Courtroom Bloopers

Most language is spoken language, and most words, once they are uttered, vanish forever in the air. But such is not the case with courtroom trials, for there exists an army of courtroom reporters whose job it is to take down and preserve every statement made during the proceedings.

Mary Louise Gilman, the venerable editor of the National Shorthand Reporter, has collected many of the more hilarious courtroom bloopers.

  • Q. What is your brother-in-law's name?
  • A. Borofkin.
  • Q. What's his first name?
  • A. I can't remember.
  • Q. He's been your brother-in-law for years, and you can't remember his first name?
  • A. No. I tell you I'm too excited. (Rising from the witness chair and pointing to Mr. Borofkin) Nathan, for God's sake, tell them your first name!
  • Q. Did you ever spend the night with this man in New York?
  • A. I refuse to answer that question.
  • Q. Did you ever spend the night with this man in Chicago?
  • A. I refuse to answer that question.
  • Q. Did you ever spend the night with this man in Miami?
  • A. No.
  • Q. Now Mrs.Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?
  • A. By death.
  • Q. And by whose death was it terminated?
  • Q. Doctor, did you say he was shot in the woods?
  • A. No, I said he was shot in the lumbar region.
  • Q. What is your name?
  • A. Ernestine McDowell.
  • Q. And what is your marriage status?
  • A. Fair.
  • Q. Are you married?
  • A. No, I'm divorced.
  • Q. And what did you husband do before you divorced him?
  • A. A lot of things I didn't know about.
  • Q. And who is this person you are speaking of?
  • A. My ex-widow said it.
  • Q. Do you know how far pregnant you are?
  • A. I will be three months November 8th.
  • Q. Apparently then, the date of conception was August 8th.
  • A. Yes.
  • Q. What were you and your husband doing at the time?
  • Q. Mrs.Smith, do you believe you are emotionally unstable?
  • A. I should be.
  • Q. How many time have you committed suicide.
  • A. Four.
  • Q. Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
  • A. All of them.
  • Q. Were you aquainted with the deceased?
  • A. Yes sir.
  • Q. Before or after he died?
  • Q. What happened then?
  • A. He told me, he says, "I have to kill you because you can identify me."
  • Q. Did he kill you?
  • A. No.
  • Q. Mrs. Jones, is your appearance this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
  • A. No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
  • Q. Did he pick up the dog by the ears?
  • A. No.
  • Q. What was he doing with the dog's ears?
  • A. Picking them up in the air.
  • Q. Where was the dog at this time?
  • A. Attached to the ears.
  • Q. When he went, had you gone and had she, if she wanted to and were able, for the time being excluding all the restraints on her not to go, gone also, would he have brought you, meaning you and she, with him to the station?
  • Mr.Brooks (opposing attorney) - Objection your honor. That question should be taken out and shot.
  • Q. And lastly, Gary, all your responses must be oral. Okay? What school did you go to?
  • A. Oral.
  • Q. How old are you?
  • A. Oral.
  • Q. Now, you have investigated other murders, have you not, where there was a victim?
  • Q. ...and what did he do then?
  • A. He came home and the next morning he was dead.
  • Q. So when he woke up the next morning, he was dead?
  • Q. Did you tell your lawyer that your husband had offered you indignities?
  • A. He didn't offer nothing; he just said I could have the furniture.
  • Q. So, after the anesthesia, when you came out of it, what did you observe with respect to your scalp?
  • A. I didn't see my scalp the whole time I was in the hospital.
  • Q. It was covered?
  • A. Yes, bandaged.
  • Q. Then later on, what did you see?
  • A. I had a skin graft. My whole buttocks and leg were removed and put on top of my head.
  • Q. Could you see him from where you were standing?
  • A. I could just see his head.
  • Q. And where was his head?
  • A. Just above his shoulder's.
  • Q. What can you tell us about the truthfulness and veracity of this defendant?
  • A. Oh, she told the truth. She said she was going to kill the son of a bitch, and she did!
  • Q. Do you drink when you're on duty?
  • A. I don't drink while I'm on duty, unless I come on duty drunk.
  • Q. ...any suggestions as to what prevented this from being a murder trial instead of an attempted murder trial.
  • A. The victim lived.
  • Q. Are you sexually active?
  • A. No, I just lie there.
  • Q. Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
  • A. Yes, I have been since early childhood.
  • Q. The truth of the matter is that you were not an unbiased, objective witness, isn't it? You too were shot in the fracas?
  • A. No sir. I was shot midway between the fracas and the navel.
  • Q. What is the meaning of sperm being present?
  • A. It indicates intercourse.
  • Q. Male sperm?
  • A. That is the only kind I know.
  • Q. (Showing man picture), That's you?
  • A. Yes sir.
  • Q. And you were present when this picture was taken, right?
  • Q. Was that the same nose you broke as a child?