August 29, 2008
 
January 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From Al Ellis of Dallas (Al is of counsel with Howie & Sweeney), this excerpt from “a routine personal injury deposition” in which he received “the final answer as to why the divorce occurred.”

Q. What was the reason for your mom’s first divorce, if you know?

A. My dad.

August 28, 2008
 
June 1994 - I'm Not a Mercenary Swine

From William W. Parish of Dallas, these end-of-deposition comments by a physician, who had just been cross-examined by the opposing attorney.

Mr. Parish: Okay, doctor. Then you will waive the reading and signing of the deposition?

Witness: Or maybe I shouldn't waive it until I get my check from you since this guy is calling me a mercenary swine. No, I'll waive it.

Mr. Parish: All right.

Witness: Oh, did that go into the record, that mercenary swine stuff? Oh, well.

Mr. Parish: And agree that we can use ... an unsigned copy then, counsel?

Witness: Well, I'm not a mercenary swine for the record... I'm totally honest.

August 27, 2008
 
June 1993 - Drinkin', Divorcin', and Dressin' from the Dryer

From Jimmy L. Verner, Jr. of Dallas (Koons, Fuller & Vanden Eykel), these excerpts from his deposition of the wife in a divorce case - where Jimmy is doing the best to "try to root out all the fault in the break-up of the marriage."

Q. Could you please tell me what he's done to ruin your marriage?

A. Okay. He was drinking heavily. I felt like that since this is his third marriage that he has some emotional problems with stability and commitment. And I felt like his mother has blackmailed him. She has taken him out of her will until he divorces me.

Q. When you say he's emotionally unstable, can you give me an example of his emotional instability?

A. Him wanting a divorce from me.

Q. Any other examples of being emotionally unstable?

A. Him divorcing his first wife. I met her and she's a lovely lady.
***

Q. Any other examples of being emotionally unstable?

A. He didn't like for me to fold his underwear and put it in the drawer. I would - when I'd do the laundry, he just wanted to get dressed out of the dryer. And he would - I'd fold his clothes and put it -

Q. In your mind, that shows emotional instability?

A. That he would criticize me for folding it and putting it in the chest.

Q. Any other example of emotional instability?

A. No.

August 26, 2008
 
December 1994 - It Ain't Gonna Work For You

From Coyt Randal Johnston of Dallas (Johnston & Budner), two excerpts from a six-week products liability trial involving the sleeping pill, Halcion. Randal and Mike Mosher represented the plaintiffs, and Randal's opening statement "made a big point that no witnesses would testify they had ever seen [Randal's plaintiff] use illegal drugs" - thus setting the stage for this exchange during Randal's direct examination of the former wife of his client:

Q. Did you ever know Bill to break drug laws of this country?

A. No.

Q. Did you and he ever have occasion to break the drug laws of this country together in any fashion?

A. Well, we did smoke a marijuana cigarette together.

Q. When was that?

A. In the early '70s. I suppose that was breaking the law, so I have to say yes we did.

(... a very long pause, while Randal - not expecting this answer - stares at counsel table. Then ...)

Q. Well, did you inhale?

Randal adds: "This trial started ... weeks before the presidential campaign when President Clinton gave this same explanation for his prior use of marijuana.
***

Randal also sets the stage for the second excerpt by explaining that the Upjohn attorney had successfully objected to the introduction of many FDA documents by concluding their objections with the statement that Randal's response was 'a bootstrap' argument, which they would then explain to the court in a manner that "I seldom understood." Randal was beginning "to believe that there must be some magic in this 'bootstrap' response" - which led to this exchange during the cross-examination of the plaintiffs' expert:

Q. As I estimate it, would it be correect that you will be paid about, oh, $12,000, $13,000 approximately for your testimony, sir?

A. I hope it is more than that, because I sure have done a lot more work than that.

Q. Could it be $15,000?

Mr. Johnston: Your Honor, objection; bootstrap. I don't know what it means, but it worked for them.

The Court: Well it isn't gonna work for you. Overruled.

Q. Is that about correct?

A. That's correct.

August 25, 2008
 
January 2006 - Let's Talk About Something Important

This deposition excerpt was submitted by Kristine Arlitt of San Antonio (Kristine practices with Christopher J. Weber).

The deposition was taken in Kerrville in the case of Castlecomb Homeowners Association v. Hexagon Honeycomb Corp. In response to Kristine's question regarding the terms in a Declaration of Restrictive Covenant burdening the Castlecomb subdivision in Kerrville, the deponent read directly from the declaration:

Q. (By Ms. Arlitt): Just tell the jury how it varies. I mean, it's a long thing to read.

A. It says ... It has to be permanently affixed to piers or a foundation, have any wheels or axles in the delivery removed, skirted - which mobile homes are skirted or enclosed - shall have a roof pitch of three-twelfths or greater; and 5, shall meet or exceed the standards imposed by blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah which is all the codes so that he can move those particular types of homes in.

Q. Now, the "blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah," those are the laws of the State of Texas; is that correct?

Mr. Maguire: Objection, form.

A. Yeah.

Kristine notes: "So much for giving laws of the State of Texas and accompanying regulations much credit or respect!"

August 22, 2008
 
February 1999 - Lawyers are Next

From Amy K. Rosenberg of Fort Collins, Colo. (Liggett, Smith & Williams), this trial excerpt from a "marriage dissolution proceeding" in which Amy's colleague, Michael Liggett, "was cross-examing the soon-to-be ex-wife" regarding some of her expenditures.

Q. "Wynbriar," is that an antique store?

A. No, that's not. That's a tobacco shop.

Q. What did you buy for $831?

A. A fox.

Q. A fox?

A. Yes.

The Court: Wait a minute. I've got to know. You mean, an animal?

The Witness: No. He's - I have a dead animal farm. It's a stuffed fox.

The Court: A stuffed fox. Okay.

Q. You say you have a dead animal farm. You collect taxidermy?

A. Does that surprise you?

Q. What other animals do you have?

A. Lawyers are next.

August 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!"

August 20, 2008
 
July 1997 - Making Buck Myer's Column

From Loren G. Klitsas of Houston (Celedonia, Smith & Klitsas), this excerpt from the long cross-examination of an investigating police officer "recording his opinions as to the cause of the traffic accident."

Q. Have any of your opinions changed after all this stuff that they've told you and all this stuff that they've shown you?

Mr. Klitsas: Objection, vague.

A. No.

(Court reporter sneezed.)

Mr. Lapidus: Bless you.

Mr. Celedonia: Are you saying that to the deputy or to the court reporter?

Mr. Lapidus: Good question.

Mr. Klitsas: That just made Buck Myer's column.

August 19, 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!

August 18, 2008
 
January 1996 - East Texas Slang

From Raymond W. Cozby, III of Tyler (Cowles & Thompson), this closing argument made by his brother, Andrew J. Cozby, the prosecutor in a criminal trial in Houston:

Mr. Cozby: Members of the jury, I appreciate your patience during this trial. I'm going to be talking quick because my time is limited. If you can follow this East Texas slang I appreciate it because I'm going to be going over some important points.

Number One: What we call in East Texas — if you've ever seen a dog chasing a rabbit, sometimes they will get off on some rabbit's trail. That's a false trail that leads off in a circle. And a dog will get off on a false trail from where the rabbit really is.

Defense Attorney: Your Honor, I object to being called a dog.

Mr. Cozby: Your Honor, I except to that, I was calling him a rabbit.

August 15, 2008
 
May 1994 - Did She Really Say That?

From Suzanne Saenz of Houston (Suzanne is a legal assistant with Ronald W. Ryan), this excerpt from the plaintiff's deposition in a medical malpractice case.

Q. Mr. Williams, are you on any medication today?

A. Yeah. No. Just a little old pain pill; but I'm not - I know what I'm doing ...

Q. What kid of pain pill is that?

A. Let's see. What did I Tell you the name of it was, a while ago?

Def. Attny: I think you said Vicodin.

A. Vicodin. That's what it is, and it doesn't really hurt my memory.

August 14, 2008
 
May 1994 - From The Twilight Zone

From W. Bernard Whitney of Fort Worth, this excerpt from the deposition of the defendant-husband in a case involving the mental and physical ability of his wife - who was "the testatrix in 1984 and who subsequently died in May 1992":

Q. Okay. And then do you recall the time in September of 1984 when she was using the commode and she fell, and she fell off the commode and hit her head?

A. No, sir, I don't because just before she passed away she was still using the commode and they didn't nobody hold her on it.

Q. So you're saying in September 1984 she didn't fall off the commode?

A. She did not, she sat there until the day they took her to the hospital and died [in May 1992].

 
September 1993 - Did She Really Say That?

From Todd H. Tinker of Dallas (Nye & Associates) - who is "pleased as punch" to have been able to come up with an entry for "et cetera" at such a tender age - this excerpt from his deposition of the plaintiff in a personal injury case:

Q. Do you have children?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. I didn't ask. How many?

A. Two and a half.

Q. I don't think I'll ask the next question.

August 13, 2008
 
December 2001 - Send it to Buchmeyer

Order To Retain On Docket
On this day came on to be heard the motion of William Robinson, Plaintiff in the above-entitled and numbered cause, seeking to retain this cause on this Court’s docket. The Court is of the opinion and finds that this cause should be retained.

IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED, that the above-entitled and numbered cause is retained until mañana is today!

 
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.

August 12, 2008
 
December 2001 - The Whole Enchilada

From District Judge Bob McCoy of Fort Worth (48th Judicial District of Texas), this exchange which recently took place in his court:

Presiding juror to bailiff: Do we answer the questions and then deliberate, or deliberate and then answer the questions?

August 11, 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.

August 08, 2008
 
Feburary 2002 - Those Jurors

Assistant District Attorney to a prospective female juror: "Could you return a verdict of guilty on the testimony of only one eye witness?"

Prospective Juror (with all seriousness): "No, I could not give a guilty verdict, the witness would have to have two eyes."

August 07, 2008
 
February 2001 - Did They Really Say That?

From David L. Zedler of Sherman, this contribution that occurred during testimony in a recent jury trial.

A. The last time I saw [the child who was the subject of the suit], she was eating a bowl of goldfish.

Mr. Zedler: You mean crackers don't you?

August 06, 2008
 
July 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From Rocky Dhir of Dallas (Rocky is one of my law clerks this year), this excerpt he discovered in a deposition in one of our recent civil trials.

Q. How was the roof [of the apartment] inspected, then: from the balconies and from the parking lot, I think you said?

A. That's correct.

Q. And that was at both projects?

A. That's correct.

Q. What did you do to observe the roofs from those locations?

A. I looked at them.

August 05, 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.

August 04, 2008
 
May 1995 - Classic Typos

From Robin Kennedy of Dallas (Caron, Greenberg & Fitzgerald), a response to a request for production of documents in a Dallas case: "Subject to and without waiving all applicable objections, defendant will produce the materials for the plaintiff's inspection at a mutually inconvenient time and place."

August 01, 2008
 
January 1990 - Did I Really Say That?

Judge Robert Lee Eschenburg, II of Floresville (218th District Court) notes that "you rarely write about a judge's goof" — and contributes one of his own:

I have just finished a criminal trial. During the final argument by one of the attorneys, the other attorney raised an objection. I quickly responded "overstained." Just let the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio reverse me on that!


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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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