June 30, 2008
June 2007 - Classic Typos

James A. Newsom of Houston Munisteri, Sprott, Rigby, Newsom & Robbins) found this typo in a letter he received from a Beaumont attorney:

Mr. Newsom,I have provided LexisNexis with your contact information on behalf of John Crane, Inc. I apologize for any incontinence.

Newsom adds, “In an attempt to be my usual helpful self, I replied:

‘Thank you. I am not aware of suffering from incontinence since I was a small child, but I appreciate your concern. And thanks for fixing the service list too.’”

June 27, 2008
May 1998 - What Is It That You Don't Remember?

From John T. Ritter of Austin (Davis & Davis), this excerpt from a memorable deposition.

Q. Let me ask you this: Do you have any memory problems? Do you have problems recalling things, from time to time?
A. From time to time.
Q. Do you know why? Is it secondary to some medication you're taking, or something like that?
A. I don't know.
Q. Okay.
A. I don't remember.
Q. Okay.
Mr. Marks: You don't remember why you don't remember?
The Witness: That's right.

June 26, 2008
September 1997 - Did They Really Say That?

From Pete T. Patterson of Houston (London, Schaeffer & Patterson), this excerpt from the testimony of the president of a management company in a premises liability case - in which Pete represents the plaintiff.

Q. So you're saying that either Kathy Ghaly or Laura Smith failed in their job duty to check out -
A. I'm not saying that.
Q. - Mr. Wartley's employment?
A. I'm not saying that.
Q. Well -
A. You're saying that.
Q. I am saying that.
A. I am not saying that.
Q. Okay. What are you saying?
A. I'm not saying anything.

June 25, 2008
February 2, 1995 - Are You Married?

From Paul Purtha of Dallas (Humphrey & Associates), this excerpt from a recent depostition in a nursing home liability case:

Q. Were y'all married at that time?
A. Yes, we were.
Q. Could you tell me what year y'all got married?
A. 1973
Q. Was Mr. __ your first and only husband?
A. He is not my first husband. He is my only husband at this time.
Q. Okay.

June 24, 2008
July 1997 - Did They Really Say That?

From Judge Bruce Woody of Dallas (County Court at Law No. Four), this excerpt from the record in a "no hot water in the apartment" case recently tried in his court.

Q. Okay, did you ever have occasion to receive hot water in a cold water outlet?

A. Yes. I got up one night and my commode was boiling hot, the water in my commode was hot.

Q. Were you surprised?

A. Yes, sir. I love hot water, but not there.

June 23, 2008
May 2008 - Great Names

This contribution is from Roger D. Hepworth of Austin (Henslee Schwartz), who writes that he "was reading an old case and had to laugh out loud."

This was an appeal of a student discipline matter in a case before the Commissioner of Education. The student smuggled alcohol on a band trip in a shampoo bottle. He admitted bringing the alcohol in his luggage.

Finding of Fact No. 2 reads as follows: "A hearing was held on May 21, 1986, by the principal, Johnnie Walker.

June 20, 2008
June 2008 - Classic Typos

Stan Hinton of Frisco found this marvelous typo in an "Errata" issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on March 7, 2008:

"Precedential Opinion Decided:
"March 6, 2008
Page 2, three lines from the bottom,
'Bowels' should be 'Bowles.' "

June 19, 2008
June 1987 - Did I Really Ask That?

Court Jesters records this question asked by a Vancouver lawyer: "what colour were the blue jeans?" As well as the Canadian lawyer who single-handedly (or mouthily) asked these immortal questions:

Q. How long have you known your brother?
Q. Were you alone or by yourself?
Q. How long have you been a French Canadian?

June 18, 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. …

June 17, 2008
May 1995 - The Password

From Randall B. Wilhite of Houston (Looper, Reed, etc.), this excerpt is from his direct examination of his client, the wife who "was requesting an unequal division of community property based on her husband being physically abusive toward her during the marriage."

Q. In April of 1993, did you and your husband have another altercation?

A. Yes.

Q. Describe to the court what happened.

A. He was trying to get into the computer where I had kept old records of our checking account for the company because he wanted to change them, and he couldn't - because I had it passworded.

Q. Did he ask you for the password?

A. Yes, but I said I wouldn't give it to him.

Q. What did he say?

A. He said that if I didn't give him the password, he was going to beat me.

Q. What did you say?

A. I told him, "Go to hell."

Q. What happened next?

A. He beat me.

Q. Why did you say a thing like that to him?

A. That was the password.

Q. What was the password?

A. Gotohell.

Q. Oh, that was the password?

A. Yes, that was the password.

Q. I see.

June 16, 2008
May 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

This is from a post-trial hearing before me; the attorney was placed under oath so he could "make a record" in connection with a motion to dismiss on Speedy Trial Act grounds.

The Court: Why don't you just do a narrative?

Attorney: I will not question myself, your Honor. I am concerned that I might impeach myself.

June 13, 2008
October 1992 - A Modest Proposal

From Faith G. Burk of Dallas (Tobolowsky & Associates), this excerpt from a deposition taken by "her beloved boss," Iral E. Tobolowsky, in a landlord/tenant case - during which Ira discovers "the perfect wife":

Q. Do you and your husband have a savings account or money market?

A. I don't know.

Q. Do you have your own checking account?

A. No, I don't.

Q. Do you write checks?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you have a joint account?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know how much money is in that joint account?

A. No, I don't.

Q. Do you know how much money your husband makes?

A. No, I don't.

Q. Do you know what the name of your husband's company is?

A. No, I don't.

Q. Do you know how long your husband has been self-employed?

A. No, I don't know how long.

Q. How do you know if there's money in your checking account at the time you write a check?

A. My husband tells me.

Q. Do you ask your husband's permission before you write any checks?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. Will you marry me?

Q. No, strike that question, okay?

June 12, 2008
October 1995 - The Accident

Q. In your opinion, how faw apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?

Q. Were you alone in the car?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you driving?

June 11, 2008
June 1994 - Classic Typos

From C. Charles Dippel of Houston, a "long ago filed" bill of reviews in which "the plaintiff claimed her cause of action was truly meritricious (instead of meritorious)."

From Stephen Gardner of Dallas, a Memorandum Opinion and Order which was "singed on Dec. 21, 1993" by an unnamed federal judge in Dallas who writes a humor column for the Texas Bar Journal.

June 10, 2008
June 1993 - Doing Voir Dire

From John Wright of Grand Prairie, this voir dire tale from one of his first trials, in the late 1950s, in which John's client represented the plaintiff in a justice of the peace court in Grand Prairie. John's client told him to "move as quickly as possible because he had a plane to catch" - so John just told the judge that the first six panel members looked fine and he "would take them as jurors." The defendant's attorney was suspicious, so he began a "seemingly endless voir dire" until:

Q. Mr. Jones, do you know Mr. Wright, the other lawyers here?

A. No.

Q. Well, do you know Mr. Wright's client, [the plaintiff]?

A. No.

Q. Do you know my client from Garland, Mr. Sawyer, who operates a lawn mower repair service there?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Well, I'm sure you know him to be an upstanding member of his community, don't you?

A. No, I know him to be a d _ _ _ crook! I took my lawn mower down there to him and he charged me $37.50 and the thing never has run a lick.

The Defendant (leaping to his feet): Well, I told you the d _ _ _ thing was worn out when you brought it in.

The Court: (Rap) (Rap) Let's move along, counsel.

June 09, 2008
May 1985 - Were You in the Military Service

Q. Were you in the Army?

A. No sir, I didn't go.

Q. Why?

A. Well, when I was ready to leave they said, 'Well, everything is over,' and I say, 'Okay,' So I didn't go.

June 06, 2008
May 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

This is from a post-trial hearing before me; the attorney was placed under oath so he could "make a record" in connection with a motion to dismiss on Speedy Trial Act grounds.

The Court: Why don't you just do a narrative?

Attorney: I will not question myself, your Honor. I am concerned that I might impeach myself.

June 05, 2008
November 1997 - Witness 1, Lawyer 0

From Douglas D. Fletcher of Dallas (Fletcher & Springer), this excerpt from the deposition of an elevator mechanic in a personal injury case.

Q. It would take you 30 full minutes, generally, to oil and grease [the elevator]?

A. Generally.

Q. So you in order to - what is this 30 minute interval? Do you have a name for this 30 minutes ... allotment? What is it? I mean, do you all have a name in the industry, what you call it?

A. Time.

June 04, 2008
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 03, 2008
January 2006 - The Cross Examination

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery of San Antonio recently tried a robbery case to a jury in which "a related issue was whether a gun found several weeks after the robbery and after a creek bed had drained from recent rains was the gun which had been in the possession of the defendant.”

Fred writes that “the defense lawyer, doing the best he could with very little to work with, was cross-examining the law enforcement officer about the issue of when the rain occurred relative to the robbery and the alleged throwing away of the gun,” when this exchange earn interest.

Q. Now, if the records that are compiled by Texas A&M University say that the rain was actually on the 5th, you wouldn’t disagree with that, would you?

A. Yes, I would.

Q. You would. You think it was the 4th and the Aggies’ weather records are wrong?

A. We’re talking about Aggies, sir.

The Court: I knew that was coming.

June 02, 2008
April 2004 - Defining the Specialties

This excerpt from the recent deposition of a doctor comes from Richard E. Hanson of Wichita Falls (Oldham & Hanson).

Q. But when it comes to a surgeon, you’re kind of separate and distinct from all the other medical specialties; that is, you actually go in and perform surgical procedures on the human body; is that correct?

A. Well, it brings to my mind an old aphorism. Internists, which is kind of what, in part, you know, gastroenterology is, they know everything but they don’t do anything. Now, surgeons aren’t supposed to know anything, but they do it all. Now, pathologists know everything and do everything, but it’s all too late.

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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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