November 30, 2009
September 1998 - Did They Really Say That?

From a federal court criminal trial in Dallas:

Mr. Hunter: Your Honor, I understand that our witness had gone to the parking lot to retrieve his glasses. So I understand we're going to be penalized for it, but that's what we're waiting for. And I apologize to the court. I'll take a voluntary five minutes if people are wanting to go to the bathroom on me.

The Court: On you?

Mr. Held: I don't think I'll touch that.

November 25, 2009
October 1994 - The Jim Cowles Collection

From Jim E. Cowles of Dallas (Cowles & Thompson), this from a plaintiff's deposition - one of the "3,032 plaintiffs ... in the infamous Lone Star Steel cases, pending in Morris County since 1987" - taken by Jim Harris of Beaumont (Holmes & Harris).

Q. What did your sister die of?

A. You would have to ask her - I would be speculating if I told you.

Jim adds suggested follow-up questions: from our Astute Attorneys include (1) Do you have her telephone number and is it long-distance? (2) So, then, would it be your suggestion that we contact Shirley MacLaine? (3) Would you mind if I sent this to Buchmeyer's column?

And about Jim Cowles, from Gregory J. McCarthy of Dallas, this excerpt from a deposition taken by him and Stan Thiebaud (Cowles & Thompson).

Q. Did Mr. Thiebaud tell you which firm he was with?

A. Yes.

Q. What's the name of his firm?

A. What is it? Thompson - I'm sorry.

Mr. Thiebaud: That's part of it.

A. Thompson & God.

Q. You don't remember right now?

A. No, I don't.

Gregory adds: "It's good to know that Jim Cowles had finally gotten the recognition he so richly deserves.

November 24, 2009
February 1996 - Did He Really Say That?

From James V. Roberts of Dallas (Mankoff, Hill, etc.), this paragraph he discovered in a proposed contract drafted by the "other attorney":

"Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this agreement, the covenants, warranties, releases, and agreements made in this agreement shall survive the execution and delivery of this agreement."

November 23, 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.

November 20, 2009
May 1999 - Dilbert Strikes Back

This contribution and its title from James A. Newsom of Houston (Munister, Sprott, etc.). James explains that this excerpt is from "an utterly fascinating deposition of an engineer/hydrologist in a case in which plaintiff's claim inverse condemnation due to flooding.

Q. I see handwritten notations toward the top of the graph showing approximately 14.4 inches and, and below that, 12.14 inches.

Is it not true that if you use a HEC-1 discharge area of 78.2 square miles for the drainage area, what would correlate with rainfall of 14.4 inches, and if you use the FEMA drainage area of 92.7 square miles, that would correlate, for this time period, with a rainfall of approximately 12.14 inches in the Clear Creek Watershed?

A. For some reason, it's not calculating now ... [dramatic pause] ... but this is an attorney's calculator.

November 19, 2009
December 1996 - The Court Reporters Have Done It Again!

Lynn Brooks of Dallas, who is (among other things) the book review editor of the Journal of Court Reporters, writes:

Court: To the charge of driving while intoxicated, how do you plead?
A. Drunk.

Q, And when was that?
A. I guess it was sometime before noon or after noon.

Q. Do you understand my question?
A. I think so, but that may be my fault.

Q. Can you describe what it was like to be at Metropolitan State Hospital?
A. Scary.
Q. Why do you say that?
A. Because there was all sorts of very deranged, crazy people. And then there were the patients, who were worse.

November 18, 2009
October 1993 - Number One Easy Street

From Hollis Horton of Beaumont (Orgain, Bell, etc.), this excerpt from the plaintiff's deposition in a workers' compensation case - which was settled, "sometime after the deposition, for an amount which reportedly allowed the plaintiff to maintain his standard of living."

Q. What's your address [in Lumberton]?

A. My mailing address?

Q. Well, tell me where your residence address is. If it has a house number, tell me that.

A. Well, we just named our street last summer; went before city council and named it "Easy Street." It didn't have a name on it. I've never been on easy street ... I'm the only person that lives there - I'm going to put me a number out there. Number One Easy Street, as a matter of fact ... I saw Easy Street down here one day in Beaumont. I said I ain't never been on easy street, but I am now.

Q. You got to pick the name, yourself?

A. Drew up a petition. Everybody that lived on it signed it, which was only me. I went before the city council. But you do have to drive easy on it because it's rough.

November 17, 2009
September 1993 - More From the Buchmeyer Trials

From an environmental criminal trial (the charges were illegal dumping of hazardous wastes):

Q. Isn't it a fact that ABC Corporation converted to non-lead glaze in 1990 - two years before your company?
A. That is not a fact - and it's not true, either.

Q. Now, who was the next supervisor you had at the [defendant company]?
A. Jerry ... Jerry ... I know it was Jerry something or other ... Jerry ... maybe Jerry Buchmeyer or something like that.

From a marijuana/cocaine trial:

Q. Now, you testified that you never saw the defendant selling drugs or doing a drug deal?
A. That's right.
Q. Well, just how good is your eyesight?
A. I'm legally blind.

November 16, 2009
November 2000 - Did They Really Say That?

From Bruce D. Bain of Tyler (Bain, Files, Jarrett & Bain), this "rather unique definition" of the term "tangible things" in Interrogatories served on Bruce's female client in a "divorce and custody battle."

For the purposed of these interrogatories, the phrase "tangible thing" means any material inanimate object or living organism other than human and also includes any human being or part thereof displaying relevant information communicable in any manner other than by the testimony of that human being.

November 13, 2009
January 1996 - East Texas Slang

From Raymond W. Cozby, III of Tyler (Cowles & Thompson), this closing argument made by his brother, Andrew J. Cozby, the prosecutor in a criminal trial in Houston:

Mr. Cozby: Members of the jury, I appreciate your patience during this trial. I'm going to be talking quick because my time is limited. If you can follow this East Texas slang I appreciate it because I'm going to be going over some important points.

Number One: What we call in East Texas — if you've ever seen a dog chasing a rabbit, sometimes they will get off on some rabbit's trail. That's a false trail that leads off in a circle. And a dog will get off on a false trail from where the rabbit really is.

Defense Attorney: Your Honor, I object to being called a dog.

Mr. Cozby: Your Honor, I except to that, I was calling him a rabbit.

November 12, 2009
October 1995 - Did They Really Say That?

Q. You are absolutely sure of that?
A. I'm positive of that, sir, I think.

Q. Do you know of any witnesses to the accident?
A. Well, none except the ones that saw it.

Q. When you got to the hospital, they took 12 stitches in your head?
A. They didn't take anything: they put 12 in.

November 10, 2009
July 1994 - A Tendency to Ramble

From William T. Little of Houston (Gilpin, Paxson & Bersch), this excerpt form the plaintiff's deposition in a personal injury case - with the warning that the witness was a "colorful older gentleman who had a tendency to ramble."

Q. (By Mr. Little) Mr. Blank, have you been in a deposition like this before?

A. Let me see. I believe about 15 years ago, I believe. It was maybe 15 or 20 years ago.

Q. What kind of case was that?

A. Let me see. It was - I believe it was - let me get my head together here now, if I remember. I believe I was in an accident because they guy run a stop sign or something like that.

Q. Were you injured in that accident?

A. Let me see. I believe it was on - no wait a minute. Let me see because - 'cause I was on my way up home. That was on 290 because it was a guy that was driving an 18-wheeler, and he was asleep at the light and a guy hit him. He ran up and hit the guy, and then - yeah, that - because - yeah, because that lawyer kept my money. He went overseas. We didn't know he still had my fees. And he dies on me before I could kill him. Yeah. Yeah Yeah. His name was George - Yeah. That was - yeah, I'll never forget that.

Plaintiff's attorney: Yeah, I know it, but try - Mr. Blank, but try and just answer the questions.

November 09, 2009
September 1993 - Did I Really Hear That?

From J. Burke McCormick of Richmond, VA (Little, Parsley & Cluverius), this excerpt from a deposition he took "in a construction lawsuit between the developer of a large apartment complex (my client) and the general contractor on the project." The witness, a vice-president of the defendant, is being asked about possible bribes of a county building inspector.

Q. Did you ever give anything of value to any of those inspectors that came out?

A. Yeah.

Q. What did you give him?

A. I gave a guy a refrigerator.

Q. A refrigerator out of one of the units?

A. Um-hum. No, not out of one of the unites. Hell, no. I ordered it.

Q. Do you think that is proper?

A. That was the way they had to play with this guy.


Q. Now, a little bit further, it says, "Pay-off for electrical inspector." Do you see that? "Pay-off for electrical inspector."

A. That's the same guy.

Q. The fellow that got the refrigerator?

A. Yes, that's the same guy that got the refrigerator. I bought him a six-pack of beer and he wouldn't take it. He said he wanted a refrigerator. So I drank the beer.

November 06, 2009
November 1994 - The Cheapest Chickens in Town

From Jaki Jones of Houston (Jaki is the secretary of Philip S. Gordon of Gustafon & Venzke), these excerpts from the deposition of Mrs. Jimmie Johnson - the plaintiff's best friend, who saw her (Mrs. McCoy) being assaulted in a grocery store parking lot in Houston. Jaki explains that while plaintiff's deposition was being taken (in her home), Mrs. Johnson was in the next room "chatting with the deponent and the attorneys about where to find the cheapest chicken in town." Then, after the other defense attorney had questioned Mrs. Johnson in her deposition, Phil Gordon just could not resist:

Q. [Mrs. Johnson,] I represent the other defendants in this case and I have a few questions for you, okay?

A. Okay.

Q. If you'll bear with me. One of the questions I've been dying to ask you because I've been told you're an expert, is where can I find - well, where is the best place to buy chicken breast this week?

A. The best place to buy chicken breast this week? Give me my purse.

Q. No. No. I'm teasing. Do you really have that list? We were told about your list.

A. Uh-huh. I bet you if it's on sale, I got it.

Q. You know? Okay. That's amazing.

A. It's ninety-nine cents a pound somewhere.

Q. Well, Mrs. McCoy was telling us about that earlier and I thought she was exaggerating when she said you had - you went for that list, didn't you, when I asked you that?

A. I go to college on the sale papers. With all the sale papers, I get int he middle of my bed, I write down. My first is McBrides, Sellers, Kroger's and Milliton's is over on Clinton; and I write that down and then I compare.

Q. No kidding?

A. And the other day Fiesta had chickens on sale for 19 cents.

Q. Well -

A. [Mrs. Johnson, like most experts, continues at Great Length, with "the best prices" for coffee, eggs, potatoes, etc.]

Plaintiff's Attorney: You asked. You did it.

Mr. Gordon: I just asked about the chicken breast, but I got it.

Plaintiff's Attorney: (correctly): You can't object as nonresponsive.

Mr. Gordon: I'm not. I'm loving this. This is great. We just pay for another page for it. I want to hear about this afterwards. She's working by the page.

November 05, 2009
October 1997 - The Trial: State Your Name Please

From Kathryn M. Kase, of Albany, N.Y. (who "used to be a Texas lawyer"), this excerpt from a murder case tried by her and Terence L. Kindlon, who is conducting cross-examination.

Q, Ernest Horge is your name.

A. Yes.

Q. Michael Sanders is also your name.

A. Yes.

Q. Michael Johnson is also your name.

A. Yes

Q. Donald Horge is also your name.

A. Yes.

Q. Ernest Carey is also your name?

A. Yes; I used that name before, too.

Q. And Daniel Stevens is also your name?

A. Yes.

Q. How many other names do you use, Mr. Horge, Sanders, Johnson, Carey, Stevens?

A. You have to look at my rap sheet to figure that out. I don't know. I can't remember myself.

November 04, 2009
September 1995 - Hints From Heloise

From Richard A. Hipp of Houston, this excerpt from the deposition of one of the plaintiffs in a "termite case." Richard sets the scene: The plaintiffs discovered several colonies of termites in their newly purchased home; after filing suit, the plaintiff "removed the interior sheetrock from the two bedrooms where the insects were located," choosing to "peacefully coexist" with the termites untreated and with the sheetrock removed - "until these fateful events."

Q. When Terminix came out in March of '91 because you had a swarming problem, what did you ask Terminix to do?

A. Actually, I was just alarmed, and all he said was, "Spray hair spray," and that's it.

Q. That's what he told you to do?

A. That's what he told me ... Well, naturally, he said - you know, they're always in sales, but I told him, "I'm not going to treat the termites. Just tell me what to do to get rid of the swarm." That's all.

Q. Did he ask you why you did not want  him to treat the termites?

A. Yes. I think I may have said we were in litigation.

Q. Okay. And he told you to spray hair spray? Did you?

A. Yes.

Q. Did that take care of the problem?

A. It sticks their wings together.

Q. It does?

A. Yes.

(Richard adds: "I found the solution to be creative, and debated with my wife whether to send this to you or to 'Hints From Heloise.' My wife won, so here it is.

November 03, 2009
July 1994 - Did He Really Ask That?

From Barbara LeGrande of Fort Myers, FL ( LeGande & LeGrande), this excerpt form a murder trial; Barbara's client had been found guilty - and her partner and husband, J.L. "Ray" LeGrande, was examining a "mitigation witness," the defendant's brother.

Q. What is your relatioship with the defendant in this case, David Michael Hubbard?

A. He's my brother.

Q. How old were you when he was originally born?

A. Fourteen.

Barbara adds: Ray later "defended his remark by saying that he was just preparing for introducing later that my client had been 'reborn' while in custody. Sure!"

November 02, 2009
November 1993 - What Kind of Doctor Is He?

From Jack C. Eisenberg of Austin (Byrd, Davis & Eisenberg), this excerpt from the deposition of a personal injury plaintiff:

Q. Do you know a Dr. Parker?

A. Yes. It was - the 9th is when I had an appointment with Dr. Parker ...

Q. What kind of doctor is Dr. Parker?

A. He is a - Well, he is a gentleman. He is not real old. He is kind of thin.

Q. Is he a medical doctor? A. Yes, he's a doctor.


From Scott S. Vasquez of Houston (Mallia & Jacobs), this deposition excerpt from a suit alleging that someone in an attorney's office had forged a client's name on insurance checks and a release:

Q. Do you know who Dr. Alex Melvin Wade, Jr., is?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. Who is he?

A. He - he worked for me about - maybe about a month in 1991.

Q. In what capacity?

A. As a paralegal.

Q. He was a doctor of what?

A. That was his first name, "Doctor."

Q. He wasn't an M.D.?

A. No. Nor a Ph.D., nor a J.D.

Q. Are you saying that "Doctor" was his first legal name?

A. According to him.

Q. And did you put Doctor Alex Melvin Wade, Jr.'s name
on your letterhead?

A. Yes.

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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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