July 29, 2005
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?

July 28, 2005
September 1988 - But if it Helps Me, I Do Remember

From H.S. Harris, III of Austin (Harris & Harris):

Q. Now, how long was the period of time between your job at Dorsett & Company and the time you worked at Pickett & Bond when you weren't employed?

A. I don't remember.

Q. Do you have any idea at all?

A. No, I don't. It could have been a week or a day or so, I don't know, it's been quite a while.

Q. Memory is not good on that?

A. No, sir.

Q. Do you have a good memory?

A. I don't know, sometimes I do I guess, about some things.

Q. About some things?

A. Yeah.

Q. And about some things you don't?

A. Some I don't. I have a pretty good memeory I would say.

Q. Okay. Good for some things and not so good for others?

A. Well, if I think it's to my benefit I will, but if not, then I don't care to remember it.

Q. I see. You worked for Reed Masonry, do you recall about what time you worked for Reed Masonry?

A. No, I don't. You know, I don't remember them at all.

Q, You have not got a good memory on Reed Masonry?

A. No, I don't.

Q. Do you remember what type of work you did for Reed Masonry?

A. It was construction labor work, through the Union Hall.

Q. Do you remember what day you left Reed Masonry?

A. I don't know, I don't remember that.

July 27, 2005
June 2001 - Classic Typos

From District Court Judge Teresa K. Luther of Grand Island, Neb., this typo from a Petition to Modify child support that is currently pending in her court:

A. The Petitioner has a new position whereby his wages have deceased.


From District Judge Joe M. Leonard of Greenville (169th Judicial District), this typo from a brief in a consumer case.

The Ard court further went on to disavow the Lee decision and accept instead the descent from the Lee decision.

July 26, 2005
February 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From Paul A. Leche of Austin (Paul is General Counsel of the Texas Department of Human Services), this contribution:

Years ago in Washington, D.C., I had a case before a large federal agency in which I was eager to call as a witness a highly placed administrator in that agency. Opposing counsel was sure to object that the witness would not be able to add anything new. When I made my request, he jumped to his feet and said that the proposed witness' testimony would be "duplicitous." For the record, I agreed.

July 25, 2005
June 2001 - The Guesstimate

From Jon. C. Papin of Chicago, Ill. (Broderick, Steiger & Maisel), this excerpt that took place when he was in trial in a commercial case in Florida. The exchange "took place between the plaintiff businessman and the defense lawyer."

Q. So please look at the December difference and tell the court what your ... how far off your guesstimate was between the letter you sent Ms. Battista and the profit and loss statement guesstimate.

A. Twenty-four percent.

Q. Your guesstimate for the December of 1997 sales was almost a quarter off of your sales for that month.

A. So what?

Q. Can you explain to the court how your guesstimate can be 24 percent off of the actuals? What was wrong with your guesstimate?

A. I was guessing.

July 22, 2005
March 2005 - Did She/He Really Say That?

From Kristy Crawford of Tyler (court reporter for Judge Carole Clark, 321st District Court), this excerpt from a recent proceeding in court:

Mr. Sinclair: Judge, I agree with most of what Mr. Hogan said, but not everything.

The Court: Okay.

Mr. Sinclair: You did order it just the way it reads on the docket sheet, Judge. ... The issue here is why did you order that? First of all, you ordered -

The Court: I can't tell you why.

Mr. Sinclair: I'm going to, hopefully, refresh your memory.

The Court: No. But, I mean, you can't inquire into the judicial process of the brain.

Mr. Sinclair: Of "the" brain?

The Court: Of the judge's brain - if she has one.

July 21, 2005
April 2005 - Indifferently Yours

Don Buckman of Fort Worth (Cantey & Hangar) was questioning the plaintiff in a Sabine Pilots wrongful termination case, when this exchange took place:

Q. Usually when you apply for a job, there's a blank on there about where did you work last and why did you work last and why did you leave. Did you have something like that when you went back to Cingular?

A. Yes.

Q. And what did you tell them about why you left Grapevine Mills?

A. I told them that it was an indifference with management.

July 20, 2005
May 2005 - The Discovery Dispute

This contribution is from Frank S. Craig III, of Baton Rouge, La. (Breazeale Sasche & Wilson) and his secretary, Kathy Watkins. This paragraph was in a pleading regarding a discovery dispute and was authored by a personal injury attorney:

"Further, defendants' distasteful incivility paradoxically requesting sanctions against plaintiffs for Dr. Anderson's intractable behavior, though facially impudent and under defendant's direct control, is rooted in condescension, not substance, as lordliness unaccustomed to challenge becomes frustrated under scrutiny."

Craig adds: "We wonder if he talks like this to a jury. Can you imagine the looks on their faces?"

July 19, 2005
March 2005 - The Jury Pool From Hell

My law clerk, Jennifer Mauskapf, found this article on CNN.com about a group of prospective jurors from Memphis, Tenn., who were summoned to hear a case "of Tennessee trailer park violence:"

Right after jury selection began, one man got up and left, announcing, "I'm on morphine and I'm higher than a kite."

When the prosecutor asked if anyone had been convicted of a crime, a prospective juror said that he had been arrested and taken to a mental hospital after he almost shot his nephew. He said he was provoked because his nephew just would not come out from under the bed.

Another would-be juror said he had alcohol problems and was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover officer. "I should have known something was up," he said. "She had all her teeth."

Another prospect volunteered he probably should not be on the jury: "In my neighborhood, everyone knows that if you get Mr. Ballin (as your lawyer), you're probably guilty." He was not chosen.

The case involved a woman accused of hitting her brother's girlfriend in the face with a brick. Ballin's client was found not guilty.

July 18, 2005
June 2005 - Did He Really Say That?

Al Ellis of Dallas (Sommerman & Quesada, L.L.P.) - who has not made a contribution to et cetera in way too long - submits this classic, which took place when U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle spoke to Al's SMU trial advocacy class "to provide them with a little insight into her background, career, and the federal court system:"

As part of her introduction, Judge Boyle explained to the class that she had originally started her career as a prosecutor in the Dallas County District Attorney's Office and then moved to the federal prosecutor's office prior to her appointment as a federal magistrate. She later became the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas and, finally, a federal district judge.

After Judge Boyle reviewed her career highlights for the students, she asked if anyone had questions. Following a short silence as the students tried to think of something intelligent to ask, one of the students finally had the guts to speak up: "Judge Boyle, why did you decide to begin your career in prostitution?" After a lot of laughter, Judge Boyle was her usual, gracious self and answered the question in regard to her career as a prosecutor.

July 15, 2005
February 2004 - Did She Really Say That?

This contribution is from Karen Arnold-Burger of Overland Park, Kansas. Karen, who is the presiding judge for the City of Overland Park (and who is a licensed Texas attorney in inactive status), received the following e-mail from a female pro se defendant who had a trial scheduled before Karen that day.

… I am not going to be able to make my court appearance today, the transmission fell out of my car and I am going to have it towed. I am sending this e-mail to request a continuance with The Court. I know this is late, but I have no other way to get in touch with The Court. I apologize for any incontinence this may have caused. Thank you.

July 14, 2005
October 2001 - Classic Typo's

(1) From U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish of Dallas, this typo from a Fifth Circuit pro se brief filed in an appeal from the U.S. District Court in Dallas in a case originally assigned to Judge Barefoot Sanders.

I, James Washington Jr., filed this case on the 23rd day of June 2000. To the Honorable Bear Feets Sandals, United States Federal Court, Dallas, Texas.

I, James Washington Jr. do not understand why the case was referred to the Honorable Paul D. Stickney, United States Magistrate Judge and the Honorable Jerry Buchmeyer, United States District Judge Case 3:01-CV-487-R.

(2) From Becky Beaver of Austin, this excerpt from a pleading filed by opposing counsel in a case Becky was involved in last year. Petitioner has repeatedly and relentlessly threatened to have Respondent committed without any means of release. Petitioner knows that Respondent is extremely venerable to such threats and Petitioner enjoins administering such threats.

(3) From E. L. Caraway of Fort Worth (Watson, Caraway, etc.), this typo in a discovery response he received from the plaintiff’s attorney in a property damage case.

An as yet undermined account representative for the Plaintiff will appear to testify to Plaintiff’s records.

July 13, 2005
December 1993 - Did He Really Ask That?

From John C. Fleming of Lufkin (Zeleskey, Cornelius, etc.), this question from the deposition of the plaintiff in a deceptive trade practices case:

Q. You indicate in your petition that you are suing for actual damages in an amount in excess of the mental jurisdictional limits of this court. Would those actual damages be what is outlined in this letter?

July 12, 2005
May 2005 - Did He Really Say That?

The following excerpt from Michael R. Miller of Belton, who represented the respondent in this hearing before Judge Rick Morris (146th District Court). Michael White of Temple represented the petitioner.

Q. How tall are you?

A. Six foot five. When I'm in a good mood. It goes lower as my mood goes down.

July 11, 2005
February 2005 - Laughter in the Courtroom

This contribution, from Robert B. Gilbreath of Dallas (Jenkens & Gilchrist), is from a case involving allegations that the defendant supplied a defective roof. The trial judge was Merrill Hartman, and the excerpt is from the motion for directed verdict made by the defendant’s attorneys, Michael L. Knapek and Tania Hepfner of Dallas (Jackson Walker) :

With respect to the conditions precedent, Your Honor, the warranties clearly require Medical City to pro vide 30 days’ notice, written or oth erwise, 30 days’ notice to —to Carlisle after the discovery of a leak or after the discovery of — of what they contend to be premature weathering of the membrane. That clearly was not done here.

The Court: I think that’s what I’ve got.

Mr. Knapek: I’m sorry?

The Court: I think that’s what I’ve got?

Mr. Knapek: Premature weathering of the membrane.

(Laughter in the courtroom)

July 08, 2005
February 1997 - Can't You Be More Specific?

The et cetera contributions this month are from Dallas (Brian Jobe, David Traylor), Greenvilee (Judge Joe Leonard), Mansfield (Robrt Fugate), Orange (John Manuel), and Portland, Ore. (Gerald Shifrin).

How often have you cleaned - not including the time you were in the service, how often have you cleaned a gun?

A. About two, maybe three million times.


Q. Did you ever get sick when you were cleaning the guns?

A. Sick of cleaning guns?

Q. No, sick while you were doing it?

A. No.

Q. I am sure you probably did get sick of cleaning guns?

A. I loved it. It was my weapon.


Q. Have you noticed if your allergies have gotten any worse or better since you have had the cat?

A. Yes.

Q. Are they worse or better?

A. No, they are not worse.

Q. Are they any better?

A. No, they are not any better.

Q. Are they the same?

A. Yes.


Do you recall when the meeting of ... was that you heard about the well being possibly contaminated?

A. I don't recall the date.

Q. Do you recall what time of year?

A. No, I don't recall exactly what time.

Q. Do you remember if it was winter or spring or summer or fall?

A. Yes.

Q. Which one?

A. It was either winter or spring or summer or fall.

July 07, 2005
September 1992 - Did He Really Mean That?

From Mark H. Giles of Corpus Christi, this excerpt from the statement of the defendant in "a suit to establish parent-child relationship (paternity):"

A. I feel like she cheated me because she said she couldn't get pregnent because she had an operation for cancer of the uterine or astigmatism or something like that.

July 06, 2005
April 1991 - Did I Really Hear That?

Keith N. Uhles of Brownsville (Royston, Rayzor) sends this excerpt from a deposition he took of "a plaintiff who allegedly injured his left shoulder in a crane accident:"

Q. Let's talk about how you're doing today. Today are you having any problems with your left shoulder?

A. Well, the problem is that I have problems because the doctor told me to take Pepto Bismol for it and that is something I do in order to keep in condition and this is how I take care of it.

July 05, 2005
November 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

Clyde Siebman of Sherman (Munson, Munson, Hynds) sends this graphic description of the injuries in a products liability case - in which he represented the plaintiff - with the explanation that "having closely followed your column "et cetera" in the Texas Bar Journal, I was as prepared as possible for this exchange during the deposition of a fact witness."

Q. Could you tell how bad his legs were torn up?

A. Bad. Real bad.

Q. Describe, if you can recall, what they looked like.

A. Have you ever seen a cow butchered with a chainsaw?

Q. No. I can't say that I have. Would you say that that's what he looked like?

A. Yes, sir.

July 01, 2005
December 2001 - Send it to Buchmeyer

From C. Dessa Watson-Ferris of Dallas (Dessa is the court coordinator for District Judge Merrill Hartman of the 192nd Civil District Court), this motion filed in one of their cases that has been pending since 1993, but “which cannot proceed due to a bankruptcy stay.”

Motion To Retain On DocketTo The Honorable Judge of Said Court:
. . .

Plaintiff in the above entitled and numbered cause, moves the Court to retain this case on the Court’s docket and would show as follows.

Defendants are judgment proof. The only recourse Plaintiff has for his damage as a result of the accident … is through Defendants’ insurance carrier. A settlement has been reached and agreed upon, but the insurance carrier is a Puerto Rican corporation, now in receivership.

The Statute of Limitations has long since expired, but for its tolling by this suit. Therefore, Plaintiff’s only recourse is for this Honorable Court to retain this cause on its docket for an indefinite time, waiting only for the Puerto Rican receiver and court to do something, what, I don’t know! Plaintiff is just as frustrated, maybe more, than this Honorable Court! Attached is a fax letter from the liquidation department of the Commissioner of Insurance subsequent to a telephone conversation by Plaintiff’s counsel and the department on Sept. 13, 2001, which is evidence to Plaintiff and this Honorable Court that they are still alive and maybe doing something, probably mañana! (Mañana, of course, is a Spanish word for “tomorrow,” but in reality, it just means “not today”!)

Please keep this case on your docket and, if you wish, send it to Jerry Buchmeyer!

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests that the court enter its order retaining said cause on this Court’s docket until the Commissioner of Insurance for Puerto Rico shall pay Plaintiff’s claim.

Respectfully submitted,
John J. Eastland
Attorney for Plaintiff
Tyler John Eastland’s motion was promptly granted by Judge Hartman with this order.

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About the Judge

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


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