April 28, 2006
April 1996 - Did They Really Ask That?

From Beverly Hays of Dallas (Beverly is a paralegal with Patterson, Lamberty, etc. who "hopes this one makes the cut"), this excerpt from a personal injury deposition.

Q. Why were you in Dallas that day?

A. To see "Catherine the Great."

Q. Is she a friend of yours?

A. She's the Russian. It was the show -

Mr. McNeil: Catherine the Great.

Mr. Keith: Oh, I'm sorry

April 27, 2006
June 1996 - The Perils of Pro Se

From Gregg A. Marchessault of Tyler (Gregg is an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas), this prayer from the brief of defendant-appellant filed in the Fifth Circuit by a pro se prisoner who, after his bank robbery conviction, filed a suit seeking the "return of the money that was seized by the FBI as his bank robbery loot":

Therefore all things considered, this appellant respectfully requests this court to cause an order to issue, ordering the FBI to return the currency in the amount of $6,600 that was seized from him. Anything less would be a miscarriage of justice, anything more will be appreciated.

April 26, 2006
March 1995 - If You Don't Understand My Questions ...

From Al Ellis of Dallas, this excerpt from the deposition of a witness who knew "how to follow instructions to the letter":

Q. My name is Al Ellis. I represent the plaintiff in a lawsuit, and I am going to ask you some questions in regard to his fall that he had back in June 1990, and perhaps some surrounding facts. If you don't understand my questions or I am talking too much like a lawyer, or whatever, you ask me to repeat it. Will you do that?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. You have to say "yes" or "no."

A. Yes or no.

April 25, 2006
January 1994 - Doing Voir Dire

From John D. Penn of Fort Worth (Haynes & Boone), this voir dire excerpt from a criminal trial before Judge John Creuzot of Dallas (Criminal District Court No. 4):

Q. Now, this is the definition of voluntary manslaughter: An intentional killing that occurs while the defendant is under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause such as when a spouse's mate is found in a compromising position.

Juror: See. I have a problem with that passion business. During my first marriage, I came home and found my husband in bed with my neighbor. All I did was divorce him. I had no idea I could have shot him.

April 24, 2006
March 1993 - Did I Really Hear That?

From John D. Neuhoff, Jr. of Dallas (Neuhoff & Johnson), this excerpt from a hearing conducted by his partner, Jody Johnson - who was "serving as a visiting court master" for the 256th District Court in Dallas. The matter involved a spousal support, and the litigants were a "25-year-old man and his attractive 16-year-old wife."

Q. (To the wife by Johnson) Now, were you employed prior to your marriage?

A. No, I was a cheerleader.

April 21, 2006
April 1996 - How to Move for a Continuance

From Jim D. Bowmer of Temple (Naman, Howell, etc.) this excerpt from a trial in Bell County District Court "some years ago." After the defense lawyer in a criminal case "moved for continuance on the ground of absence of a defense witness":

Judge: Well why don't we call the list of witnesses and see who's here? (The list was called and the "absent" witness answered "Present.")

Defense Attorney: Your honor, I move for continuance on the grounds of suprise. He promised me he wouldn't be here.

April 20, 2006
April 2006 - Classic Typos

From Scott Wallace of Dallas (one of our staff attorneys in the Northern District of Texas), this excerpt from a joint status report in one of my Wichita Falls cases:

“… Wells Fargo Mortgage, Inc. ultimately obtained the Plaintiffs’ mortgages … and then caused the loans to be paid off in 30 years, rather than in 20 years causing the Plaintiffs injury and dames.”

April 19, 2006
December 1986 - Did I Really Hear That?

Q. What is your name?

A. Ernestine McDowell.

Q. And what is your marital status?

A. Fair.

April 18, 2006
April 2006 - Seventh Circuit Disses Court Reporter for Lack of Street Cred

Both Steve Russell (associate professor of criminal justice, Indiana University, and former judge, Travis County Court at Law No. 2) and Al Ellis of Dallas (Sommerman & Quesada, L.L.P.) sent me this footnote - which appeared in the criminal case of U.S. v. Murphy, decided by the Seventh Circuit on May 4, 2005:

The trail transcript quotes Ms. Hayden as saying Murphy called her a snitch bitch "hoe." A "hoe," of course, is a tool used for weeding and gardening. We think the court reporter, unfamiliar with rap music (perhaps thankfully so), misunderstood Hayden's response. We have taken the liberty of changing "hoe" to "ho," a stable of rap music vernacular as, for example, when Ludacris raps "You doin' ho activities with ho tendencies."

April 17, 2006
January 1994 - From the Bankruptcy Court

From Bankruptcy Judge Steven Felsenthal, this poignant prayer for relieft from the response of the debtor, the Mucky Duck Restaurant, to a motion for relief from the automatic bankruptcy stay:

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, MUCKY DUCK (ADDISON), INC., prays that this Court not snap the neck of this ugly duckling but allow it to develop into the swan it was meant to be by granting it the additional time necessary to explore the new candidates for knighthood; for mercy; and for such other relieft to which it may be justly entitled.

April 14, 2006
December 1993 - Did He Really Say That?

From Bob Lindsey of Abilene, this rather candid letter from one of his clients who was in jail:

My crimes were neither violent nor drug-related. They all occurred within a one month period of my life when I was scared, confused, and foolish. Prior to that month I served in the Army with a spotless record. I can verify that with the documents from my court martial which I have in my possession.

April 13, 2006
April 1990 - Recalling & Recollecting

Terry L. Belt of Austin submits this excerpt from the deposition of the father who was seeking to modify the child custody terms of the divorce.

Q. Do you remember the incident on the day that you came running up from the basement and explained to your wife that you were going to kill yourself?

A. No.

Q. Have you blocked it out of your mind or are you saying that it never happened?

A. Never happened.

Q. You didn't go behind the shed there with your gun?

A. No.

Q. Do you remember what year it was that it didn't happen?

A. 1980, I believe.

April 12, 2006
April 2006 - No Further Questions!!

Jerome S. Levy of Dallas recently mediated — (to settlement, he adds) — a case between a terminated employee and his former employer. The defense counsel provided Jerome with a transcript of the plaintiff ’s deposition, which contained this marvelous exchange:

Q. What happened after you were fired?

A. I became very depressed.

Q. What did you do about it?

A. I got some anti-depressant medication.

Q. Were they prescription or over the-counter drugs?

A. Prescription.

Q. Who prescribed them?

A. My brother, Dr. Fred *****.

Q. What is your brother’s area of medical practice?

A. He is a veterinarian.

April 11, 2006
July 2003 - That's A Lot of Zeros

From Anthony A. Petrocchi of Dallas (Weil & Petrocchi). Anthony explains that "I received the enclosed letter from the University of Texas School of Law last November and, although Judge Buchmeyer's et cetera column focuses on post-graduation gaffes, I thought this law school anecdote might make a good laugh." He further states, "I graduated from the University of Texas in May of 1983. I have no idea what class this letter refers to, I don't know if this 'change' represents an improvement in my grade or not, and I sure hope lowering my grade point average to 0.0000 (that's a lot of zeros) doesn't hurt my now 19-year legal career too much."


Your Grade for LAW 3978, unique number _____, taken in the Fall, 1982, has been changed as of 10/20/01.

The original grade was ___, the new grade is 87.

As a result of this action, your grade point average is 0.0000.

If you have any questions about this grade change, please contact the instructor of the course.

This change to you record does not necessarily affect your scholastic status at the University. Scholastic status is reviewed at the end of each semester of registration. If you have any questions about your grade point average or about your academic record in general, please contact the Record Services section of this office.

Thank you.

April 10, 2006
January 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From W. Marc McDonald of Fort Worth (Bourland, Smith, etc.), this "classically confused" statement made by one of his partners, William R. Korlo, Jr. during a recent deposition.

Mr. Korlo: All right. Let me turn your attention to Plaintiff's Exhibit No. 3. I'm sorry. For purposes of the record, I've been messing up. I keep saying Plaintiff's Exhibits and I'm actually Defendant's.

So let the record reflect that I don't know who I represent.

April 07, 2006
April 1995 - Objection Sustaind!

From Dan Sullivan of Andrews, this trial excerpt which he received from a friend in Alabama:

The Court: Next witness.

Ms. Olschner: Your Honor, at this time, I would like to swat Mr. Buck in the head with his client's deposition.

The Court: You mean read it?

Ms. Olschner: No sir, I mean swat him in the head with it. Pursuant to Rule 32, I may use this deposition for any purpose, and that is the purpose for which I want to use it.

The Court: Well, it does say that. (pause) There being no objection, you may proceed.

Ms. Olschner: Thank you, Judge Hanes. (whereupon, Ms. Olschner swatted Mr. Buck in the head with the deposition).

Mr. Buck: But, Judge.

The Court: Next witness.

Mr. Buck: We object.

The Court: Sustained. Next witness.

April 06, 2006
November 1991 - Well, That's Understandable...

From U.S. District Judge Tom Stagg of Shreveport, this colloquy from the deposition of the plaintiff in a personal injury case - with Tom's assessment that "This is the worst set of questions and answers yet!!"

Q, Did you have any trouble answering the questions because you didn't understand the questions that I asked you?

A. No, sir. You rephrased them.

Q. So you understood every question that was asked of you; is that right?

PL'S Attorney: Objection. The plaintiff said he didn't understand some of your questions. He may not have understood that he didn't understand the questions. You understand that there are two different levels here. I don't understand what you're asking. I think you understand what I think I understand what you're saying but in effect I don't understand.

Def. Attorney 1: You lost me about four understands ago.

PL'S Attorney: Quote: "I would then be able to answer your question but I don't understand."

Def. Attorney 2: I want to know how he answers without knowing that he didn't understand it. That's ridiculous.

PL'S Attorney: I agree. That's a difficult thing to understand.

Def. Attorney 2: How could he answer a question like that?

PL'S Attorney: He didn't say that. You're trying to close off the gate and say that he understood everything. But he may be able to say something and not understand that he didn't understand what you have asked. Go ahead. It's late in the afternoon.

(By Def. Attorney 1):
Q. Clifton, did I rephrase every question that you didn't understand? Did I rephrase it in a manner that you could understand it, to the best of your knowledge?

A. Yes, sir.

April 05, 2006
May 2001 - Are You Married?

From Donald K. Buckman of Fort Worth (Cantey & Hanger), this "snippet of testimony" from the deposition of the plaintiff in a nursing home whistleblower case.

Q. Are you married?

A. More or less. Can I -

Q. I've never had that answer before.

A. I mean, the girl that I've been with, I've been with for - you know, for a long time.

Q. What would she say if I asked her if she was married? Would she say "yes" or "no" or "more or less"?

A. Yeah, yeah, we're - I say I'm married. Like, if someone, you know, asked me at a job or something, I'm married.

Q. No ceremony?

A. I meant - no, sir. That's what I meant by "more or less." I'm sorry.

April 04, 2006
January 1992 - Tell Me About Your Injuries

From James N. Haltom of Texarkana (Hubbard, Patton, etc.), this deposition excerpt from a toxic tort litigation in East Texas:

Q. Did you ever have an X-ray of your brain on those occasions?

A. I got an X-ray on my head at one time.

Q. Was it negative?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. That was good news to you?

A. Oh, yes.

James adds:
"The questions seemed appropriate. The answers were dead solid in response. Amazingly, the deposition continued for an additional 200 pages.

April 03, 2006
July 1989 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up

Judge Catherine Stayman of Dallas (305th District Court) sends this "testimony from today's trial" (in which "the father is testifying in support of his mother - the children's paternal grandmother - gaining custody of his children"):

Attorney: How old are you?

Father: 28

Attorney: Have you known your mother personally for several years?

Father: Yes.

Attorney: How long?

Father: About 15 years or so.

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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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