Sometimes lawyers really do have the best responses. The following is just one example to a Federal Agency.
Rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina often caused residents to be challenged to prove home titles back hundreds of years. That is because of community history stretching back over two centuries during which houses were passed along through generations of family, sometimes making it quite difficult to establish a paper trail of ownership.
A New Orleans lawyer sought a FHA rebuilding loan for a client. He was told the loan would be granted upon submission of satisfactory proof of ownership of the parcel of property as it was being offered as collateral. It took the lawyer 3 months, but he was able to prove title to the property dating back to 1803. After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply.
(Actual reply from FHA)
“Upon review of your letter adjoining your client’s loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin.”
And here is the great letter the lawyer responded with: (Actual response):
“Your letter regarding title in Case No.189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have proof of title extended further than the 206 years already covered in the present application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working with real property, would not know that Louisiana was purchased by the United States from France in 1803, the year of origin of title identified in our application. For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Queen Isabella. The good Queen Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus’s expedition. Now the Pope, as I’m sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana. God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it, and the FHA. I hope you find God’s original claim to be satisfactory. Now, may we have our damn reconstruction loan?”
The loan was immediately approved.
Laugh at yourself first, before anyone else can. Elsa Maxwell, September 28, 1958. Being serious isn’t all that important. What counts is knowing what to be serious about.
The Following Are (Supposedly) Real Statements Made During Court Cases:
Teacher: How old is your father?
Kid: He is 6 years.
Teacher: What? How is this possible?
Kid: He became father only when I was born.
(Logic!! Children are quick and always speak their minds.)
TEACHER: Maria, go to the map and find North America.
MARIA: Here it is.
TEACHER: Correct. Now, Class, who discovered America?
TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell ‘crocodile?’
GLENN: KR OK 0-D-I-A-L.
TEACHER: No, that’s wrong
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.
(I love this child.)
TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it’s H to O.
TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on ‘My Dog’ is exactly the same as your brother’s. Did you copy his?
CLYDE: No, sir; It’s the same dog.
(I want to adopt this kid!!!)
TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher.
JUDGE: I know you, don’t I?
DEFENDANT: Uh, yes.
JUDGE: All right, tell me, how do I know you?
DEFENDANT: Judge, do I have to tell you?
JUDGE: Of course, you might be obstructing justice not to tell me.
DEFENDANT: Okay. I was your bookie.
From a defendant representing himself ….
DEFENDANT: Did you get a good look at me when I allegedly stole your
purse? VICTIM: Yes, I saw you clearly. You are the one who stole my purse.
DEFENDANT: I should have shot you while I had the chance.
JUDGE: The charge here is theft of frozen chickens. Are you the
defendant? DEFENDANT: No, sir, I’m the guy who stole the chickens.
LAWYER: How do you feel about defense attorneys?
JUROR: I think they should all be drowned at birth.
LAWYER: Well, then, you are obviously biased for the prosecution.
JUROR: That’s not true. I think prosecutors should be drowned at birth,
JUDGE: Is there any reason you could not serve as a juror in this case?
JUROR: I don’t want to be away from my job that long.
JUDGE: Can’t they do without you at work?
JUROR: Yes, but I don’t want them to know it.
LAWYER: Tell us about the fight.
WITNESS: I didn’t see no fight.
LAWYER: Well, tell us what you did see.
WITNESS: I went to a dance at the Turner house, and as the men swung around and changed partners, they would slap each other, and one fellow hit harder than the other one liked, and so the other one hit back and somebody pulled a knife and a rifle that had been hidden under a bed, and the air was filled with yelling and smoke and bullets.
LAWYER: You, too were shot in the fracas?
WITNESS: No sir, I was shot midway between the fracas and the navel.
DEFENDANT: JUDGE, I want you to appoint me another lawyer.
JUDGE: And why is that?
DEFENDANT: Because the Public Defender isn’t interested in my case.
JUDGE: (to Public Defender): Do you have a comment on the defendant’s
motion? Public Defender: I’m sorry, Your Honor, I wasn’t listening.
JUDGE: Please identify yourself for the record.
DEFENDANT: Colonel Ebenezer Jackson.
JUDGE: What does the ‘Colonel’ stand for?
DEFENDANT: Well, it’s kinda like the ‘Honorable’ in front of your name – not a damn thing.
JUDGE: You are charged with habitual drunkenness. Have you anything to say in your defense?
DEFENDANT: Habitual thirstiness?
DEFENDANT (after being sentenced to 90 days in jail): Can I address the court?
JUDGE: Of course.
DEFENDANT: If I called you a son of a bitch, what would you do?
JUDGE: I’d hold you in contempt and assess an additional five days in jail.
DEFENDANT: What if I thought you were a son of a bitch?
JUDGE: I can’t do anything about that. There’s no law against thinking.
DEFENDANT: In that case, I think you’re a son of a bitch.
Laugh and the world laughs with you;/Weep and you weep alone … Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “Solitude,” 1883.
“Laughter is God’s gift to mankind,” said the preacher. “And mankind,” said the cynic, “is the proof that God has a sense of humor.”
Every time Mr. Jones told a joke and joined in the laughter, Mrs. Jones would say disapprovingly, “I don’t think that’s funny.” One day Mr. Jones told what he thought was an uproarious joke and, as he burst into a laugh at the end of it, he found he was laughing alone. Everybody else had a puzzled look. “Now that, ” said Mrs. Jones, “is funny.”
Humor is a most salable commodity in the market place. Popular comedians make more money than the President of the United States (but then of course so do business executives and professional athletes, among others), and situation comedies are the nation’s favorite television viewing. Joke books have been best sellers since the original edition of Joe Miller. On the college campus, a humor magazine is as much a staple as the pretentious literary periodical. Slapstick comedy was the keystone of Hollywood’s movie success. Over the years, Americans have laughed at many of the same things time after time-pie in the face, irreverence toward government, the funny differences among us. A sense of humor often seems to be the best sense of all.
Courtroom Gaffes recently reported in the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Journal, the following are 22 questions actually asked of witnesses by attorneys during trials and, in certain cases, the responses given by insightful witnesses:
Q: “Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?”
Q: “The youngest son, the twenty-year old, how old is he?”
Q: “Were you present when your picture was taken?”
Q: “Were you alone or by yourself?”
Q: “Was it you or your younger brother who was killed in the war?”
Q: “Did he kill you?”
Q: “How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?”
Q: “You were there until the time you left, is that true?”
Q: “How many times have you committed suicide?”
Q: “So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?”
Q: “And what were you doing at that time?”
Q: “She had three children, right?”
Q: “How many were boys?”
Q: “Were there any girls?”
Q: “You say the stairs went down to the basement?”
Q: “And these stairs, did they go up also?”
Q: “Mr. Slatery, you went on a rather elaborate honeymoon, didn’t you?”
A: “I went to Europe, Sir.”
Q: “And you took your new wife?”
Q: “How was your first marriage terminated?
A: “By death.”
Q: “And by who’s death was it terminated?”
Q: “Can you describe the individual?”
A: “He was about medium height and had a beard.”
Q: “Was this a male, or a female?”
Q: “Is your appearance here 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.”
Q: “Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?”
A: “All my autopsies are performed on dead people.”
Q: “All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?”
Q: “Do you recall the time that you examined the body?”
A: “The autopsy started around 8:39 p.m..”
Q: “And Mr. Dennington was dead at the time?”
A: “No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy.”
Q: “You were not shot in the fracas?”
A: “No, I was shot midway between the fracas and the navel.”
Q: “Are you qualified to give a urine sample?”
A: “I have been since early childhood.”
Q: “Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?”
Q: “Did you check for blood pressure?”
Q: “Did you check for breathing?”
Q: “So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy.”
Q: “How can you be so sure, Doctor?”
A: “Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.”
Q: “But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?”
A: “It is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.”
Did you hear about the lawyer hurt in an accident?
An ambulance stopped suddenly.
How many personal injury attorneys does it take to change a light bulb?
Three–one to turn the bulb, one to shake him off the ladder, and the third to sue the ladder company.
Why don’t you ever see lawyers at the beach?
Cats keep covering them with sand.
How many lawyer jokes are there?
Only three. The rest are true stories.
If a lawyer and an IRS agent were both drowning, and you could
save only one of them, would you go to lunch or read the paper?
A witness to an automobile accident was testifying. The lawyer asked him,
Q: “Did you actually see the accident?”
A: The witness: “Yes, sir.”
Q: “How far away were you when the accident happened?”
A: The witness: “Thirty-one feet, six and one quarter inches.”
The lawyer (thinking he’d trap the witness):
Q: “Well, sir, will you tell the jury how you knew it was exactly that distance?”
A: “Because when the accident happened I took out a tape and measured it. I knew some annoying lawyer would ask me that question.”
What’s wrong with Lawyer jokes?
Lawyers don’t think they’re funny, and nobody else thinks they’re jokes.
HEART WARMING LAWYER STORY
One afternoon a lawyer was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the roadside eating grass.
Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop and he got out to investigate.
He asked one man, “Why are you eating grass ?”
“We don’t have any money for food,” the poor man replied.
“We have to eat grass.”
“Well, then, you can come with me to my house and I’ll feed you,” the lawyer said.
“But sir, I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there eating grass under that tree.”
“Bring them along,” the lawyer replied.
Turning to the second poor man he stated, “You may come with us, also.”
The other man, in a pitiful voice, then said, “But sir, I also have a wife and six children with me!”
“Bring them all as well,” the lawyer answered.
They all entered the car, which was no easy task, even for a car as large as the limousine.
Once under way, one of the poor fellows turned to the lawyer and said, “Sir, you are too kind. Thank you for taking all of us with you.”
The lawyer replied, “Glad to do it. You’ll really love my place.
The grass is almost a foot high.”
Come on . . . did you really think there was such a thing as a heart-warming lawyer story?
Look at Congress — over 300 Lawyers!!!
This Lawyer Is Thorough…
The attorney tells the accused, “I have some good news and some bad news.”
“What’s the bad news?” asks the accused.
“The bad news is, your blood is all over the crime scene, and the DNA tests prove you did it.”
“What’s the good news?”
“Your cholesterol is 130.”
Trappiest Place on Earth
“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.’” — Conan O’Brien
The First Case
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.”
Court of Less Appeal
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.
Frame of Reference
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.”
Protesting Too Much
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.”
Running the Show
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.”
Guilty as Charged
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.
Waiting for the Fine
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 ine?’”
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.”
As a potential juror in an assault-and-battery case, I was sitting in a courtroom, answering questions from both sides. The assistant district attorney asked such questions as: Had I ever been mugged? Did I know the victim or the defendant?
The defence attorney took a different approach, however. “I see you are a teacher,” he said. “What do you teach?”
“English and theatre,” I responded.
“Then I guess I better watch my grammar,” the defence attorney quipped.
“No,” I shot back. “You better watch your acting.”
When the laughter in the courtroom died down, I was excused from the case.
Not So Humble
I was once a legal secretary to a young law clerk who passed the bar exam on his third try. This fledgling attorney worked hard on his initial pleading, which should have read “Attorney at Law” at the top of the first page.
After I submitted the finished document for his review and signature, I was embarrassed when he pointed out a critical typing error. “Must you rub it in?” he asked.
I had typed: “Attorney at Last.”
I was a brand-new attorney in practice alone, and I had a likewise inexperienced secretary fresh out of high school. The importance of proofreading the results of my dictation was highlighted one day when a reminder to a client’s tenant to pay her rent or suffer eviction was transcribed as follows: “You are hereby notified that if payment is not received within five business days, I will have no choice but to commence execution proceedings.”