December 31, 2009
 
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."

December 30, 2009
 
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 29, 2009
 
December 1997 - From Anonymous in Houston
These three contributions are from a retired state judge in Houston:

1) In a trial before the late Judge Joe Kegan (230th District Court), the assistant district attorney asked: "Without saying anything, tell the jury what you did next."

2) In this deposition in Angelina County, the insurance company's attorney is trying to determine if Ms. Smith, who had a boutique in the insured's damaged building, was a tenant, a partner, etc.

Q. Mr. Jones, what was your relationship to Ms. Smith?

A. Sexual.

3) This footnote from an opinion in the appeal of a robbery conviction (490 S.W. 2d 574):

1. On examination by his counsel the record reflects:

Q. ... have you ever heard about taking the 5th?

A. A 5th of wine?

Q. No, the 5th Amendment.

December 28, 2009
 
December 1999 - As An Older Judge
In response to my letter asking the parties in one of my cases to agree to a trial before Magistrate Judge Bill Sanderson, I received this reply from the plaintiff's lawyer (which caused me to take the rest of the day off).

I discussed your letter at length with my client. Her case is an age discrimination case. She stated that she would be more comfortable if you were the Judge because she believes that you, as an older judge, would be more likely to understand how age discrimination can affect a person.

December 23, 2009
 
January 2005 - The Memory Problem
From Alex Katzman of San Antonio (Katzman & Katzman), this excerpt from the deposition of a human resources employee in a gender discrimination and retaliation case:

Q. Okay. The testimony that you gave, was it incident to a lawsuit brought by an employee for CPS?

A. And, you know, I could be getting it confused with today's.

Q. Do you have a problem with your memory?


A. I would have to see some kind of document and try to remember that.

December 22, 2009
 
January 2000 - A Typo Trifecta
From Bruce J. Denny of Shreveport (Cook, Yancey, etc.), this precedent-setting Triple Typo mix (one written, two verbal):

(1) A divorce decree which provided "The parties shall not use the children or third parties as the soul means of communications with each other."

(2) A deponent who "had a little problem with his terminology - when asked by Bruce, "has your wife had any recent health problems" - answered: "No, other than a few years ago she had a baby by Syrian section."

(3) The same deponent, Bruce says, (unfortunately) gave one answer that was "head and shoulders" above the others. When Bruce asked him "were you mad at your supervisor," the witness answered "It really got my dandruff up."

December 21, 2009
 
Jan 1995 - How Many Lawyers Have You Employed?
From Martha Hardwick of Dallas (Bauer, Rentzel, Millard & Hardwick), this excerpt from a recent deposition that she took "of a particularly recalcitrant, well-heeled, hostile, and apparently litigious physician":

Q. Dr. X, how many attorneys have you employed over the last five years?

A. I don't know. Jeez, I just - I don't know how many. Is there a limit?

Q. No. Have you - there'd better not be.

A. Are you talking about attorneys on my side or the other side when you say how many I employed?

Q. Well, that's good.

December 18, 2009
 
February 2001 - Did They Really Say That?

From Judge David R. Gibson of Dallas (County Court at Law No. 1) this excerpt from am affidavit filed in connection with a special appearance in his court:

11. On Nov 2nd, 1992, I attended a business meeting at the offices of Smith Import and Export Company as an observer. Also attending this meeting were John Smith, Mike Smith and Ali Smith. During the meeting, Ali Smith became enraged. He shot and killed himself. The bullet entered and excited my left shoulder, and lodged in my neck near my spinal column.

12. Therefore, I decided to leave my employment at Smith Import & Export Company.

December 17, 2009
 
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!

December 16, 2009
 
March 1998 - The Energizer Bunny

From Marion J. Borchers of New Braunfels, this excerpt from a pleading filed in a bankruptcy court in the Southern District of California. In the case, "the ex-husband of the debtor opposed the sale of land in Comal County, Texas and appealed an adverse ruling, lost three motions to stay, and then filed an ex parte motion for clarification" - which drew this response from Jeffrey Isaacs of San Diego, Calif. (Procupio, Cory, etc.):

Response and Opposition to Ex Parte Application for Clarification of Court's Order Regarding Sale of Texas Real Property and Request for Sanctions Under Rule 9011 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure

Introduction:
Like the Energizer bunny, defendants just keep going and going and going ...

December 15, 2009
 
March 1987 - At The Harris County Courthouse

Judge Frank Price, asking a defendant whether anyone had promised him an easy sentence in exchange for pleading guilty:

Q. Has anyone led you to believe the governor will pardon you if you plead guilty?

A. Well, I haven't been home judge, but he might have called my mother.

December 14, 2009
 
May 1992 - An Unprepared Witness

From Thomas M. Harlan of Alvin, this excerpt from a deposition he took in a child custody case:

Q. Are you asking me to believe this undying mother's love will spring forth ...

A. Mr. Harlan, I don't want you to believe anything I say. That's not what I'm here for. I'm Christopher's mother, and I'll be Christopher's mother whether you or anyone likes it or not. I can give Christopher love and affection that other people cannot.

Q. Have you ever cursed in front of Christopher?

A. I've probably said "____" or something; but other than that, no, I do not swear. I make it a point not to swear around any kids that I'm around.

Q. And you've never said anything but "____"?

A. I mean, I've never said - I probably have, but nothing that Christopher would even - as he got older, no, I didn't. When he was a baby, maybe I have; but when he started talking, no.

December 11, 2009
 
June 1987 - Did I Really Hear That?

JUDGE (scolding prosecutor): You cannot ask that witness what he was told by someone else. If you want that evidence in, you will have to get it some other way.

PROSECUTOR: Very well them, Mr. Davies. Without telling me what he said to you, what did he tell you to say?

December 10, 2009
 
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?

A. Two.

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.

December 09, 2009
 
April 1991 - Did I Really Hear That?

Tom Whitlock of Denton contributes this trial excerpt from "a mental health probable cause hearing in which he represented the proposed patient." Tom is cross-examining the mother of his client:

Q.Has she ever [acted suicidal] or threatened to hurt anyone else?

A. No.

Q. I believe you testified that she had some kind of psychosis. What kind?

A. Post-mortem psychosis.

Q. Post-mortem psychosis.

A. Yes.

Tom adds: "I know that dying always makes me psychotic!"

December 08, 2009
 
January 2004 - That's Good Advice!

This contribution, from Carl Pipoly and Melissa Brantner of San Antonio, is from a personal injury trial where the defense counsel violated a motion in limine by injecting the workers' compensation case into the trial. The subrogation attorney then asked the court for advice on how to handle future violations.

Mr. McLin: Your Honor, for future reference, this is going to be an issue that will be brought up again. How would you like me to handle objections?

The Court: Just ask me to put her in jail.

Mr. McLin: Okay. Thank you, Your Honor.

December 07, 2009
 
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?

December 04, 2009
 
October 1993 - Back to the Basics

From Charles R. Erickson of Houston (Triton Tool & Supply), these deposition excerpts from a "typical oil field personal injury case with numerous defendants, cross-plaintiffs and, of course, attorneys":

Q. Are you married?

A. Yes.

Q. What is the name of your spouse?

A. Susan.

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.

[Later}

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.

December 03, 2009
 
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.

December 02, 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.

December 01, 2009
 
January 1990 - Did I Really Say That?

Judge Robert Lee Eschenburg, II of Floresville (218th District Court) notes that "you rarely write about a judge's goof" — and contributes one of his own:

I have just finished a criminal trial. During the final argument by one of the attorneys, the other attorney raised an objection. I quickly responded "overstained." Just let the 4th Court of Appeals in San Antonio reverse me on that!


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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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