The Judge’s Daughter: Kiss the Judge
By Pamela Buchmeyer
My daughter Robin got married! In Puerto Rico in January—earthquakes notwithstanding. Not to mention power outages, rainstorms, and some deeply embarrassing moments for certain guests who were dancing the “Cupid Shuffle.”
As mother of the bride, I argued that certain new traditions applied to my participation. “The mother of the bride is supposed to wear a crown and carry a scepter,” I informed my daughter. “Feather boa optional.” Unfortunately, Robin was not convinced.
Luckily my dear friend from law school, Alexis Gabay, flew in from Chicago to assist me during the nuptials. A talented seamstress, Alexis sewed the bridesmaids into their dresses and held my hand when I realized that neck and chest tattoos would be visible in the wedding photos.
My actual job as mother of the bride was to wrestle the voluminous wedding gown onto the plane and into the overhead bin compartment. It wasn’t easy, even after studying videos about how to roll up a bridal gown worth thousands of dollars and stuff it into an old army duffel.
Once unpacked, the dress was, of course, horribly wrinkled. What to do? The hotel concierge lent me an industrial steamer capable of rendering third-degree burns. We turned the dress inside out to protect against stains and twisted coat hangers into a rotating hoist attached to a vent in the ceiling. Alexis stood inside the bell of the skirt, poking at problem areas in the fabric. I shouted “clear!” and then applied searing hot steam, smoothing out any and all wrinkles.
Many years ago, when I was still in law school, I married Robin’s father and my friend Alexis was also present at that occasion. Performing the ceremony was my father, the late Judge Jerry Buchmeyer, who for 28 years wrote a legal humor column for the Texas Bar Journal. It was the first wedding he ever officiated as a federal judge and he even wrote our vows for us. Dad surprised us all with a final line that put a tear in every eye. “Now the groom may kiss the bride and the bride may kiss the judge.” I bet Dad would have loved his granddaughter Robin’s wedding, and I have no doubt that on the dance floor, he would have rocked the Cupid Shuffle.
Thank you for the many great contributions to this column. Please don’t forget to send in your old war stories and funny anecdotes. And if there’s a wedding in your future, I might even be available for dance lessons. Pambuchmeyer@gmail.com.
“Lawless” beef jerky—the package stopped me in my tracks at the grocery store. Lady Justice held her scales and peeked out under her blindfold. Fascinated, I found out that a former trial lawyer, Matt Tolnick, had cooked up this tasty treat. In college, Matt and his fraternity brothers had been too broke to afford snacks. So, Matt bought a dehydrator and through trial and error became an expert at mixing raw meat with an array of spices. The folks in his law office went crazy for Matt’s artisan recipe, so he decided to start selling his beef jerky and hopefully earn enough to pay off his law school loans. Why the name “Lawless”? Because Matt’s first batches were made illegally in his apartment kitchen—definitely not an FDA-approved facility. Before long, Matt had less law in his life as well. He left the profession to found a food company: Lawless Craft Jerky, which features various flavors. Buy it now at a store near you. My verdict is it’s excellent.
Youth in Asia
Judge Nancy C. Mulder, of Dallas, recalls a funny voir dire from her early days as a prosecutor. She was selecting a jury in a case of armed robbery and had just plunged into the definition of “deadly weapon” when a juror raised her hand. Up until that moment, Mulder had expected this woman to serve.
Mulder: Juror #14, yes? What is your question?
Juror #14: What about when your dad is in a nursing home and they kill him?
Mulder: Oh my goodness, I am so sorry. Do you mean, like euthanasia?
Juror #14: No, it happened right here in the United States!
Both sides agreed to strike, and the presiding judge joked for years that he planned to visit the land of Euthanasia during his next vacation.
Friday at the Courthouse
Marcus W. Norris, of Amarillo, shares with us a marvelous incident from his first days as a lawyer in San Antonio. One Friday afternoon, Norris was headed home (with his brand new business cards burning a hole in his pocket) when he saw that a crowd had gathered at the base of a radio tower. A man had climbed 100 feet and was causing quite a ruckus. Police were already on the scene along with firefighters and an ambulance.
Climber: I’m not coming down until I talk to a lawyer!
Police: Really? Where are we going to find a lawyer at 5:15 on a Friday?
Norris: Me! I’m a lawyer! Excuse me officer, may I offer my assistance?
Police (doubtful until he’d inspected Norris’ bar card): All right then.
Firefighter (on a bullhorn): This guy in a gray suit is a lawyer. He’ll speak to you. (Norris’ business card was handed up the tower for the climber’s inspection.)
Climber: Great! (He climbs about halfway down and starts shouting.)
Norris: Wait, I don’t talk to clients in front of crowds, you’ll have to come all the way down.
The “client” steps on the ground and is immediately tackled, shackled, and tossed into a police car, headed for the state mental hospital. Norris thought he’d fulfilled his duty as a citizen and a lawyer, but unfortunately, he’d forgotten one important legal maxim: “no good deed goes unpunished.”
On Monday, the “client” called, and Norris agreed to visit him. The man told a disjointed tale of paranoia, conspiracies, demons, and events in other dimensions. Norris could not tie this diatribe to any discernable legal issue, but he did agree to phone the man’s mother.
Climber’s Mother: I’m so proud of my boy! I saw him on the evening news! Now that makes one radio tower, two television towers, and one of them high-rise construction cranes. He’s my climber!
The “client” was discharged from the state hospital and found it therapeutic over the next few weeks to place daily threatening phone calls to Norris’ law firm. The managing partner seized this teachable moment to give Norris a lecture he’s never forgotten.
Partner: Norris, now do you understand why we don’t seek clients off of radio towers?
Lesson learned. Norris says, “If I could do it all over again, I’d reach into my other pocket and send up the business card of my opposing counsel.”
Dear Sur or Madman
Law office management is no joke! Unless you’re reading a stack of resumes full of typos. Killian Branding collects many cringeworthy examples of job applications that contain what my father used to call “typographical arrows” (errors). Emphasis added, along with a few loud chuckles and sighs.
“I am a motivated self-igniting person.”
“I’m not intimated by your internship….”
“Strong writing abilities. Able to analysis data and problem solve.”
“I am getting to my goal, slowly but surly.”
“I’m looking for work because even though my [firm] was profitable last year, this year they are expecting a large defecate.”
Shirley you jest, Ms. Buchmeyer, I can almost hear you say. Sadly, I do not.
The Gray Lady Stumbles
Even the great gray lady herself, the New York Times, occasionally makes an error. Some of the corrections posted by the Times are unintentionally hilarious. Here are a few of my personal favorites:
In a 2019 story about Saudi Arabia: “It is the Committee to Protect Journalists, not the Committee to Project Journalists.
In a 2019 story about the California wildfires: “…the size of the fund proposed … to help victims … would be $21 billion, not $21.”
In a 2019 article about the average number of bacteria on toilet seats: “It is about 50, not 50 million.”
In a 2000 article about Ivana Trump’s spending habits, the number of bras she buys each year: “…is two dozen black, two dozen beige and two dozen white, not two thousand….”
A quote from Sen. Alfonse D’Amato in 1995 about Judge Lance Ito should have read: “…Judge Ito will be well known” not “Judge Ito with the wet nose.”
A judicial wet nose sounds like good grounds for recusal to me.TBJ
is an attorney and award-winning writer who lives in Dallas and Jupiter, Florida. Her work-in-progress is a humorous murder mystery, The Judge’s Daughter. She can be contacted at email@example.com.