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DEATH BY ATTORNEY? 21 March 2014

Lawyers are not exempt from asking asinine questions.  American lawyers however tend to excel in this department as exemplified by the selection below.


These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while the exchanges were taking place.

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?

WITNESS:      He said, ‘Where am I, Cathy?’

ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?

WITNESS:      My name is Susan! 


ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?

WITNESS:      No, I just lie there.


ATTORNEY: What is your date of birth?

WITNESS:      July 18th.

ATTORNEY: What year?

WITNESS:      Every year.


ATTORNEY: How old is your son, the one living with you?

WITNESS:      Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.

ATTORNEY: How long has he lived with you?

WITNESS:      Forty-five years.


ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?

WITNESS:      Yes.

ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?

WITNESS:      I forget..

ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?


ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?

WITNESS:      Did you actually pass the bar exam?



ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?

WITNESS:      He’s 20, much like your IQ.


ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?

WITNESS:      Are you shitting me?


ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?

WITNESS:      Yes.

ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?

WITNESS:      Getting laid


ATTORNEY: She had three children , right?

WITNESS:      Yes.

ATTORNEY: How many were boys?

WITNESS:      None.

ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?

WITNESS:      Your Honour, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?


ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?

WITNESS:      By death..

ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?

WITNESS:      Take a guess.


ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?

WITNESS:      He was about medium height and had a beard

ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?

WITNESS:      Unless the Circus was in town I’m going with male.


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.


ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?

WITNESS:      Oral…


ATTORNEY:  Do you recall the time that you examined the body?

WITNESS:      The autopsy started around 8:30 PM

ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?

WITNESS:      If not, he was by the time I finished.


ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

WITNESS:      Are you qualified to ask that question?


And last:

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?

WITNESS:      No.

ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?

WITNESS:      No.

ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?

WITNESS:      No..

ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?

WITNESS:      No.

ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?

WITNESS:      Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?

WITNESS:      Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law

Death of a Gardener 26 February 2014

This is my favourite ‘Spring’ poem juxtaposing the cycles of nature and life.  Phoebe Hesketh spent her whole life in rural Lancashire and was a prolific poet but I think this is her best.




Death of a Gardener



He rested through the Winter, watched the rain

On his cold garden, slept, awoke to snow

Padding the window, thatching the roof again

With silence.  He was grateful for the slow

Nights and undemanding days; the dark

Protected him; the pause grew big with cold.

Mice in the shed scuffled like leaves; a spark

Hissed from his pipe as he dreamed beside the fire.

All at once light sharpened; earth drew breath,

Stirred; and he woke to strangeness that was Spring,

Stood on the grass, felt movement underneath

Like a child in the womb; hope troubled him to bring

Barrow and spade once more to the waiting soil.

Slower his lift and thrust; a blackbird filled

Long intervals with song; a worm could coil

To safety underneath the hesitant blade.

Hands tremulous as cherry branches kept

Faith with struggling seedlings till the earth

Kept faith with him, claimed him as he slept

Cold in the sun beside his upright spade.


A suitably wintry subject and seascape from Seamus Heaney


And some time make the time to drive out west

Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,

In September or October, when the wind

And the lights are working off each other

So that the ocean on one side is wild

With foam and glitter, and inland among stones

the surface of a slate-grey lake is lit

By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,

Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,

Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads

Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.

Useless to think, you’ll park and capture it

More thoroughly.  You are neither here nor there,

A hurry through which known and strange things pass

As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways

And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.



At his best, man is the noblest of animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.

Thomas Jefferson

 It is more dangerous that even a guilty person should be punished without the forms of law than that he should escape.

William Shakespeare

Lawless are they that make their wills their law.

Bad Press for Lawyers in 16th century

One thing I supplicate, your majesty: that you will give orders, under a great penalty, that no bachelors of law should be allowed to come here (to the New World); for not only are they bad in themselves, but they also make and contrive a thousand inequities.

Vasco Nunez de Balboa, to King Ferdinand V of Spain 1513

Loss by Wendy Cope

The day he moved out was terrible –

That evening she went through hell.

His absence wasn’t a problem

But the corkscrew had gone as well.

Perhaps we can help recover something for you?