Subject: Courtroom bloopers...
From: BOB POOL (radapool@UBE.UB.UMD.EDU)
Date: Tue, 8 Sep 1992 11:23:36 EDT
Disorder in the Court: a Collection of 'Transquips'
by Richard Lederer
Most language is spoken language, and most words, once they are uttered,
vanish forever into the air. But such is not the case with language spoken
during courtroom trials, for there exists an army of courtroom reporters
whose job it is to take down and preserve every statement made during the
Mary Louise Gilman, the venerable editor of the National Shorthand Reporter
has collected many of the more hilarious courtroom bloopers in two books -
Humor in the Court (1977) and More Humor in the Court, published a few
months ago. From Mrs. Gilman's two volumes, here are some of my favorite
transquips, all recorded by America's keepers of the word:
Q. What is your brother-in-law's name?
Q. What's his first name?
A. I can't remember.
Q. He's been your brother-in-law for years, and you can't remember his
A. No. I tell you I'm too excited. (Rising from the witness chair and
pointing to Mr. Borofkin.) Nathan, for God's sake, tell them your first
Q. Did you ever stay all night with this man in New York?
A. I refuse to answer that question.
Q. Did you ever stay all night with this man in Chicago?
A. I refuse to answer that question.
Q. Did you ever stay all night with this man in Miami?
Q. Now, Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?
A. By death.
Q. And by whose death was it terminated?
Q. Doctor, did you say he was shot in the woods?
A. No, I said he was shot in the lumbar region.
Q. What is your name?
A. Ernestine McDowell.
Q. And what is your marital status?
Q. Are you married?
A. No, I'm divorced.
Q. And what did your husband do before you divorced him?
A. A lot of things I didn't know about.
Q. And who is this person you are speaking of?
A. My ex-widow said it.
Q. How did you happen to go to Dr. Cherney?
A. Well, a gal down the road had had several of her children by Dr.
Cherney, and said he was really good.
Q. Do you know how far pregnant you are right now?
A. I will be three months November 8th.
Q. Apparently then, the date of conception was August 8th?
Q. What were you and your husband doing at that time?
Q. Mrs. Smith, do you believe that you are emotionally unstable?
A. I should be.
Q. How many times have you committed suicide?
A. Four times.
Q. Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
A. All my autopsies have been performed on dead people.
Q. Were you acquainted with the defendant?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Before or after he died?
Q. Officer, what led you to believe the defendant was under the influence?
A. Because he was argumentary and he couldn't pronunciate his words.
Q. What happened then?
A. He told me, he says, "I have to kill you because you can identify me."
Q. Did he kill you?
Q. Mrs. Jones, is your appearance this morning pursuant to a deposition
notice which I sent to your attorney?
A. No. This is how I dress when I go to work.
THE COURT: Now, as we begin, I must ask you to banish all present
information and prejudice from your minds, if you have any.
Q. Did he pick the dog up by the ears?
Q. What was he doing with the dog's ears?
A. Picking them up in the air.
Q. Where was the dog at this time?
A. Attached to the ears.
Q. When he went, had you gone and had she, if she wanted to and were able,
for the time being excluding all the restraints on her not to go, gone
also, would he have brought you, meaning you and she, with him to the
MR. BROOKS: Objection. That question should be taken out and shot.
Before we recess, let's listen to one last exchange involving a child:
Q. And lastly, Gary, all your responses must be oral. O.K.? What school do
you go to?
Q. How old are you?
More courtroom funnies:
Q: What is your relationship with the plaintiff?
A: She is my daughter.
Q: Was she your daughter on February 13, 1979?
Q: Could you see him from where you were standing?
A: I could see his head.
Q: And where was his head?
A: Just above his shoulders.
Q: You say you're innocent, yet five people swore they saw you steal a
A: Your Honor, I can produce 500 people who didn't see me steal it.
Q: At the time you first saw Dr. McCarty, had you ever seen him prior to
JUDGE: I rarely do so, but for whatever purpose it may serve, I will
indicate for the record that I approached this case with a completely open
Q: Did the lady standing the driveway subsequently identify herself to you?
A: Yes, she did.
Q: Who did she say she was?
A: She said she was the owner of the dog's wife.
Q: I understand you're Bernie Davis's mother.
Q: How long have you known him?
Q: Now, I'm going to show you what has been marked as State's Exhibit No. 2
and ask if you recognize the picture?
A: John Fletcher.
Q: That's you?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And you were present when the picture was taken, right?
Q: Please state the location of your right foot immediately prior to
A: Immediately before the impact, my right foot was located at the
immediate end of my right leg.
> Q: Was that the same nose you broke as a child?
Q: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, in most
cases he just passes quietly away and doesn't know anything about it until
the next morning?
Q: Was it you or your brother that was killed in the war?
Q: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
Q: Were you alone or by yourself?
Q: How long have you been a French Canadian?
Q: Do you have any children or anything of that kind?
Q: So you were gone until you returned?
A Texas attorney, realizing he was on the verge of unleashing a stupid
question, interrupted himself and said, "Your Honor, I'd like to strike the
Q: She had three children, right?
Q: How many were boys?
Q: Were there girls?
Q: You don't know what it was, and you didn't know what it looked like, but
can you describe it?
Q: You say that the stairs went down to the basement?
Q: And these stairs, did they go up also?
Q: Have you lived in this town all your life?
A: Not yet.
Q: Do you recall approximately the time that you examined the body of Mr.
Edington at the Rose Chapel?
A: It was in the evening. the autopsy started about 8:30 pm.
Q: And Mr. Edington was dead at the time, is that correct?
A: No, you stupid [jerk], he was sitting on the table wondering why I was
doing an autopsy!