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Actual Courtroom Mis-Communications

Reported in the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Journal, the following are questions actually asked of witnesses by attorneys during trials and, in certain cases, the responses given by insightful witnesses:

1. “Now doctor, isn’t it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn’t know about it until the next morning?”

2. “The youngest son, the twenty-year old, how old is he?”

3. “Were you present when your picture was taken?”

4. “Were you alone or by yourself?”

5. “Was it you or your younger brother who was killed in the war?”

6. “Did he kill you?”

7. “How far apart were the vehicles at the time of the collision?”

8. “You were there until the time you left, is that true?”

9. “How many times have you committed suicide?”

10. Q: “So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?”
A: “Yes.”
Q: “And what were you doing at that time?”

11. Q: “She had three children, right?”
A: “Yes.”
Q: “How many were boys?”
A: “None.”
Q: “Were there any girls?”

12. Q: “You say the stairs went down to the basement?”
A: “Yes.”
Q: “And these stairs, did they go up also?”

13. Q: “Mr. Slattery, you went on a rather elaborate honeymoon, didn’t you?”
A: “I went to Europe, sir.”
Q: “And you took your new wife?”

14. Q: “How was your first marriage terminated?”
A: “By death.”
Q: “And by whose death was it terminated?”

15. Q: “Can you describe the individual?”
A: “He was about medium height and had a beard.”
Q: “Was this a male or female?”

16. Q: “Is your appearance here 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.”

17. Q: “Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?”
A: “All my autopsies are performed on dead people.”

18. Q: “All your responses must be oral, OK? What school did you go to?”
A: “Oral.”

19. Q: “Do you recall the time that you examined the body?”
A: “The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.”
Q: “And Mr. Dennington was dead at the time?”
A: “No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy.”

20. Q: “You were not shot in the fracas?”
A: “No, I was shot midway between the fracas and the naval.”

21. Q: “Are you qualified to give a urine sample?”
A: “I have been since early childhood.”

22. 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 autopsy?”
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: “It is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.”

23. Q: What is your date of birth?
A: July 15th.
Q: What year?
A: Every year.

24. Q: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
A: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

25. Q: How old is your son, the one living with you.
A: Thirty-eight or thirty-five, I can’t remember which.
Q: How long has he lived with you?
A: Forty-five years.

26. Q: What was the first thing your husband said to you when he woke that morning?
A: He said, “Where am I, Cathy?”
Q: And why did that upset you?
A: My name is Susan.

27. Q: Where was the location of the accident?
A: Approximately milepost 499.
Q: And where is milepost 499?
A: Probably between milepost 498 and 500.

28. Q: Sir, what is your IQ?
A: Well, I can see pretty well, I think.

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