April 30, 2007
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.

April 27, 2007
April 1993 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Bonnie Cade of Arlington, this testimony taken by her daughter, Betty Lynn Cade, who is a court reporter in Nashville, TN - "Where reporters follow their clients through discovery into the courtroom where they take the testimony":

Q. Where were you at the time of the accident?

A. In my car.

April 26, 2007
July 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

Jim D. Bowmer of Temple (Bowmer, Courtney) sent me a couple of stories "about our great friend Percy Foreman." One time when Percy was questioning a prospective juror of German heritage in Comal County, which is not noted for its leniency against criminal defendants. It wa a murder case. The questioning had been centered on the venireman's concept of reasonable doubt." Finally, Percy asked:

Q. What would you do if you thought the defendant was innocent?

A. (After a long period of silent deliberation) Oh, about two years.

April 25, 2007
April 2007 - I Think He Disagrees with the Verdict

This contribution — and the title — are from Judge Marvin L. Moore of Midland (County Court at Law No. 2). At the conclusion of a DWI trial in Judge Moore’s court, the jury returned a verdict of “not guilty,” but the prosecutor disagreed with the verdict and the following exchange took place:

THE COURT: Let me go ahead and read the verdict. “We the jury find the Defendant not guilty.” I need to see by a nod of the head: Is this the unanimous verdict of all the jurors?

[Everyone is nodding affirmatively.]

THE COURT: Any reason on behalf of the State that the Court can’t accept this verdict?

THE PROSECUTOR: It’s contrary to the evidence in the case, Your Honor, but that is not a legal reason, Your Honor.

April 24, 2007
June 1985 - How Did the Accident Happen?

This excerpt from an actual deposition originally appeared in the book "I Solemnly Swear" by Houston court reporter Jerry von Sternberg (Carlton Press, 1978).

Q. What happened then?

A. The last thing I remember I see a car up in the air, and I knew I was being turned. I blacked out for a little bit.

Q. There was a collision, right?

A. That's right. I heard somebody groaning, and I knew it was me.

April 23, 2007
September 2002 - The "Suicide Question"

From U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcie A. Crone of Houston, this "excerpt from a recent employment discrimination" trial in her court in which the Plaintiff alleged mental anguish as well as other claims

Q. I'm not asking if you attempted suicide.

A. Oh.

Q. I'm asking if you ever said you were going to commit suicide.

A. Oh, yes.

Q. And why did you do that?

A. To get people to talk to me, feel sorry for me, want to be around me, watch me, attention.

Q. Did you ever actually commit suicide — or — I'm sorry. (Laughter)

The Court: Obviously not.

April 20, 2007
September 1993 - Did She Really Say That?

From Todd H. Tinker of Dallas (Nye & Associates) - who is "pleased as punch" to have been able to come up with an entry for "et cetera" at such a tender age - this excerpt from his deposition of the plaintiff in a personal injury case:

Q. Do you have children?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. I didn't ask. How many?

A. Two and a half.

Q. I don't think I'll ask the next question.

April 19, 2007
December 1985 - Make the Proper Objections.

This deposition from More Humor in the Court (National Shorthand Reporters Association, Oct. 1984)

Q. When he went, had you gone and had she, if she wanted to and were able, for the time being excluding all the restraints on her not to, gone also, would he have brought you, meaning you and she, with him to the station?

Attorney: Objection. That question should be taken out and shot.

April 18, 2007
November 2002 - Did She Really Say That?

This deposition excerpt was contributed by Stephen F. White of San Antonio (White & Davis).

By Mr. White:

Q. Would you state your name, ma'am?

A. Shanntell _____:, LMSW.

Q. Okay. And that means you've got a Master's in social work?

A. That is correct.

Q. Okay. And where do you live?

A. _____ Eleanor, E-L-E-A-N-O-R, Street.

Q. And that's here in Austin?

A. Austin, Texas, 78721-2125.

Q. You know, in 25 years, you're the first one to give me a nine-digit zip code in a deposition.

Q. How long have you lived there?

A. 25 years and 10 months.

Q. Okay. And what's your date of birth.

A. 9-30-76. I was born at 2:52p.m.

Q. This - we may want to order lunch.

Mr. Fisher. Just give him what he needs.

The Witness: Okay.

April 17, 2007
May 1994 - Those Jurors

From District Judge Donald R. Ross of Henderson (Fourth District Court, Rusk County), this excerpt from voir dire in a criminal case:

Q. (Defense Attorney) In the event he would be a witness in this case, would you tend to believe his testimony before you would another witness?

A. (Juror) No, I think I would be objectionable about all the witnesses.

From Sterling W. Steves of Fort Worth, this note from the jury in a trial in the 236th District Court of Tarrant County: "Can we assess exemplary damages against the plaintiffs and their lawyer for bringing this lawsuit?"

April 16, 2007
July 1992 - Did He Really Say That?

From Jerry J. Loftin of Fort Worth, this excerpt from a criminal case that Jerry tried before U.S. District Judge Eldon Mahon:

The Court: Let me ask the first 12. You all look very happy and healthy and ready to deliberate. I don't see any problem that has been developed by any of you, so you may remain seated for just a moment while the jury passes out and then - I should have said filed out, not passed out. That's kind of an awkward word. You might have wished you passed out before, but that's a poor word from the court's standpoint. You will file out and select your foreman and when you have reached a unanimous verdict, the court will be here to receive it.

Jerry added: "the jurors all passed out from laughter."

April 13, 2007
June 2000 - Not Necessarily Hearsay

From District Judge J.C. "Zeke" Zbranek of Liberty (75th Judicial District), this exchange during a recent hearing in which he "heard an objection by a wife to her husband's having the right to visit his child during Christmas holidays" because the husband "had recently been arrested for DWI and marijuana possession."

The Court: You object to Respondent taking possession of the minor child during the coming Christmas holidays, is that correct?

A. Yes sir, I do.

Q. Would you describe for the court why that is?

A. Because the sister he is living with has been arrested for DWIs.

Mr. Fielder: (representing Respondent): Your Honor, I'll object to that. It's hearsay.

The Court: (wisely): No, that wouldn't necessarily be hearsay -

The Witness: (interrupting): I heard it right out of her own mouth.

The Court: Well, she just proved it was hearsay. Sustained.

April 12, 2007
June 1993 - Just Tell the Truth Comrade!

From Bruce A. Martin of Wichita Falls, this excerpt from the deposition of his client, the wife in a divorce case. Bruce explained, "My client claimed her husband had stolen $20,000 from a bank account and the husband was claiming she was crazy."

Q. Okay. Have you ever been in any other hospitals for a mental condition?

A. No. This happened in El Paso.

Q. Okay. So that's the only time you've been seen by a psychiatrist, or sociologist, or psychologist, sociologist, socialist, or anyone in that field?

Mr. Martin: Any socialists or communists?

Q. Yeah, that, too. (Laughter.)

April 11, 2007
July 1997 - Did They Really Say That?

From Celeste A. Evangelisti of Dallas (Strasburger & Price), these excerpts from the deposition of a truck driver who - among other things - claimed that he ran the red light because his brakes failed:

Q. Did you receive any reprimands?

A. Yep.

Q. For what?

A. Being there on time and being a good worker and stuff.

Q. Okay. As you were approaching the light before the accident, how fast were you driving?

A. Thirty.

Q. How do you know that?

A. I looked at the speed thermometer.

April 10, 2007
September 1991 - Unreconcilable Differences

From Judge James E. Morgan in Bosque County:

Court: [Since there is not any child of the marriage], the court is not required to appoint an attorney ad litem. You may proceed.

Mr. Hatfield: Okay, Well, as you know, I'm Gary Hatfield and I'm seeking a divorce from Debra Hatfield. I'm of legal age. I have lived in Bosque County all my life. ... We were married August the 20th, 1989 and separated July the 2nd, 1990 and I - She's got what she wanted, and left me the rest and that suited me. And I guess I need this divorce on - I think you call it unreconcilable differences. She reconciled with somebody else.

Court: Huh. Well, I think I understand what you're talking about Mr. Hatfield ... she no longer wanted to reconcile with you?

Mr. Hatfield: No. I think she lost interest in me.

Court: All right.

Mr. Hatfield: Win a few, lose a few.

Court: Do ya'll own ... any real estate?

Mr. Hatfield: Didn't own anything. Bought her a few clothes and stuff like that, that was about it. She got them, believe me.

Court: All right. I believe you. I believe she's got everything she wants.

Mr. Hatfield: Yeah. She's hooked up.

Court: You haven't heard from her -

Mr. Hatfield: No. She's hooked up. She's off with this guy somewhere. ... I've got an idea, I've been told she was in Bandera, but you know, she will travel around now.

Court: Yeah. All right. I'll grant the divorce on the no fault basis. No child, the property will be awareded to the party in possession of the same.

Mr. Hatfield: Okay. Thank you, sir.

April 09, 2007
May 1986 - Did I Really Hear That?

Robert B. Crotty of Dallas (Akin, Gump), received the following answers which "seemed to capture the essence of depositions:"

Q. And why did you take the tank?

A. I don't know why, sir, except to run over my car. That's the only reasonably answer that I can come up with.

Q. Who was Mr. Harold Long, or is Mr. Harold Long?

A. Which one do you want me to answer first?

Q. Well, is he an "is" or is he a "was?"

A. He was an "is" and now he is a "was."

And you don't know of anywhere where you stopped or any friend that you might have stopped and talked to or girlfriend that you may have stopped and talked to?

A. No.

Q. No what?

A. No, sir.

April 06, 2007
July 1996 - Low Fat Eggs

From U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeff Kaplan of Dallas, this dietary excerpt from an administrative hearing in a social security case:

Q. Are you able to fix your own meals in the morning?

A. Yes. I usually just fry an egg.

Q. Okay. Are you supposed to be watching your cholesterol?

A. These are low fat eggs.

Q. Okay.

ALJ: Low fat eggs?

CLMT: One of them skinny chickens.

April 05, 2007
May 1995 - Did He Really Say That?

From Earl Staelin of Austin, this excerpt is from the deposition of his expert, "a bright young engineer [who] was giving one of his first depositions and [who] had never heard of being asked whether he intended to testify 'live' at trial."

Q. Have you been asked to testify live in this case?

A. Excuse me?

Q. Have you been asked to testify live at the time this case is tried?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you plan to do so?

A. That's a frightening question.

Mrs. Harrison: As opposed to dead?

The Witness: Sorry.

A. Boy, you guys play hard ball.

April 04, 2007
September 1992 - I'm Glad We Cleared That Up!

From Mark Z. Levbarg of Austin, these excerpts from a deposition he took in a case against Southwestern Bell:

Q. During the 26 years that you were married to ______, how many children did you have?

A. We had five children.

Q. Five children?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. Can you tell me their names?

A. Eliseo and Elizabeth.

Q. Okay. That's two.

A. Dianne, Mary Alice and Margaret.

Q. Any others?

A. And Danny.

Q. Yes.

A. You got all five? How many you got?

Q. I have six.

A. Well, I have eight.

Q. Okay. Who are the other two?

A. Hold on just a minute. Mary Alice, Dianne, Margaret, Annie Ruth and Elizabeth and Albert and Danny...

Then, 39 pages later in the same deposition:

Q. Mr. _____, maybe we're having an arithmetic problem. Can you tell me how many years ago 1961 was? How many years ago was that?

A. 1961? To now? You want me to answer that question?

Q. If you can. If you can't, just say, "I don't know."

A. Well, I can start think back and tell you. Be all right with you?

Q. Surely, take your time.

A. You got me without my coffee this morning ... I'm used to getting up in the morning and getting coffee before I even say one word to my wife.

Q. Do you want to take a break and have some coffee?

A. Be a good idea.

Q. Let's go off the record, and you have some coffee.

Then, following the coffee break and 11 more deposition pages:

Q. Let's go back to the question we left off with. Let's see if we can get our arithmetic down. How many years ago was 1961?

A. How many years ago was 1961?

Q. Yes, to today.

A. Okay. Just a minute. This morning has not been good for me, believe me. What? 15 years, is it?

Q. Well, I count 26 years, and that's why we're having a problem with the years you say you worked at various places. It's because we're not coming up with the same arithmetic.

Finally, after 32 more deposition questions:

Q. Let's go on to something else. How many brothers do you have?

A. I have eight - brothers? [No,] I have nine altogether.

Q. Nine brothers?

A. [Yes, counting both] girls and boys.

April 03, 2007
May 1990 - Many of Us Have the Same Problem Tom

Jerome Aldrich of Angleton (and a Brazoria County assistant district attorney) sent this trial excerpt with the simple observation that it "shows that all prosecutor Tom Selleck (not related to the movie star of the same name) and the defense attorney, Lloyd Stansbury, wanted during jury voir dire was an UNBIASED jury."

Mr. Selleck: I certainly thank ya'll for your time and you've been very helpful to myself. Anybody that has any questions of me based on anything I've said? Okay. Thank you.

Ms. Grigsby: You're not going to use the back row?

Mr. Selleck: Well, I'm a laywer and if I talk to the back row it will take another 45 minutes.

Ms. Grigsby: You know what, I find you very attractive and I might be biased in a different sense. I'm afraid I might decide for you.

Mr. Selleck: That's a first for me I assure you, but thank you.

The Court: Counsel, you have exceeded your 45-minutes, if that helps you any.

Mr. Selleck: Thank you, Your Honor. The judge has given me my out. Thank you very much.

The Court: Mr. Stansbury.

Mr. Stansbury: Thank you, Your Honor.

Unidentified Juror: Let's see you top that.

Mr. Stansbury: I'm not even going to try.

April 02, 2007
April 2007 - Classic Typos

Danna G. Madole of Galveston, who is the court coordinator for Judge Janis L. Yarbrough (306th Judicial District, Family District Court), recently came across a “Motion to Rescue Judge.”

Bill McNeal of Lockhart found this quotation in §1.008 of Ordinance No. 02-1207 of the City of Martindale:

“Temporary Certificates of Occupancy may be issued, at the desecration of the Building Official for periods up to Ninety (90) days.”

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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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