October 30, 2009
 
September 1997 - Did They Really Say That?

From Sharon E. Conway of Houston (Evans, Kosot, etc.), this excerpt from the deposition of her client in a DTPA/fraud case, which involved the wrongful repossession of a truck purchased by her client.

Q. Has he been treated for any injuries in this case?

A. No.

Q. Has he seen a doctor or psychiatrist or health-care professional in this case?

A. No.

Q. Has he met with clergy or other counselors relative to the incidents of this repossession?

The Witness: Clergy, is that you?

Ms. Conway: No, I think I'm the opposite.

Q. Pastor or minister or something?

A. No.

October 29, 2009
 
July 1994 - Did He Really Ask That?

From Keith M. Fletcher of Houston (Simmons & Fletcher), this excerpt from the deposition of his client in a personal injury/auto accident case.

Q.  When were you hospitalized?

A. '83 at Memorial Southwest. I had my gallbladder taken out by Dr. Witt.

Q. Is Dr. Witt a surgeon?

A. Boy, I sure hope he was. Yes.

October 28, 2009
 
November 1996 - To "Wayward in Port Arthur"

From Al Weisenberger of El Paso, this letter - sent to Al by his father, Royce Weisenberger, a retired state district judge in Hope, Ak. - which was written in 1927 by Hope attorney Luke F. Monroe "to an apparently wayward wife in Port Arthur, Texas."

To Mrs. E. Luther Smith, Port Arthur, Texas:

Your husband, the Hon. E. Luther Smith has arrived home and as his attorney, I have been instructed to notify you that if you are not at home on or before Monday, Jan. 24th, 1927,  mending his socks, shirts and other wearing apparel, cooking his meals, milking the cow, feeding the chickens, making his home brew and doing such other further acts as a dutiful and faithful wife should, that some action may be taken by him to deprive you of his love, care, and maintenance and support.

Please take due notice of this demand and govern yourself accordingly.

This 19th day of January, (sic) 1927.

/s/
Luke F. Monroe
Attorney

October 27, 2009
 
October 1995 - And The Child Witness

Q. And lastly, Gary, all of your responses must be oral, okay? What school do you go to?

A. Oral.

Q. And where do you live?

A. Oral.

October 26, 2009
 
July 1993 - The Expert and the Tooth Fairy

From Robinson C. Ramsey of Wharton, this excerpt from the deposition of an economist - taken by Darryl Carter of Houston (Soules & Walace).

Q. Well, let me ask you this: You've determined that in your best judgment to fully compensate Mr. White for the present value of his future loss of projected earning capacity, Mr. White would have to be paid approximately $123,000 in cash today, true?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, if the tooth fairy flitted into the room and increased that number by 25 percent and sprinkled that additional $35,000 on Mr. White as additional compensation for the present value of his projected future lost earning capacity, then according to your model and your calculations that additional $30,000 would be overcompensation to Mr. White, wouldn't it?

A. If the tooth fairy gave him an extra $30,000 .... If the tooth fairy did it, then that would certainly make him re-evaluate his belief in the tooth fair.

October 23, 2009
 
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.

October 22, 2009
 
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 did it.

October 21, 2009
 
July 2004 - The Winner: Most Confusing Document Title

Paul J. Van Osselaer of Austin (Van Osselaer, Cronin & Buchanan) and Robert Slovak of Dallas (Gardere Wynne Sewell) — who are opposing counsel in a case on my docket — jointly submitted the following:

“Paul Van Osselaer of Austin … was hoping that the alternative relief would be granted just to figure out what is going on. He submitted this entry as a potential winner as the most confusing document title, deleting the actual names of the parties to protect the guilty. It’s from a filing in the U.S. District Court in San Antonio:

“DEFENDANT’S REPLY TO PLAINTIFF’S RESPONSE TO DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO STRIKE PLAINTIFF’S REPLY TO DEFENDANT’S OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER, OR, IN THE ALTERNATIVE, APPLICATION FOR HEARING.”

October 20, 2009
 
February 2004 - Making It Through The Holidays

This contribution is from U.S. District Judge Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr. of Concord, N.H. (Joe and I served several years together on the Code of Conduct Committee for federal judges and judicial employees). The excerpt is from a jury selection he was conducting the week before Thanksgiving.

Ms. Dube: Juror No. 68 needs to re-approach, your Honor.

The Court: All right.

[At side bar … ]

The Juror: I thought there was going to be a second call-up for hardship. I raise turkeys and my wife’s going to be a plucking fool if I’m not there to help her.

The Court: You didn’t tell me the first time you came up.

The Juror: I thought — I misunderstood. I thought I had a second chance to come up if you had any hardships. She’s not going to be happy, with Thanksgiving being next week, if I’m not there to help her.

The Court: It’s not going to be good for marital harmony. Might be good for the turkeys though. Some of them might make it through the holidays. All right. I will excuse you.

October 19, 2009
 
July 1994 - The Naked Truth

From Carol Hammond of Paris, this marvelous excerpt from a recent criminal trial before Judge Deane Loughmiller. Carol had presented a witness who attacked "the reputation of the complaining witness for truth and veracity"; then, the prosecutor, Chuck Superville, began his cross-examination.

Q. Ms. Jones, what does veracity mean?'

A. It means somebody just picking at you all the time and calling you names and having their kids to pull their pants down and him holding a spotlight on them and letting them moon you and things like that at night. He does it. And he's throwed his little kids out in the street - out on the porch stark naked. And till his mama come in that day, he sat out there behind on old box, his oldest son did, naked as he could be, 'fraid to move, 'fraid somebody would see him ... and he does that, too, I've seen that done.

Q. But you really don't know what veracity means, do you?

A. I - well, yeah. I think it's picking and aggravating people all time.

A. That's not what it means.

A. That's not what it means? Well, what does it mean?

Q. It means one's propensity to tell the truth.

A. I'm telling the truth, sir.

October 16, 2009
 
September 1993 - Life Imitates Lawyer Jokes

From Joe Weis of Greenville (Pemberton, Green, Newcomb & Weis), this excerpt from a recent slander trial before Judge Paul Banner of Hunt County. Joe and his partner, Larry Green, represented the defendant, the chair of the board of a local bank. The plaintiff, a doctor, is testifying on direct examination by his attorney:

Q. What did he tell you that the [defendant] had been saying about you?

Mr. Weis: Objection. Hearsay.

Judge Banner: Overruled.

A. He said, "He has been saying the usual things about you that he says about everybody. He called you a lawyer - a liar, and a thief, and a crook."

[laughter]

Judge Banner: Members of the jury, I want to instruct you to disregard anything about a lawyer. I am still a lawyer. Try again, Doctor.

A. I don't think I can recover from that.

Joe adds: "Remarkable as it may seem, the jury found that the defendant had not slandered the doctor."

October 15, 2009
 
September 2002 - The "Suicide Question"

From U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcie A. Crone of Houston, this "excerpt from a recent employment discrimination" trial in her court in which the Plaintiff alleged mental anguish as well as other claims

Q. I'm not asking if you attempted suicide.

A. Oh.

Q. I'm asking if you ever said you were going to commit suicide.

A. Oh, yes.

Q. And why did you do that?

A. To get people to talk to me, feel sorry for me, want to be around me, watch me, attention.

Q. Did you ever actually commit suicide — or — I'm sorry.

(Laughter)

The Court: Obviously not.

October 14, 2009
 
November 1996 - Can You Be More Specific?

From Cynthia Buhr of Dallas (Carrington, Coleman, etc.), this examination concerning the relationship between the witness and the female plaintiff, his "housemate."

Q. Are you in a romantic relationship with Ms. Smith?

A. To me that's a personal question, even if you ask me if I'm ...

Q. Are you having sexual relations with Ms. Smith?

A. I don't feel I should answer that, it's against my religion, I don't answer questions like that, I'm sorry.

(Counsel confers with witness)

Q. Can you answer the question now that you've discussed this with your attorney?

A. What was the question? I'm sorry.

Q. Do you have a romantic relationship with Ms. Smith

A. We just friends.

Q. You're just friends?

A. I don't even know what romantic is. I mean, in that sense that you asking me.

Q. Do you and Ms. Smith have a sexual relationship?

A. No.

Q. Have you ever?

A. What do you mean by sexual relationship? I want to make sure I understand what you're asking.

Q. Do you and Ms. Smith engage in sexual intercourse together?

A. Can you get more specific?

Q. [wisely] Well, I'd prefer not to at this point. I don't know how much more specific I can get.

October 13, 2009
 
November 1994 - Thanks for Shooting Me

From Larry C. Blount of Sulphur Springs (Powers & Blount), this excerpt from a temporary custody hearing; the witness was the mother of the husband (represented by Robert Newsom) and Larry, by his cross-examination, was trying to show the court that the mother was dangerous and should not be around children.

Q. Ms. Crosby, you testified earlier that you keep these children while your son is working, is that correct?

A. That's correct.

Q. Ms. Crosby, isn't it a fact that you are a violent and dangerous person?

A. No, that is not true.

Q. Ms. Crosby, isn't it a fact that you shot a man several years ago?

A. Well, that is true, but he deserved it, and not only that, but he thanked me for it later.

Q. He thanked you for shooting him?

A. That's right.

(... After a very long pause)

Q. Ms. Crosby, I know I'm going to hate myself for asking this question, but why did he thank you?

A. Because when they dug the bullet out they found some cancer and removed it also. Not only did he thank me but he later hugged my neck.

Mr Newman: Buchmeyer will love this one.

October 12, 2009
 
September 1993 - Did She Really Say That?

From Judge Catherine Adamski Gant of Fort Worth (141st) District Court), this excerpt from one of her recent trials:

The Court: You may stand down. Do you have any other witnesses?

Pro Se Plaintiff: No, I don't.

The Court: [As pro se plaintiff resumes her seat at counsel table] Are you resting now?

Pro Se Plaintiff: I'm fine. Thank you.

Judge Gant adds: "The plaintiff seemed so impressed by my kindness, she didn't understand why I then granted the motion for directed verdict in my next breath."

October 09, 2009
 
December 1999 - But There Was No Infidelity

From Les Cochran of Houston (Cochran & Cochran), this excerpt from the deposition of his client in a medical malpractice case.

Q. When did that divorce become final?

A. Last year.

Q. And what were the reasons for that divorce?

A. Insupportability.

Q. Okay. Can you give me a little more detail on what caused the breakup of that marriage?

A. Our personalities didn't work out too well together.

Q. Well, I guess that doesn't give me much to go on. Can you give me a little more about why your personalities didn't work out together?

A. Other people visiting the house while I was gone.

Q. By other people visiting the house when you're gone, is that something that is bothersome to you?

A. When it's other men, yes, sir.

Q. I don't want to pry a lot, but I'll try to get off this subject - you think there was some infidelity and that's what led to the breakup of the marriage?

A. No, sir.

Q. What was it about other men visiting the house that bothered you?

A. Sleeping with her.

October 08, 2009
 
November 1999 - Nothing More To Prove

From Greg Butts of Dallas (Law Offices of Richard Schiro), this excerpt from a post-judgment deposition of the debtor-defendant.

Q. Well, how about any other sources of income? Anything else that you do or have considered doing in order to increase your income?

A. Oh, I guess maybe I've considered a lot, but as far as doing, no. I'm going to try to do more fishing. Like I told you, once you accept you're ugly and your mother dresses you funny, you have nothing to prove anymore. I'll never forget the first couple of years that Tony Dorsett played with the [Dallas] Cowboys I made more money than he did that one year.

I made $326,000 and I wasn't any happier than I am right now. I really thought is this what it is all about ... I put that pool in.  I laid out there and I smoked my dope. I love smoking marijuana. It is great.

October 07, 2009
 
November 1998 - Did They Really Say That?

From Robert E. Hollmann of Odessa submits a copy of a completed jury information form from one of his recent trials, which contained these entries:

Your occupation: landscaper
Your employer: Simpson Apts.
Spouse's occupation: housewife
Spouses employer: house

October 06, 2009
 
December 1996 - The Custody of and Behavior Concerning "Pork Rind"

This marvelous contribution comes from U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater, who received it from his life-long friend, Stephen R. Bowers (who is a sole practitioner in Elkhart, Ind.). Somehow Stephen uncovered the docket sheet in a 1998 divorce case in Elkhart Superior Cort - which records the agreed order concerning custody of the couple's minor child and of "Pork Rind the family pig" (who "apparently was a very sensitive swine"):

10-21-88. Cause coming on for hearing. Both parties appear in person and by their respective counsel. On husband's petition for modification of provisional orders, by agreement of the parties both parties are awarded joint custody of Robert J. Junior, the minor child of the parties and Pork Rind the family pig. Husband shall have actual physical custody of both, wife to have rights of reasonable visitation, temporary custody. Wife shall pay support in the amount of $35 per week effective September 30th, any pre-existing arrearage shall be fully liquidated within 30 days of this date. Husband shall be responsible for the support of the pig. Both parties admonished to conform their conduct to the highest moral standards while in the presence of the pig.

October 05, 2009
 
January 2001 - Classic Typos

From Sue F. Reid of Dallas, this marvelous typo in "an order appointing special commissions ... in an eminent domain proceeding for the appointment of three free-holders (disinterested parties) ... for the county court at law to hear testimony and assess damages ... to the property owner." Instead, the order provided:

... for the appointment of three disinterested freeloaders ...

October 02, 2009
 
May 1995 - The Thinker

From Martha Hardwick of Dallas (Bauer, Rentzel, Millard & Hardwick), this deposition excerpt - with Martha's admission that she was "the obviously surprised questioner":

Q. What made you decide to do that?

A. I am thinking.

Q. That's all right.

A. That's a good question.

Q. I never had anybody stop to think in a deposition before.

October 01, 2009
 
April 2004 - Defining the Specialties

This excerpt from the recent deposition of a doctor comes from Richard E. Hanson of Wichita Falls (Oldham & Hanson).

Q. But when it comes to a surgeon, you’re kind of separate and distinct from all the other medical specialties; that is, you actually go in and perform surgical procedures on the human body; is that correct?

A. Well, it brings to my mind an old aphorism. Internists, which is kind of what, in part, you know, gastroenterology is, they know everything but they don’t do anything. Now, surgeons aren’t supposed to know anything, but they do it all. Now, pathologists know everything and do everything, but it’s all too late.


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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.

Click here to listen (Windows Media format)


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

Links

Order Buchmeyer's new book, Texas Courtroom Humor (pdf format)

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

Inter alia An internet legal research weblog

Lawhaha Andrew McClurg's Legal Humor Headquarters




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