March 31, 2009
January 2000 - How Alive Is He?

From Robert W. Hedrick of Fort Worth (Hartless, Patton & Hedrick), this excerpt from the deposition of the wife (Robert's client) in a divorce case. The husband's attorney "is inquiring about the wife's ownership of stock in a family corporation, and the wife is claiming the stock under the term's of the husband's will."

Q. Do you have any other documents other than a franchise tax report that you claim shows that you have some ownership of stock in Tech-Lab Industries, Inc.?

A. I have a will.

Q. You have a will, your own will?

A. No, Raleigh's will.

Q. Well, Mr. Simmons' will - do you have it here today?

A. I think I have it.

Q. And it says in the will that you own an interest in Tech-Lab Industries, Inc.?

A. Should he die it says that, yes.

Q. Well, he's alive.

A. Well, I'm aware he's alive most of the time, but he's -

March 27, 2009
January 1989 - Did I Really Hear That?

From Judge Jerome Jones, probate judge in Galveston, this marvelous exchange - which took place in a will contest trial when the attorney was examining "a woman friend" of the deceased.

Q. And so you had a conversation with the deceased prior to his death.

A. Yes, I did.

Q. When was this?

A. About three months after his wife's death.

Q. What did he say?

A. Well, he asked me to marry him.

Q. And what did you say?

A. I said, "Isn't that a little bit soon?"

Q. And what did he say?

A. He said, "Well, she's as dead as she's ever gonna be."

March 26, 2009
May 1985 - What About Your Job?

Q. What do you do for a living?

A. I help my brother.

Q. What does your brother do?

A. Nothing.


Q. You said you went to Galveston in 1920, yet the first job you told me about was in 1946. What did you do between 1920 and 1946?

A. Well, I didn't go to work as soon as I got there.

March 25, 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?

March 24, 2009
November 1997 - A Lot of Lot

From Ronnie W. Baham, Jr. of Houston (Brown, Sims, Wise & White), this excerpt from his deposition of the plaintiff in a personal injury case which, Ronnie submits, might get "a lot" of laughs.

Q. What kind of work do you do on this house you just moved into? Carpentry work?

A. No. A little bit of wiring; wiring up a new meter box.

Q. Okay. Did you do anything else on it? Did you cut the grass?

A. I started to. I could do some, but I've got to quit and then go back to it. I can't cut it all at once.

Q. How big is your yard?

A. Normal size yard, I guess.

Q. Less than an acre?

A. Oh, way less than an acre. It's a lot.

Q. It's "a lot", as in "a lot," instead of "a lot"?

A. Right. A lot. Like a lot, you know, that you put a house on.

Q. "A lot" as opposed to "a bunch"?

A. Not that, no. Not a whole bunch. It's about - I would say 50 foot wide and maybe 100 foot deep.

Q. There you go. Now we've got it down to specifics. Now, that's a lot.

March 23, 2009
June 2004 - Classic Typos

Charles W. Hury of McAllen received this last page of an apartment lease guaranty form from a friend whose son is attending Texas A&M.

7. Binding Nature. This Guaranty shall be binding upon and unsure to the benefit of the parties hereto and there respective heirs, legal representatives, successors and assigns.

Charles adds: “Apparently … the parties to the contract, in an unusual flash of honesty, are actually admitting they do not have a clue as to how a guaranty actually works.”

March 20, 2009
September 1998 - Peanuts Are A Different Deal

From Robert N. Nebb of Lubbock (Robert practices with Michael H. Carper), this excerpt from a deposition taken in a case pending before U.S. District Judge Sam Cummings, in which the complaint alleged that the construction of a natural gas pipeline caused damage to the plaintiff's cotton and bean crops. The witness is a "crop consultant" expert hired by the plaintiff's attorneys.

Q. And is there - just like with cotton, is there a faster growing variety of peanuts?

A. Yeah, but I don't know if they replanted their peanuts. I don't know, I can't recall. They did hire me to check their - you know, to consult on their peanuts. Peanuts are a different deal.

Q. How so? How are they different?

A. Well, you wear cotton. You eat peanuts.

Robert adds: "Following this answer, the room erupted in laughter for a number of minutes, after which all attorneys suggested the Q&A be excerpted for et cetera.

March 19, 2009
March 1998 - But I'll Try To Do Better

Emmett Colvin of Dallas (Of Counsel to Bruner, McColl) admists that "the late Jim Bowie — of Dallas, not the Alamo — and I told this story so many times with embellishments, that the truth may been lost in the process." Nevertheless, "the complaining witness in an attempted murder case came to the D.A.'s office for questioning," and this took place:

Q. O.K. Henry, tell us what happened.

A. Well, I was in this bar and this other dude and I got into a tussle and he said that he was going home to get his gun and shoot me!

Q. What happened then?

A. Well, that's exactly what happened. He came back in with his gun and I was standing in front of the bar. He shot me in the stomach and I fell back, flat on my back. Then he looked down at me and said, "You ain't dead yet — I'm gonna shoot you again!"

Q. What did you do, Henry?

A. Well, I didn't do nothing. I just looked at him and said, "Wait a minute man — gimme time — I'm dying as fast as I can."

March 18, 2009
May 1994 - From The Twilight Zone

From W. Bernard Whitney of Fort Worth, this excerpt from the deposition of the defendant-husband in a case involving the mental and physical ability of his wife - who was "the testatrix in 1984 and who subsequently died in May 1992":

Q. Okay. And then do you recall the time in September of 1984 when she was using the commode and she fell, and she fell off the commode and hit her head?

A. No, sir, I don't because just before she passed away she was still using the commode and they didn't nobody hold her on it.

Q. So you're saying in September 1984 she didn't fall off the commode?

A. She did not, she sat there until the day they took her to the hospital and died [in May 1992].

March 17, 2009
April 1995 - Well That's Entirely Different!

From Danny L. Tran of Houston (Danny is a paralegal with Able & Monroe), this excerpt from the husband's deposition in a divorce case in San Angelo, being taken by Levert J. Able:

Q. Now, in addition to money that you had with Turner, Eppler & Guerin -

A. It's Eppler, Guerin & Turner.

Q. Well, correct me every time I do that.

A. Okay.

Q. Kick me every time I do it. Well, no, don't. You'd probably kill me.

March 16, 2009
February 2001 - Industrial Strength Stupid Questions

From Stephen B. Schulte of Kerrville (Keith, Weber & Mosty), "the worst deposition questions" he has ever heard:

Q. And finally, if we can, Mr. Manne, the - that last sentence goes on to say, you know, after you're saying that it's the position we have taken - and, by the way, let me just ask you about that. When you say "we," is that just the general "we," because you're saying it - I assume that it was both "we" being Susman Godfrey and Mr. Hussey? Do you recall there being any distinction? That is, was that something that you had ever said, or was it something just that Mr. Hussey had said, and you're using "we" in the - in the royal sense ....

March 13, 2009
June 1989 - Did I Really Say That?

From a telephone hearing conducted by one of the bankruptcy judges in Dallas: the judge has been advised that 12 attorneys are ready for him on the conference call.

The Court: Okay. Thank you. I'm going to give the decision on the motion. I'm going to go through it all and make findings and conclusions of law and give an opinion ... if any of you can't hear me, let me know.

March 12, 2009
January 2004 - That's Good Advice!

This contribution, from Carl Pipoly and Melissa Brantner of San Antonio, is from a personal injury trial where the defense counsel violated a motion in limine by injecting the workers' compensation case into the trial. The subrogation attorney then asked the court for advice on how to handle future violations.

Mr. McLin: Your Honor, for future reference, this is going to be an issue that will be brought up again. How would you like me to handle objections?

The Court: Just ask me to put her in jail.

Mr. McLin: Okay. Thank you, Your Honor.

March 11, 2009
December 1994 - Did He Really Say That?

From John R. Halliburton, an assistant U.S. attorney in Shreveport, LA - John has been a regular "et cetera" contributor for years - this excerpt from the deposition of the plaintiff who claimed the Air Force failed to timely diagnose and treat his medical condition:

Q. Do you know what a regular discharge from the hospital means? Do you know what that is?

A. Now, I know what an irregular discharge is. Regular duty hospital, it is when you have served your country well, and to the best of your ability, I guess.

Q. I am not talking about discharge from the military ... Do you know what an irregular discharge from a hospital is? Do you  know what that means?

A. I suppose you go up and sign out. I suppose.

Q. Do you know what leaving a hospital against medical advice means?

A. Yeah, I understand what that means.

Q. Well, tell me what does that mean to you?

A. Well, it means a number of things.  You could either leave one because you are hacked off at the physician, or your patient care ... and you get tired of the hassle, and you leave under those conditions. There is any number of things you can leave a hospital for. I got up and left one once ... because they wouldn't clean it. It was so filthy that I wouldn't stay in it. I couldn't get them to wash the commodes, and I couldn't get them to mop the floor. Yeah, I know what it means in regards to what your question was.

March 10, 2009
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.

March 09, 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.

March 06, 2009
January 1989 - What Was That Again?

From Judge David G. Lewis of Dumas (Moore County Court of Law), this excerpt from a recent divorce custody trial in Moore County.

Q. And what did you do that night?

A. We made and sent out some fliers. [Being the West Texas pronunciation of "flowers"]

Q. What kind of flowers?

A. No flowers. Fliers!

Q. Well then, what were they made of?

A. Paper.

Q. So you made some paper flowers and sent them out?

A. No. Not flowers! Fliers! Paper fliers!

Judge Moore adds that the legal assistant elbowed her confused boss in the ribs and said just loud enough for the jury to hear. "You know, dummy, pamphlets!"

March 05, 2009
June 1987 - Did I Really Hear That?

George A. Kelt, Jr., a United State Magistrate in Houston, discovered "this bit of testimony given by the young widow in the case concerning the fracus" in State of Texas v. Charlie Coleman:

Q. Do you remember what day of the week Nov. 29, 1980 was?

A. It was on a Saturday.

Q. Were you or your husband working that day?

A. No, sir.

Q. Sometime during the day of Nov. 29, 1980 did something unusual happen, ma'am?

A. Nothing except my husband got shot.

Q. About what time of the day was that?

A. It was about 2:30 or a quarter to three, something like that.

March 04, 2009
January 2002 - Did They Really Say That?

From Al Ellis of Dallas (Al is of counsel with Howie & Sweeney), this excerpt from “a routine personal injury deposition” in which he received “the final answer as to why the divorce occurred.”

Q. What was the reason for your mom’s first divorce, if you know?

A. My dad.

March 03, 2009
May 2001 - Did They Really Say That?

From Roger A. Berger of Houston, who was defending a hospital emergency room group in a malpractice case, this excerpt from the deposition of the administrator of the Group. The question by the plaintiff's counsel was intended to define the different types of emergency room patients - but it elicited a literal answer.

Q. What's the difference between a bed and a chair?

A. One you lay on, one you sit on.

March 02, 2009
November 2004 - The Dog Ate the Citation

Cheryl S. Lay of El Paso (Leslie & Lay, P.C.) serves as an associate municipal court judge — and she recently had this motion presented to her to recall a warrant:


2. Defendant is a teenage boy and therefore, as a matter of law, doesn’t have a lick of good sense. Despite the fact that his parents are licensed attorneys, Defendant felt it was the better course to not tell them about the citations. Therefore, upon information and belief, the dog ate the citations. …

Ray, Valdez, McChristian & Jeans
By Robin Collins, Attorney for Christopher C. Collins

Cheryl adds: “After wiping the tears from my eyes, I signed the order as Municipal Court Judge/Mother of a Teenage Son.”

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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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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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