Sep 10, 2008

Auntie Nolo's Favorite Courtroom Stories

Jake Warner: Auntie Nolo, I know you've sat through countless court cases over many centuries.

Auntie Nolo: From the Roman Forum to medieval England's Court of the Star Chamber to my favorite Kentucky country courthouse to mention a few. There's no place like a courtroom to gather funny stories -- except maybe the hallway outside. For example, one time in Texas I watched a lawyer get a client accused of stealing a cow a verdict of not guilty. Then later in the corridor, I overheard the lawyer say to the client, "Now tell me the truth Fred, you did steal that cow didn't you?"

To which the client answered, "Now Attorney Douglas, I was pretty sure I did steal that cow until I heard your beautiful speech to the jury. But you were so convincing that now I'm pretty sure I didn't!"

Jake Warner: Good start. How about a couple of more favorites?

Auntie Nolo: Well, once in my favorite Kentucky courtroom, a young woman, whose mom and several other family members had recently died in a bloody car accident, challenged her mother's will, which left most of her money to an obscure religion. On cross-examination the lawyer for the church asked, "Was it you or your sister who was also killed in the accident?"

And, another time, in the same court, the same lawyer asked a coal miner, "How long have you been Armenian?"

Think about that one, it grows on you.

And then there was the time in Virginia when a witness kept answering questions before a long-winded attorney finished asking them. "Why do you keep doing that?" the frustrated lawyer finally asked.

"I already knew what you were going to ask," replied the witness.

"OK then," the lawyer said, "Answer my next question!"

And once, in a divorce case before no-fault laws were adopted and you had to prove the other spouse was in the wrong, I heard this exchange:

Plaintiff: "Your Honor, my husband came home at all hours, drank way too much, cussed me constantly, never came to my bed and said nasty things about my family!"

Judge: "Do you have any more evidence?"

Plaintiff: "No, your Honor. But surely that's enough to establish mental cruelty?"

Judge: "Sorry, but it sounds like your average marriage to me."