March 31, 2008
 
May 2004 - Ask A Stupid Question …

Hal Monk of Bedford, who confesses that he has enjoyed the et cetera column for so many years that he “feels plum guilty for not having sent … any contributions in the past,” sent in this excerpt from the January 1993 deposition of Hollywood celebrity Zsa Zsa Gabor, Monk’s client. Larry Macon, with Akin Gump’s San Antonio office, took the deposition.

Mr. Macon: What is your date of birth?

The Witness: I don’t know.

Q. You misunderstood my question. When were you born?

A. I understood your question perfectly well. My answer is I don’t know; don’t remember.

Q. I demand an explanation of that absurd response.

A. Before we come up here, my lawyer told me how to make a good —

Mr. Monk: Just a minute, hold on —

The Witness: witness or how to do good in three —

Mr. Monk: Ms. Gabor, you don’t need to —

The Witness: Monk said I must follow three easy steps. First, to listen to the question and be sure I know what you mean. Then, answer the question just if I know for sure. But OK to say I don’t remember or I don’t know if that is truth. Do you remember being born? Of course not. Is a stupid damn question. Now, ask me something maybe I know for sure.

• • •

Monk’s Epilogue: Although the deposition continued for several hours, Mr. Macon never ascertained the witness’ birth date. But then, neither did her attorney.

March 28, 2008
 
January 1989 - What Was That Again?

From Judge David G. Lewis of Dumas (Moore County Court of Law), this excerpt from a recent divorce custody trial in Moore County.

Q. And what did you do that night?

A. We made and sent out some fliers. [Being the West Texas pronunciation of "flowers"]

Q. What kind of flowers?

A. No flowers. Fliers!

Q. Well then, what were they made of?

A. Paper.

Q. So you made some paper flowers and sent them out?

A. No. Not flowers! Fliers! Paper fliers!

Judge Moore adds that the legal assistant elbowed her confused boss in the ribs and said just loud enough for the jury to hear. "You know, dummy, pamphlets!"

March 27, 2008
 
July 1994 - Who Lives With You?

From L.A. Teehan of Houston (Eric J. Hedemann & Assoc.), this excerpt from the deposition of his client in a "premises liability case" - which falls in the they'll never get this guy for perjury category.

Q. And you have no other dependents that live with you at all?

A. No.

Q. You have no grandparents or relatives at all that stay with you?

A. No, sir, none that are living.

Q. Okay.

A. My mother is cremated, and she is in the closet.

March 26, 2008
 
June 1993 - What Did You Do?

From Diane Kirstein of San Antonio (Diane is an appellate lawyer for the U.S. Attorney's Office), this excerpt from the cross-examination of a canine enforcement officer in a criminal trial:

A. I am a canine enforcement officer with U.S. Customs. I handle a narcotics detector dog. I live here in El paso.

Q. Did you see [the defendant] do anything else with respect to your inspection?

A. No, I didn't, because I was mainly, my main point of interest was my canine, my dog ... [and] I did what I do every time my dog gets an alert.

Q. What did you do?

A. Without letting the subjects know what is going on, you know ...

Q. I am just asking what you did ...

The Court: What did you do? What did you do?

A. I looked at the inspector while also paying attention to my dog and I said -

Q. You said what?

A. I said take him in, but I didn't say it verbally. I just said take him in.

March 25, 2008
 
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.”

March 24, 2008
 
May 2002 - I'm Not Appreciating Anything

From Sid S. Stover of Jasper (Seale, Stover, Bisbey & Morian), this excerpt from the deposition of his client, Sharon Clark, being taken by Marc Scheiness of Houston (Scheiness, Scott, Grossman & Cohn). Sharon Clark testified that her arm had become entangled in a large machine, horribly injuring it and that she could hear the bones breaking in her arm. Then, the next question … .

Q. What I’m trying to establish is that from the time you appreciated that you were caught and the time that you realized that your bones were breaking —

A. I’m not appreciating anything like this. I’m not understanding you saying that. I didn’t appreciate this at all.

Q. I don’t mean it that way. I mean to appreciate as to understand and realize that your bone is breaking. By “appreciate,” I’m using it in a different sense. I do not mean appreciate it as something you liked was happening to you … . I’m using the word “appreciate” in the context of appreciating in your mind what’s going on.

A. Yes.

March 21, 2008
 
April 1991 - Did I Really Hear That?

Tom Whitlock of Denton contributes this trial excerpt from "a mental health probable cause hearing in which he represented the proposed patient." Tom is cross-examining the mother of his client:

Q.Has she ever [acted suicidal] or threatened to hurt anyone else?

A. No.

Q. I believe you testified that she had some kind of psychosis. What kind?

A. Post-mortem psychosis.

Q. Post-mortem psychosis.

A. Yes.

Tom adds: "I know that dying always makes me psychotic!"

March 20, 2008
 
February 2000 - The Medical Charts

From Joseph V. Crawford of Austin (Wright & Greenhill), this entry in a patient's medical report by a chiropractor in Lake Charles, La:

SUBJECTIVE COMPLAINTS Patient complained of headaches, neck pain, left forearm and thumb, right lower leg, left ankle, ringing in both ears and both hips.

March 19, 2008
 
June 1987 - Did I Really Hear That?

JUDGE (scolding prosecutor): You cannot ask that witness what he was told by someone else. If you want that evidence in, you will have to get it some other way.

PROSECUTOR: Very well them, Mr. Davies. Without telling me what he said to you, what did he tell you to say?

March 18, 2008
 
September 2002 - The "Suicide Question"

From U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcie A. Crone of Houston, this "excerpt from a recent employment discrimination" trial in her court in which the Plaintiff alleged mental anguish as well as other claims

Q. I'm not asking if you attempted suicide.

A. Oh.

Q. I'm asking if you ever said you were going to commit suicide.

A. Oh, yes.

Q. And why did you do that?

A. To get people to talk to me, feel sorry for me, want to be around me, watch me, attention.

Q. Did you ever actually commit suicide — or — I'm sorry.

(Laughter)

The Court: Obviously not.

March 17, 2008
 
June 1989 - Did I Really Say That?

From a telephone hearing conducted by one of the bankruptcy judges in Dallas: the judge has been advised that 12 attorneys are ready for him on the conference call.

The Court: Okay. Thank you. I'm going to give the decision on the motion. I'm going to go through it all and make findings and conclusions of law and give an opinion ... if any of you can't hear me, let me know.

March 14, 2008
 
November 2004 - The Dog Ate the Citation

Cheryl 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.”

March 13, 2008
 
June 1993 - What Did You Do?


From Diane Kirstein of San Antonio (Diane is an appellate lawyer for the U.S. Attorney's Office), this excerpt from the cross-examination of a canine enforcement officer in a criminal trial:


A. I am a canine enforcement officer with U.S. Customs. I handle a narcotics detector dog. I live here in El paso.


Q. Did you see [the defendant] do anything else with respect to your inspection?


A. No, I didn't, because I was mainly, my main point of interest was my canine, my dog ... [and] I did what I do every time my dog gets an alert.


Q. What did you do?

A. Without letting the subjects know what is going on, you know ...


Q. I am just asking what you did ...


The Court: What did you do? What did you do?


A. I looked at the inspector while also paying attention to my dog and I said -


Q. You said what?

A. I said take him in, but I didn't say it verbally. I just said take him in.

March 12, 2008
 
December 1992 - May I Have a Little Longer, Judge?

From Courtney L. Bass of Irving, this voir dire excerpt sent to her by one of her students from the National Institute on Trial Advocacy - which involves that "catch-all" type questions "which would hopefully elicit any valuable information that we missed by our more specific questions to the panel." The excerpt is from a criminal trial in New York before Judge Carol Berkman: the name of the defense attorney is not used - for very obvious reasons.

Def. Atty: Would anyone here take offense if I tried in a respectful manner perhaps putting a little pressure upon you, because this is not a game of cricket we are playing here, to try to ascertain from you as best I can what would be your feelings in regards to this particular case or these particular charges. Would anyone take offense?

Miss Candid (Juror No. 5): I took offense yesterday, I thought your behavior was completely uncalled for.

Def. Atty: In what sense would you say as you sit here not charged with any crime, but cloaked with every degree of innocense that we can possibly give as a citizen of our society, in what sense would you say that my actions insulted either yourself or anyone in that room while we were here yesterday?

Miss Candid (Juror No. 5): If I may be honest, you are a condescending ______; I just don't like you.

Def. Atty: I have been called many other things, ma'am. You may be right, ma'am. You may be right. But does that -

The Court: Mr. Riojas, you only have two more minutes to be insulted.

Mr. Riojas: Yes, ma'am.

March 11, 2008
 
October 1991 - Did I Really Ask That?

From Judge Joseph H. Hart of Austin (126th District), this passage from an early 1991 hearing.

Q. What happened to this man she was taking care of [at the home care facility]?

A. He's deceased now.

Q. Was he taken out of the home when he had to go to the hospital - he had to be admitted to the hospital?

A. Yes.

Q. And he died and he didn't come back?

A. Yes.

March 10, 2008
 
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 07, 2008
 
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.

March 06, 2008
 
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.

March 05, 2008
 
January 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From W. Marc McDonald of Fort Worth (Bourland, Smith, etc.), this "classically confused" statement made by one of his partners, William R. Korlo, Jr. during a recent deposition.

Mr. Korlo: All right. Let me turn your attention to Plaintiff's Exhibit No. 3. I'm sorry. For purposes of the record, I've been messing up. I keep saying Plaintiff's Exhibits and I'm actually Defendant's.

So let the record reflect that I don't know who I represent.

March 04, 2008
 
March 2008 - Classic Typos

Larry Warner of Brownsville found this typo in an appeal to the 14th Court of Appeals in Houston:

Mr. Richards: We prefer that the witnesses be here as well. That's why we filed for a motion for continuous because we weren't able to serve them.

The Court: Well, I'll let you handle it. Your motion for continuous is overruled and we are going to trial.

Mr. Richards: I know, Your Honor.

March 03, 2008
 
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.


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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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Buchmeyer's First Podcast

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

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)

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Lawhaha Andrew McClurg's Legal Humor Headquarters




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