teenage boy and therefore, as a matter of law, doesn’t have a lick of good sense. Despite the fact that his parents are licensed attorneys, Defendant felt it was the better course to not tell them about the citations. Therefore, upon information and belief, the dog ate the citations. …
Ray, Valdez, McChristian & Jeans
By Robin Collins, Attorney for Christopher C. Collins
Cheryl adds: “After wiping the tears from my eyes, I signed the order as Municipal Court Judge/Mother of a Teenage Son.”
July 2004 - The Winner: Most Confusing Document Title
Paul J. Van Osselaer
of Austin (Van Osselaer, Cronin & Buchanan) and Robert Slovak of Dallas (Gardere Wynne Sewell) — who are opposing counsel in a case on my docket — jointly submitted the following:
“Paul Van Osselaer of Austin … was hoping that the alternative relief would be granted just to figure out what is going on. He submitted this entry as a potential winner as the most confusing document title, deleting the actual names of the parties to protect the guilty. It’s from a filing in the U.S. District Court in San Antonio:
“DEFENDANT’S REPLY TO PLAINTIFF’S RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO STRIKE PLAINTIFF’S REPLY TO DEFENDANT’S OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER, OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, APPLICATION FOR HEARING.”
May 2001 - Did They Really Say That?
From Roger A. Berger
of Houston, who was defending a hospital emergency room group in a malpractice case, this excerpt from the deposition of the administrator of the Group. The question by the plaintiff's counsel was intended to define the different types of emergency room patients - but it elicited a literal answer.
Q. What's the difference between a bed and a chair?
A. One you lay on, one you sit on.
April 2004 - Can You Describe the Pain?
This deposition excerpt is from Marvin L. Cook
of San Antonio (he is general counsel of Southwest Business Corp.). The plaintiff in a slip-and-fall case is being questioned about the injuries allegedly suffered at the time of the fall.
Q. And you say you also complained about pain down your right arm?
Q. Can you describe that pain?
A. It hurt like hell. …
June 1988 - How Tractor/Trailers Work
This is only one of several excerpts sent to me by Al Ellis
of Dallas from a single deposition which "totally, fully, and without reservation supports the theory that depositions should never be taken!"
Q. So, if somebody was behind you -
Q. - directly behind you -
Q. - and they saw - and you were about to change lanes to your right, they would not see your front go to the - Let me start over again.
A. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead. Go ahead.
Q. Okay, if somebody's behind you -
Q. - and they're - your right blinker is on -
Q. - they see your right blinkers on -
Q. - if you had started to change lanes -
Q. - your back end -
A. Go ahead.
Q. - wouldn't necessarily have crossed the dividing line right at the beginning, would it?
A. All right. Well, I put it this way: The trailer follow - the trailer follow the tractor.
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.
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.
June 2002 - Did They Really Say That?
From Jeffrey S. Lisson
of Winston-Salem, N.C., this excerpt from a deposition he "recently took of a maintenance supervisor for a hotel at which a paraplegic woman I represent was scalded in a hotel bathroom."
Q. [By Mr. Lisson]: Have you ever undergone any training or gone to any seminars from the American Hotel/Motel Association?
Mr. Helms: Are you talking about him personally?
A, Yes. That's why I said you.
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.
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.
A. Well, it was a little less ostentatious than buying a Rolls Royce.
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?
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.
February 2001 - Did They Really Say That?
From Judge David R. Gibson
of Dallas (County Court at Law No. 1) this excerpt from am affidavit filed in connection with a special appearance in his court:
11. On Nov 2nd, 1992, I attended a business meeting at the offices of Smith Import and Export Company as an observer. Also attending this meeting were John Smith, Mike Smith and Ali Smith. During the meeting, Ali Smith became enraged. He shot and killed himself. The bullet entered and excited my left shoulder, and lodged in my neck near my spinal column.
12. Therefore, I decided to leave my employment at Smith Import & Export Company.
July 1989 - How Much Did You Have to Drink?
Defendant: (Charged with drunk driving) Your Honor, I only had one for the road.
Judge: How many did you have for the ditch
Judge: You are charged with habitual drunkenness. Have you anything to say in your defense?
Defendant: Habitual Thirstiness
February 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?
From Mary Strand
, a staff attorney for the Tyler Court of Appeals, this testimony from a hearing on temporary child conservatorship - by witness who had "obviously not been testifying as expected":
Q. Let me ask you this: Have you been frank
in your answers?
A. No, I've been telling the truth.
March 1998 - An Expert's Best Friend Is ...
From Ernest Reynolds, III
of Fort Worth, this excerpt from his direct examination of an expert witness who had consulted with him on several other cases. The opposing attorney was Tom Webb
of San Angelo.
Q. We know each other personally; is that correct?
A. We do.
Q. I have even been introduced to your wife, your children, and your dogs; is that correct?
A. I think that's right.
Mr. Webb: May it please the court, we have been pretty tolerant, but on the deposition we spent 10 pages on dogs. I don't want to be an obstruction but I object to the dogs
. I would like for us to get on with the case. That's not relevant that he has met his dog.
Mr. Reynolds: May we proceed, Your Honor?
The Court: I'll at least let you inquire as to his present dog's name.
Mr. Reynolds: Q. What is the name of your present dog?
The Witness: A. Well, I actually have two now, one that you know and a new one. And the old -
Mr. Webb: He's gone beyond it, judge. We have spent 20 minutes on deposition on this and I object to it.
The Court: Okay. Let's go. We have gone to the dogs.
Mr Reynolds: Will you give the dog my best regards?
The Witness: Indeed.
July 1994 - How Dead Is He?
From Carolyn J. Johnsen
of Phoenix, Ariz. (Herbert Schenk & Johnsen) - Carolyn was a law clerk for U.S. District Judge Hal Woodward of Lubbock - this excerpt from the deposition of the guarantor's wife who was accused of altering the signatures on the guarantee:
Q. Your husband did not request you to "X" out your name on the guaranty?
He was dead
Q. That's a "no"?
A. That's a "no".
November 1989 - Let's Be Particularly Careful Out There
From Judge James A. Blackstock
of Angleton (County Court at Law No. 3 and Probate Court), this bit of direct examination by the state's attorney who is interrupted by an objection by the guardian ad litem for the children.
Q. Describe your daughter, Dianna, for me.
A. Dianna's a smart girl. She's a pretty girl.
Q. What's her personality like, Mr. S____?
A. Well, for the past few years, all I've seen her is for visitation; so, it's hard to get a handle on that.
Q. You have no idea what her personality is like?
A. Being that she was taken from my home in 1985, I haven't had enough contact with her to really know much about the things she likes to do.
Ad Litem: Objection, Your Honor, the witness is testifying.
Father's attorney: Which is exactly what he's supposed to be doing, Your Honor.
Court. Overrule the objection.
Judge Blackstock notes that the imaginative objection, although overruled, was apparently effective because the jury voted unanimously to terminate parental rights.
December 1999 - As An Older Judge
In response to my letter asking the parties in one of my cases to agree to a trial before Magistrate Judge Bill Sanderson
, I received this reply from the plaintiff's lawyer (which caused me to take the rest of the day off):
I discussed your letter at length with my client. Her case is an age discrimination case. She stated that she would be more comfortable if you were the Judge because she believes that you, as an older judge, would be more likely to understand how age discrimination can affect a person.