Amusing Trial Transcripts
by Jamison Koehler on May 11, 2012
Back when I was a public defender, my office mate used to come across me reading transcripts from court hearings I had done – from either a trial or a preliminary hearing – and kid me. I thought I was being conscientious, working hard to make myself a better lawyer. He thought I was being vain.
Apparently he hadn’t read many of my transcripts.
For every time in which you had the witness in the palm of your hand, fulfilling your vision of yourself as the next Clarence Darrow, there are many other times in which you stumbled over a question or missed a possible area of inquiry. And, of course, witnesses also have their moments.
Since I hope to start posting more trial transcript excerpts here, I thought I would begin with some of the amusing – and supposedly true – ones pulled from the Internet. I found the following ones on Legal Antics, Funny Courtroom Exchanges, and Miles.uni.cc.
Q: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
Q: Where you present when your picture was taken?
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?
Question with Dumb Response
Q: All of your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
Q: What is your date of birth?
A: July 15.
Q: What year?
A: Every year.
Q: What gear were in you at the moment of impact?
A: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
Q: Did you blow your horn or anything?
A: After the accident?
Q: Before the accident.
A: Sure, I played for ten years. I even went to school for it.
Q: You were not shot in the fracas?
A: No, I was shot midway between the fracas and the navel.
Dumb Question with Smart Response
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 is it 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.
Q: And where was the location of the accident?
A: Approximately milepost 499.
Q: And where is milepost 499?
A: Probably between milepost 498 and 500.
Q: I take it that before this accident happened you lived with your brother-in-law and sister for about six months?
Q: You got to know him quite well?
Q: And you saw him interact with your sister, and I believe they had one child?
A: I didn’t see the actual interaction, but they did have one child.
Dumb Question with No Response
Q: So the date of the baby’s conception was August 8th?
Q: What were you doing at the time?
Q: This myasthenia gravis – does it affect your memory at all?
Q: In what ways does it affect your memory?
A: I forget.
Q: You forget. Can you give us an example of something you’ve forgotten?
Q: You say the stair went down to the basement?
Q: And these stairs, did they also go up?
Question with Surprising Response
Q: What was the first thing your husband said to you when you woke that Thursday?
A: He said, “where am I, Cathy?”
Q: And why did that upset you?
A: My name is Susan.
Defendant: Judge, I want another public defender, because this man is incontinent.
And My All-Time Favorite:
Q: Are you sexually active?
A: No. I just kind of lie there.