HUMOR MARCH 2022
The Judge’s Daughter: Food Court
By Pamela Buchmeyer
My good friend, a public health doctor, has recently enrolled in law school. What a glutton for punishment! During the pandemic, she spent her days ministering to homeless folks in Dallas and now she plans to spend her nights studying contracts in Fort Worth.
“Legionnaires’ disease, Ebola, and monkeypox, I know it all,” she told me recently. “Pretty sure I can handle torts.” Medical malpractice lawyers everywhere may rejoice.
She does have a good point. When I first met my doctor friend, she gave frequent radio and TV interviews about rattlesnake venom. Which strikes me now as excellent preparation for court.
What advice would my late father have for my friend? My dad, Jerry L. Buchmeyer, who wrote a humor column for 28 years for the Texas Bar Journal, was also a great admirer of the Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem, whose stories became Fiddler on the Roof.
Aleichem famously said, “Lawyers are just like physicians: what one says, the other contradicts.”
And there you have it. Please share your own advice about law school
with me at email@example.com, and
I’ll pass it along to my friend.
Television producers are salivating over this year’s story of a Pennsylvania prosecutor who made money on the side by delivering meals. Unfortunately, he hadn’t clocked out at the courthouse and the double-dipping earned him a quick demotion. “Food Court” has been suggested as the name of the new TV series, along with:
Law & Order In
12 Hungry Men
Crime & Nourishment
A Few Good Menus
I SOLEMNLY SWEAR … CONT’D
Houston court reporter Jerry von Sternberg amassed a legendary collection of courtroom bloopers and blunders, contained in his book I Solemnly Swear. He gifted an inscribed copy to my late father and it’s now one of my most prized possessions. Reading where Dad highlighted his favorites brings tears to my eyes.
Q: Are you sure this is the man who stole your car last Thursday?
A: Well, I was. Now, after cross-examination, I’m not sure I ever even owned a car.
Q: Did you have any appreciable amount of money with you, at that time?
A: Whatever money I had, I appreciated.
Q: Was your work steady there?
A: Well, sometimes it was steady and sometimes it wasn’t.
Q: It was steady in a sort of unsteady fashion?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Am I talking loud enough to where you can hear all of my questions distinctly and clearly?
A: Yes, sir. I don’t know how good I can talk, I left my teeth at home, in a glass of water.
Q: Well, gum it out good and loud.
THE PUNCHLINE COMETH
More examples from I Solemnly Swear and its chapter titled “The Punchline Cometh,” which demonstrate that even the most guileless of witnesses can score points over a too-clever lawyer.
Q: You say that she shot her husband at close range. Were there any powder marks on him?
A: Sure, that’s why she shot him.
Q: Where did your car go after the collision, where did it wind up after the impact?
Q: How were you feeling at the time of the accident, Mr. Hopkins?
Q: Well, what?
A: Well, period.
THE COURT REPORTER'S FAVORITES
After a wonderful career that spanned decades, von Sternberg said that these were his all-time favorite statements by a witness. From the testimony of an 8-year-old boy.
Q: Jimmy, I want to ask you some questions about this accident that you had. Do you know what this man over here is doing with that machine?
A: Taking secret messages.
And finally, the case and the testimony that haunted the talented von Sternberg forever.
Q: How fast were you going at the time of the accident?
A: Oh, I was only going after some olives.
[Aside from the court reporter: What kind of olives? Why didn’t the lawyer follow up to ask that? And did the lady travel different speeds for different snacks? The mind boggles!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 firstname.lastname@example.org.