February 28, 2006
September 2005 - “Transquips”

From Lynn Brooks of DeSoto, who is a certified shorthand reporter:

Q. You must have been hurt in some event. What type of injury did you get?

A. Finger mashed.

Q. Nothing you lost time from work from?

A. (Indicating)

Q. I’m sorry?

A. Got a burn here. I didn’t lose any time. It’s frozen.

Q. People were a lot tougher. That’s a two-year disability injury these days.

Mr. Jones: I’ll object to my own sidebar and continue.

February 27, 2006
July 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From Judge Joe M. Leonard of Greenville (196th District Court), this marvelous Triple Tongue Twister from one of his trials:

"In defense of a medical malpractice case, Dallas attorney Mark Stinnett used the phrase: 'barely palpable dorsal pedal pulse' three times in cross-examination of plaintiff's expert."

February 24, 2006
July 2000 - How We Won the War

From Ronald Plessala of Beaumont, this wonderful excerpt from a deposition he handled in a worker's comp. case in 1986. The plaintiff, a retiree in his 70's, had suffered a loss of hearing while working in a refinery for 35 years without hearing protection. The defense attorney was grilling "the man about what other factors could have caused the hearing loss" - including his military service in World War II.

Q. Were you in the service?

A. I was on a battleship in the Pacific during WW II.

Q. Did that battleship have big guns?

A. 10 inchers.

Q. Did they make a lot of noise when fired?

A. Of course they made a lot of noise.

Q. Did ya'll fire them a lot?

A. Did we fire them a lot? "HOW THE HELL DO YOU THINK WE WON THE DAMN WAR?"

February 23, 2006
December 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From Thomas B. Alleman of Dallas (the Winstead firm), this letter "suggesting the most singular method for resolving a dispute that [Tom] has seen in 25 years of practicing law."

Dear Mary:

Enclosed please find a check in the amount of $2,500.00 representing an installment toward the payment pursuant to the Tuesday Morning override. As I indicated to you via telephone and in person, the balance shall be paid forthwith.

On an ongoing basis, the override is, until further notice, rescinded. Specifically, it appears unreasonable that Omni Sales be paid more from the work of a third party relating to an account not handled by Omin than Omni receives and/or earns on accounts being handled by Omin. ... If you, Bob Grady, or any other member of your team disagree with the priority of the foregong, I sincerely desire that we have a telepathic or face-to-face conference to discuss your position.

February 22, 2006
July 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From Rocky Dhir of Dallas (Rocky is one of my law clerks this year), this excerpt he discovered in a deposition in one of our recent civil trials.

Q. How was the roof [of the apartment] inspected, then: from the balconies and from the parking lot, I think you said?

A. That's correct.

Q. And that was at both projects?

A. That's correct.

Q. What did you do to observe the roofs from those locations?

A. I looked at them.

February 21, 2006
June 1988 - Did I Really Hear That?

Patrick Shaw of Dallas (Woodward & Shaw) shares this excerpt from a recent deposition in a case involving an assault.

Q. Have you ever been involved in a court proceeding before?

A. I'm dealing with a murder trial right now for my sister.

Q. Can you give me some particulars on that, are you testifying?

A. I'm going to testify next Thursday.

Q. Okay. Is your sister accused of murdering someone?

A. She's supposed to have been a suicide.

Q. Whose suicide was it?

A. Supposed to be that she suicided herself.

Q. She killed herself?

A. Instead of her boyfriend killing her.

Q. Her boyfriend is accused?

A. Uh-huh.

February 17, 2006
March 1988 - The Law and that Newton Guy

Regular contributor and fellow deposition addict Richard McCarroll of Austin (Brown, Maroney) finally turns to courtroom testimony - and he "offers the following in a case where the expert for the plaintiff professed to have expertise in physics":

Q, You claim to have expertise in physics. Please tell us what Newton's first law is?

A. (Pause) Well, I don't believe I remember that.

Q. Who was Newton?

A. I believe he is the guy who came up with the first law.

Richard adds: "This expert, who became known for the rest of the trial as 'Newton,' also did not know how many feet were in a mile, nor could he convert miles per hour to feet per second.

February 16, 2006
November 2002 - A Good Answer

From Judge Don Higginbotham of Williamson County (Georgetown), this excerpt from one of his jury trials - in which the defense attorney is asking the police officer what effect field sobriety tests would have on obese people.

Q. (By Mr. Kinard) Without mentioning names, would you look around this room and see how many people that you can see - without mentioning names - that are obese?

The Court: You better not look over in this direction.

The Witness: He asked me to look around the room, Judge.

The Court: Yeah, but he can't put you in jail for contempt.

The Witness: This is true.

Q. (By Mr. Kinard) How many people are obese?

A. Judge Higginbotham is not, sir.

Q. Let's get that squared away. You and I will stipulate to that.

The Court: Good answer.

February 15, 2006
June 2002 - His Head Was Still Attached

From Thomas H. Cook, Jr. of Dallas (Zelle, Hofmann, et. al.), this deposition excerpt from his deposition of Sheriff Don Anderson of Hunt County. Thomas sets the stage: "I asked ... Sheriff Don Anderson if he knew an attorney in Greenville named Don Parks. His response was quite startling. I ended the deposition quite soon after his answer."

Q. Do you know a Don Parks -

A. Yes, I do.

Q. - criminal attorney?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. And how long have you known Mr. Parks?

A. Quite a while. I don't recall exactly how long, but I've known him as an attorney around here for - oh, I know I worked a kidnapping case in - oh, it must have been in maybe the late eighties, early nineties. He was the defendant's attorney. The defendant cut his throat in the courtroom.

Q. You mean literally or -

A. Literally.

Mr. Brandt: Cut Don Parks' throat?

The Witness: Yes, sir.

Mr. Brandt: Holy cow.

Q. (By Mr. Cook). Wow.

Q. Is his head still attached?

A. Sir?

Q. Is his head still attached?

A. Yes, sir. It missed his artery - what is that?

Q. Jugular?

A. Jugular.

Q. (By Mr. Cook) Carotid artery?

A. We don't need that on the record.

Q. That's fine. Okay. I think I'm done, Sheriff Anderson.

Mr. Cook: (wisely): I'll pass the witness at this point.

Mr. Brueggeman: That will go in Jerry Buchmeyer's column.

February 14, 2006
July 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From Rob Ramsey of San Antonio (Soules & Wallace), this "exchange between the trial judge and the district attorney after the State's witness, who was in prison and had been bench warranted to the trial, had completed his testimony."

The Court: I guess Mr. Wilhelm is free to go?

Mr. Reis: In a manner of speaking.

February 13, 2006
January 2006 - Let's Talk About Something Important

This deposition excerpt was submitted by Kristine Arlitt of San Antonio (Kristine practices with Christopher J. Weber).

The deposition was taken in Kerrville in the case of Castlecomb Homeowners Association v. Hexagon Honeycomb Corp. In response to Kristine’s question regarding the terms in a Declaration of Restrictive Covenant burdening the Castlecomb subdivision in Kerrville, the deponent read directly from the declaration:

Q. (By Ms. Arlitt): Just tell the jury how it varies. I mean, it’s a long thing to read.

A. It says … It has to be permanently affixed to piers or a foundation, have any wheels or axles in the delivery removed, skirted — which mobile homes are skirted or enclosed — shall have a roof pitch of three-twelfths or greater; and 5, shall meet or exceed the standards imposed by blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah which is all the codes so that he can move those particular types of homes in.

Q. Now, the “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,” those are the laws of the State of Texas; is that correct?

Mr. Maguire: Objection, form.

A. Yeah.

Kristine notes: “So much for giving laws of the State of Texas and accompanying regulations much credit or respect!”

February 10, 2006
May 2002 - Doing Voir Dire

From Adam L. Seidel of Dallas, this transcript from a criminal voir dire in a case in which he is representing the defendant on appeal.

Judge Dianne K. Jones: First of all, the questions I must ask you concern your qualifications. In order to serve as a juror you must meet the following qualifications. Please listen carefully to these questions: Have you yourself ever been convicted of any kind of theft or felony? Are you presently under indictment or legal accusation? That is, are you presently under any criminal charges? Are you presently on probation for any type of theft or felony? ... If your answer to any of these questions is yes, please raise your hand at this time.

Prospective Juror Valdez: I was given a ticket for no suspension of driver's license and I was supposed to get it fixed a long time ago. My insurance never paid for it. I paid for everything. I got all of the receipts and they arrested me for that. So now I had to go back and get my papers. I got them back. I think they are going to dismiss that ticket and that was the first time in my entire life I been public intoxicated because after my birthday, somebody put something in my drink.

I was intoxicated and I was arrested outside. They gave me a Class C assault on an officer for throwing up on him while he was trying to arrest me. So obviously it fell on him. They were trying to get me for that. I don't know if I qualify with that on me.

The Court: None of those things affect your ability to serve on this particular case. It has to be a theft or a felony conviction. Thank you for sharing that with us.

February 09, 2006
May 2000 - How Dead Is He?

From Ken M. Link of Fort Worth, this interrogatory Q&A from a wrongful death claim brought by the beneficiary of the deceased's estate:

16. At any time after the occurrence made the basis of this suit, did you have any communication, whether written or oral, with the deceased with regard to the occurrence please state in as much detail as possible the following:

a) The words or substance of any such communications;
b) The date and approximate time of such communication;
c) The names, addresses, and identities of each and every person who was present at the time of such communication.

Plaintiff obtained a Ouija board and has attempted several times to communicate with the deceased. In the event Plaintiff is successful in communicating with the deceased, such information will be supplemented in accordance with the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure.

February 08, 2006
April 2002 - Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Polka Dot Bikini

From Judge James W. Mehaffy of Beaumont (58th District Court), this marvelous argument presented by Matt Willis in response to Ted Ray's "exceptionally erudite motion to strike the plaintiff's expert."

Mr. Willis: And finally, your Honor, to wrap this up, I'll point out that these scientific causation hearings are difficult. The nomenclature is somewhat difficult for me, being a small-town country lawyer. But the defendants in their motion have referred to this evidence as mumbo-jumbo, and I thought that was a little more of the kind of language I might could understand and might could deal with. So, I'd like to point out to the Court as follows, as our conclusion.

The defendants call our evidence scientific mumbo-jumbo. In reality, the defendant's motion is little more than a namby-pamby argument full of a hodge-podge of ideas put together in a willy-nilly fashion, in a phony-baloney attempt to persuade this Court to strike plaintiff's super-duper experts. Only an itsy-bitsy portion of the defendant's argument has even a teeny-weeny amount of relevancy. Defendant's reasoning is so entirely helter-skelter, not even the judicial hocus-pocus they are requesting can prevent their Havner-Robinson argument from falling on its sword. It's just a mumbo-jumbo hari-kari.


Mr. Willis: I'd also point out, your Honor, while itsy-bitsy and teeny-weeny are covered under copyright, there's apparently no infringment unless they're used in succession and in conjunction with the description of a certain type of women's swimwear. So, I think we're okay.


The Court: Mr. Ray, you have been trumped.

February 07, 2006
September 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From District Judge David V. Wilson of Luke (217th Judicial District), this mistake found in a Probable Cause Affidavit typed by a deputy constable whose name will remain anonymous.

"... While searching the vehicle this deputy located a small brown bottle. ... The Defendant stated that it was cocaine. The Defendant was informed of his Marinade Warning. ...

February 06, 2006
January 1990 - Let's Be Particularly Careful
From Robert F. Alexander of Houston, this testimony from a cocaine possession trial before a jury and Judge Miron Love (177th District Court, Harris County). The cocaine was allegedly found by the jail officer/witness during a "routine inventory search"; on cross, Robert is trying to establish that this "client was quite sober during his search."

Q. So my question once again is, with regard to whether or not he had been drinking, do you have an opinion as to whether he was heavily intoxicated, mildly intoxicated or stone sober?

A. I do not have an opinion on that, sir.

Q. Do you think if he had been falling down drunk, you would have noticed?

A. I'm sure I would have.

Q. And do you think if he had a strong odor of alcohol about his breath, you would have noticed?

A. No. I can't smell.

Q. (With Disbelief) You can't smell?

A. No, sir.

Q. No kidding?

A. No kidding.

[Pause — then question from defense counsel, now with genuine concern and empathy.]

Q. Is that for like all the time?

A. Well, it has to be a very, very, very strong odor for me to be able to smell.

Q. I'm sorry to hear that.

A. Working in the jail, sometimes it's an advtange.

February 03, 2006
February 1998 - The Court Reporter's Nightmare

From David Bingham of Dallas (David is a freelance court reporter), this excerpt from a recent deposition:

Q. Let me explain something. You have to let me finish my questions.

A. Oh, sorry. Yes. Yes.

Q. Because if we both talk -

A. Right.

Q. - at the same time -

A. Oh, that's right.

Q. - it creates a problem.

A. Oh, yeah.

February 02, 2006
April 1996 - Did They Really Say That?

From Joe and Ann Hathaway of Midland (who proofread depositions for Patricia Reid, court reporter, CSR), this deposition excerpt:

Q. How long were you the manager of this place in Longview?

A. One week.

Q. What happened after that? Where did you go?

A. I quit my job and went nowhere and stayed there ever since.

February 01, 2006
February 1992 - There's a Subtle Difference

From Larry Warner of Harlingen.

Q. Officer, did you advise the defendant that he had the right to remain silent and not make any statements at all?

Def. Atty: Objection. Counsel is leading the witness.

Prosecutor: Your Honor, It's a yes-or-no question.

The Court: He may answer the question. This is for purposes of hearing on your motion?

Prosecutor: I'm not asking if it's true that he did this; I'm just asking if he did this.

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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

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