June 29, 2007
April 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From David A. Lawrance of Fort Worth (Kirkley, Schmidt & Cotten), this excerpt from an asbestos case deposition.

Q. What you have in front of you is what has been marked as Exhibit A to your answers to interrogatories, and this is a list of, by my count, close to 300 different jobsites. I think we have got 296 different jobsites. Have you seen this list before?

A. Yes, I’ve seen something that looks kind of like it. I didn’t read it through, or whatever.

Q. How was that list put together, do you know?

A. Stapled.

Q. Ask a stupid question —

A. I’m sorry.

June 28, 2007
December 2003 - Did He Really Say That?

This contribution, which is from Jack B. Boone of Austin, relates to a trial in Memphis, Texas, where Jack was defending the accused in a murder case.

The defendant had been shot twice. A key issue was the rapidity of the two shots. Jack needed to eliminate the concept of premeditation between the firing of the two shots. He needed the only eyewitness to testify that the two shots occurred quickly, with practically no separation between the explosions.

The witness was having some trouble understanding the reasoning behind the question and was not very helpful. So in a last ditch effort, the life of his client in the balance, Jack asked the witness to say the word “Bang” followed by the same word “Bang” exactly in the speed as he heard the shots ring out near his head.

To which the witness quickly realized the importance of the question and responded, “Oh no, Mr. Boone, it was more like BOOM BOOM!!

After the judge and jury regained their composure, Jack thanked the witness and sat down.

The defendant was found guilty of negligent homicide, placed on probation, and sent home.

June 27, 2007
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.

June 26, 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.


The Court: Obviously not.

June 25, 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.

June 22, 2007
June 2007 - Did He Really Ask That?

This marvelous contribution is from Mike J. Bowers of Dallas (Bell Nunnally & Martin, L.L.P.) — who writes, “It has taken 20 years and countless depositions, but finally I have a deposition excerpt that I hope is worthy of your including in your article in the Texas Bar Journal.”

Bowers explains: “The deposition excerpt comes from a case in which I represent a homeowners association that is suing numerous defendants regarding defective construction of its high-rise condominium tower.” Darrell Smith of Cutler & Smith in Dallas is questioning an architect about a consultant who was hired by the architect to assist with certain functions during the construction of the condominium tower. “Sadly, the architect is no longer with us,” Bowers writes, which leads to this exchange:

Q. (By Mr. Smith) Okay. Do you know when Mr. Reynolds passed away?

A. Not exactly, no.

Q. Okay. It was after — after you had talked to him?

A. Oh, yes.

MR. SMITH: Alright. Obviously …

MR. BOWERS: That’s going to the Texas Bar Journal!

MR. SMITH: Alright. That’s right.

MR. BOWERS: I’ve always wanted one. I’ve finally got one to send in. It took 20 years.

June 21, 2007
February 2004 - Making It Through The Holidays

This contribution is from U.S. District Judge Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr. of Concord, N.H. (Joe and I served several years together on the Code of Conduct Committee for federal judges and judicial employees). The excerpt is from a jury selection he was conducting the week before Thanksgiving.

Ms. Dube: Juror No. 68 needs to re-approach, your Honor.

The Court: All right.

[At side bar … ]

The Juror: I thought there was going to be a second call-up for hardship. I raise turkeys and my wife’s going to be a plucking fool if I’m not there to help her.

The Court: You didn’t tell me the first time you came up.

The Juror: I thought — I misunderstood. I thought I had a second chance to come up if you had any hardships. She’s not going to be happy, with Thanksgiving being next week, if I’m not there to help her.

The Court: It’s not going to be good for marital harmony. Might be good for the turkeys though. Some of them might make it through the holidays. All right. I will excuse you.

June 20, 2007
December 2001 - Did They Really Ask That?

From District Judge Bob McCoy of Fort Worth (48th Judicial District of Texas), this exchange which recently took place in his court:

Presiding juror to bailiff: Do we answer the questions and then deliberate, or deliberate and then answer the questions?

June 19, 2007
July 2006 - Great Law Firm Names

Carey Charles Dippel of Houston (Andrews Kurth) writes that he "was once associated with Sears and Burns. The partners tongue-in-cheek sought to join ____ Hurtz and ____ Hollers so that the name of the new firm would be: "Sears, Burns, Hurtz and Hollers."

June 18, 2007
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.

June 15, 2007
January 2005 - The Memory Problem

From Alex Katzman of San Antonio (Katzman & Katzman), this excerpt from the deposition of a human resources employee in a gender discrimination and retaliation case:

Q. Okay. The testimony that you gave, was it incident to a lawsuit brought by an employee for CPS?

A. And, you know, I could be getting it confused with today's.

Q. Do you have a problem with your memory?

A. I would have to see some kind of document and try to remember that.

June 14, 2007
December 1988 - Did I Really Hear That?

Well, he might have been adopted...

Q. Would you please tell us what your relationship is to Mr. Clifton?

A. He's my son.

Q. And how long have you known him?

A. All of his life.

Q. All of his life?

A. Yes.

June 13, 2007
May 2005 - Did He Really Say That?

The following excerpt from Michael R. Miller of Belton, who represented the respondent in this hearing before Judge Rick Morris (146th District Court). Michael White of Temple represented the petitioner.

Q. How tall are you?

A. Six foot five. When I'm in a good mood. It goes lower as my mood goes down.

June 12, 2007
April 2005 - Indifferently Yours

Don Buckman of Fort Worth (Cantey & Hangar) was questioning the plaintiff in a Sabine Pilots wrongful termination case, when this exchange took place:

Q. Usually when you apply for a job, there's a blank on there about where did you work last and why did you work last and why did you leave. Did you have something like that when you went back to Cingular?

A. Yes.

Q. And what did you tell them about why you left Grapevine Mills?

A. I told them that it was an indifference with management.

June 11, 2007
June 2001 - The Guesstimate

From Jon. C. Papin of Chicago, Ill. (Broderick, Steiger & Maisel), this excerpt that took place when he was in trial in a commercial case in Florida. The exchange "took place between the plaintiff businessman and the defense lawyer."

Q. So please look at the December difference and tell the court what your ... how far off your guesstimate was between the letter you sent Ms. Battista and the profit and loss statement guesstimate.

A. Twenty-four percent.

Q. Your guesstimate for the December of 1997 sales was almost a quarter off of your sales for that month.

A. So what?

Q. Can you explain to the court how your guesstimate can be 24 percent off of the actuals? What was wrong with your guesstimate?

A. I was guessing.

June 08, 2007
September 1988 - But if it Helps Me, I Do Remember

From H.S. Harris, III of Austin (Harris & Harris):

Q. Now, how long was the period of time between your job at Dorsett & Company and the time you worked at Pickett & Bond when you weren't employed?

A. I don't remember.

Q. Do you have any idea at all?

A. No, I don't. It could have been a week or a day or so, I don't know, it's been quite a while.

Q. Memory is not good on that?

A. No, sir.

Q. Do you have a good memory?

A. I don't know, sometimes I do I guess, about some things.

Q. About some things?

A. Yeah.

Q. And about some things you don't?

A. Some I don't. I have a pretty good memeory I would say.

Q. Okay. Good for some things and not so good for others?

A. Well, if I think it's to my benefit I will, but if not, then I don't care to remember it.

Q. I see. You worked for Reed Masonry, do you recall about what time you worked for Reed Masonry?

A. No, I don't. You know, I don't remember them at all.

Q, You have not got a good memory on Reed Masonry?

A. No, I don't.

Q. Do you remember what type of work you did for Reed Masonry?

A. It was construction labor work, through the Union Hall.

Q. Do you remember what day you left Reed Masonry?

A. I don't know, I don't remember that.

June 07, 2007
July 1994 - Did He Really Say That?

From Martin Randal Merritt of Dallas, this excerpt from the plaintiff's deposition.

Q. Have you ever been injured before?

A. No. I'll swear on my mother's eyes to that.

Q. Where is your mother?

June 06, 2007
May 1997 - Did He Really Ask That?

From Tod A. Phillips of Galveston (McLeod, Alexander, etc.), this deposition excerpt from a railroad accident case:

Q. Had you seen that car up on the tracks before the accident?

A. No, sir.

Q. Never saw it before you hit it?

A. We saw it right at —

Q. Right at the last minute?

A. Yeah.

Q. How far were you from it when you hit it?

June 05, 2007
May 1997 - Did He Really Say That?

From Joseph G. Rollins of Houston, this excerpt from a Trespass To Try Title case that he tried in Sherman "way back in the early 1950's." Joseph sets the stage by explaining that the witness' father had been "well known to have been an alcoholic."

Q. And your father died intestate?

A. (Halfway coming out of his seat) No, he died in a train wreck, Mr. Rollins, and you know it!!

Judge: He's just trying to find out if your daddy had a will.

A. Well, why didn't he just ask me that instead of getting personal about it.

June 04, 2007
March 1998 - It Only Hurts When I Laugh

An elderly farmer — who hadn't been to town in many years — hitched his horse to the rig, called his dog, and went to See the Sights. Of course, at the first interstate near town, a speeding car hit the rig, dolishing it and seriously injuring the farmer and his horse and his dog. At the trial of the personal injury suit brought by the farmer, a police officer testified that he arrived immediately after the accident; that he asked the plaintiff/farmer how he felt; and that the plaintiff said, "I never felt better in my life." Then, the plaintiff was re-called by his attorney:

Q. Did you really tell that police officer that, after the accident, you never felt better in your life?

A. Yep, that's what I said.

Q. I want you to explain that, please.

A. Well, you see, I was knocked unconscious in the accident, and when I came to I saw this officer examining my horse, and then he took out his gun and shot him in the head. Then he examined my dog and shot him in the head. Then he came to me and asked, "How do you feel?"

June 01, 2007
December 2002

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.

... If you, Bob Grady, or any other member of your team disagree with the priority of this foregoing, I sincerely desire that we have a telepathic or face-to-face conference to discuss your position.

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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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