Pamela Buchmeyer 2017-03-29 18:33:20
The Judge’s Daughter: April Showers April showers bring May … filings of slip-and-fall cases. Not flowers, but lawsuits. April showers mean people fall down on wet slippery floors and want to sue. At least that’s what my father used to say, the late great Judge Jerry L. Buchmeyer who for 28 years wrote a humor column for the Texas Bar Journal. It’s my pleasure now to follow along in Dad’s footsteps, while carrying his favorite umbrella. It’s emblazoned with the words “Singing in the Rain.” A free gift that Dad and I received when attending a 40th anniversary showing of that film, often cited as the best movie musical ever made. Afterward, Dad loved clowning around in an April Fool’s kind of way. “Dignity, always dignity,” Dad said in his deep courtroom voice, as he danced down the sidewalk with his prop umbrella. Gene Kelly had that line in the film. He played a foolishly pompous character whose “dignified” life was actually a long series of pratfalls and gaffes. Writing this April column has also been a foolish bit of fun. Many thanks to the many lawyers and legal support professionals who continue to reach out each month. Why not join us by sharing your favorite tidbits from the humorous side of the practice of law? You can reach me at email@example.com. Gorillas in the Courtroom A new submission for Dan Conley, a Texas attorney who now lives in California. Dan remembers back to his days as a briefing attorney at the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland. Defense Counsel: I’ll be a monkey’s uncle if that’s admissible, it’s blatant hearsay! The Court: I won’t rule on your allegation of family lineage, but your hearsay objection is overruled. The Very Best Accommodations The new submissions keep flooding in—April showers indeed. Robinson C. “Rob” Ramsey of San Antonio sent the transcript of a criminal trial in Wharton County where the witness appeared under a bench warrant. Attorney: And where do you reside? Witness: At the moment? Attorney: Yes. Witness: Prison. Attorney: I’m sorry? Witness: Prison. [You know, one room, no view.] A Rogue’s Gallery in Bell County David Eakin of Belton served Bell County well as a prosecutor for over 26 years. He reports that each decade the local lawyers have individual photographs taken that are then framed together in one composite work of art. These venerable images are hung with great fanfare in long rows down the courthouse walls. One day, David arrived for court and saw a senior couple, lovingly holding hands while they studied the lawyers’ framed faces. Mr. Eakin [sotto vocce]: What a sweet couple. They’re probably looking for a loved one’s photo, a cherished son or daughter who’s a lawyer, perhaps a long-lost friend. Senior lady [suddenly pointing]: There he is! There’s that #$%&*@! Mr. Eakin [sighing]: Or not. Relishing a Spring Cookout Judge Jennifer B. Campbell holds court in Yavapai County, Arizona, while also retaining an inactive Texas law license. She describes herself as a “faithful reader” of the Bar Journal and says about the following exchange from her courtroom, “Humor comes at the strangest times.” The Yavapai County prosecutor featured below gave permission to use his real name, however, let’s give the man a break. And a snack, he sounds hungry. Prosecutor: Do you know if the Joneses had any pets? Witness: Yes … dachshunds … small—three of them. Prosecutor: You said small? Witness: … I guess they come in different sizes. Prosecutor: So, different lengths of wieners. Judge Campbell: Sir, I will strike that from the record. Witness: Oh, my goodness … We’re in trouble now. Prosecutor: Your Honor, it was a hot dog joke. I didn’t realize how it sounded. Judge Campbell [no doubt shaking her head]: OK. A Case of Cool, Crisp Carbonation A hot dog cookout needs tasty beverages, right? Fortunately, the late Judge John R. Brown of the 5th Circuit wrote a Sprite-ly opinion in a case where a large shipment of soft drinks bound for Kuwait was damaged when being loaded onto a seagoing vessel. See Croft & Scully Co. v. M/V Skulptor Vuchetich, 664 F.2d 1277 (5th Cir. 1982). …Apparently, Kuwaitis would like to be Peppers, too [but]…During the Refreshing Pause between arrival of the container and arrival of [the ship]…Pepsi-Cola Hits the Spot-on the Pavement...By our calculations, 42,120 cans of soft drinks crashed to the ground, never a thirst to quench. In the Crush, the cans were damaged. The stevedore, no doubt, was in no mood to have a Coke and a smile. Dr. Pepper at 10, 2 and § 1304. Croft & Scully sued … [defendants] to pick up the Tab for its damages…. [The trial court] limited…liability to $500.…Things Go Better on appeal, and we reverse and remand. Ah, a ray of sunshine in every lawyer’s cup, Fan-ta-stick. The April Fool’s Law Review Some of you may have missed the following important piece of legal scholarship. Pity that! It’s far too good to be missed. The “World’s Greatest Law Review Article” is actually only three pages long, including a set of hysterical footnotes. See the delightful book, Amicus Humoriae: An Anthology of Legal Humor (Carolina Academic Press, 2003), compiled by three highly entertaining law professors Robert M. Jarvis, Thomas E. Baker, and Andrew J. McClurg. “The World’s Greatest Law Review Article” By Andrew J. McClurg, currently a professor at the University of Memphis School of Law (I would like to thank Laurence Tribe, Sandra Day O’Connor … Judge Lance Ito and a lot of other legal personalities with good name recognition. They didn’t have anything to do with this article, but there’s no law that says I can’t thank them … in this important space for name-dropping … .) 1) Introduction This is the world’s greatest law review article. It is a bold, brash piece, unashamed to proclaim: “Yes, I am nontraditional scholarship. What about it?” Looking for a sound thesis? Hah! Child’s play. Try a great plot, crammed with suspense, romance and thousands of potboiling footnotes … nontraditional but in a classic, traditional, bet-hedging sort of way. We’re talking about an article that: … drives a hundred miles an hour toward a model of important stuff, is subject to spontaneous deconstruction, tosses the word hermeneutics around like a walk on the beach, puts post in front of (and sometimes behind) at least one word on every page and, best of all, will take a thaumaturge [footnote 11] to figure out. Footnote 11: one of the truest measures of great legal scholarship is using words that no one understands. To assure that the terminology in my article meets this high standard, I made a lot of it up. CLXIII. Conclusion. In conclusion, I am confident that legal academicians everywhere will agree probably unanimously, that the only important thing lacking in “The World’s Greatest Law Review Article” [footnote 28,343] is a colon in the title, but that is only because the author is beyond caring about such things, way beyond. JUDGE JERRY L. BUCHMEYER (1933-2009) grew up in Overton and served as a federal judge in the Northern District of Texas after being nominated in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter. His monthly legal humor column ran in the Texas Bar Journal from 1980 to 2008. ▶︎ THINK YOU’RE FUNNY TOO? PROVE IT! Send your humorous articles of 600 words to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send deposition and trial excerpts to email@example.com. PAMELA BUCHMEYER is an attorney and award-winning writer who lives in Dallas and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Her work-in-progress is a humorous murder mystery, The Judge’s Daughter.She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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