February 16, 2012 § Leave a comment
Still more actual courtroom proceedings collected from hither and yon over the years …
Ask a Stupid Question …
Q: Sir, it says on your jury questionnaire that you are retired. What do you do in your spare time?
A: I smoke pot.
Q: Can you tell me about your job?
A: Very boring.
Q: More boring than this voir dire proceeding?
A: Oh, no. Not this boring.
Plaintiff’s lawyer: This case involves an automobile accident in which my client’s car was struck and he was severely injured. If there is anyone here who does not have a valid driver’s license, would you please raise your hand?
[At which the jury panel and courtroom in general erupt in laughter. Counsel for plaintiff wheels around to see that his client is the only person in the courtroom with a hand raised.]
Defense Lawyer: Now, about the motorcycle accident you were in, did you suffer any injuries?
A: Yes, a broken neck, leg, and arms, abrasions all over.
Defense Lawyer: Just answer yes or no, please. Did your injuries cause you any lingering problems?
A: Yes. Arthritis, daily pain. Pain all the time. Can’t sleep for the pain. Throbbing in my head. Walk with a limp. Hurt so much I can’t get comfortable, whether I sit, stand or lie down. Ruined my sex life. Don’t enjoy doing nothing anymore. I used to hunt and fish, but I can’t no more. Can’t even go to the movies. Sometimes I just cry from hurting so bad. I’m in pain right this minute.
Defense Lawyer: [Sarcastically] Thank you very much for being so forthcoming, sir.
A: Just trying to be honest.
Q: What would you decide if you were in the jury room deliberating and you thought that the defendant was innocent?
A: Oh, about two years.
Atty: Objection, Judge, this is just an attempt to make me look like a fool by going into this.
Court: Is that the only ground for your objection?
Atty: Yes, sir.
Gathering Nuts from the Family Tree
Q: Ma’am, please tell the court how your first marriage was terminated.
A: By death.
Q: And whose death was that?
Q: Please tell the court how big your work shed is at the former marital residence.
A: I would say about ‘yay wide and …
Q: If you can, Mr. Jones, please give the measurements for the record.
A: In meters or feet?
A: I have no idea.
Q: Now, ma’am, you said that your husband called you a whore …
A: Absolutely not! He would never call me a whore.
Q: I wrote in my notes that you said he had called you that. Did I write that down wrong?
A: You must have, because he never called me that.
Q: So what was it that he called you?
A: Slut. He called me a slut all the time, but he never called me a whore. He just was not that kind of person.
[This is actually from a Jan Karon novel, but I couldn’t resist including it …]
Q: So, you have six children?
A: Yes, six. Three sets of twins.
Q: My, my. Three sets of twins! So you had twins every time?
A: Oh, heavens no! There was lots of times when we didn’t get nothing.
January 6, 2012 § Leave a comment
More actual courtroom proceedings collected from hither and yon over the years …
Putting the “Dire” in Voir Dire
Q: Would you say that you have strong opinions?
A: My friends at the barber shop say I do, yes.
Q: And what do they say about your opinions?
A: Well, they call me “the hanging judge.”
Q: Mr. Eugene Smith, are you related to my client here, the defendant Mr. Dan Smith?
A: Oh my gosh, no! Heavens no! Thank God I’m not!
Q: Ma’am, is there any reason at all why you believe you could not be completely impartial in this case?
A: Yes, but I’d rather not say.
Q: Ma’am, we need to know what your reason is.
A: Judge, do I have to tell?
Judge: Yes, ma’am, you do.
A: It’s this lawyer, judge. He’s the most obnoxious person I think I’ve ever been around.
Q: Would you say that your pregnancies were uneventful?
A: I never heard of one that was uneventful.
Q: In what state were your children born?
A: A fairly good state, I would say, except one of ’em had a rash.
Unidentified Flying Objections
Atty: Objection. Dead horse.
Atty 1: What did you see when you arrived on the scene?
Witness: I saw the car crashed into a light pole and a man lying in the street in a puddle of blood.
Atty 1: What happened next?
Witness: I run up to him and cradled his head in my arms, and he said …
Atty 2: Objection, hearsay.
Atty 1: It’s excited utterance, Judge, and dying declaration.
Atty 2: No foundation for either, your honor.
Court: It’s lunchtime. We’ll break here, and you lawyers can get some cases together and argue after the break.
[Court is in recess and returns after the lunch break]
Court: All right, counsel, do you have some authority for me to consider?
[Whereupon counsel each present the judge with several cases and argue their respective positions further]
Court: I have several appellate court opinions to review here before I rule on the objection. Court will be in recess subject to call by the bailiff.
[The judge retires to chambers and reads the case law. His staff attorney provides some research material. Finally, after an hour the judge returns to the court room.]
Court: Having read the cases submitted, and having done my own research, I am satisfied that the record to this point establishes that the statement made by the decedent was sufficiently spontaneous and related to the accident to qualify it as an excited utterance, which is an exception to the hearsay rule, and therefore I overrule the objection. Please repeat the question.
Atty 1: Sir, you said you cradled the decedent’s head in your arms. What if anything happened next?
Witness: [Annoyed at the delay] Well, I was going to say what the man said.
Atty 1: The judge has ruled that you can tell us.
Witness: He said, “duh,” and he died.
To Insure Domestic Tranquility
Q: Ma’am, would you please tell the court about your sex life in the year leading up to the separation?
A: You mean with my husband, or what?
Q: As for his drinking, could you smell the odor of alcohol when your husband would come home from work?
A: No, not really. I can’t smell.
Q: You can’t smell at all?
A: No, I lost my sense of smell some years ago. It has to be a very, very strong odor for me to smell it.
Q: I’m sorry to hear that. It must be a big disadvantage not to have a sense of smell.
A: Living with him, it’s actually quite an advantage.
December 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
Actual courtroom proceedings collected from hither and yon over the years …
Toxic voir dire
Q: You indicated that you knew one of the attorneys. Which attorney do you know?
A: I know you. You represented me in a personal injury claim I had.
Q: You have heard me ask about the distinction in burden of proof. What do you think of that?
A: I think you have about beat that horse to death.
Q: Ma’am, I am having trouble reading your writing. It says that you are manager at a hotel?
A: Yeah, it does. I thought you said you had trouble reading my writing.
Q: Does it make any difference to you in this case that I prosecuted you a while back in another case?
A: Not really, since I won the case.
Atty: I object under the “who cares” principle.
Atty: I prophylactically object to the question.
Atty: I am not talking about contraception, judge. I am talking about preventing a line of questioning that would …
Court: Your prophylactic objection is premature.
Atty: Then I withdraw it.
Atty 1: Objection, irrelevant.
[Later in the trial …]
Atty 2: Objection, irrelevant. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, judge.
[Later in the trial …]
Court: What’s the ground for your objection?
Atty 1: That goosey-gander thing.
All in the Family Law
Q: Have you and your wife equitably divided all of your personal property?
A: Yeah. I went by and picked up what she throwed out.
Q: She has Chanel? Is that the name of the dog?
A: Yes, and I want half.
Q: You want half? How do you expect that to work?
A: I want the front half. I will feed it. She can have the other half.
Mens Rea in Corpore Insano
Prosecutor: Mr. Sheriff, when you pulled over the defendant, was she drunk?
Defense atty: Objection. Calls for a conclusion.
Prosecutor: Mr. Sheriff, when you stopped the defendant were your blue lights flashing?
High Sheriff: Yes, sir.
Prosecutor: Did the defendant say anything when she got out of her car?
High Sheriff: Yes, sir.
Prosecutor: What did she say?
High Sheriff: “What disco am I at?”