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. From Mrs. Gilman’s two volumes, here are some transquips, all recorded by America’s keepers of the word:
Q. Now, Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?
A. By death.
Q. And by whose death was it terminated?
Q. Are you married?
A. No, I’m divorced.
Q. And what did your husband do before you divorced him?
A. A lot of things I didn’t know about.
Q. Do you know how far pregnant you are right now?
A. I will be three months November 8th.
Q. Apparently then, the date of conception was August 8th?
Q. What were you and your husband doing at that time?
Q. Mrs. Smith, do you believe that you are emotionally unstable?
A. I should be.
Q. How many times have you committed suicide?
A. Four times.
Q. Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?
A. All my autopsies have been performed on dead people.
Q. Were you acquainted with the deceased?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Before or after he died?
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. 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: Objection. That question should be taken out and shot.
Q. What is your relationship with the plaintiff?
A. She is my daughter.
Q. Was she your daughter on February 13, 1979?
Q. Now, you have investigated other murders, have you not, where there was a
Q.… and what did he do then?
A. He came home, and next morning he was dead.
Q. So when he woke up the next morning he was dead?
Q. Do you drink when you’re on duty?
A. I don’t drink when 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 qualified to give a urine sample?
A. Yes, I have been since early childhood.
Q. (Showing man picture.) That’s you?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And you were present when the picture was taken, right?
Q. Was that the same nose you broke as a child?