March 31, 2006
January 2000 - How Alive Is He?

From Robert W. Hedrick of Fort Worth (Hartless, Patton & Hedrick), this excerpt from the deposition of the wife (Robert's client) in a divorce case. The husband's attorney "is inquiring about the wife's ownership of stock in a family corporation, and the wife is claiming the stock under the term's of the husband's will."

Q. Do you have any other documents other than a franchise tax report that you claim shows that you have some ownership of stock in Tech-Lab Industries, Inc.?

A. I have a will.

Q. You have a will, your own will?

A. No, Raleigh's will.

Q. Well, Mr. Simmons' will - do you have it here today?

A. I think I have it.

Q. And it says in the will that you own an interest in Tech-Lab Industries, Inc.?

A. Should he die it says that, yes.

Q. Well, he's alive.

A. Well, I'm aware he's alive most of the time, but he's -

March 30, 2006
July 1989 - How Much Did You Have to Drink?

Defendant: (Charged with drunk driving) Your Honor, I only had one for the road.

Judge: How many did you have for the ditch?

Judge: You are charged with habitual drunkenness. Have you anything to say in your defense?

Defendant: Habitual Thirstiness?

March 29, 2006
May 1997 - To Tell You The Truth

From Larry D. Warren of San Antonio (Ball & Weed), this excerpt from his deposition of the plaintiff in a highway construction case - in which the attorney for the plaintiff was Abner Burnett of Odessa.

Q. All right. The police report - you've just gone through you being at the Bonham Exchange nightclub the night of Nov. 11 [and] you left at 11 p.m. and went home.

A. Yes.

Q. You were at home, watched TV a while and went to bed?

A. Yes.

Q. You woke up the next morning about what time?

A. To tell you the truth, I can't recall.

Q. Okay, but you woke up and had breakfast with your wife and your son?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, the police report says the accident that you were involved in was Nov. 12 at 2:30 a.m.

A. Yes.

Q. Okay, so sometime while you're sleeping at your home on Perrin Beitel, you were also involved in an accident at I-10 and Callaghan Road?

A. Yes.

Q. Can you tell me how that happened?

A. To tell you the truth -

Q. Just tell me what you know.

Mr. Burnett (wisely): You're completely lost.

The witness: Yes, I'm completely lost.

Mr. Burnett: Can we just take a short break?

Mr. Warren: Go ahead, let's do that.

Mr. Burnett: Otherwise, we'll be here a long time.

(There was a brief recess.)

By Mr. Warren:

Q. Mr. Riojas, Your attorney has advised me that you are under some sort of medication; is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. And it's your understanding that this medication affects your ability to remember things?

A. Yes.

Q. Can you just tell me briefly who is the doctor that is prescribing this type of medication for you?

A. To tell you the truth, I can't recall.

Shortly after this, the attorneys "agreed to adjourn the deposition to a later date."

March 28, 2006
April 1985 - Please State Your Name for the Record

Many think that witnesses have names only so lawyers will have a simple, fail-safe question to begin the deposition. But do not be nonplussed when Strange Things happen:

Q. Would you tell me your name?
A. Yes.

Q. Do you have a middle name?
A. No, I lost it.

Q. Tell me your name, please.
A. Capital R and capital C Singleton. Now, some people say I am Rosie, and some say Rocea, and some says one thing and then another, but that is all my mother told me.

Q. Your name is what?
A. U.S. Dooley.
Q. What does the 'U' and the 'S' stand for?
A. Well, sir, Captain, it is a long story.
Q. I see. All right.

March 27, 2006
October 1987 - Did I Really Say That?

Donald J. Hahn of Dallas (Murrell & Freeman) explains - with appropriate initial caps - that this excerpt was found in an Actual Deposition taken by a Partner in a Big Firm. After the lawyer "had cautioned the witness to be certain that he understood the questions before answering them," he then made the following statement:

The reason for that is that the answers that you give will be presumed to have been given by you after you have understood the question. If for some reason you do not understand the question or you need it to be rephrased, please ask us to do so, so that we don't later read an answer and feel that you fully understood the question that was asked.

Don adds that, personally he has "always hoped to find a witness who could answer that question, 'At least you'll know I thought I understood the question.'"

March 24, 2006
February 2004 - The Continuance

Sharon D. Aizer, an inactive Texas Bar member now working as a staff attorney in the First Judicial Circuit in Pensacola, Fla., recently "came across the following exchange in a capital post-conviction proceeding held before Judge Michael Jones in 2001."

Mr. Ferrar: Your Honor, can we discuss scheduling?

The Court: Yes, let's do that.

Mr. Ferrar: I note that it's approximately 20 till six. I have no objection to continuing it. Today is my wife's birthday.

The Court: Did you get her a gift?

Mr. Ferrar: We did a little something yesterday, so I'm not going to -

The Court: You're not answering the question. I don't blame you. I wouldn't go home either without a gift. How much time do you need to go get her something?

March 23, 2006
February 2004 - Bring Out The Dead

This contribution is from Kenneth Nash of Huntsville. Kenneth, who is a staff attorney with the State Counsel for Offenders, received this poetic motion to dismiss from the state:

The accused is dead,
Our jurisdiction he's fled,
Our case thus amiss,
The State must dismiss.

March 22, 2006
February 1994 - Timmy the Dog

From Judge Tom Bacus of Wichita Falls (County Court at Law No. 2), this excerpt from the deposition of the plaintiff's eyewitness in an accident case:

Q. Do you know who was working at Rincon Liquor that day?

A. Bill. I know Bill pretty good, too.

Q. Do you know Bill's last name?

A. Bill Ware, I believe.

Q. Does he own that liquor store?

A. Yes, ma'am. Him and his wife both work there, and he has a dog named Timmy.

Q. What's his wife's name?

A. I really couldn't tell you. Like I said, I'm ...

Q. Better friends with the dog?

A. Yeah [laughter].

March 21, 2006
September 1992 - Death

From Tom Mills of Dallas (Mills & Presby), this excerpt from a recent trial before Judge Sue Lykes of Dallas (303rd Family District Court):

Q. Did you go over to their home?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you tell them you were there to see Steve?

A. I said, "I'm going upstairs to see Steve." They said, "Fine."

Q. What did you observe upstairs?

A. The nurse was in the room folding some clothes. I said to her, "He doesn't look well at all to me, Mary."

Q. What did she say?

A. "Well, he's dead!"

March 20, 2006
December 1990 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up

Victor A. Fleming of Little Rock, (Catlett, Stubblefield) who was sitting as a special judge in Pulaski County Circuit Court, sends this trial story (replete with Initial Caps):

"Plaintiff sought damages due to Defendant's vicious dogs having attacked her. At the time of the Alleged Attack, Defendant and Plaintiff were Romantically Involved, and the primary defense was that Defendant regularly kept the dogs penned up when Plaintiff was about and on the Day in Question was guilty of Comparative Fault by voluntarily venturing outside when the dogs were not penned.

"Much testimony had touched upon the canines and the facility in which the Defendant claimed regularly to corral them whenever people were present. But there had been a Rather Long Pause between overt reference to the animals and the attorney's next question to his client on the stand:"

Q. Generally, when you have people out for a party, do you keep them in a cage?"

Judge: You mean the dogs, right?"

March 17, 2006
January 1995 - Maybe This is all a Dream

From Craig H. Clendenin of Houston (Benckenstein, Norvell & Nathan), this excerpt from the deposition of Craig's client, a bank officer, being taken by Gus Pappas (Dabney, Theis & Pappas):

Q. Okay. Is there any reason that you know of right now that would have caused you to not be able to give your testimony in the best possible way you can? For example, are you taking any medications that might make you less than at your best?

A. No, sir. I don't think my sinus medication makes me -

Q. And I'm not insinuating there is. I know that sometimes people come back later and they say, "You know, I was suffering from delusions that day and i just didn't know what I was saying because I was medicated, and under codeine or something." And so anyway-

A. No, I am pretty sure I'm coherent.

Mr. Clendenin: Maybe he has delusions that he's coherent.

Mr. Pappas: Well I guess.

A. (Wisely) Maybe this is all a dream.

March 16, 2006
February 1993 - Wasn't Watching, I Was Seeing

From Thomas G. Pappas of Dallas (Burleson, Pate & Gibson), this excerpt in the examination of an eye witness in a criminal case he tried "some time ago":

Q. Now, Mr. Augustine, while you were watching, at this time you didn't know of anything unusual going on did you?

A. No, not -

Q. Okay. So you were just sitting in your yard casually watching what was going on - in the neighborhood?

A. Well, I wasn't watching, but I was seeing. I was just seeing what was going on, because it was all in front of my eyes and I could remember what I seen is what I saw. I won't say what I didn't saw. What I seen is just what I saw. Whatever I say I see is just what I did saw.

March 15, 2006
July 1992 - We Might Jump Ahead Just a Bit

From Holly B. Barnett of Atlanta (Alston & Bird), this excerpt from the deposition of an expert witness - with the comment that, "Although the transcript is humorous in and of itself, it was most amusing at the time since it cut the air in the room like a knife and thus relieved the tension, at least temporarily."

Q. Now, can you give us your employment background, say, from the time of your first job and the approximate dates?

A. Yes, sir. My first job was serving watermelon and I was 11 years old.


The Witness: Do you want me to continue from there or do you want me just to jump ahead or what?

Mr. Donohue: No, I'd like you to continue because I started working when I was 14 and I'm getting tired.

Mr. Graves: I sold mistletoe at the grocery store. I think selling watermelon is a little more exciting.

The Witness: Oh, it allowed you to stay out late at night. I loved it - 25 cents an hour.

Mr. Donohue: That was big money in those days.

The Witness: Surely was.

A. All right, sir. Following that I had a paper job off and on, I was a part-time helper for Mrs. Baird's Bread delivery, I was a package boy and worked my way up through Wyatt's Food Stores in Dallas...I worked for National Van Lines as a helper for their long-haul and local movies.

Q. Approximately what year was that?

A. Oh, that would have been in the '50-'53 time frame, somewhere in there I would gather.

Q. How old are you now if you don't mind me asking?

A. 56.

March 14, 2006
September 1995 - Who's On First?

From David S. Curcio of Houston (Kirklin, Boudreaux, etc.), these excerpts from two depositions he took " ... in a lawsuit relating to allegations of alleged light and alleged noise allegedly emitted from several alleged facilities, one of which was allegedly locaed to the right and another to the left of the alleging plaintiffs. (Allegedly.)"

Q. Are you also familiar with the lights? Do you see the lights?

A. Just the ones to the left (indicating with right hand).

Q. Okay.

Mr. White: You held out your right hand.

A. I'm sorry. I meant to him, my left.

Q. My left?

A. My left ... I'm sorry, when I went like that I meant to my left, but (indicating) - the right is not the left.

Mr. White: That's not your left you are pointing to.

A. (Continuing) To me, it's to my right.

Q. (By Mr. Curcio) The light is to your right?

A. Right. ... I'm a little bit nervous.

David's second excerpt is from the deposition of "a kind elderly gentleman":

Q. I believe you mentioned this last time. Do you have any sort of hearing impairment?

A. Sir?

Q. Do you have any sort of hearing impairment or do you have difficulty hearing?

A. I don't - I'll ask you to repeat that question again.

Q. Do you have any difficulty hearing?

A. Yes, I do.

March 13, 2006
April 1998 - Have You Ever Been Arrested?

From Frank L. King of Lubbock (Frank is with West Texas Legal Services), this deposition excerpt from his pre-Legal Services days, when Frank was questioning the plaintiff in a personal inquiry "dance floor-too-much-wax case":

Q. Have you ever been arrested for anything?

A. Arrested for what?

Q. Anything.

A. Oh no, sir, not - not (for) anything I have done, no, sir.

Q. Well, have you ever been arrested for anything somebody else done?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Okay. When was that and where?

A. It was in Stamford, Texas. My son burglarized a western wear store. And I was arrested because they said I was involved.

Q. Okay. Were you ever indicted there?

A. No, sir, not indicted - I pled guilty to the offense, and got a probation of five years and served it, sir.

March 10, 2006
April 2004 - Can You Describe the Pain?

This deposition excerpt is from Marvin L. Cook of San Antonio (he is general counsel of Southwest Business Corp.).

The plaintiff in a slip-and-fall case is being questioned about the injuries allegedly suffered at the time of the fall.

Q. And you say you also complained about pain down your right arm?

A. Yes.

Q. Can you describe that pain?A. It hurt like hell. …

March 09, 2006
March 1998 - Dumb and Dumber

From Les Pickett of Houston (Galloway, Johnson, Thompkins, & Burr), this marvelous deposition exchange between the defense lawyer and the plaintiff:

Q. Did you ever have a discussion with either a supervisor or your boss at Midkiff as to why you should wear an air-fed respirator while sandblasting?

A. No. First of all, because I wouldn't have understood what they were saying.

Q. Are you dumb?

A. I don't believe I am, but I don't know.

March 08, 2006
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!

March 07, 2006
September 1994 - Pleading Guilty

From San Angelo, this joint submission by court reporter Cindy Rister Saunders (340th District Court) and Theodore A. Hargrove, this guilty plea before District Judge Royal Hart (340th District Court, Tom Green County) - with the explanation that Judge Hart, who knew that the defendant had been found incompetent by a jury in an earlier case before him, was being particularly careful in choosing his words during the plea.

Court: All right, have you been satisfied with your court-appointed attorney?

Defendant: Most certainly, sir.

Court: Now is the only time you will have an opportunity to complain; be too late if you don't complain today.

Defendant: No, I did that yesterday, your Honor.

March 06, 2006
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.

March 03, 2006
June 1993 - What's Happening in Juvenile Court?

From Edwin G. Stephens, CSR, of Fort Worth (Edwin is the court reporter for the juvenile court, 323rd district), these two trial excerpts:

First, from the testimony of a police officer concerning his interview of a Vietnamese man who had been assaulted:

Q. Did you have any trouble understanding the man?

A. No, I thought he spoke right well English.

Second, from the testimony of a juvenile witness:

Q. Did he ever, according to your testimony, kiss you?

A. Yes.

Q. How do you know what that term means. French kissing? How do you know about that?

A. Because I come from a French background and I studied lots of French and know just what that French stuff is.

March 02, 2006
June 1993 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Jack N. Price of Austin, this excerpt from a deposition in a case pending in the 56th District Court in Galveston:

Q. When did you come back to Odessa?

A. The same day.

Q. The same day as the accident?

A. Yes.

Q. How did you get back here?

A. I flew from Houston to here.

Q. Who flew you, did you fly a commercial airline?

A. No, Southwest.

March 01, 2006
October 2005 - Let 'Em Sleep

This contribution, from U.S. District Judge T. John Ward of Marshall, is from an employment case Ward tried recently "wherein plaintiff was alleging race and age discrimination and retaliation for protected activity":

The defense was that the plaintiff had been discharged because of poor performance. Part of the performance issue involved sleeping while on the job. The plaintiff was a home healthcare nurse.

The defense attorney asked the following question:

Attorney: Do any of you think that sleeping on the job is not grounds for firing someone?

Juror: I think if a person wants to sleep on the job and they can get away from it, that's their prerogative. Let 'em sleep.

Ward adds: "The response brought considerable laughter from the remaining jurors."

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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.

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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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