December 31, 2008
 
October 1989 - I'm Glad We Cleared that Up

Theodore A. Hargrove, III of San Angelo sends this story about the Very First Divorce Client of Judge Royal Hart (51st Judicial District, Tom Green County):

His client, the wife "lived on a ranch and apparently got none of the benefits of grocery shopping. When going through the list of required questions to have the divorce granted, Judge Hart realized he had never inquired of his client as to why she wished to get a divorce."

Q. Tell the Court why you want this divorce.

A. Well, I just can't eat any more deer meat.

The divorce, of course, was granted.

December 30, 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.

December 29, 2008
 
May 1985 - Were You in the Military Service

Q. Were you in the Army?

A. No sir, I didn't go.

Q. Why?

A. Well, when I was ready to leave they said, 'Well, everything is over,' and I say, 'Okay,' So I didn't go.

December 24, 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.

December 23, 2008
 
July 1994 - Did He Really Say That?

From Martin Randal Merritt of Dallas, this excerpt from the plaintiff's deposition.

Q. Have you ever been injured before?

A. No. I'll swear on my mother's eyes to that.

Q. Where is your mother?

December 22, 2008
 
May 1989 - How Did The Accident Really Happen?

From Larry Newman of Dallas and Harold J. Delhommer of Houston sent me slightly different versions of a collection of quotations from insurance accident forms.

A. As I approached the intersection, a stop sign suddently appeared in a place where no stop sign had ever appeared before. I was unable to stop in time to avoid the accident.
_____

A. An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle and vanished.

December 19, 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.

December 18, 2008
 
May 1987 - Did I Really Hear That?

In a murder trial, the policeman testified, "When I arrived, the victim was still alive and he said ..."

At this point, the witness was abruptly interrupted by the judge, with stern warning that the witness should not say anything else until it was determined whether the evidence was admissible. The jury was excused and, for the next several hours, the attorneys argued subtle legal points as to whether or not the victim's statements were within the "dying declaration" exception to the hearsay rule. The prosecution, of course, contended that they clearly were; however, the defense argued that there was no showing that the deceased victim actually knew he was dying when he spoke to the policeman. Finally, the trial was recessesd and, after hours of his own research, the judge announced the next morning that the testimony was admissible as a dying declaration. So, the policeman returned to the stand for this exchange:

Q. Now officer, yesterday you were about to tell us what the deceased said when you arrived on the scene. Please tell the judge and the jury what he said.

A. Well, he just said "Ugh!" and died.

December 17, 2008
 
April 1990 - Recalling & Recollecting

Terry L. Belt of Austin submits this excerpt from the deposition of the father who was seeking to modify the child custody terms of the divorce.

Q. Do you remember the incident on the day that you came running up from the basement and explained to your wife that you were going to kill yourself?

A. No.

Q. Have you blocked it out of your mind or are you saying that it never happened?

A. Never happened.

Q. You didn't go behind the shed there with your gun?

A. No.

Q. Do you remember what year it was that it didn't happen?

A. 1980, I believe.

December 16, 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.

December 15, 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.

December 12, 2008
 
February 2008 - The Motion For Continuance

This marvelous contribution is from Judge A. Lee Harris of Hill County Court at Law in Hillsboro, who writes that he found the following message awaiting him on the fax:

I. Comes now Phillip Robertson, Attorney for Defendant, who moves for a continuance and would show the Honorable Court the following: 1. Defendant will be present in court today. He
has a setting this morning at 9 a.m.

II. Unbeknownst to Counsel, Counsel’s wife procured two tickets to THE WORLD SERIES IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, FOR THE FIRST GAME OF THE WORLD SERIES. She
bought these for his son and him to go. Counsel nor his son has gone to the World Series in either’s life, as both are Texas Rangers fans.

III. Counsel and his son have traveled across the country to Spring Training in Arizona, to (all regular season games) Boston, to Philadelphia, to New York (both Yankee and Shea), to St.
Louis (new and old Busch stadium), to Chicago (Wrigley and Comerica), to Washington, and to Kansas City, all on baseball trips. But never to the WORLD SERIES. Counsel is 38 and his son is 11.

IV. Counsel begs the court to reset the case for a short time so we may dispose of the case without a trial. Counsel has received a recommendation from the Honorable County Attorney.
Respectfully submitted,

Phillip Robertson,
Attorney for Defendant

* * * * *

Motion for Continuance Conditionally Granted.

Defendant’s Counsel’s Motion for Continuance is granted on the condition that he purchase the 11-year-old son at least one jersey from each team and make every effort, including leaping over rails, to obtain a game ball.

Signed Oct. 24, 2007
Judge Lee Harris

December 11, 2008
 
November 2008 - Lawyers Are A Scary Thing

From Joshua T. Kutchin of Dallas (Fanning, Harper & Martinson), this excerpt from the deposition of the plaintiff, a Dallas Area Rapid Transit bus driver who grew up in Ethiopia — and who seemed “a little overwhelmed by the deposition process”:

Q. Have I been courteous to you today?

A. What was that word?

MR. SKINNER: Nice.

A. Sure, you’re so nice to me. You don’t look like a lawyer.

MS. LAQUEY: He’s nice to you and mean to lawyers? Is that what you said?

A. A lawyer is a scary thing, you know.

MR. SKINNER: Lawyers are scary things. Okay.

THE WITNESS: Yeah, you know.

MR. SKINNER: I never thought of myself as scary.

December 10, 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.

December 09, 2008
 
February 1997 - I'm Not Sober, But ...

From David L. Traylor of Dallas, this exchange that took place recently before U.S. District Judge Joe Kendall (Dallas Division, Northern District of Texas):

Judge: As you stand here today, are you sober?

Defendant: No, I'm not sober.

Judge: Are you drunk?

Defendant: No, I'm not drunk.

Judge: Are you under the influence of drugs or alcohol?

Defendant: No.

Judge: Are you drunk?

Defendant: No.

Judge: Are you sober?

Defendant: No, I'm not sober.

Judge: Perhaps sober is a word that is not in your vocabulary. I know several people like that.

December 08, 2008
 
November 2008 - Did They Really Say That?

From Lloyd A. Muennink of Austin, this excerpt from the deposition of a fact witness for the plaintiff in "a drilling mud land farming case regarding libel and slander" - where the defense attorney was "constantly asking what the [plaintiff's] attorney told him or discussed after every break in the deposition."

[LUNCH RECESS 1:05-1:40]

Q. (By Mr. Stelly) Mr. Egle, you had lunch today with Mr. Muennink; is that true?

A. Yes.

Q. What did y'all discuss?

A. The Playboy Channel.

Q. Okay. Anything else about this case?

A. Yeah, I'm sure we did. Let me think about this.

Q. Do you remember anything specific about what you talked about of your previous testimony?

A. That I did a good job, that I was responding to the questions.

December 05, 2008
 
April 2007 - The Sound of Silence

This contribution is from Randy Wilson of Abilene, who writes that several years ago in the 326th District Court in Taylor County, preceding a custody trial, before Judge Aleta Hacker, a novice attorney was conducting a closed end voir dire by asking questions of the panel such as:

Q. How many of you are married? Please signify by raising your hand.

Q. How many of you have children? Please signify by raising your hand.

Q. How many of you have been divorced? Please signify by raising your hand.

Q. How many of you have been involved in some way in a child custody case? Please signify by raising your hand.

And this continues for what seems like an hour. Finally, the novice attorney asked:

Q. How many of you have been involved in an extramarital affair? Please signify by raising your hand.

The sound of silence was deafening and there was not even the “blink of an eye.”

December 04, 2008
 
April 2001 - Did They Really Say That?

From Jeffrey C. Lewis of Texarkana, this exchange that took place during his cross-examination of the female plaintiff in a medical malpractice trial in Bowie County.

Mr. Lewis: I'm not asking you for a medical opinion, but as far as you're concerned (the defendant doctor's) surgery, his technique, what he did with your right foot, fixed all the problems you were complaining about?

Plaintiff's Attorney: Objection. That calls for a medical opinion.

Mr. Lewis: I'm not asking for that.

The Court: She's the best one to know. I would think.

Plaintiff's Attorney: I don't think she was in there when he was operating on her.

Jeffrey adds: "Judge Bill Peek (202nd District Court) wisely overruled the objection."

December 03, 2008
 
May 1999 - Those Jurors

From Judge Alvin G. Khoury of Longview (124th District Court), these answers by two different jurors to the same question in a juror questionnaire he used in a recent capital murder trial.

35. What is the highest grade you completed in school?

A: 100

36. What is the highest grade you completed in school?

A: A

December 02, 2008
 
May 1999 - Those Jurors

From Judge Jay Patterson of Dallas (101st District Court), this answer from a recent juror questionnaire:

20. How can we change or improve our arrangements, facilities, or procedures to make jury service better?

A: I'm not sure on the law here, but maybe make the counsel wear too-tight shoes to hasten things along?

December 01, 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?


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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

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Ernie The Attorney Searching for Truth & Justice (in an unjust world)

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