Legal Humour

The following message/mail is frequently seen in mailing lists or email. At least it gives the correct title of the book (Dave Barry is constantly being quoted with no attribution), although the author is missing and the details confused (the book wasn’t published by court reporters, but the examples were taken down by them):

bq. This is from a book called Disorder in the Court. The book is about things
people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published
by court reporters. Here is one of the exchanges I like best:
Q: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for blood pressure?
A: No.
Q: Did you check for breathing?
A: No.
Q: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the
A: No.
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: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law

I have the book Disorderly Conduct. Verbatim excerpts from actual court cases selected by Rodney R. Jones, Charles M. Sevilla and Gerald F. Uelmen, with illustrations by Lee Lorenz, 1987, ISBN 0 393 30597 X
I used to read bits to students, so I recognized them when they were quoted on the Internet without attribution.
Charles Sevilla wrote a later book, Disorder in the Court
At it’s possible to ‘look inside’ books nowadays.Another frequently encountered email says:

bq. Disorder in the Court:
A Collection of ‘Transquips’
by Richard Lederer

Mary Louise Gilman, the venerable editor of the National Shorthand
Reporter has collected many of the more hilarious courtroom bloopers
in two books – Humor in the Court (1977) and More Humor in the
Court, published a few months ago. From Mrs. Gilman’s two volumes,
here are some of my favorite transquips, all recorded by America’s
keepers of the word:

(It should be ‘How was your first marriage terminated?’ not ‘How was your first death terminated?’)

I remember Mary Louise Gilman’s name. She wrote a book called One word? Two words? Hyphenated?
There used to be and perhaps still is a court reporters forum on CompuServe. Like translators, court reporters tend to have computers, and a lot of them were online in a friendly group with sections discussing words, punctuation, what to do when attorneys all talk at once or whisper near you while you’re trying to take down something else, what the correct spelling of some obscure place in Russia might be, and good books for court reporters.
It appears Gilman may have written two books. More Humor in the Court was published in 1984 (one source has 2002, but most ‘a few months ago’).

Richard Lederer can be encountered on the Web too, at Richard Lederer’s Verbivore.
He has produced some wonderful collections of bloopers.

Finally, here are some links to legal humour.

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