January 30, 2009
January 2004 - Did She Really Ask That?

From Robert A. Bragalone of Dallas (Cooper & Scully), this excerpt from a deposition he recently attended.

Q. And where are - how are you calculating that? How old do you believe Damien was when he was born? We'll start there.

Mr. Bragalone: Object to form. That's one of those for Judge Buchmeyer.

Ms. Vaughan: Let me rephrase that.

A. From the discharge -

Q. (By Ms. Vaughan) That one would have definitely been misleading. Let me rephrase that.

January 29, 2009
July 1993 - Did She Really Say That?

From Thomas S. Terrell of Kerrville, this excerpt from the deposition of the wife in a custody case:

Q. Your husband says you smoke marijuana. Is that true?

A. I quit.

Q. Why did you quit?

A. My attorney told me I would have to, if I wanted to get custody.

January 28, 2009
February 1994 - The Payment Plan

From Thomas G. Sharpe, Jr. of San Antonio (Whetley & Sharpe), this excerpt from his deposition of a defendant regarding the collection of a judgment for Tom's client:

Q. First of all, what I'm asking, sir, is what are you going to do to pay this judgment?

A. Well, you said you had a payment plan and I said I would pay you half when I die and the other half when I come back or, if you have another plan - do you have a plan where I can pay nothing down or nothing a month?

Q. Neither one of those would be satisfactory to settle the judgment.

January 27, 2009
June 1998 - Timely Objections

From Steven C. James of El Paso, this excerpt from a deposition he took in a case involving "the collapse of a huge rock wall being built on a hillside between several El Paso homes." Steven is questioning the defendant builder about the cause of the wall failure.

Q. Based on your experience in building rock walls, Mr. Cuevas, what caused this one to fall down?

Mr. Myers (objecting): Lack of foundation.

From Michael A. Miller of Dallas (Martin, Farr, Miller, etc.), these marvelous objections made by David Gest of Austin, who represented the witness being deposed.

Mr. Gest: We are going to be here forever, Mr. Engel. Just answer the guy's question. Make Miller work for the answer.

A. I don't recall what their opinions were on that.

Mr. Gest. Good. Period.

Mr. Miller: If you have an objection, please state it.

Mr. Gest: I object to my witness running at the mouth. Just answer his question and then shut up so we can get out of here before midnight, please. Go ahead.

January 26, 2009
June 1998 - Tell Us About Your Criminal Record

From Bryant W. Scott of Houston, this excerpt from a jury trial before Judge John Compton of Houston (151st District Court). The plaintiff, "an unsavory dressed fellow" suing a mortgage company represented by Bryan, was claiming "priority of his mechanic's and materialmen's lien." During his cross-examination by Bryan:

Q. Have you ever been convicted of a crime?

A. Yes I have.

Q. Did you go to the penitentiary?

A. Yes.

Q. How long?

A. Three years.

Q. What was the crime?

A. Felony theft by false pretext - something like that.

Q. Did it involve an M&M lien?

A. Yes it did, but I would have pled guilty to killing my mother to get the deal they gave me ...

Judge Compton (wisely): Let me see the attorneys in chambers.

January 23, 2009
May 1990 - The Cindy Singleton Collection

From Cindy Singleton this excerpt after cleaning out her desk during her last week at the Tarrant County D.A.'s office.

Judge: Is the defendant known by any other name?

Defense: Do you have an a.k.a?

Defendant: Hell Lady, I don't even have a car!

January 22, 2009
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."

January 21, 2009
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.

January 20, 2009
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.

January 16, 2009
June 2003 - How Do You Define Drunk?

From Judge Buddie J. Hahn, Texas Bar Journal, Vol. 50, No. 11 — December 1987.

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.

January 15, 2009
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.

January 14, 2009
June 1996 - The Perils of Pro Se

From Gregg A. Marchessault of Tyler (Gregg is an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas), this prayer from the brief of defendant-appellant filed in the Fifth Circuit by a pro se prisoner who, after his bank robbery conviction, filed a suit seeking the "return of the money that was seized by the FBI as his bank robbery loot":

Therefore all things considered, this appellant respectfully requests this court to cause an order to issue, ordering the FBI to return the currency in the amount of $6,600 that was seized from him. Anything less would be a miscarriage of justice, anything more will be appreciated.

January 13, 2009
November 2005 - Not Even Close

From Mark W. Laney of Plainview(Laney & Stokes), these excerpts from Rudd Owen’s cross-examination of the plaintiff in a state court case:

Q. How old is your son?

A. 33.

Q. What does he do for a living?

A. He’s a general manager of Hobby Lobby in Chicago.

Q. Works at the airport?

A. No, Hobby Lobby is a store.

Q. Okay. Isn’t Hobby airport in Chicago?

A. No, that’s in Houston.

Q. Okay. Wasn’t even close, was it?

Mr. Laney: We are talking Judge Buchmeyer here.

January 12, 2009
June 1990 - I’m Glad We Cleared That Up

From March Lynn Rothmas of Beaumont (Benckenstein, Oxford, etc.), this remarkable(!) excerpt from a deposition taken by Mary Ellen Blade, a partner at the same firm:

Q. Did you die, as far as you know?

A. I don’t know nothing.

Q. Has anybody told you that you died?

A. Yes, ma’am.

Q. Who told you that you died?

A. My cousins and my wife and the other people.

Q. What other people?

A. The — friends.

Q. Did any doctor ever tell you that you died?

A. Yeah, my doctor, too.

Q. But you don’t remember it yourself?

A. No. How can you remember you’re dead? You no can remember.

Q. I was kind of curious to see if you had any recollection of it. Do you know how long you were supposed to have been dead?

A. No, ma’am.

This excerpt comes from a deposition taken by Barry S. Green of Fort Worth (Camp, Jones, etc.) — an avowed male lawyer — of “a female workers’ compensation claimant.” (The plaintiff-witness has testified that she has severe pains in her shoulder, her back, and her hips.)

Q. Let’s break down the different problems that you’re having. The shoulder pain itself, can you give me any words to describe what that feels like?

A. Have you ever wore a bra that was too tight on you?

Q. If I said yes my mother would be very astonished. No, I can’t say I have.

A. Like something pushing down and then it’s on fire, too.

Barry adds: “I want your readers to understand that my response to the witness’s question should be interpreted as an emphatic ‘no,’ regardless of what my mother would think.”

January 09, 2009
October 1997 - And You, Sir, Are Adios

From Versal Rush of Wichita Falls (Versal is the first assistant public defender), this exchange that took place in a competency trial before Judge Keith Nelson (78th District Court). The client believed that he spoke to Elvis and animals (especially a certain rooster); he claimed to have been, among other things, "a lawyer, judge, doctor, porno producer/director/star, parapsychologist," etc. He actively and frequently "participated in the trial," beginning when he asked Judge Nelson, "What was the origin of the words, 'voir dire'. Then, as Versel was presenting his closing argument concerning his client's incompetencies, suddenly:

Defendant (standing up): Ladies and gentleman of the jury, get me a real lawyer.

Judge Nelson: You ... sit down and be quiet.

[defendant gets louder and louder]

Judge Nelson: I said sit down and be quiet.

Defendant: You, sir, are an _______. And you, sir, are a jerk.

Judge Nelson: And you, sir, are adios.

[Bailiff removes the defendant kicking and screaming from the courtroom.]

The jury found the defendant incompetent in less than 10 minutes. After the verdict, Versal says, "the jury members came up to me, hugged me, and said I didn't get paid enough, but it would be all right."

January 08, 2009
July 1987 - Do You Swear to Tell the Truth...

Judge: (To young witness) Do you know what would happen to you if you told a lie?

Witness: Yes, I would go to hell.

Judge: Is that all?

Witness: Isn't that enough?

January 07, 2009
May 1999 - The "By Golly Objection"

This contribution was sent to me by James M. Ziegler, Ph.D., of Houston (Ncompass Research, Inc.) James, who is an expert in "biomechanics and injury causation analysis," found this rather unique objection made in a deposition by his client, an attorney who "had hoped to never be quoted in [the et cetera] of the Texas Bar Journal.

Q. I'm going to hand you what's been marked as Exhibit No. 4. This is an aerial photograph. Actually, it's a satellite photograph of the accident scene. I'll represent to you this street is Braeswood and this street is Gessner. Why don't I go ahead and mark these as my representation.

Mr. Hopeful: I'll object to that. I don't know why, but I will. It's not your deposition for one thing.

Mr. Miller: Yes, it is. It's not yours.

Mr. Hopeful: It's your testimony.

Mr. Miller: I understand.

Mr. Hopeful: I don't know what the proper objection for that is under the new Rules, but I object, by golly. It's the by golly objection. Let's go off the record for a second.

January 06, 2009
May 1998 - The Closing Argument

Joseph A. Esparza of San Antonio (Joseph is an assistant criminal district attorney) submits a truly classic closing argument made by his former partner, Ellen Wheeler-Walter, during a misdemeanor trial. Ellen's argument, which was promptly followed by a verdict for the State, was simply:

"She did it." [dramatic pause] "I proved it" [dramatic pause] "Find her guilty."

January 05, 2009
July 1999 - Classic Typos

From Lillie Knight of Houston (Lillie is an assistant city attorney), this typo in a letter she received from a property tax consultant:

Dear Ms. Knight:

... Thank you for your business, and please send your fiends our way.

Please return before May 31st.

From Michael R. Ross of Houston, this typo he discovered in a business record affidavit executed by a record custodian and "competent computer operator" for an insurance company:

... "I am a competent computer operator, able to retrieve this information and the payments were checked for accuracy prior to the information being imputed."

January 02, 2009
May 1999 - Written in Blood

From Mikal S. Lambert of Wichita Falls (Fillmore & Purtle), this excerpt from a deposition in a death case where a motorist had run over a pedestrian. Mikal is cross-examining the DPS trooper who had supervised the drawing of blood from the decedent for a blood-alcohol test.

Q. Is there any minimum volume of blood that you're attempting to extract or that you attempt to fill up?

A. They have told us in the years that I've been working that we need more than an inch of blood in the tube. Now, that's not "written in blood" anywhere in the manual, that's just the way we were told. And they say if we want to do a blood alcohol or drug screen on it, we need it just as full as you can get it.

And then they've always told us when we get the blood in it, to shake it up real good to mix that white powdery substance. And I'm sure they've told me what that was, but, hey, I'm no chemist. I've got enough problems trying to remember what I did yesterday.

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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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