Famous Last Words in Court

"Nothing personal, Mr. Smith, but are you still beating your wife?"

We have my old friend and fellow classmate from St. Thomas High School, Vito Schlabra, to thank for today’s wonderful look at unfortunate statements in court – and mainly by the interrogating attorneys. I’ve never seen so many examples of legal incompetence, or outright second-banana joke set-up comments by lawyers, in one collection until now. I suppose we shall have to wait for all the BP trials to come to top any of these citations, but these will do for now – on a Monday morning that my Astros-fan heart is far too numbed and broken to wade directly back into a discussion of baseball in the wake of an otherwise pleasant Father’s Day weekend.

Hope you enjoy the background clattering sound of the following documentation on famous last words in court. It’s mostly the sound of barrister words choking on the damage they are doing to their sender’s own credibility at the bar.

According to Vito Schlabra, these are all quotes from a book called “Disorder in the American Courts.” They are things people actually have said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.

With apologies to everyone from Oliver Wendell Holmes to Johnnie Cochran to Perry Mason, here are the chosen few we shall feature here:

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:  What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?

WITNESS:  Gucci sweats and Reeboks.


ATTORNEY:  Are you sexually active?

WITNESS:  No, I just lie there.


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


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:  Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?

WITNESS:  We both do.

ATTORNEY:  Voodoo?

WITNESS:  We do.

ATTORNEY:  You do?

WITNESS:  Yes, voodoo.


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?


ATTORNEY:  And what were you doing at that time?

WITNESS:  Getting laid.


ATTORNEY:  She had three children, right?


ATTORNEY:  How many were boys?


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:  Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?

WITNESS:  No, this is how I dress when I go to work.


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?



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?


ATTORNEY:  Did you check for blood pressure?


ATTORNEY:  Did you check for breathing?


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


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.


The content and temper of all these court transcripts reminds me of the terrific routine that the late comedian Don Adams used to portray on TV – and pretty much in style with his original Maxwell Smart character – only casting himself as an attorney apart from the Get Smart series.

It went something like this:

Attorney Adams: “Your Honor – for the past forty-five minutes, I have sat here idly while my opponent has stood before you in this worthy court of law and made a total ass of himself. – Now it’s my turn.”

Have a groovy Monday, everybody. – Just watch what you say to people in important situations. – It doesn’t have to be your turn.

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3 Responses to “Famous Last Words in Court”

  1. Randy Says:

    I am representing myself.

  2. Ken Dupuy Says:

    I can’t recall when, but it was months or even years ago that I read these “innocent” responses.

  3. Lawyer in Oshawa Says:

    I really love this blog… Such great posts all the time!

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