January 29, 2010
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 28, 2010
May 1999 - Those Jurors
From Judge Jay Patterson of Dallas (101st District Court), this answer from a recent juror questionnaire:

20. How can we change or improve our arrangements, facilities, or procedures to make jury service better?

A: I'm not sure on the law here, but maybe make the counsel wear too-tight shoes to hasten things along?

January 27, 2010
February 1999 - Lawyers are Next
From Amy K. Rosenberg of Fort Collins, Colo. (Liggett, Smith & Williams), this trial excerpt from a "marriage dissolution proceeding" in which Amy's colleague, Michael Liggett, "was cross-examing the soon-to-be ex-wife" regarding some of her expenditures.

Q. "Wynbriar," is that an antique store?

A. No, that's not. That's a tobacco shop.

Q. What did you buy for $831?

A. A fox.

Q. A fox?

A. Yes.

The Court: Wait a minute. I've got to know. You mean, an animal?

The Witness: No. He's - I have a dead animal farm. It's a stuffed fox.

The Court: A stuffed fox. Okay.

Q. You say you have a dead animal farm. You collect taxidermy?

A. Does that surprise you?

Q. What other animals do you have?

A. Lawyers are next.

January 26, 2010
March 1994 - Did She Really Say That?
From Larry Blount of Sulphur Springs (Powers & Blount), this excerpt from a bond reduction hearing before Judge Lanny Ramsay (Eighth District Court). Assistant District Attorney Al Smith is cross-examining the defendant's wife - who has "justified that, in spite of the DWI, her husband's drinking problem is not as bad as it used to be."

Q. Now; - you're telling this judge that your husband doesn't drink as much as he used to, yet he has been charged with his eighth DWI?

A. He doesn't drink as much as he used to. Why, he only has one case of beer in the refrigerator right now.

January 25, 2010
November 1999 - What Did I Score?
From Catherine E. Brown Dodson of Amarillo this excerpt "from a hearing in a suit to establish paternity filed in the 181st District Court, the Honorable Samuel C. Kiser presiding."

The mother was represented by Arnold N. Miller and the father by Mary Louise Kibbey.

Q. Before we begin, I need to tell you that because my client is acknowledging paternity, all we will be addressing today will be child support.

A. (No reply.)

Q. Do you understand that? My client is acknowledging that he is the father of this child, so all we will be talking about will be the amount of child support. Do you understand that?

A. No.

Q. Well, the paternity test came back over 99 percent proof positive that my client is the father. We just need to set the amount of child support today.

A. Well - what did I score?

Catherine adds: "Immediately following the answer on line 14, Judge Kiser left the courtroom without a word, followed in quick succession by the court reporter and both lawyers. Once composure had been regained by all in chambers, a suggestion was made that the mother be informed the Court now had some concerns that she might not be the mother. Ms. Kibbey declined on the grounds that the mother might believe her.

January 22, 2010
May 1993 - Did He Really Say That?
From George M. Walker of Mobile, AL (Hand, Arendall, etc.), this excerpt from "one of the first depositions [he] ever attended" - of a "retired insulator from a local shipbuilding company in an asbestos case" (so there were, "as usual, 25 defense lawyers around a conference room table peppering [the witness] with questions:"

Q. What was your father's name?

A. I don't know, we always called him "Dad."

January 21, 2010
May 1995 - The Thinker
From Martha Hardwick of Dallas (Bauer, Rentzel, Millard & Hardwick), this deposition excerpt - with Martha's admission that she was "the obviously surprised questioner":

Q. What made you decide to do that?

A. I am thinking.

Q. That's all right.

A. That's a good question.

Q. I never had anybody stop to think in a deposition before.

January 20, 2010
May 2001 - The Full Time Stud

This contribution is from Roger L. Mandel of Dallas (Stanley, Mandel & Iola):
My partner, Mark H. Iola, was recently getting ready to pick a jury for an asbestos trial in Edwardsville, Madison County, Illinois. When he received the jury panel list, he was rather astonished to find that the very first panel member, a 22-year old single male, had apparently listed his occupation as "FULL TIME STUD."

The case settled before jury selection ended, and Mark naturally introduced himself to this juror, saying that he wanted to meet anyone who could make a living at the occupation that most men would choose if they only had the choice. The juror was quite embarrassed and said that he was, in fact, a "FULL TIME STUDENT."

January 19, 2010
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?

January 15, 2010
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.

January 14, 2010
April 2005 - A Marvelous Answer
This contribution from David W. Lindemood of Midland is from a CPS trial before District Judge Dean Rucker (318th District Court) in which Lindemood was the attorney ad litem for the child. The witness, who was the CASA guardian ad litem, is being questioned by Chris McCormack of Midland.

Q. As I understand your testimony about Ms. Ybarra's residence, living situation, you only went into one of the homes that she lived in? Do I have that right?

A. Two.

Q. Two. And on each occasion that you went in there, the residence was clean and orderly, generally - or actually, one was clean and orderly, and one was a little messy, a bachelor pad, as I recall now.

A. That's right.

Q. But no - other than being a little messy, it was not filthy or dirty? Umkempt?

A. It was being swept up and picked up with a shovel.

January 13, 2010
June 1992 - Of the Rankest Sort
From Robert Finlay of Honolulu, HI, this testimony from "a hotly contested murder trial" involving a difficult, albeit zoological, point of evidence:

Prosecutor: On the photograph, what are on the brown, blood-like smudge?

Mr. Heu: From my zoological background, I keyed in on it because it had ants on it. [This was significant because it] indicated to me that it was fresh material rather than something that was days or weeks old.

Prosecutor: First of all, is there a difference between worker ants and soldier ants?

Mr. Heu: Yes. The soldier ants have large heads and the worker ants have small heads. The worker ants go out to forage - to find something. If it's a large find, the word will go back to the ant nest. The ants will send out more workers and if it's a big find, they'll send soldiers along.

Defense Attorney: I object to the materiality of the witness' statement.

The Court: Your objection is on the grounds of relevance?

Defense Attorney: Yes, sir. It's also hearsay as to what the ants tell each other.

The Court (wisely): Objection overruled.

January 12, 2010
March 1995 - If You Don't Understand My Questions ...
From Al Ellis of Dallas, this excerpt from the deposition of a witness who knew "how to follow instructions to the letter":

Q. My name is Al Ellis. I represent the plaintiff in a lawsuit, and I am going to ask you some questions in regard to his fall that he had back in June 1990, and perhaps some surrounding facts. If you don't understand my questions or I am talking too much like a lawyer, or whatever, you ask me to repeat it. Will you do that?

A. Uh-huh.

Q. You have to say "yes" or "no."

A. Yes or no.

January 11, 2010
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.

January 07, 2010
October 2003 - Not Strange At All
From William A. Agnew, Jr. of Lufkin, this excerpt from “a non-death penalty capital appeal” before Judge Paul White (159th Judicial District in Angelina County). Charles Meyers was cross-examining a witness named David Yount when this exchange took place.

Q. And I believe you testified that they asked if we knew where to find Ben Franklin?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Who asked?

A. Daniel did.

Q. Okay. Daniel did the talking?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Daniel was interested in finding Ben Franklin?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. To what purpose?

A. To whop him.

Q. Why?

A. Something about he had jumped on one of Daniel’s supposed cousins — cousins. I mean, I don’t know. I don’t — he never said her name, that I remember.

Q. Did you find that kind of strange, somebody you don’t know coming by your house and asking for directions to find the guy he wants to beat up?

A. In Trinity County, I don’t find that strange at all.

Q. I think you’ve come up with the best line of the trial, sir.

January 05, 2010
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 04, 2010
July 1991 - Doing Voir Dire
Robert Myers of San Antonio (Willis, Hickey, etc) not only believes "that the risks of trial far outweighed the risks of depositions," he is convinced "that certain aspects of trial (most notably voir dire examination) are more dangerous still."

Juror No. 19 (Frank Kalani Laa) wished to approach the bench to ask a question; Judge Spears, being understandably unfamiliar with the pronunciation of Mr. Kalani Laa's last name, sought assistance:

The Court: Number 19, would you step forward please.

The Court: How do you pronounce your name?

Juror Laa: Frank.

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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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