My niece was dragged into court by a neighbor who complained about her barking dogs. At one point, the judge asked the neighbor a question. The neighbor didn’t reply. “Sir, are you going to answer me?”
The neighbor leaped to his feet. “Are you talking to me?” he asked. “Sorry; I can’t hear a darn thing.”
The case was dismissed.
Helen Reynolds, Missoula, Montana
…was spotted on a billboard ad for the law office of Larry L. Archie: “Just because you did it doesn’t mean you’re guilty.”
While serving jury duty,
I noticed that the defense attorney seemed a bit nervous. At one
point, he picked up a piece of
evidence and asked his client, who was on the witness stand, “I see
an acronym on this receipt. What
would CAR stand for?”
The defendant replied, “Car.”
Kristi Boerner, Fleming, Colorado
A man won an $8,000 settlement from Disneyland after he got stuck on the It’s a Small World ride. He said he’ll use the money to cut out the part of his brain that won’t stop playing “It’s a Small World After All.”
A lawyer e-mailed a client: “Dear Jennifer: Thought I saw you on the street the other day. Crossed over to say hello, but it wasn’t you, so I went back. One tenth of an hour: $30.”
I work in a courthouse, so when I served jury duty, I knew most of the staff. As I sat with other prospective jurors listening to a woman drone on about how long the process was taking, a judge and two lawyers passed by, giving me a big hello. A minute later, a few maintenance workers did the same.
That set off the malcontent: "Just how long have you been serving jury duty?"
If you’re interested in becoming a lawyer, you’ll need a degree. But as these court transcripts reveal, the question is, in what?
Attorney: "How was your first marriage terminated?"
Witness: "By death."
Attorney: "And by whose death was it terminated?"
Attorney: "Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?"
Witness: "All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight."
I was in juvenile court, prosecuting a teen suspected of burglary, when the judge asked everyone to stand and state his or her name and role for the court reporter.
"Leah Rauch, deputy prosecutor," I said.
"Linda Jones, probation officer."
"Sam Clark, public defender."
"John," said the teen who was on trial. "I’m the one who stole the truck."
An investment banker decides she needs in-house counsel, so she interviews a young lawyer. "Mr. Peterson," she says. "Would you say you’re honest?"
"Honest?" replies Peterson. "Let me tell you something about honesty. My father lent me $85,000 for my education, and I paid back every penny the minute I tried my first case." "Impressive. And what sort of case was that?"
"Dad sued me for the money."
Justice isn’t just blind—it’s snickering at these real courtroom give-and-takes:
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?
Q: Isn’t it a fact that you have been running around with another woman?
A: Yes, it is, but you can’t prove it!
Q: Have you ever heard about taking the Fifth?
A: A fifth of wine?
Q: No, the Fifth Amendment.
Q: What did your sister die of?
A: You would have to ask her. I would be speculating if I told you.
When my 88-year-old mother was called for jury duty, she had to submit to questioning by the opposing lawyers.
"Have you ever dealt with an attorney?" asked the plaintiff’s lawyer.
"Yes. I had an attorney write my living trust," she responded.
"And how did that turn out?"
"I don’t know," she said. "Ask me when I’m dead."
After I prosecuted a man for killing a bird out of season with his slingshot, the court clerk suggested setting up a date for him to return with both the money for the fine and proof of community service. "That way," she said innocently, "you can kill two birds with one stone."
Arrested on a robbery charge, our law firm’s client denied the allegations. So when the victim pointed him out in a lineup as one of four men who had attacked him, our client reacted vociferously.
"He’s lying!" he yelled. "There were only three of us."
While prosecuting a robbery case, I conducted an interview with the arresting officer. My first question: "Did you see the defendant at the scene?"
"Yes, from a block away," the officer answered.
"Was the area well lit?"
"No. It was pretty dark."
"Then how could you identify the defendant?" I asked, concerned.
Looking at me as if I were nuts, he answered, "I’d recognize my cousin anywhere."
I am a deputy sheriff assigned to courthouse security. As part of my job, I explain court procedures to visitors. One day I was showing a group of ninth-graders around. Court was in recess and only the clerk and a young man in custody wearing handcuffs were in the courtroom. "This is where the judge sits," I began, pointing to the bench. "The lawyers sit at these tables. The court clerk sits over there. The court recorder, or stenographer, sits over here. Near the judge is the witness stand and over there is where the jury sits. As you can see," I finished, "there are a lot of people involved in making this system work."
At that point, the prisoner raised his cuffed hands and said, "Yeah, but I’m the one who makes it all happen."
In Fort Worth, Texas, I was hauled before the judge for driving with expired license plates. The judge listened attentively while I gave him a long, plausible explanation.
Then he said with great courtesy, "My dear sir, we are not blaming you—we’re just fining you."
A young man I know, who recently became law clerk to a prominent New Jersey judge, was asked to prepare a suggested opinion in an important case. After working on the assignment for some time, he proudly handed in a 23-page document.
When he got it back, he found a terse comment in the judge’s handwriting on page 7: "Stop romancing—propose already."
Sidewalks were treacherous after a heavy snowstorm blanketed the University of Idaho campus. Watching people slip and slide, I gingerly made my way to class.
Suddenly I found myself on a clean, snow-free section of walkway. This is weird, I thought— until I noticed that it was directly in front of the College of Law building.
The judge had not yet put in an appearance in the San Diego traffic court. When the bailiff entered the courtroom, he sensed the nervousness of the traffic offenders awaiting their ordeal.
"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen," he said. "Welcome to ‘What’s My Fine?’ "
As a judge, I was sentencing criminal defendants when I saw a vaguely familiar face. I reviewed his record and found that the man was a career criminal, except for a five-year period in which there were no convictions.
"Milton," I asked, puzzled, "how is it you were able to stay out of trouble for those five years?"
"I was in prison," he answered. "You should know that—you were the one who sent me there."
"That’s not possible," I said. "I wasn’t even a judge then."
"No, you weren’t the judge," the defendant countered, smiling mischievously. "You were my lawyer."