January 31, 2008
July 1997 - Did They Really Say That?

From John E. Haught of Beaumont (Mehaffy & Weber), this excerpt from the deposition of a supposed eyewitness to an automobile accident who was a close friend of the plaintiff's family.

A. It's nothing out of the ordinary that I didn't, you know, go by and see Ms. Smith and Jim, you know, because, you know, I've always helped Jim out, you know - and, of course, - Ms. Smith having this Alzheimer's disease and all, you know, I always wanted to visit with her as often as possible.

Q. You say Ms. Smith has Alzheimers?

A. That's what I understand.

Q. Is she lucid?

A. No, sir. She's smart as s whip.

January 30, 2008
February 2008 - Typos (Classic & Otherwise)

Randy Schaffer of Houston found this typo in one of his letters: "This means the Filth circuit will resolve all of the issues instead of the single issue authorized by the district court." (And someone has written: "I dare you to send this to Buchmeyer."

January 29, 2008
January 2002 - Did They Really Ask That?

From Senior State District Judge A. D. Azios of Houston, this incident which took place while he was trying a felony case as a visiting judge in Montgomery County. The questions are by Assistant District Attorney Mike Seiler.

Q. Mrs. …, will you please identify yourself to the jury?

A. My name is Mrs. …; I am the complainant’s mother.

Q. Have you been her mother all her life?

January 28, 2008
July 1993 - Who Said Vaudeville Was Dead?

From Ronald E. Bunch of Waxahachie, this excerpt from a criminal trial: Ron is questioning the deputy sheriff about his appearance in a line-up.

Q. And do you remember how you were dressed [for the line-up]?

A. Yeah, dress slacks and a grey short-sleeved shirt, if my memory serves me correctly.

Q. Did you have a Texas Law Enforcement belt buckle on?

A. Yes, sir, I did.

Q. And it had the State Seal, so it's some sort of law enforcement belt buckle; is that right?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. You said you removed it prior to going in the line-up?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. I thought you said the other day you had to keep your hands in front of you?

A. I did. I had to hold my pants up, sir.

January 25, 2008
February 2002 - Classic Typo's

From Trish Nasworthy of Grand Prairie (Trish is an Assistant City Attorney), this mistake she spotted in an ad in the Dallas Morning News.

LITITAGATION ATTORNEY needed immediately. Large plaintiff's personal injury firm seeks associate. Duties include depositions, medication, and trials ...

January 24, 2008
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

January 23, 2008
July 1996 - Did They Really Say That?

From Judge Michael D. Schattman of Fort Worth (348th District Court), this exchange that took place as Clay Humphries (Cantely & Hanger) began his cross-examination in a wrongful discharge case:

The Court: Mr. Humphries, your witness.

Mr. Humphries: Thank you, Your Honor. Is it all right if I stand up to ask questions?

The Court: Yes, sir.

Mr. Humphries: Is it all right if I use that (indicating movable podium).

The Court: Yes, sir, that will be fine.

Mr. Humphries: I think better standing up.


The Court: You know, Mr. Humphries, that's a great opening for a contribution to Judge Buchmeyer, but I will refrain myself.

Mr. Humphries: Oh, you mean now that I've gotten up off my brain.

(Even more laughter)

The Court: You said it, Mr. Humphries, not me. I couldn't possibly comment.

January 22, 2008
March 2007 - Did He Really Say That?

From Timothy J. Daniels of San Antonio (Daniels & Daniels), this story about how he prepared his client, Jim Shipman, “for direct and cross examination by posing numerous anticipated questions — spending hours on this aspect.” Shortly before the trial, in the middle of the night, Jim’s snoring woke up his wife, Lucy, who was also much involved in the case. This exchange took place:

Lucy: Honey, wake up — you are snoring. Why don’t you turn over?

Jim: I don’t know how to answer that question.

Tim adds: “Despite Jim’s anxiety, he testified well and Jim and Lucy won the lawsuit.”

January 18, 2008
November 1997 - Did They Really Ask That?

From Andrew H. Petty of Houston (Alsup & Petty), this paragraph from a discovery request:

Request for Production No. 19
Please produce all documents Defendant destroyed which relate to matters in Plaintiff's Original Complaint.

January 17, 2008
May 1996 - I Want To Be Adored

From Kelly M. Massad of Addison, this classic typo from a lawyer's "Divorces $100" advertisement in the Feb. 18 edition of the Dallas Morning News "TV Magazine":

Stanley Burch is licensed by the Texas Supreme Court & admired before all U.S. District & Bankruptcy Courts for the state of Texas. Member State Bar Associations. Not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Kelly adds: "When in the heck did the courts start certifying us lawyers as "admired" and why didn't someone send me an application form? I'd like to be admired by the Supreme Court and the federal courts too. Would you please send me an Application for Adoration by the Northern District as soon as possible?"

January 16, 2008
May 1994 - Lawyers May Destroy The Earth

This month's title was supplied by Jimmy Patterson, a reporter with The Midland Reporter-Telegram, who submitted it with this news story:

Eight year-old Jennifer Patterson, a second grader at Rusk Elementary in Midland, Texas, explained recently that millions of years ago dinosaurs became extinct "when mediators hit the earth."

January 15, 2008
May 1996 - The Docket Entry

From Robert Edwin Davis, of Dallas (Davis, LeClair, Loegering & Daniel), this docket sheet from a 1995 case in the Circuit Court of Franklin County, Mo. - which "makes it clear that there are still judges sitting on the bench with courage enough to say precisely what they think, and with eloquence enough to make the court's views unmistakable."

Docket Sheet
Style: Jeffrey Wilson vs. SWBT Case No. CV195-412CC
Action: Violations of Missouri antitrust law
Filed: April 10, 1995

June 28, 1995 JUDGE: The court, having endured unprecedented professional carping, back biting and pettifoggery between some of the lawyers in this case and having decided that no one should endure behavior that disgraces the legal profession, the parents of the lawyers who act so rudely, and themselves does decide to rule on the pleadings alone sua sponte. Motion to intervene, sustained. Motion to abate, overruled. Motion to certify class, sustained, so ordered.

S/John C. Brackmann, the issues in case appearing rather simple in spite of the money involved, the case set #3 on 2Oct95. Copies all attorneys on record.

July 11, 1995 MISC: Plaintiff's certificate of service of answers to interrogatories and responses to first request for production, filed.

Feb. 26, 1996 MISC: Plaintiff's voluntary dismissal without prejudice, filed.

March 1, 1996 JUDGE: Dismissed by plaintiff at plaintiff's costs. Copy attorneys (seven)

January 14, 2008
June 1995 - What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

From Mark W. Laney of Plainview (Laney & Stokes), this excerpt from a deposition in a dog bite case, being taken by his partner, Steve Stokes.

Q. What was his name?

A. Wes Harris.

Q. Is he a local man, Wes Harris?

A. How do you mean "loco"?

Q. Plainview.

A. Oh, no. I thought you meant mentally. No. I'm sorry. No, no, he lives in Lubbock now. He was at the time local, yes.

Q. You thought I said, "loco" and not "local"?

A. Yes, I'm sorry. I was -

Witness's Husband: She was thinking, "how did you know?"

January 10, 2008
July 1993 - Did He Really Say That?

From Bretton C. Gerard of Dallas (Gerard, Myrin & Singer), this excerpt from the deposition of the defendant in a dispute involving ownership of an apartment complex: the plaintiffs (Bretton's clients) had a contract to sell the apartments - but the defendant contended that he had an interest in the property and a contract to sell them to a third party for a higher price.

Q. Do you know what the property appraised for?

A. The only thing I know is there's been an offer made on it for $1.5 million.

Q. By who?

A. By an investor in Dallas. This is why I objected to the [plaintiffs] selling it for the $500,000 - this has been the basis of the whole suit.

Q. What is the name of the investor in Dallas willing to pay $1.5 million for a property that has been appraised for $500,000?

A. My memory - I don't have it, but my memory will increase if my equity position increases.

Q. What does that mean? What does that mean?

A. It means I cannot tell you right now.

Q. No. What does it mean when you say, "My memory will increase when my equity position increases"? Explain that to me. I don't understand what you're saying.

A. Neither do I.

January 09, 2008
July 1993 - Did I Really Ask That?

From Judge Tom Bacus of Wichita Falls (County Court at Law Number Two), this excerpt from a hearing to probate the will of a client's only remaining parent." Judge Bacus explains that the attorney - whose practice consists primarily of family law - followed "the usual litany of questions necessary to prove the death facts and admission of the will to probate,' and closed with these questions:

Q. Now, Mrs. James, no other child was born to or adopted by the deceased?

A. No.

Q. And no child is expected?

A. That's right.

As Judge Bacus notes: "sometimes it's just hard to shift gears."

January 08, 2008
June 1993 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Leon Breeden of San Marcos, this excerpt from a hearing on a motion to dissolve a writ of sequestration on a registered quarter horse and other property:

Q. Had Mr. Becker come to your property and asked to ... look at this property?

A. He came with the sheriff's department ... and they told me that I did not have to allow him if I did not want to ... And at that time he was advised by a law officer that it was not a criminal action, it was a civil one.

Mr Breeden: I object to the hearsay and the non-responsiveness of the answer.

The Court: Sustained.

A. [By the witness]: It was not hearsay. You could hear every word that was said.

January 07, 2008
November 1992 - Did I Really Cause That?

From Robert J. Malinak of Houston (Baker & Botts), this excerpt from a deposition in a case involving the alleged wrongful termination of an insurance company. The witness, an employee of the agency, was represented by Richard Tate of San Antonio (Kendrick & Pipkin). Robert's questions are "probing" the plaintiff's damage claims.

Q. You are still compensated on a percentage of your commissions?

A. Yes.

Q. What was your 1991 compensation?

A. Let me get my years straight here.

Q. Last year.

A. Last year. My compensation?

Q. Your compensation. How much you had to report to the IRS.

A. To IRS to pay taxes on, I believe it was $116,000.

Q. How about '90, do you remember that?

A. I can take a stab.

Mr. Tate: Don't speculate.

Q. Again, I wouldn't hold you to it. I am just trying to get a general feel for where you were going and where you were coming from. I don't want to subpoena your tax return. I'm not interested in a precise number.

A. Can I get a drink?

January 04, 2008
October 1992 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Darrell F. Smith of San Antonio, this excerpt from a 1988 deposition; Darrell was then in Midland and John Steven Dwyre of Lubbock was deposing Darrell's client - when "he established for all purposes relativorium cognito uno, cognoscitur et alterum involving [Darrell's] client":

Q. Exhibit 7 ... seems to be a certificate of limited partnership ... is that correct?

A. Seems to be.

Q. ... Are you in relation to any of these people that are on here?

A. Yes.

Q. Which people are you in relation to?

A. The principals of that trust.

Q. ... Well, you are on there as well, too, aren't you?

A. I am related to myself.

Q. I am not trying to get to that ...

January 03, 2008
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. …

January 02, 2008
July 1993 - Bad Questions and Good Answers

From Thomas D. Paul of Houston (Fulbright & Jaworski), this excerpt from a deposition in a patent infringement case - where the questions are being asked by Bryan Medlock of Dallas (Richards, Medlock & Andrews):

Q. Okay. What did you do to prepare for your deposition today?

A. Took a shower.

Q. Well, that's a good answer to a bad question.

Mr. Paul: Best answer we got all day, right?

Mr. Gatto: We all appreciate it.

Mr. Medlock: Let me see if I can ask a better question.[1]

1. Thomas Paul adds this sideline: "After the deposition was over and we were off the record, Bryan again, in his inquisitive nature asked the witness what he was going to do now that the deposition was over and the witness replied, 'Take another shower.' "

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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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