September 30, 2008
 
April 2000 - The Nirvana Warning

This "two-fer" is from Ilse D. Bailey-Graham of Kerrville (Ilse is an assistant county attorney).

First, Ilse discovered this typographical error in a Kerr County Sheriff's Office DWI offense report:

20. Sgt. Billeiter then administered the one leg stand. Crosby swayed while balancing, and put her foot down twice.

21. Deputy farmer could smell a strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming from Crosby's breath and person.

22. Crosby also had a slurred speech, bloodshot and glassy eyes.

23. Crosby was then placed under arrest for driving while intoxicated.

24. Sgt. Billeiter read the nirvana warning to Crosby.
___

Second, this typo - fortunately or not - caused Ilse to Wax Poetically, "envisioning Sergeant David Billeiter reading 'Nirvana' warnings to the Defendant.

You have the right to remain mellow;
Anything you say can and will be considered groovy;
You have the right to the services of a guru;
If you cannot afford one, you will find one when you need it most;
These rights are continuing and blissful;

Peace & Love! ...

September 29, 2008
 
June 1993 - Just Feeling Normal

From Ronald S. Schmidt of San Antonio (Schmidt & Davis), this excerpt from the deposition of a plaintiff who was claiming that a real estate deed was forged. Ronald explained that the plaintiff's answers were confusing - some documents he admitted signing, but he denied others - so Ronald began questioning the plaintiff (who had been in prison on drug charges) about whether he actually remembered "the incidents surrounding the signing of the questioned documents":

Q. What kind of drug (or controlled substance) had you used?

A. At the time I was using heroin.

Q. How often?

A. When I had any extra bucks.

Q. So, from time to time during 1897, in June of 1987, you were - when you used the heroin, it affected you, didn't it?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And it could affect your memory, couldn't it.?

A. In so many ways, yes, sir.

Q. It affected the way you felt about things?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did it affect your mood?

A. No, not really, sir.

Q. But would you consume enough of it to where you would admit that from time to time during that period you were high because of heroin use?

A. Just feeling normal, just like I am right now. It just made me feel a little bit more active. That's about it.

In other words, as Ronald noted, "the witness basically... felt as good during cross-examination as he did when he consumed heroin."

September 26, 2008
 
June 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From Julian T. Lopez of San Antonio (Rodriguez, Ketterman & Lopez), this excerpt from the deposition of his client in a personal injury case:

Q. Okay. And just after the accident, who got to you first?

A. Julian.

Q. Julian?

A. Well, I don't remember.

Q. Julian got there before the ambulance? That's pretty good.

Mr. Lopez: I'll object to that sidebar comment. Put that in Judge Buchmeyer's column.

September 25, 2008
 
June 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From Thomas A. Silver of Corpus Christi (Barger, Hermansen, etc.), this excerpt from the deposition of the plaintiff's husband in a personal injury case:

Q. And do you know how fast Ms. _____ was going?

A. Well, I can't tell you, because when she hit me, my - because my wife, you know - Have you ever seen when you, when you grab ahold of a chicken and you wring its neck? (Indicating)

Mr. Silver: Objection, nonresponsive.

Q. (By Mr. Silver) Is that what your wife looked like, a chicken?

A. Yes. She was jumping and jumping, and crying and crying. That's, that's why I didn't call the police. There wasn't time.

September 24, 2008
 
March 1999 - Please Repeat the Question

From Patrick Wright of Dallas, these excerpts from the deposition of his client, who was suing Kentucky Fried Chicken because he "had been beaten up at a KFC store by another patron who was angry because of the slow service," allegedly because KFC failed to provide adequate security. Unfortunately, according to Patrick, his client had "a few personal problems that came to light" during the deposition - he was an alcoholic, he had "a terrible habit of exaggerating the facts," and could give President Clinton lessons in "evasiveness and obfuscation."

Q. And what was the reason that [your] marriage ended?
A. Mutual descent.
___

Q. Was that the first time you had been in that particular KFC restaurant?

A. No, sir.

Q. Just ballpark, how many times do you think you had been there before in your life?

A. Probably 500.
___

Q. Had you ever had any bad experiences on any of the other 500 or so times that you had been in that restaurant before your assault?

A. I had had very slow, incourteous service a few times, which was just natural for KFC, that restaurant, which you could get 400, 500 people to testify to, but no - violence that I could particularly see, you know...

Q. You're talking about gangs and things of that nature. Do you have any reason to believe that this is a particularly gang-oriented area where this restaurant is located?

A. I've been informed by the policeman that came to the scene of the accident.

Q. And what did that police officer tell you?

A. I don't remember exactly because I - you know, I had a bashed up head and nose and my eyes were both closed.
___

Q. From the very beginning, you smelled alcohol on Mr. Shedd?

A. No, not at the very beginning.

Q. When did you first smell the alcohol on Mr. Shedd?

A. I think the first time I really smelled it on him was when he was knocking my head up against the door of the car.

September 23, 2008
 
May 2008 - Have I Been Courteous to You?

This contribution is from Christopher R. Johnston of El Paso (Firth, Johnston, Martinez), who writes that he was finishing up a deposition and took a break to make sure there were no further questions to be asked of the witness. He then came back on the record to ask the usual closing questions and got this exchange:

Q. We're back on the record. Mr. [Smith], have I been courteous to you?

A. No, absolutely not. Very Polite.

Q. Okay. [long pause] Have you understood all my questions?

A. Yes.

Q. Are there any answers that you have given me today that you might like to change?

A. No.

Christopher also pointed out that "opposing counsel very wisely did not conduct any redirect."

September 22, 2008
 
November 1997 - Did They Really Ask That?

Discovered in a deposition by my former law clerk Robert Musslewhite:

Q. I'm going to ask you four questions that I'm going to guess are going to sound real strange to you, even stranger that the rest of my questions -

A. Oh, Lord.

Q. - but I have to ask them just because of legal principles, so bear with me.

September 19, 2008
 
May 1993 - Did I Really Ask That?

From Judge David Cleveland of Palo Pinto (29th District Court), this testimony from the trial of will contest involving two wills left by Walter Howeth:

Q. When did you last see Walter?

A. At the funeral.

Q. Did he make any comment to you at that time?

A. No, sir.

Judge Cleveland adds: "I have wondered who might have been most relieved that the answer was no: the jury, opposing parties, mortician, or the doctor who signed the death certificate."

September 18, 2008
 
July 1995 - I'm in a Damned Fish Bowl

From J. Redwine Patterson of Dallas (Patterson, Lamberty, etc.) this excerpt from the Lone Star Steel Mill Toxic Tort litigation in East Texas. Redwine explains that, as he is Sometimes Wont To Do, he was making a sketch of the witness while another lawyer began the deposition. However, the witness "wore a baseball-type cap pulled down over his eyes," so Redwine had to "peer sharply at his face to complete the sketch," when ...

Q. Have you made any claims for unemployment compensation?

A. Yes, when I was laid off. That's my right, isn't it?

Q. Yes, sir. When is the last time you've made a claim for unemployment compensation?

A. Back in '89, I think it was.

Q. And the purpose of you filling out these forms is to draw unemployment benefits so that you get a check that you can cash and spend the money. Right?

A. That's my right, wasn't it? Hold it just a minute. (Looking at Mr. Pattersom) Is he trying to hypnotize me over there? Looking at me like that with that pencil over there. Is he trying to hypnotize me or something?

Q. I would severly doubt it. Are you trying to jinx him?

A. No. I don't like to be stared at all the time.

Q. It's like when you sue a bunch of folks you kind of put yourself in a fish bowl, Mr. Kelley, and there's lots of folks that get to look at you and ask you questions and that kind of thing.

A. I'm in a damned fish bowl then.

Q. That's just part of the deal.

Mr. Tooley: He hasn't hypnotized anybody yet this week.

September 17, 2008
 
June 1995 - A Twinkle in His Eye

From Debbie H. Brower of Texarkana (DHB Reporting & Paralegal Service), this excerpt from a deposition she reported in a Louisiana workers' compensation case. The plaintiff is being asked if she knows the persons named in a lengthy list of witnesses provided in answers to interrogatories.

Q. Do you know a Joy Lafferty? Who is Joy Lafferty?

A. She's a lady.

Q. Okay. I mean, how do you know her? What's the relation to any of the people that -

A. Growed [sic] up with her.

Q. What now?

A. Growed up with her, went to school with her.

Q. (Long pause.) Is she related to Randy and Sherrie in any way?

A. No.

(Very long pause while attorney makes box around what is written on his notepad.)

Q. Okay. I've got to make sure I got the answer to that last question right, you told me that you grew dope with Joy Lafferty?

A. No.

Q. What did you say?

Plaintiff Attorney: Grew up.

Q. Grew up. No wonder I was -

Plaintiff Attorney: Did you get that?

Court Reporter: I got it right.

Q. Okay, goodness. Grew up and went to school with Joy Lafferty. I had growed [sic] dope. Alright.

Plaintiff's Attorney: I thought you had a twinkle in your eye. The DEA has offices right next door.

September 16, 2008
 
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.

September 15, 2008
 
September 2005 - “Transquips”

From Lynn Brooks of DeSoto, who is a certified shorthand reporter:

Q. You must have been hurt in some event. What type of injury did you get?

A. Finger mashed.

Q. Nothing you lost time from work from?

A. (Indicating)

Q. I’m sorry?

A. Got a burn here. I didn’t lose any time. It’s frozen.

Q. People were a lot tougher. That’s a two-year disability injury these days.

Mr. Jones: I’ll object to my own sidebar and continue.

September 12, 2008
 
June 2003 - How Do You Define Drunk?

From Judge Buddie J. Hahn, Texas Bar Journal, Vol. 50, No. 11 — December 1987.

Q. On the day that Twine was shot, were you intoxicated?

A. I definitely was not.

Q. Had you been drinking that day?

A. I drank a few beers.

Q. How many beers did you drink?

A. About thirty (30).

Q. And you were not drunk?

A. No.

Q. What is your definition of drunk?

A. Drunk is when you fall down and you can’t get up.

September 11, 2008
 
December 1990 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Parker C. Folst, III of Houston (Susman Godfrey), this excerpt from a deposition in a RICO case taken by his partner, Ken Marks; the witness was "the chairman of a New York-based investment banking company"- who was not too "bashful about volunteering his opinions concerning a former employee."

Q. Are you aware that in 1986 Jones & Company entered into an engagement with an outfit called Three Initials Corporation?

A. I've heard about it since, but I did not know about it at the time, and I would have been madder than hell if I had ... Because that outfit is headed by a guy that I don't like.

Q. Is that Mr. Smith?

A. That's Mr. Smith.

Q. Do you know where Mr. Smith is today?

A. I hope he's in hell, but I don't know. I can't confirm it.

September 10, 2008
 
June 2007 - Classic Typos

James A. Newsom of Houston Munisteri, Sprott, Rigby, Newsom & Robbins) found this typo in a letter he received from a Beaumont attorney:

Mr. Newsom,I have provided LexisNexis with your contact information on behalf of John Crane, Inc. I apologize for any incontinence.

Newsom adds, “In an attempt to be my usual helpful self, I replied:

‘Thank you. I am not aware of suffering from incontinence since I was a small child, but I appreciate your concern. And thanks for fixing the service list too.’”

September 09, 2008
 
July 2005 - Ozzie and Harriett

These two contributions are from Stephen A. Doggett of Richmond from his examination of the husband in a divorce case:

Q. So, what are you saying? Are you saying she is not a good mother? …

A. I’m just saying that sometimes I may have felt that she did things I wouldn’t have done.

Q. Well, you are not supposing … that everybody is an Ozzie and Harriett kind of family situation, are you?

A. I don’t know who Ozzie and Harriet are.

Ms. Scardino: Can I ask Roger if he would take all of that out of the record?

The Court: No, Ms. Scardino. You have shot your own foot off about your age.

Ms. Scardino: Okay. I guess I will continue now.

September 08, 2008
 
February 2003 - Don't Leave Me Out

From Donald J. Drago of Austin, upon the review of a document shown as an exception on a commitment for title insurance covering a tract of land in Harrison County, this "restrictive covenant" found in a Warranty Deed from the Smiths (the sellers) to an investment entity:

Item No. 11 — Buyers must invite the Smiths over for BBQ or party at least twice yearly. Smiths will bring beer.

September 05, 2008
 
July 2008 - The Death Certificate

L.T. “Butch” Bradt, of Houston, found this title contribution in the case of Rodriguez v. Rodriguez in Fort Bend County. “Dear Sir, I cannot believe that you would fax my office any kind of motion. Especially not an Emergency Ex-Parte Motion to Retain Case on Court’s Docket. You have noticed that I have a vacation letter on file with the District Clerk of Fort Bend County, Texas for the next two weeks, which includes today. Furthermore, attached is a copy of the Death Certificate of Francisco Rodriguez. This letter is not to be construed as any appearance by me or the specter of an appearance by Francisco Rodriguez, who is dead. This court should tell Mr. Thomas and his Client to stop haunting the halls in a vain attempt to resurrect this case and breathe life into a dead case. The Ex-Parte Motion should be denied.

Sincerely,
___________”

September 04, 2008
 
May 2008 - I Was A Hot Dog

This contribution from District Judge Ron Ennis of Dumas (69th Judicial District). It involves a wrongful termination case that Ron heard by assignment in Randall County, Charlotte Bingham of Crenshaw, Dupree & Milam of Lubbock was questioning the jury panel about their experience with losing employment.

Ms. Bingham: Did your - the employer have any kind of grievance procedure that you could follow in connection with your termination?

Juror: No.

Ms. Bingham: I think I got everybody on that side. Anybody else on this side who was terminated? Sir, how long ago was it?

Juror: Fifteen, give or take.

Ms. Bingham: Okay. Do you believe you were wrongfully terminated?

Juror: I was a hot dog and didn't have enough mustard to go around.

Ms. Bingham: Okay.

September 03, 2008
 
July 1993 - Did They Really Say That?

From Scott Ozmun of Austin (Whitehurst, Harkness, etc), this excerpt from the deposition of the daughter of Scott's client in a breast implant case.

Q. And what do you mean by "deformed"?

A. Well, her breasts were -

Q. This is one of those -

A. This is when I wish you were a lady. I'm embarrassed. This is so embarrassing.

Q. Well, if it makes you feel better, just imagine I'm a lady.

A. I can't do that.

September 02, 2008
 
June 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From District Judge Bob McCoy of Fort Worth (48th District Court), this statement made by a pro se plaintiff to Judge McCoy and defense counsel in chambers:

“I am going to sue them all for alienation of infection (sic) and I am going to do it in Federal Court.”


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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.

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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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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