April 30, 2008
 
July 1987 - Do You Swear to Tell the Truth...

Judge: (To young witness) Do you know what would happen to you if you told a lie?

Witness: Yes, I would go to hell.

Judge: Is that all?

Witness: Isn't that enough?

April 29, 2008
 
March 1990 - Is That a Reasonable Fee?

This is from a hearing before the Texas Railroad Commission. It comes from Jack Balagia, Jr. of Austin (McGinnis, Lochridge, etc): he explains that An Unnamed Austin Lawyer is testifying in support of the reasonableness of the hourly rates being charged by his firm - which were to be passed through to the customers by the gas utility his firm was representing:

Q. [T]he client is charged for those fees (of the law firm in this Commission proceeding)?

A. That's correct.

Q. And he is also paying for those fees rather than the rate-payers. Is that not true?

A. That is correct.

Q. All right, I notice here Mr. [Name Partner] only charges $130 an hour. In fact, you are the only one I see that is charging $500 an hour.

A. Well, Mr. [Name Partner] - that's all that I see here that Mr. [Name Partner] charged on that, but that is not his hourly rate, and I don't know how that happened to be that low because that is not -

Q. Do you think he took compassion on the ratepayers?

A. I have no idea how it happened. Normally in my business - I'm not involved in the compassion business. We charge by the hour ...

April 28, 2008
 
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."

April 25, 2008
 
December 1986 - Did I Really Hear That?

Q. What is your name?

A. Ernestine McDowell.

Q. And what is your marital status?

A. Fair.

April 24, 2008
 
June 1998 - Something Completely Different

From Anonymous in Somplace, Texas - this excerpt from "bylaws" which had been prepared by parents who were incorporating a high school girls' booster club, which Anon., had been asked to review.

The Sergeant at Arms shall:

(a) Confirm that a quorum exists at all meetings ...

(b) Maintain meeting order.
(1) eliminate whining

April 23, 2008
 
July 1995 - A Peerless Jury

Senior District Judge A.D. Azios of Houston (who presided over the 232rd District Court) was presiding over an uncontested mental competency hearing in a criminal case. After waiting a very long time for the jury panel, the attorneys agreed that - since both sides agreed that the defendant was certainly not competent to stand trial - they would just "take 12 attorneys who were in the courtroom to serve as jurors." Then, after the attorneys' agreement was announced in open court:

Defendant: "Your honor, I will accept 12 attorneys as my jurors because I want to be tried by my peers."

April 22, 2008
 
May 1998 - Telling It Like It Is

From Michael P. Mallia of Houston (Mallia & Jacobs), this excerpt from the plaintiff's deposition in a medical malpractice case, in which Suzan Cardwell (Franklin, Cardwell & Jones) asks:

Q. Have you ever had any female problems, for example?

A. I have three children. They're the only ones.

April 21, 2008
 
November 1996 - Did They Really Say That?

From Marvin L. Cook of San Antonio (Marvin is general counsel for Southwest Business Corporation), this excerpt from his deposition in a covenant not too compete suit filed by his client.

Q. Okay. I'm going to focus in on MacCurdy [the defendant] now. Why did you find MacCurdy - Let me start over again. Why, as a businessman, did you find MacCurdy - the thought of MacCurdy selling products for your company attractive? What made MacCurdy attractive to you?

A. Probably his mustache. No.

Q. As soon as I asked that questions, I regretted it.

A. Yeah, you knew it was coming. Sorry about that, ladies and gentlemen.

Mr. Cook (wisely): Let's go off the record.

April 18, 2008
 
July 1993 - Did He Really Say That?

From Stephen J. Gugenheim of Dallas (Gardere & Wynne), two segments from the deposition "of the plaintiff in a bad faith case" - that was taken by Michael Quinn of Dallas (Zelle & Larson). Stephen Notes: "the first segment adds new meaning to the word "literal."

Q. What about Dr. Swink? Do you think you were completely up-front with him?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Though you didn't tell Dr. Swink about the injury at Champion Auto Parts?

A. That's right. I didn't want to get fired.

Q. Do you remember whether Dr. Swink took a medical history from you?

A. I don't remember.

Q. Have you ever seen Dr. Swink before?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. When?

A. When he was playing football at TCU.

Stephen admits that "the second segment, well, what else is there to day?"

Q. But you don't go see Dr. Lee periodically, or now and again, for your back problem?

A. There's nothing he can do. He's an M.D.

April 17, 2008
 
June 1995 - Be Very Careful With Experts

From Joseph G. Rollins of Houston, this excerpt from the cross-examination of a medical expert witness in a workers' compensation trial.

Q. Dr. Brown, you say the plaintiff has pain in his back, radiating down into his leg. How do you know that?

A. He told me.

Q. Dr. Brown, do you have an X-ray of that pain?

A. No, sir.

Q. Dr. Brown, isn't it a fact that you are depending upon what your patient told you as the basis for your conclusion that he is suffering from pain?

A. That, sir, is the difference between a physician and a veterinarian.

April 16, 2008
 
July 1993 - Blah Blah Blah

From Kent Chambers of Beaumont (Strong, Pipkin, etc.), this excerpt from the plaintiff's deposition in a car/motorcycle accident case that was used at trial.

Reporter's note: Whereupon there was an interruption, after which time the deposition continued as follows:

Mr. Chambers: What was his last answer?

Mr. Watson: Lighting conditions. He's saying no natural light.

Mr. Chambers: Right...Read me the rest of his answer.

Reporter's Note: Whereupon the following answer was read back by the court reporter as follows:

The Reporter: Answer: But the lighted streets, the buildings had lights on them, blah, blah, blah.

Mr. Chambers: But I didn't hear the rest of that.

The Reporter: That was it. That was the very end.

Mr. Chambers: "Blah, blah, blah?"

Mr. Watson: "Blah, blah, blah?"

The Reporter: "Blah, blah, blah?"

Mr. Chambers: [to Plaintiff]: Is that what you said?

A. Yes, sir. Meaning, "et cetera, et cetera, et cetera."

Q. Okay. I just wanted to make sure.

April 15, 2008
 
October 1996 - Al Ellis and the Deposition from Hell

Al Ellis of Dallas writes: "Often one has to take hundreds of depositions to find something worthy of print in et cetera. Occasionally, however, comes the "Deposition from Hell," in which almost the entire deposition is worthy of being printed in et cetera along with at least 35 separate footnotes."

Q. What were you studying when you were going to college?
A. Life.
___


Q. Have you ever used marijuana?
A. Hasn't everyone?
___


Q. When is the last time you saw him as a chiropractor?
A. I don't know. Every time I see him he's a chiropractor.
___


Q. Is Dr. Schwartz a psychiatrist?
A. I don't know.

Q. Well, did you have any kind of frustration or anger or anything going on at the time you saw Dr. Schwartz?
A. Maybe a little.

Q. What was that about?
A. Having to go see him.
___


Q. Do you have any other behavior differences? Any differences in your behavior after this accident besides the loss of sleep?
A. Yeah. I think I went psychotic because something bad had to happen because I went off and got married.
___


Q. Well, have you seen any medical treater, whether chiropractor, medical doctor, or anybody during the year 1995 or 1996 on account of injuries sustained in this accident?
A. I don't know.
Q. You don't know?
A. I don't even know what you said.

April 14, 2008
 
June 1995 - From the Guiness Book of World Records

From Al Ellis of Dallas, this excerpt from one of his recent depositions:

Q. Before March of '88 were you in the law firm?

A. No. I take that back. For two years while I was pregnant with my dauther, I had various positions, like a substitute teacher ...

April 11, 2008
 
December 1996 - The Court Reporters Have Done It Again!

Lynn Brooks of Dallas, who is (among other things) the book review editor of the Journal of Court Reporting, writes:

The National Court Reporters Association has done it again: put together the third book of collected humor - stuff that lawyers and witnesses wish they'd never said.

A. I told my attorney that I'd take that polyester test to show I wasn't lying, but no one ever game me one ...
___

Q. Can yeast infections give rise to anything else that you are aware of?
___

Q. I understand you recently gave birth to twins.
A. Yes, Ma'am.
Q. That's two babies?
A. Yes.
___

Q. So, that isn't correct; is that correct?
___

Q. What are you hobbies?
A. Drinking coffee and watching girls.
___

Court: To the charge of driving while intoxicated, how do you plead?
Defendant: Drunk.

April 10, 2008
 
May 1992 - A Really Prepared Witness

From Karen Jones of Bellevue, WA (Riddell, Williams, etc.) - who clerked for Chief Justice Barefoot Sanders of Dallas (N.D. Texas) - This reprise of a classic deposition excerpt:

Q. ...Do you recognize the person in [this photograph] Plaintiff's Exhibit B?

A. It is Mr. Edgington.

Q. Do you recall approximately the time that you examined the body of Mr. Edgington at the Rose Chapel?

A. It was in the evening. The autopsy started at about 8:30 p.m.

Q. And Mr. Edgington was dead at that time, is that correct?

A. No, you dumb _____. He was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy.

April 09, 2008
 
April 2008 - Justice in Rusk County

This marvelous!!! contribution is from Justice Bailey C. Moseley of Texarkana (Court of Appeals, 6th Appellate Dis-trict), who writes:

“A number of years ago, I was engaged in a jury trial in Rusk County, representing the defendants in a trespass to try title case in which the plaintiffs were claiming ownership by adverse pos-session. The plaintiffs had a woman who lived nearby testify about the supposed long and continued use of the property by the plaintiffs. “On cross-examination, I wanted to establish that the witness did not fully understand which piece of land was really in controversy, so I began to question her about its location.

Q. What direction is this property from your house?

A. Well, I am not too good at telling directions.

Q. Okay, let’s talk about it in ways that can help this jury under-stand. Say that it is just at dawn and you step out onto your front porch. You see the sun coming up. From what direction is it rising?

A. I think it is coming up in the North.

Judge Moseley adds: “The jury broke up laughing, but the witness never seemed to understand what she’d said to make them laugh.”

April 08, 2008
 
May 1993 - Did I Really Ask That?

From Albon O. Head, Jr. of Fort Worth (Jackson & Walker), this deposition excerpt from a toxic tort case - with the "confession" that he would enjoy embarrassing one of their "young (and very bright, I might add) associates" who took this deposition.

Q. Mr. Owens, we'd like to go over a little bit where you lived and some facts about your growing up. Can you tell us where you were born?

A. Memphis.

Q. Memphis, Texas?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And when was that?

A. Aug. 20th, 1953.

Q. Did you - did you live in Memphis, or did you move somewhere? Or did you go there just to be born or -

(Spontaneous and unrestrained laughter)

A. I was - we were -

Q. I told you I'd ask you some stupid questions.

April 07, 2008
 
May 1993 - Did I Really Ask That?

From Albon O. Head, Jr. of Fort Worth (Jackson & Walker), this deposition excerpt from a toxic tort case - with the "confession" that he would enjoy embarrassing one of their "young (and very bright, I might add) associates" who took this deposition.

Q. Mr. Owens, we'd like to go over a little bit where you lived and some facts about your growing up. Can you tell us where you were born?

A. Memphis.

Q. Memphis, Texas?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And when was that?

A. Aug. 20th, 1953.

Q. Did you - did you live in Memphis, or did you move somewhere? Or did you go there just to be born or -

(Spontaneous and unrestrained laughter)

A. I was - we were -

Q. I told you I'd ask you some stupid questions.

April 04, 2008
 
June 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

James P. Walker, Jr. of Dallas (McKinley, Dubner) shares an excerpt from the deposition of a bankruptcy debtor who is serving time for stock fraud at the La Tuna Federal Corrections Institution. This cross-examination is by Wade Williams of Galveston (Mills, Shirley).

Q. And so that, whether or not that money was actually being used to buy stocks, she really wouldn't know otherwise, correct?

A. That's correct.

Q. Okay. Because the confirmation slip stayed the same for a real as opposed to a fictitious stock transfer?

A. That is correct.

Q. You've talked in a lot of generalities with regard to the last 90 days and what went on. Am I correct?

A. Yeah, - whatever I testified to, that's what I said.

James astutely notes: "I am not sure if it ever gets much clearer than this."

April 03, 2008
 
April 2004 - Defining the Specialties

This excerpt from the recent deposition of a doctor comes from Richard E. Hanson of Wichita Falls (Oldham & Hanson).

Q. But when it comes to a surgeon, you’re kind of separate and distinct from all the other medical specialties; that is, you actually go in and perform surgical procedures on the human body; is that correct?

A. Well, it brings to my mind an old aphorism. Internists, which is kind of what, in part, you know, gastroenterology is, they know everything but they don’t do anything. Now, surgeons aren’t supposed to know anything, but they do it all. Now, pathologists know everything and do everything, but it’s all too late.

April 02, 2008
 
April 2004 - Defining the Specialties

This excerpt from the recent deposition of a doctor comes from Richard E. Hanson of Wichita Falls (Oldham & Hanson).

Q. But when it comes to a surgeon, you’re kind of separate and distinct from all the other medical specialties; that is, you actually go in and perform surgical procedures on the human body; is that correct?

A. Well, it brings to my mind an old aphorism. Internists, which is kind of what, in part, you know, gastroenterology is, they know everything but they don’t do anything. Now, surgeons aren’t supposed to know anything, but they do it all. Now, pathologists know everything and do everything, but it’s all too late.

April 01, 2008
 
June 2003 - I Can Now

From Joseph Jacobson, Texas Bar Journal, Vol. 49, No. 4 — April 1986.

Q. Isn’t it a fact that you have been running around with another woman?

A. Yes, it is, but you can’t prove it!


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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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