June 1992 - A Bill Reid "Two-fer"
From William (Bill) Reid
of Austin (assistant district attorney, and chief of appellant division), this excerpt from a sentencing hearing before Judge Jon Wisser of Austin (299th District Court).
The Court: The State of Texas v. Nathaniel Brown
, before the court today for sentencing, the defendant having been found guilty by a jury of the offense of burglary of a habitation.
The Defendant: Can I say something now? Excuse me your honor, I would like to say something. I want you to know that I feel like it wasn't no fair trial and I would like to have another trial because I don't feel like I've been treated right on this case. You know, really I do have a drug problem and the night that occurred, I did not burglarize the woman's house, you know, and when I first got out of TDC I was asked to get into some kind of treatment and I couldn't get in there. Your honor, I stayed sober for 10 years in Alcoholics Anonymous in the state of Texas. The only thing I can say [is] I did not do it and the good Lord in Heaven know I didn't
The Court: The good Lord may know you didn't do it, but he didn't speak to the folks on the jury
, I'm afraid. They all thought that you
Also from Bill Reid, this contribution to my still-growing "Unbelievably Dumb Questions" files - which Bill discovered in the portion of the record quoters in Combs v. State
, 643 S.W.2d 709, 718 (Tex. Cr. App. 1988).
Q. Okay. After he got her out of the bathtub, was she alive or was she dead?
Q. And after she was dead, was she saying anything like that?
Bill adds: "The court was merciful enough not to disclose who asked this question."
July 1997 - Did They Really Say That?
From John T. McCully
of Dallas, this excerpt from the examination of a police officer in a DWI case:
Q. At the time the defendant stepped out of the car ... did you have any idea that this may be a driving while intoxication investigation?
A. No. I thought it was just an accident.
Q. At what point did you make that determination that you may have a driving while intoxication investigation?
A. It took him, you know, a full minute to get his driver's license out of his wallet. And plus at the same time, I smelled a strong odor of alcoholic beverage.
Q. After you smelled
the alcohol and the driver's license
, what did you do then, officer?
November 1994 - Pleading of the Month
From Carol A. Bourgeois
, CLA of Austin (Carol is a paralegal with Babb & Bradshaw), this jury demand filed in Travis County by Eric Yollick
of The Woodlands:
Comes now M&M Conracting, Inc., Defendant, and states that, pursuant to the Constitution of our beloved United States of America and pursuant to the Constitution of the Great, Sovereign, and Mighty State of Texas, the Lone Star State and Home of the World Champion Houston Rockets, M&M Contractors demands a trial by a jury of its peers and declares that all fees, which the learned Rules of Civil Procedure and the laws of our beautiful State, Home of El Capitan in the West and Piney Woods of the East, have been paid.
May 2004 - Ask A Stupid Question …
of Bedford, who confesses that he has enjoyed the et cetera column for so many years that he “feels plum guilty for not having sent … any contributions in the past,” sent in this excerpt from the January 1993 deposition of Hollywood celebrity Zsa Zsa Gabor, Monk’s client. Larry Macon, with Akin Gump’s San Antonio office, took the deposition.
Mr. Macon: What is your date of birth?
The Witness: I don’t know.
Q. You misunderstood my question. When were you born?
A. I understood your question perfectly well. My answer is I don’t know; don’t remember.
Q. I demand an explanation of that absurd response.
A. Before we come up here, my lawyer told me how to make a good —
Mr. Monk: Just a minute, hold on —
The Witness: witness or how to do good in three —
Mr. Monk: Ms. Gabor, you don’t need to —
The Witness: Monk said I must follow three easy steps. First, to listen to the question and be sure I know what you mean. Then, answer the question just if I know for sure. But OK to say I don’t remember or I don’t know if that is truth. Do you remember being born? Of course not. It's a stupid damn question
. Now, ask me something maybe I know for sure.
• • •
Monk’s Epilogue: Although the deposition continued for several hours, Mr. Macon never ascertained the witness’ birth date. But then, neither did her attorney.
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.
(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
December 2001 - Did They Really Say That?
From Judge Ralph H. Walton, Jr.,
of Granbury, 355th Judicial District), this excerpt “from the direct examination by the prosecutor in a recent driving-while-intoxicated case in [his] court in which the elderly, hard-of-hearing ‘Uncle Billy’ was called to testify.”
Q. Do you know Mr. Rinard?
Q. Rinard. He’s your neighbor.
A. Oh, yes.
Q. You might know him as Elias.
A. No, sir, he seems like a real respectable man.
Q. Not a liar, but Elias. Do you know his first name?
A. No, I don’t.
Q. You just know him as Mr. Rinard?
A. Actually, I know him as Mr. Bradshaw’s brother-in-law.
Q. Fair enough.
October 1993 - Back to the Basics
From Charles R. Erickson
of Houston (Triton Tool & Supply), these deposition excerpts from a "typical oilfield personal injury case with numerous defendants, cross-plaintiffs and, of course, attorneys":
Q. Are you married?
Q. What is the name of your spouse?
Q. How long have you been married?
A. Too long.
Q. Well, I move that be stricken.
Def. Counsel Two: I concur.
Def. Counsel Three: Well, it goes to establish his credibility.
Def. Counsel Four: Right, leave it in.
Def. Counsel One: Leave it in.
Q. How long have you been married?
A. Twenty — I believe it's 22 years.
Q. What happened to James Smith? Is he dead?
A. He was killed in a domestic dispute. His wife shot him.
Def. Counsel Two: He was married too long, too.
Def. Counsel Four: She heard the comment, also.
Def. Counsel One: She read his deposition.
Def. Counsel Three: He was apparently married one day too long.
January 1989 - What Was That Again?
From Judge David G. Lewis
of Dumas (Moore County Court of Law), this excerpt from a recent divorce custody trial in Moore County.
Q. And what did you do that night?
A. We made and sent out some fliers. [Being the West Texas pronunciation of "flowers"]
Q. What kind of flowers?
A. No flowers. Fliers!
Q. Well then, what were they made of?
Q. So you made some paper flowers and sent them out?
A. No. Not flowers! Fliers! Paper fliers!
Judge Moore adds that the legal assistant elbowed her confused boss in the ribs and said just loud enough for the jury to hear. "You know, dummy, pamphlets!"
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?
April 1999 - But How Dead Is He?
From Randall D. Terrell
of Austin (Hill, Gilstrap, etc.) this excerpt from a deposition in which "John C. Wilson was questioning [and] George Thompson was attempting to elevate the discussion
Q. Did you see a doctor at that time.
Q. Do you remember who that was?
A. I believe it was Dr. Santos, if I'm not mistaken.
Q. Where is Dr. Santos located?
A. At that time he was located near St. Mary's Hospital. I'm not certain what the address is.
Q. Is he still practicing medicine here, in Lubbock?
A. I'm not sure.
Mr. Thompson: We'll have to get - I don't know whether we need the area code to heaven or hell, but Dr. Santos died about two years ago.
Mr. Wilson: Are you trying to say, Mr. Thompson, he's no longer practicing medicine here?
Mr. Thompson: And I dont' know that.
Mr. Peterson (Helpfully): Not on earth.
April 2007 - I Think He Disagrees with the Verdict
This contribution — and the title — are from Judge Marvin L. Moore
of Midland (County Court at Law No. 2). At the conclusion of a DWI trial in Judge Moore’s court, the jury returned a verdict of “not guilty,” but the prosecutor disagreed with the verdict and the following exchange took place:
THE COURT: Let me go ahead and read the verdict. “We the jury find the Defendant not guilty.” I need to see by a nod of the head: Is this the unanimous verdict of all the jurors?
[Everyone is nodding affirmatively.]
THE COURT: Any reason on behalf of the State that the Court can’t accept this verdict?
THE PROSECUTOR: It’s contrary to the evidence in the case, Your Honor, but that is not a legal reason, Your Honor.
July 1991 - Did I Really Hear That?
From J. Michael Weston
of Dallas (Alexander & Weston), this "objection, ruling and aftermath" from a case tried before Judge David Brooks (191st District Court):
Q. Mr. Tafacory, on that morning, did you see cars pull into the parking lot at the premises?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did those cars slow down and then drive through without stopping?
Plainttif's Attorney: Objection. He's leading.
The Court: I will overrule it. You may answer the question.
Plainttif's Attorney: I didn't hear the question. I'm sorry. I was busy objecting.
December 1994 - Did He Really Say That?
From Michael J. Black
of San Antonio (Burns & O'Gorman), this excerpt from a personal injury deposition taken by Sam Houston Knutson of Mike's firm:
A. We just really discussed the tests.
Q. Okay. And what did Dr. Castillo tell you about the test results?
A. I'm pretty normal. I'm not suicidal or anything.
Q. We're not going to find you up on the roof with a magnum or anything like that?
A. No. I'm scared of heights, so, no, I don't think so.
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!
October 1997 - The Plea
From Michael D. Valicek
of San Antonio, this paragraph in a not-so-standard plea agreement in a criminal case in Comal County (22nd Judicial District).
3. My plea is entered without any persuasion, and I have not been promised nothing for entering this plea.
June 1994 - Doing Pro Se
From a pro se pleading recently filed with Judge Eileen O'Neal
of Houston (190th District Court), the "friendliest introduction" that she's ever received:
Now comes Plaintiff Ronald Dwayne Whitfield, and says to the honorable judge of this court, "Hello."
Judge O'Neill adds that she did not yield to the temptation to draft the following response:
Hello, Motion denied.
October 1992 - Death and/or Taxes
From J. Mark Hansen
of Dallas (Vial, Hamilton, etc.), this excerpt from "a deposition I took recently [which] comes under the heading "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again
Q. Have I named all the places you've lived
in your life as best as you can remember?
A. In this life, yes?
Q. What do you mean by that?
A. Well, my greatest fear is reincarnation.
You think God's going to up my deal?
Q. Do you think you're an older soul or a young soul?
A. I think this is my first try.
Q. So there wouldn't have been any other places you lived in your life before this, right?
A. I don't think so.
June 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?
James P. Walker, Jr.
of Dallas (McKinley, Dubner) shares an excerpt from the deposition of a bankruptcy debtor who is serving time for stock fraud at the La Tuna Federal Corrections Institution. This cross-examination is by Wade Williams of Galveston (Mills, Shirley).
Q. And so that, whether or not that money was actually being used to buy stocks, she really wouldn't know otherwise, correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. Okay. Because the confirmation slip stayed the same for a real as opposed to a fictitious stock transfer?
A. That is correct.
Q. You've talked in a lot of generalities with regard to the last 90 days and what went on. Am I correct?
A. Yeah, - whatever I testified to, that's what I said.
James astutely notes: "I am not sure if it ever gets much clearer than this."
June 1985 - Have You Ever Been in Trouble with the Law?
This excerpt from an actual deposition originally appeared in the book "I Solemnly Swear" by Houston court reporter Jerry von Sternberg
(Carlton Press, 1978).
Q. Have you ever had any trouble with the law?
A. Not for no reckless driving or speeding or anything like that.
Q. Have you ever been in the penitentiary?
A. I have.
Q. What have you been in the penitentiary for?
A. For murder.
July 1989 - How Much Did You Have to Drink?
Defendant: (Charged with drunk driving) Your Honor, I only had one for the road.
Judge: How many did you have for the ditch
Judge: You are charged with habitual drunkenness. Have you anything to say in your defense?
Defendant: Habitual Thirstiness