October 1994 - The Jim Cowles Collection
From Jim E. Cowles
of Dallas (Cowles & Thompson), this from a plaintiff's deposition - one of the "3,032 plaintiffs ... in the infamous Lone Star Steel cases, pending in Morris County since 1987" - taken by Jim Harris
of Beaumont (Holmes & Harris).
Q. What did your sister die of?
A. You would have to ask her - I would be speculating if I told you.
Jim adds suggested follow-up questions: from our Astute Attorneys include (1) Do you have her telephone number and is it long-distance? (2) So, then, would it be your suggestion that we contact Shirley MacLaine? (3) Would you mind if I sent this to Buchmeyer's column
And about Jim Cowles
, from Gregory J. McCarthy
of Dallas, this excerpt from a deposition taken by him and Stan Thiebaud
(Cowles & Thompson).
Q. Did Mr. Thiebaud tell you which firm he was with?
Q. What's the name of his firm?
A. What is it? Thompson - I'm sorry.
Mr. Thiebaud: That's part of it.
A. Thompson & - God
Q. You don't remember right now?
A. No, I don't.
Gregory adds: "It's good to know that Jim Cowles had finally gotten the recognition he so richly deserves.
September 1998 - Did They Really Say That?
From a federal court criminal trial in Dallas:
Mr. Hunter: Your Honor, I understand that our witness had gone to the parking lot to retrieve his glasses. So I understand we're going to be penalized for it, but that's what we're waiting for. And I apologize to the court. I'll take a voluntary five minutes if people are wanting to go to the bathroom on me.
The Court: On you?
Mr. Held: I don't think I'll touch that.
September 1997 - Great Moments in the History of Justice
From District Judge Manuel Banales
of the 105th Judicial District (Nueces, Kleberg & Kenedy Counties), this Somewhat Great Moment in which "History - of sorts - was made in [his] courtroom [in] Kleberg County on March 11, 1997."
Q. And that's your only conversation with Mr. Montoya or Ms. Manqueros?
The Bailiff: Judge?
Mr. Kearney: Your Honor?
Unidentified Juror: There's a huge roach and it's distracting
The Court: Oh, Really.
Unidentified Juror: It's about to jump on him.
Agent Gilson: Oh, I see it.
Unidentified Juror: I don't know where it went now.
Agent Gilson: It's back here.
The Court Reporter: It's right there.
The Court: Do you want to smack it, Rick [the Bailiff]?
Unidentified Juror: I'm sorry, but all I could do was see that thing crawling around.
[Missing from the record at this point is "a pretty loud stomp
," according to Judge Banales.]
The Court: Is it history?
Agent Gilson: It's history.
Unidentified Juror: Thank you.
The Court: All right. The question again.
Here are a few examples - questions and answers that actually happened in depositions or trials
- from my past et cetera
columns.But Did You Recover?
Q. What did the doctor tell you about your condition?
A. That I had worked up a bad case of lazy.
__And the Lawyers
Q. Now, Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?
A. By death.
Q. And by whose death was it terminated?
__Death and Experts
Q. Now, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, in most cases, he just passes quietly away and doesn't know anything about it until the next morning?
Q. Mr. Slattery, you went on a rather elaborate honeymoon, didn't you?
A. I went to Europe, sir.
Q. You took your new wife?
__And the Child Witness
Q. And lastly, Gary, all of your responses must be oral, okay? What school do you go to?
Q. And where do you live?
June 1994 - Doing Voir Dire
From Jon L. Anderson of Lufkin, this excerpt from the voir dire in a capital murder case in Angelina County before Judge David Wilson
(217th District Court). Jon was the defense attorney, and the prosecutor was Angelina County District Attorney Clyde Herrington
Mr. Herrington: Where they used the word "intentional," if you say, "yes, it's intentional," then it's not automatic that it's deliberate. You have to look and say, okay; they intended to do it, but did they make a conscious decision? Yes, they did. Yes, it's deliberate. Or, if you think, well, they intended to do it, but they did it without really making a conscious decision. It's like if I knock that cup over, I intended to do that. I intended for that cup to go over. But I really probably didn't think about it, because if I had of, I would have realized that there was water in the cup? Okay?
Judge Wilson: Excuse me just a second. Would you go get a paper towel to mop up the water on the table?
Mr. Herrington: I've got a handkerchief, Judge.
December 1997 - I Did a Buchmeyer
From Jeffrey Hirt
of Houston, this excerpt from his examination of the present wife of his client:
Q. Gina, how long have you known your stepdaughters?
A. Actually, since before they were born. When Joan was still pregnant.
Mr. Hirt: I'll send that one to Jerry Buchmeyer.
December 1996 - Objectionable Objections
From Joseph A. Fischer, III
of Houston (Mayor, Day, etc.), this rather imaginative - but certainly useful - objection made by the opposing attorney during the plaintiff's deposition.
Q. (By Mr. Fischer): So your testimony is that your failure to remember what was provided to you makes what was provided to you inadequate?
Plaintiff's Attorney: Objection to the form of the question. That's a tricky question
Q. (By Mr. Fischer): You can answer it if you understand it.
Plaintiff's Attorney: The objection to the question is being too tricky
May 1998 - Telling It Like It Is
From Thomas A. Chambers
of Liberty, this excerpt from the cross-examination of the defendant in a criminal assault case.
Q. You were mad when you went to [the victim's] door, weren't you?
A. No, but I was real pissed off.
May 1998 - Classic Typos
From Patrick Shaw
of Dallas (Woodward Shaw & Howell), from a letter by a Dallas mediator:
... the March 20, 1998 date of 1:30 p.m. is confirmed unless all three of you agree to medicate
at 8:30 a.m.
From Susan K. Pavlica
of Houston (Mayer, Brown & Platt), from a transmittal letter to the district clerk:
Pursuant to the Court's instructions, I am an Amended Notice
of Oral Hearing ...
From Thomas M. Fulkerson
of Houston (Clements, O'Neill, Pierce & Nickens), from a pleading in an Exxon case: This suit involves real property interest and title to land in Zapata County, Texas, [and] breeches
of contract covenants.
September 1997 - Did They Really Say That?
From Philip R. Russ
of Amarillo, this contribution of a father being cross-examined during the trial of an oil and gas lease case:
Q. Well, I mean why should we believe anything that's coming out of your mouth as you sit here right now?
A. Well, I don't suppose you have to believe any of it. All I'm trying to do is convince the jury.
September 1995 - Did They Really Say That?
From John Adams
of Austin (John is the clerk of the Texas Supreme Court), this excerpt from a letter by an attorney requesting to be "placed on inactive status" because of a medical breakthrough.
I have been an active member of the Texas Bar Association since _____. In _____, I moved to Virginia with my husband who is an officer in the U.S. Air Force and recently had twin boys
. As I do not anticipate actively practicing law in Texas any time in the near future, I request that my membership in the Texas Bar Association be placed on inactive status.
December 1998 - I Love an Honest Man
From Stuart Smith
of Waco (Naman, Howell, Smith & Lee), this excerpt from the deposition of an eye witness to an accident.
Q. Did y'all ever go out and do anything together?
A. Yeah, a time or two.
Q. Did he seem to be having trouble with his hand?
A. Yeah. His hand hurt tremendously when we were up there.
Q. When y'all went out a time or two, what were y'all doing?
A. Well, I was making a slobbering idiot out of myself drinking
, but I don't recall what Junior was doing.
Q. Fair enough.
Mr. English: I love an honest man.
April 2001 - Classic Typo's
From Alan M. McGraw
of Round Rock, this typo from "a real estate contract recently proposed by a California lawyer."
... the prevailing party shall be entitled to recover any amounts that the courts may judge to be reasonable attorneys' feed
from the opposing party.
Alan responded to the proposed contract: "Whilst it is true that the legal profession is oft compared to sharks and other meat eating scoundrels, I doubt many attorneys will be willing to work for feed
July 2000 - What Was That Date Again?
From Amy Hanner
of Austin (Amy is a legal assistant to Velva L. Price of the firm of Kothmann & Associates), this excerpt from a deposition taken by Velva Price - who is the president-elect of the Travis County Bar Association.
Q. When was the last time you hunted?
A. The last day I was in Brady.
Q. Okay. And that would be - I'm sorry. When was the last day you were in Brady?
A. That would have been after the 30th, probably the 32nd or so
, whenever the last day of hunting season was.
Mr. Phenix: 32nd? Are you going to create a new month?
A. After the 31st. Yeah, right, after the 32nd.
Q. (By Ms. Price) I like [Mr. Phenix] going after somebody other than me, so thank you.
July 1999 - The Doctor's Certificate
From Judge Tom Bacus
of Wichita Falls (County Court at Law No. 2), this excerpt from a doctor's certificate in a civil commitment case - in which the "doctor graphically documented the results of his personal interview with the patient."
"1. On or about _____, the above named person said the following:
Judge Bacus adds: "Needless to say, the subsequent hearing was fairly short."
July 1998 - Those Jurors
From G. David Ringer
of Dallas (McKinley, Ringer & Zeiger), this response to a jury questionnaire from a trial David had in Rockwall County:
How long have you lived in this county? All my life.
Where did you previously live? Chicago.
September 1995 - The Wonderful World of Pro Se
From Preston W. McGee
of Tyler (Potter, Minton, etc.), these two marvelous pro se
motions that were astutely denied by Magistrate Judge Judith K. Guthrie.
Come Now Henry W. _____, plaintiff in the above-entitled and numbered cause, to file this motion to personally conduct a deposition on each and every member for the grand jury to see if their blood is not tainted
Come Now Henry W. _____, plaintiff in the above-entitled and numbered cause, to file this second motion to allow media coverage in the courtroom during the trial
, of the following stations: 20/20, Hard Copy, Case Closed, Inside Edition, Dateline News, and 60 Minutes.
July 1997 - Couldn't Resist
In a motion filed in one of my cases, the defendant's attorney presented this classic typo: "Large portions of the Plaintiff's Affidavits are inadmissable heresy
." After I stopped laughing, the only thing I could do was enter this Order:
The Defendant's Motion To Strike Plaintiff's Summary Judgment Affidavits is GRANTED
but only to the Following Extent: the request on page 2 to strike those portions of the affidavits as "inadmissable heresy
" is GRANTED
, and these heretical
portions of the affidavits SHALL first have a wooden stake
driven through them and next shall be boiled in oil
February 1999 - Did They Really Ask That?
From Donald J. Hahn
of Dallas (Collins, Norman & Basinger), this question that a lawyer asked his client in a hearing in Probate Court No. 2 (Judge Robert E. Price):
Q. Now, Mrs. Smith, is it true that you were well acquainted with John Smith as a result of the fact that you were married to him for over 55 years?
April 2005 - A Marvelous Answer
This contribution from David W. Lindemood
of Midland is from a CPS trial before District Judge Dean Rucker (318th District Court) in which Lindemood was the attorney ad litem
for the child. The witness, who was the CASA guardian ad litem
, is being questioned by Chris McCormack of Midland.
Q. As I understand your testimony about Ms. Ybarra's residence, living situation, you only went into one of the homes that she lived in? Do I have that right?
Q. Two. And on each occasion that you went in there, the residence was clean and orderly, generally - or actually, one was clean and orderly, and one was a little messy, a bachelor pad, as I recall now.
A. That's right.
Q. But no - other than being a little messy, it was not filthy or dirty? Umkempt?
A. It was being swept up and picked up with a shovel.
October 1996 - The Judicial Corner
From District Judge Willie B. DuBose
of Midland (385th District Court), this excerpt from a cocaine possession case he tried earlier this year. Judge DuBose sets the scene: Tom Parker, assisted by Bob Stevens, was representing the defendant and Wayne Frost was prosecuting. The witness, a police officer, presented three sealed envelopes, one of which contained the cocaine. He opened the first two, but there was no cocaine, so he opened the third - but pulled out a syringe that had never been mentioned in connection with the defendant. The jury was removed from the court, and then...
Mr. Frost: The evidence we have been looking for.
The Witness: Right here.
Mr. Parker: Well, you have already opened that one over there and said that was the one.
Mr. Frost: It wasn't the one.
Mr. Parker: It wasn't the one?
The Witness: It wasn't.
Mr. Frost: Put this back in there.
Mr. Parker: Stevens, think of something here.
We have exhibited something to the jury [the syringe] that didn't come from him. It seems like I ought to make an objection. I'm just not sure what it is.
Judge DuBose: You figure it out, and I'll figure out how to rule on it.