January 2004 - Did She Really Ask That?
From Robert A. Bragalone
of Dallas (Cooper & Scully), this excerpt from a deposition he recently attended.
Q. And where are - how are you calculating that? How old do you believe Damien was when he was born? We'll start there.
Mr. Bragalone: Object to form. That's one of those for Judge Buchmeyer.
Ms. Vaughan: Let me rephrase that.
A. From the discharge -
Q. (By Ms. Vaughan) That one would have definitely been misleading. Let me rephrase that.
July 1993 - Did She Really Say That?
From Thomas S. Terrell
of Kerrville, this excerpt from the deposition of the wife in a custody case:
Q. Your husband says you smoke marijuana. Is that true?
A. I quit.
Q. Why did you quit?
A. My attorney told me I would have to, if I wanted to get custody.
February 1994 - The Payment Plan
From Thomas G. Sharpe
, Jr. of San Antonio (Whetley & Sharpe), this excerpt from his deposition of a defendant regarding the collection of a judgment for Tom's client:
Q. First of all, what I'm asking, sir, is what are you going to do to pay this judgment?
A. Well, you said you had a payment plan and I said I would pay you half when I die and the other half when I come back or
, if you have another plan - do you have a plan where I can pay nothing down or nothing a month
Q. Neither one of those would be satisfactory to settle the judgment.
June 1998 - Timely Objections
From Steven C. James
of El Paso, this excerpt from a deposition he took in a case involving "the collapse of a huge rock wall being built on a hillside between several El Paso homes." Steven is questioning the defendant builder about the cause of the wall failure.
Q. Based on your experience in building rock walls, Mr. Cuevas, what caused this one to fall down?
Mr. Myers (objecting): Lack of foundation
From Michael A. Miller
of Dallas (Martin, Farr, Miller, etc.), these marvelous objections made by David Gest
of Austin, who represented the witness being deposed
Mr. Gest: We are going to be here forever, Mr. Engel. Just answer the guy's question. Make Miller work for the answer.
A. I don't recall what their opinions were on that.
Mr. Gest. Good. Period.
Mr. Miller: If you have an objection, please state it.
Mr. Gest: I object to my witness running at the mouth. Just answer his question and then shut up so we can get out of here before midnight, please. Go ahead.
June 1998 - Tell Us About Your Criminal Record
From Bryant W. Scott
of Houston, this excerpt from a jury trial before Judge John Compton of Houston (151st District Court). The plaintiff, "an unsavory dressed fellow" suing a mortgage company represented by Bryan, was claiming "priority of his mechanic's and materialmen's lien." During his cross-examination by Bryan:
Q. Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
A. Yes I have.
Q. Did you go to the penitentiary?
Q. How long?
A. Three years.
Q. What was the crime?
A. Felony theft by false pretext - something like that.
Q. Did it involve an M&M lien?
A. Yes it did, but I would have pled guilty to killing my mother to get the deal they gave me ...
Judge Compton (wisely
): Let me see the attorneys in chambers.
May 1990 - The Cindy Singleton Collection
From Cindy Singleton
this excerpt after cleaning out her desk during her last week at the Tarrant County D.A.'s office.
Judge: Is the defendant known by any other name?
Defense: Do you have an a.k.a?
Defendant: Hell Lady, I don't even have a car!
July 2006 - Great Law Firm Names
Carey Charles Dippel
of Houston (Andrews Kurth) writes that he "was once associated with Sears and Burns. The partners tongue-in-cheek sought to join ____ Hurtz and ____ Hollers so that the name of the new firm would be: "Sears, Burns, Hurtz and Hollers
June 2007 - Did He Really Ask That?
This marvelous contribution is from Mike J. Bowers
of Dallas (Bell Nunnally & Martin, L.L.P.) — who writes, “It has taken 20 years and countless depositions, but finally I have a deposition excerpt that I hope is worthy of your including in your article in the Texas Bar Journal.”
Bowers explains: “The deposition excerpt comes from a case in which I represent a homeowners association that is suing numerous defendants regarding defective construction of its high-rise condominium tower.” Darrell Smith
of Cutler & Smith in Dallas is questioning an architect about a consultant who was hired by the architect to assist with certain functions during the construction of the condominium tower. “Sadly, the architect is no longer with us,” Bowers writes, which leads to this exchange:
Q. (By Mr. Smith) Okay. Do you know when Mr. Reynolds passed away?
A. Not exactly, no.
Q. Okay. It was after — after you had talked to him
A. Oh, yes.
MR. SMITH: Alright. Obviously …
MR. BOWERS: That’s going to the Texas Bar Journal!
MR. SMITH: Alright. That’s right.
MR. BOWERS: I’ve always wanted one. I’ve finally got one to send in. It took 20 years
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?
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.
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?
Q. What is your definition of drunk?
A. Drunk is when you fall down and you can’t get up.
April 1993 - Did I Really Hear That?
From Bonnie Cade
of Arlington, this testimony taken by her daughter, Betty Lynn Cade, who is a court reporter in Nashville, TN - "Where reporters follow their clients through discovery into the courtroom where they take the testimony":
Q. Where were you at the time of the accident?
A. In my car.
June 1996 - The Perils of Pro Se
From Gregg A. Marchessault
of Tyler (Gregg is an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas), this prayer from the brief of defendant-appellant filed in the Fifth Circuit by a pro se
prisoner who, after his bank robbery conviction, filed a suit seeking the "return of the money that was seized by the FBI as his bank robbery loot":
Therefore all things considered, this appellant respectfully requests this court to cause an order to issue, ordering the FBI to return the currency in the amount of $6,600 that was seized from him. Anything less would be a miscarriage of justice, anything more will be appreciated.
November 2005 - Not Even Close
From Mark W. Laney
of Plainview(Laney & Stokes), these excerpts from Rudd Owen’s cross-examination of the plaintiff in a state court case:
Q. How old is your son?
Q. What does he do for a living?
A. He’s a general manager of Hobby Lobby in Chicago.
Q. Works at the airport?
A. No, Hobby Lobby is a store.
Q. Okay. Isn’t Hobby airport in Chicago?
A. No, that’s in Houston.
Q. Okay. Wasn’t even close, was it?
Mr. Laney: We are talking Judge Buchmeyer here.
June 1990 - I’m Glad We Cleared That Up
From March Lynn Rothmas
of Beaumont (Benckenstein, Oxford, etc.), this remarkable(!) excerpt from a deposition taken by Mary Ellen Blade, a partner at the same firm:
Q. Did you die, as far as you know?
A. I don’t know nothing.
Q. Has anybody told you that you died?
A. Yes, ma’am.
Q. Who told you that you died?
A. My cousins and my wife and the other people.
Q. What other people?
A. The — friends.
Q. Did any doctor ever tell you that you died?
A. Yeah, my doctor, too.
Q. But you don’t remember it yourself?
A. No. How can you remember you’re dead? You no can remember.
Q. I was kind of curious to see if you had any recollection of it. Do you know how long you were supposed to have been dead?
A. No, ma’am.
This excerpt comes from a deposition taken by Barry S. Green
of Fort Worth (Camp, Jones, etc.) — an avowed male lawyer — of “a female workers’ compensation claimant.” (The plaintiff-witness has testified that she has severe pains in her shoulder, her back, and her hips.)
Q. Let’s break down the different problems that you’re having. The shoulder pain itself, can you give me any words to describe what that feels like?
A. Have you ever wore a bra that was too tight on you?
Q. If I said yes my mother would be very astonished. No, I can’t say I have.
A. Like something pushing down and then it’s on fire, too.
Barry adds: “I want your readers to understand that my response to the witness’s question should be interpreted as an emphatic ‘no,’ regardless of what my mother would think.”
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."
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?
May 1999 - The "By Golly Objection"
This contribution was sent to me by James M. Ziegler, Ph.D.
, of Houston (Ncompass Research, Inc.) James, who is an expert in "biomechanics and injury causation analysis," found this rather unique objection made in a deposition by his client, an attorney who "had hoped to never be quoted in [the et cetera
] of the Texas Bar Journal
Q. I'm going to hand you what's been marked as Exhibit No. 4. This is an aerial photograph. Actually, it's a satellite photograph of the accident scene. I'll represent to you this street is Braeswood and this street is Gessner. Why don't I go ahead and mark these as my representation.
Mr. Hopeful: I'll object to that. I don't know why, but I will. It's not your deposition for one thing.
Mr. Miller: Yes, it is. It's not yours.
Mr. Hopeful: It's your testimony.
Mr. Miller: I understand.
Mr. Hopeful: I don't know what the proper objection for that is under the new Rules, but I object, by golly. It's the by golly objection.
Let's go off the record for a second.
May 1998 - The Closing ArgumentJoseph A. Esparza
of San Antonio (Joseph is an assistant criminal district attorney) submits a truly classic closing argument made by his former partner, Ellen Wheeler-Walter
, during a misdemeanor trial. Ellen's argument, which was promptly followed by a verdict for the State, was simply:"She did it."
[dramatic pause] "I proved it"
[dramatic pause] "Find her guilty."
July 1999 - Classic Typos
From Lillie Knight
of Houston (Lillie is an assistant city attorney), this typo in a letter she received from a property tax consultant:
Dear Ms. Knight:
... Thank you for your business, and please send your fiends
Please return before May 31st.
From Michael R. Ross
of Houston, this typo he discovered in a business record affidavit executed by a record custodian and "competent computer operator" for an insurance company:
... "I am a competent computer operator, able to retrieve this information and the payments were checked for accuracy prior to the information being imputed."
May 1999 - Written in Blood
From Mikal S. Lambert
of Wichita Falls (Fillmore & Purtle), this excerpt from a deposition in a death case where a motorist had run over a pedestrian. Mikal is cross-examining the DPS trooper who had supervised the drawing of blood from the decedent for a blood-alcohol test.
Q. Is there any minimum volume of blood that you're attempting to extract or that you attempt to fill up?
A. They have told us in the years that I've been working that we need more than an inch of blood in the tube. Now, that's not "written in blood"
anywhere in the manual, that's just the way we were told. And they say if we want to do a blood alcohol or drug screen on it, we need it just as full as you can get it.
And then they've always told us when we get the blood in it, to shake it up real good to mix that white powdery substance. And I'm sure they've told me what that was, but, hey, I'm no chemist. I've got enough problems trying to remember what I did yesterday.