November 30, 2006
May 1993 - Did I Really Ask That?

From Albon O. Head, Jr. of Fort Worth (Jackson & Walker), this deposition excerpt from a toxic tort case - with the "confession" that he would enjoy embarrassing one of their "young (and very bright, I might add) associates" who took this deposition.

Q. Mr. Owens, we'd like to go over a little bit where you lived and some facts about your growing up. Can you tell us where you were born?

A. Memphis.

Q. Memphis, Texas?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And when was that?

A. Aug. 20th, 1953.

Q. Did you - did you live in Memphis, or did you move somewhere? Or did you go there just to be born or -

(Spontaneous and unrestrained laughter)

A. I was - we were -

Q. I told you I'd ask you some stupid questions.

November 29, 2006
June 1992 - Of the Rankest Sort

From Robert Finlay of Honolulu, HI, this testimony from "a hotly contested murder trial" involving a difficult, albeit zoological, point of evidence:

Prosecutor: On the photograph, what are on the brown, blood-like smudge?

Mr. Heu: From my zoological background, I keyed in on it because it had ants on it. [This was significant because it] indicated to me that it was fresh material rather than something that was days or weeks old.

Prosecutor: First of all, is there a difference between worker ants and soldier ants?

Mr. Heu: Yes. The soldier ants have large heads and the worker ants have small heads. The worker ants go out to forage - to find something. If it's a large find, the word will go back to the ant nest. The ants will send out more workers and if it's a big find, they'll send soldiers along.

Defense Attorney: I object to the materiality of the witness' statement.

The Court: Your objection is on the grounds of relevance?

Defense Attorney: Yes, sir. It's also hearsay as to what the ants tell each other.

The Court (wisely): Objection overruled.

November 28, 2006
July 1991 - Doing Voir Dire

From Fred Head of Athens, this portion of voir dire by the defendant's attorney in a case in which Fred was the plaintiff:

DEF. ATTNY: May it please the Court. Your Honor. This Mr. Fred Head is trying to make me look like a bad guy. But there's two sides to every question, and every coin you've got has got a back and front to it ... Now, what the lawyer said, what I'm telling you right now and what he told you right now, you don't believe. You don't have to believe. It's lawyer's talk, so to speak.

And every special issue is going to, that the Court submits to you, is going to be prefaced ordinarily by, "Do you find from a preponderance of the evidence." The Court, I think, will give you a definition of a preponderance of the evidence. I think it's called the greater weight of incredible testimony. Incredible evidence. Now, just that Mr. Head says it's true doesn't mean it is.

November 27, 2006
September 2006 - The Request for Another Court Date

This marvelous contribution is from Ann Jones Kazemzadeh of Minneapolis, Minn., the president of Kay's Naturals, Inc., who "in another life was an assistant city attorney for the City of Dallas."

Ann was recently cleaning up some files when she came across her "favorite court motion of all time" - which was submitted to traffic court in Dallas many years ago. As Ann says, "It speaks for itself."

Dear Judge,

I was to be in court on May 2, 1995, for two traffic tickets that I dearly paid for since 1993. Because of my stupidity in not handling these tickets, I have been to jail twice - once in Waxahachie, which cost $672, and once in Rockwall County, which cost me another $672.

If I would have known that I was to get a court date when I was released at Waxahachie, the Rockwall money would have been prevented. The sad thing is that if I would have took care of these tickets, I would have probably got the no insurance ticket dropped because I had insurance at the time but I didn't have my card with me. (Copy of policy attached.) Back to the issue of why I wasn't able to make my court appearance, back in the first of April I was checking our traps that we catch wild hogs in down in Italy, Tex., when I was shot in the face accidentally, because of the wound being in the upper cheek area it left bullet fragments around the sinus area and therefore caused an infection and it caused a great deal of pain and swelling. Your Honor, I really do want to get this issue handled and I pray to the courts that I be granted another court date so I can handle this in a responsible way.

November 22, 2006
Classic Typos - September 2006

Brian McNamara of Kingwood found this typo in a mediation report to the court:

1. By Agreement, medication was ordered to the undersigned mediator.
2. On January 18, 2006, the parties attended the mediation.
3. The case was NOT SETTLED through mediation.

November 21, 2006
April 2000 - Classic Typos

From Bruce Herriman of Austin (Bruce is a legal assistant with the Special Crimes Division of the State Attorney General's Office), this typo from a San Saba County Judgment of Forfeiture involving a 1974 Bronco and a related "item."

It is therefore ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the 1974 FORD BRONCO, VIN # U15GL502454 was confiscated and ... forfeited to San Saba County Sheriff's Department ... [which shall] dispose of said automobile in accordance with the Texas Code Criminal Procedure, protecting, however, the nonforfeitable interest of _____________, the rightful owner of the wench attached thereto, before such disposal.

Signed this 19th day of November 1999.

November 20, 2006
December 1990 - Did I Really Say That?

This deposition excerpt comes from Steven W. Harris of Austin (Clark, Thomas, etc.): he explains that the deposition - in a real estate contract case, "involving a piece of property ... which [my clients] attempted to sell to Whataburger - was being taken by Diane Henson, a very fine attorney and partner in Graves, Dougherty" (and a self-described "hamburger helper").

Q. All right. Now, according to Harris' answer to interrogatories, and the ones I'm reading from are from Mr. David Whopperman - Wupperman. I'm sorry. I think I got whopper in there. I'm getting these hamburgers all mixed up.

Mr. Harris: We'll have it your way, Diane.

November 17, 2006
December 1987 - How Do You Define Drunk?

From Judge Buddie J. Hahn:

Q. On the day that Twine was shot, were you intoxicated?

A. I definitely was not.

Q. Had you been drinking that day?

A. I drank a few beers.

Q. How many beers did you drink?

A. About thirty (30).

Q. And you were not drunk?

A. No.

Q. What is your definition of drunk?

A. Drunk is when you fall down and you can’t get up.

November 16, 2006
March 2004 - Classic Typos

These typos were discovered by Scott Wallace of Dallas (Scott is a staff attorney who, among other things, helps me with the pro se prisoner petitions out of the Allred Unit in Wichita Falls).

1. Plaintiff’s Motown to Amend Original Complaint.

2. Emergency Request for Temporal Restricting Order.

November 15, 2006
September 2006 - Classic Typos

Phillip Arrien of Waco found this typo in a form shopping center lease which he was reviewing for a client:

Article XXIII - Default by Tenant and Remedies

(d) Tenant or any guarantor of Tenant's obligations under lease shall file apparition under any section or chapter of the federal Bankruptcy Act. ...

November 14, 2006
May 1986 - Did I Really Ask That?

Stuart S. Shelton of Bowie shares this amusing sequence from a deposition taken last year (by "some other lawyer," of course):

Q. Is there anything about the accident or how the accident happened that we haven't already discussed here today?

A. Well, I don't believe I understand your question.

Q. Okay. We've talked about in length how the accident happened, what people said as to how the accident happened. Is there anything that we haven't covered that you can think of, anything in your mind that you're thinking about how that accident happened that I haven't asked you and you're thinking he hasn't asked me that and I'm not going to tell him because he hasn't asked me, is there anything?

A. My God, have you gone lost your mind or something?

Q. What happened then?

A. He told me, he says, "I have to kill you because you can identify me."

Q. Did he kill you?

A. No.

Q. I direct your attention to the two vertical lines running horizontal on the diagram. Will you explain what they represent?

Q. Not, tell me, doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, in most cases he just passes quietly away and doesn't know anything about it until the next morning?

Q. Now, sir, did you or did you not on the date in question, or at any other time previously or subsequently, say, or even intimate, to the defendant or anyone else, alone or with anyone, whether friend or mere acquaintance, or, in fact, a stranger, that the statement imputed to you, whether just or unjust, and denied by the plaintiff, was a matter of no importance, or otherwise? Answer yes or no.

A. Yes or no what?

November 13, 2006
June 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

Richard S. Robinson of Irving (NCH Corporation) - through a friend in Brazil, Dr. Percy Heckman - shared with me a column from the Lawyers Journal of the Brazilian Bar Association. The column deals with testimony from Brazilian Labor Courts, and it does demonstrate "that our U.S. witnesses have no monopoly on saying the most unexpected things."
The Labor Court judge was questioning the owner of a bar who had been sued for overtime pay.

Q. Mr. Maual, the claimant says that he worked a minimum of two overtime hours per day. Is that true?

A. Your Honor, deep down inside it is true, but he'll never get any witness to prove it.

A lampshade company employee had been fired for cursing at a co-worker when they were installing a chandelier at a customer's residence. The employee denied that he had used profanity, so the Labor Court judge asked him to explain what happened:

A. Well, your Honor, my colleague was soldering some wires close to the ceiling and I was holding the ladder. He was not paying attention to the solder that fell, and I complained more than once. At a given point in time, on purpose, he let fall onto my shoulder a red-hot piece of metal.

Q. (Judge, interrupting) And at that moment, what did you say?

Q. I said "Look here, dear colleague, at the hole you made in my shirt. That's all."

(There was general laughter.)

November 09, 2006
February 1999 - It Ain't Bothering Me None

From Brian J. O'Toole of Austin (Jenkins & Gilchrist), these deposition excerpts from a case in which "several local residents were complaining about emissions (odors and dust) from a manufacturing plant." This witness is one of the plaintiffs.

Q. How did you become informed about this deposition tonight? ...

A. Well ... this lawyer here [Mr. Doggett] called me and told me they was going to have me come up here and - I don't know what you said I was going to do. A while ago you said they was gonna - what did they say they was going to do to me?

MR. DOGGETT: They're doing it.

A. It ain't bothering me none.

A. Oh, hell. I wish I hadn't said nothing now. When I drove for Quality Service, and don't ask me when ... I haven't been working in the last 10 years, so it must have been before that.

Q. More than 10 years .... So presumably, [that] would have been prior to 1984.

A. Sir? Oh, yeah. Yeah. I ain't done nothing since 1984 but lay back and get sick from the dust. You can't smoke in here, can you?

MR. DOGGETT: Please don't.

A. Oh, that's right.

November 08, 2006
November 2002 - When I Was in the Army

From Victor M. Carrera of Edinburg (Reed, Carrera & McLain), these excerpts from a trial and a deposition.

Q. (By Mr. Shoettmer) You're an experienced businessman; you would agree with me?

A. I'm an experienced businessman in Rio Grande City, Texas.

Q. But your - but your breadth is larger than Rio Grande City, is it not, sir?

A. Are you saying I have bad breath?

November 07, 2006
March 2000 - Watching out for the Police

Troy C. Hurley of Belton (Odom & Hurley) recently represented a client charged with burglary of a building in Killeen. Troy's client and the two co-defendants were arrested during the attempted burglary. After being taken to the Killeen Police Department, Troy's client gave a voluntary statement which began:

I went with 'Woody' and Thomas to Big League Burger and I was told to be the watch out, and that is it. ... Thomas is the person who told me to be the watch out. I was watching out for Thomas because he was breaking into the building. Thomas was the only one who went into the building. I don't know who broke out the window because by the time I got out of the car Thomas was already going into the building. I was watching out for the police, which I did not do right because we are here now ....

November 06, 2006
February 1999 - Did They Really Plead That?

From Travis E. Kitchens, Jr. of Groveton (Evans and Kitchens), this answer filed by the pro se respondent in a child support enforcement action in the 411th District Court (San Jacinto County). Travis notes that the pro se respondent simply copied the caption and title of the Motion - and then adds his denial.



November 03, 2006
September 2006 - Law Clerk Contribution

Marisa Bono, one of my law clerks, found this excerpt from the testimony of a police officer being examined by the defense attorney in a criminal trial:

Q. Officer, did you see my client fleeing the scene?

A. No, sir. But I subsequently observed a person matching the description of the offender, running several blocks away.

Q. Officer, who provided this description?

A. The officer who responded to the scene.

Q. A fellow officer provided the description of this so-called offender. Do you trust your fellow officers?

A. Yes, sir. With my life.

Q. With your life? Let me ask you this then, officer. Do you have a room where you change your clothes in preparation for your daily duties?

A. Yes, sir, we do!

Q. And do you have a locker in the room?

A. Yes, sir, I do.

Q. And do you have a lock on your locker?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Now why is it, officer, if you trust your fellow officers with your life, you find it necessary to lock your locker in a room you share with these same officers?

A. You see, sir — we share the building with the court complex, and sometimes lawyers have been known to walk through that room.

The courtroom erupted in laughter, and a prompt recess was called. The officer on the stand has been nominated for this year’s “Best Comeback” line — and we think he’ll win.

Marc Garber, one of my former law clerks, who practices in Marietta, Ga., sent me this exchange involving one of his clients — a named plaintiff testifying during the class-certification stage of an ADEA suit against a federal agency:

Q. Do you contend the agency retaliated against you in terms of salary for complaining about the supposed discrimination?

A. No. My salary has not increased. But it has not gone up either.

Marc adds: “This is my life. Take care!”

November 02, 2006
February 1999 - Did They Really Say That?

From Hector L. Rodriguez of McAllan (Rodriguez, Pruneda, etc.), this excerpt from his deposition of the third party defendant in a personal injury auto accident case. Hector has just asked "the deponent whether or not he had a chance to look at the accident report in preparation for his deposition," and then ...

A. Yes ... I glanced at the paperwork [but] I didn't have a chance to really look at the accident report. I'm very busy, you know, at work that I really didn't have a chance to do that, I did get to see it when I went to the restroom. I normally read when I go to the restroom, so that's - you know, I go in there like three minutes and I'm out, so - and -

Mr. Barry Ray: Remember I told you about that stuff, not to volunteer information?

A. But right now I -

Q. That's more information [than] I wanted to know, but -

November 01, 2006
October 2002 - Doing Voir Dire

From Judge Weldon S. Copeland of McKinney (Collin County Court at Law No. 1), this brilliant (?) statement made by a defense attorney to a jury during voir dire.

I know a lot of you don't like lawyers. I don't like them either. That's why I don't have any partners.

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About the Judge

In Memory of Judge Jerry Buchmeyer, 1933-2009
Real life Texas Courtroom Humor.
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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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