November 26, 2008
May 1989 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up

Judge 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.

November 25, 2008
October 2003 - Not Strange At All

From William A. Agnew, Jr. of Lufkin, this excerpt from “a non-death penalty capital appeal” before Judge Paul White (159th Judicial District in Angelina County). Charles Meyers was cross-examining a witness named David Yount when this exchange took place.

Q. And I believe you testified that they asked if we knew where to find Ben Franklin?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Who asked?

A. Daniel did.

Q. Okay. Daniel did the talking?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Daniel was interested in finding Ben Franklin?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. To what purpose?

A. To whop him.

Q. Why?

A. Something about he had jumped on one of Daniel’s supposed cousins — cousins. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t — he never said her name, that I remember.

Q. Did you find that kind of strange, somebody you don’t know coming by your house and asking for directions to find the guy he wants to beat up?

A. In Trinity County, I don’t find that strange at all.

Q. I think you’ve come up with the best line of the trial, sir.

November 24, 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.

November 21, 2008
September 1999 - Did They Really Say That?

From Ilse D. Bailey of Kerrville (Ilse is an assistant county attorney of Kerr County), this exchange that took place after the defendant had entered a plea of guilty to a Class B misdemeanor theft charge - pawning a stolen Black & Decker drill for $5.00 - before visiting District Judge Virgil Mulanax of Kerrville (115th Judicial District):

Judge Mulanax: Think you've learned anything?

Defendant: Yes, ... I'm burning the outfit I was wearing. I'm going to burn it. I've been to jail four times in that outfit. Every time I wear it, I go to jail. I'm burning it.

November 20, 2008
November 1998 - Beware of Experts

From Walter L. Taylor of Houston (Harris & Taylor), this excerpt from a deposition his partner, Steve Harris, was taking of a "fairly well-respected" doctor at a major medical facility in Houston." Steve is trying to establish that the standard of care at the hospital "might be higher than that of Steve's client" who, "let's just say, practices in West Podunk."

Q. Okay. Now, of course, you have access to pulmonary angiography. Correct? Here in your hospitals?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. You also have board certified pulmonologists that you can consult with that are just literally down the hall. Correct?

A. If I wanted to, yes.

Q. And you have board certified cardiologists who you consult with literally just down the hall if you want to?

A. Yes.

Q. Some of the finest minds in the world are right here within a stone's throw of you. Correct?

A. Conceivably in this room.

Q. And I'm not here to debate that, by the way. And I think you're smart too.

November 19, 2008
May 1998 - Did They Really Say That?

From Marc J. Shrake of Minneapolis (Zelle & Larson), this excerpt from the deposition of his client, the owner of a tree removal service.

Q. Now, is the crew responsible to keep track of the number of trees that are removed or trimmed?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. How do you train them in doing that?

A. They are asked to count the trees that are going to be removed and they are asked to count the trees that are going to be trimmed. I believe they probably learned how to count through school.

Q. Is there any specific technique you give them to make sure they don't double-count or miss a tree as they do their counting?

A. A technique? In counting? I guess the only technique I'd have would be to start at number one.

November 18, 2008
November 1997 - Let Me Make This Abundantly Clear

From District Judge Robert P. Brotherto of Wichita Falls (30th District Court), this argument made by the plaintiff's attorney in a motion for summary judgment in a medical malpractice case:

... the acts of negligence which would be a deviation of the standard care if committed by [the defendant] have not been basically eliminated from possibility of being fact ...

November 17, 2008
November 2008 - Did They Really Say That?

From Bruce R. Hardesty of Austin (King & Hardesty), this excerpt from the deposition he took of a witness to a hit-and-run automobile accident - who, with his mother's help, got the license number of the car in question [____38D].

A. As the car was leaving, my mom remembered half of the license plate number and I remembered the other half ...

Q. And you said that you noticed three of the numbers of the license plate?

A. I got three and my mom remembered three ... The part that my mom remembered was her bra size, so that's how she remembered those numbers for sure.

Q. (By Bruce Hardesty with - he says -"obvious insight and keen logic") That must have been the 38D?

A. Yes. That was how those particular numbers stuck out in her mind.

November 14, 2008
September 2001 - Doing Voir Dire

From Pierre T. Williams of El Paso (Pierre is an Assistant County attorney), this excerpt from voir dire in a juvenile delinquency proceeding.

Mr. Williams: We're going to have police officers testify. Does anyone believe that they always tell the truth or always lie? Anyone, by a show of hands.

Venire Person 46: In my past experience with the law, I believe they have a consistent by and large lying way of doing things.

Mr. Williams: Say that again?

Venire Person: I believe 80 percent of all police officers are chronic, habitual, pathological liars.

Mr. Williams: Are there any police officers in here?
[The venireman seated immediately next to this person raises his hand and the entire room erupts in laughter]

The Court: Why don't you tell us what you really think?

Mr. Williams: You just happen to be sitting right next to a police officer.

November 13, 2008
November 1998 - Did They Really Say That?

From Jeff Patterson of Dallas (Hartline, Dacus, Dreyer & Kern), this "very strange and humorous deposition" excerpt in one of his firm's cases.

Q. Tell me all the people that made the trip from ...

A. It was my mother, father, and my daughter.

Q. I'm sorry. Your daughter?

A. My daughter, uh-huh.

Q. I'm not hearing you well. Are we saying daughter, or dog?

A. Dog. She's my daughter dog.

Q. I'm sorry. I must have a hearing problem. Is she your child or your pet?

A. Both ... she's a cocker-spitz mix.

November 12, 2008
July 1998 - Classic Typos

(1) From "a reprint of Roe v. Wade in a prominent constitutional law case book:" The third reason is the State's interest [in] protecting prenatal life. Some of the argument for this justification rests on the theory that a new human life is present from the moment of contraception

(2) From a letter written by a TDC inmate:

I'm at a major risk for my life everyday I go to work with my head an open womb ...

(3) From a letter about a traffic ticket sent to "City of Amarillo Municipal Courts:" To the Residing Judge

(1) Mike Bennett of Dallas; (2) the ever popular Anon; (3) Judge Joel A. Durrett of Amarillo.

November 10, 2008
July 1998 - Classic Typos

(1) From an affidavit of Marital History and Heirship" filed in Gregg County in March 1991:

I, Henry H. Harbour, being duly sworn, state upon oath that i have read the foregoing affidavit of marital history and heirship relating to Lillie Culver and I was personally acquainted with Lillie Culver and her husband, Paul V. Culver, [and] during their lifetime, resented them off and on as an attorney for some 25 years.

(2) From the March 1997 "Significant Decisions Report" published by the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (with credit and apologies to the editor, Jim Skelton):

Cook, No. 71,855

Capital murder - death, Appellant was tried three times. His first conviction was revered by the CCA 821 S.W.2d 600 (Tex.Cr.App. 191); his second trial ended in a mistrial and he was convicted...

(1) Parker McVicker of Euless; (2) Michael S. Raign of San Antonio.

November 07, 2008
October 1994 - Did He Really Say That?

From Municipal Judge Steven C. Williamson of Fort Worth, this excerpt from a guilty plea by "a man charged with discharging a firearm within the city limits in his own backyard)."

Court: How do you wish to plead?

Defendant: Guilty.

Court: Do you want to tell me what happened?

Defendant: I pointed it at the ground and pulled the trigger and it went "BOOM! BOOM!"

Court (startled): Why were you shooting it?

Defendant: I just wanted to see if it worked and I thought it would go "Click, Click" - But instead it went "BOOM! BOOM!" I didn't know it was loaded.

November 06, 2008
June 1996 - Classic Typos

From Thomas V. Erdos, Jr. of Austin, this "red hearing" of a typo he found in the Lexis version of Southwest Airlines Co. v. Texas High Speed Rail Auth., 867 S.W.2d 154 (Tex. App. - Austin 1993):

A procedural due-process requirement of notice and herring does not necessarily abrogate the state's immunity from suit and immunity from liability...

Both Rule 165a and 306a provide for procedural relief in the event a party fails or neglects to appear at any herring or trial of which the party had notice...

In the absence of a herring by submission, a hearing contemplates a formal, adversary oral presentation by the parties...

November 05, 2008
July 1995 - Be Careful with Experts

From Sharon Emerson of Corpus Christi (Sharon is a paralegal with Kleberg & Head), this excerpt from the deposition "of an expert marine surveyor in a case involving the captain of a crew boat which ran into an offshore drilling platform because he fell asleep."

Q. Do you have an opinion as to whether there's anything that we have not discussed here today about the condition of the captain that contributed to the accident?

A. No. I think his condition, as far as I could ascertain, was not determinable from the evidence that I reviewed.

Q. When you say his condition was not determinable, what do you mean? You're not disputing that he fell asleep; he was definitely asleep.

A. That's my supposition based on what I've comprehended out of the testimony that I've reviewed, yes.

Q. Do you have an opinion as to why he fell asleep?

A. Yes.

Q. What is your opinion?

A. He was tired.

November 04, 2008
April 1999 - Did They Really Say That?

From Jane Starnes of Houston (Jane is an assistant district attorney for Harris County), this "hysterical" excerpt from a possession of cocaine case she tried last year.

Q. Now, you've admitted that you were pretty hysterical out there?

A. Calm.

Q. Oh, I thought a little while ago you said you were hysterical?

A. By my being hysterical meant being calm. I wasn't rowdy or anything like that.

Q. Hysterical means calm, to you?

A. Yes, it does.

Q. You weren't upset by seeing your mother sitting in the police car?

A. Yes, I was.

Q. And you weren't upset by seeing your brother being kept in the front yard there?

A. Yes, I was.

Q. But you are saying you were calm?

A. Yes, I was.

Q. Which is the same thing as hysterical, to you?

A. Uh-huh.

November 03, 2008
May 1998 - Telling It Like It Is

From Dana A. Ehrlich of San Angelo, this excerpt from his deposition of a judgment debtor (whose current occupation, Dana thought, was "hanging around the race track").

Q. Are you a horse trainer, a horse breeder, or owner? Just what are you?

A. I'm a very used-up old man who is tired of all stuff like this, stuff that I didn't do and that somebody is trying to hang on me, and that I wasn't even notified of by the company. They screwed me.

Q. Do you own any stamp or coin collections?

A. (Witness pulls out a nickel and a penny and puts it on the table.) That's it baby.

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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.

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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

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