Tag Archives: Legal


A2Yesterday, I ran into Bert King. He’s my adversarial friend—a defense lawyer with an honest, ethical, and realistic streak. Bert and I stood on the street and bullshitted. Here were two old guys reminiscing old times—who’s still in jail, who made parole—bitching about a stupidly screwed system and the hopelessly dysfunctional new breed of cops and counsels. Then our stuff turned to hilarious things we’d seen and heard within the hallowed halls of honor.

A3One of the great moments took place in our city’s old courthouse. It’s a beautiful stone building with maple woodwork and regal red carpeting. It was a hot summer day and the sheriff nodded off during a jury trial. He snapped awake, then gawked—the prisoner dock was vacant. “M’Lord!” he exclaimed. “The prisoner has escaped!” “Relax, Mister Sheriff,” the judge replied. “The accused has been testifying on his own behalf for the past twenty minutes.”

A5Then there was the time I was on the stand during one of the most vicious double murder trials of my career. I was under cross-examination by this big-shot, downtown lawyer who was grandstanding—waving his hands like a traffic cop on meth. Smack! He whacked his water pitcher, dumping the jug over his files and down the front of his pants. The guy looked like he’d been caught with porn. He stared open-mouthed as Kay, our wonderful sheriff, calmly got up, grasped a roll of paper towels, and purposely approached the spill. The mouthpiece looked mighty relieved. Then Kay stopped. Kay winked at the jury and she handed Mr. Barrister the roll.

A6I’ve seen melt-downs and make-ups, mockeries and manhandlings in the courtroom. I’ve heard a judge slurring words, seen a prosecutor quit, a clerk split his pants, and an accused do an impressive stand-up routine. I’ve seen and heard some crazy, funny things in that public place of prosecution and protection of personal rightsit’s not all pomp and pious.

So, I thought I’d lighten up the DyingWords blog this weekend and share some legalese gems I’ve dug up. Here are whacky words from wonderful wizards of warranted wisdom.

— — 

Judge addressing the jury: “Now, as we begin, I must ask you to banish all present information and prejudice from your minds, if you have any.”

— — 

  • Lawyer: “Now sir, I’m sure you are an intelligent and honest man.”
  • Witness: “Thank you. If I weren’t under oath, I’d return the compliment.”

— — 

  • Lawyer: “This myasthenia gravis…does it affect your memory at all?
  • Witness: “Yes.”
  • Lawyer: “And in what ways does it affect your memory?
  • Witness: “I forget.”
  • Lawyer: “You forget. Can you give us an example of something you’ve forgotten?

— — 

  • Lawyer: “Doctor, did you say he was shot in the woods?
  • Witness: “No, I said he was shot in the lumbar region.”

— — 

  • Lawyer: “Do you know how far pregnant you are now?
  • Witness: “I’ll be three months on November 8.”
  • Lawyer: “Apparently, then, the date of conception was August 8?
  • Witness: “Yes.”
  • Lawyer: “And what were you doing at that time?

— — 

  • Lawyer: “Have you lived in this town all your life?
  • Witness: “Not yet.”

— — 

  • Lawyer: “So, after the anesthesia, when you came out of it, what did you observe with respect to your scalp?
  • Witness: “I didn’t see my scalp the whole time I was in the hospital.”
  • Lawyer: “It was covered?
  • Witness: “Yes, bandaged.”
  • Lawyer: “Then, later on…what did you see?
  • Witness: “I had a skin graft. My whole buttocks and leg were removed and put on top of my head.”

— — 

Lawyer: (realizing he was on the verge of asking a stupid question) “Your Honor, I’d like to strike the next question.

— — 

  • Lawyer: “You say that the stairs went down to the basement?
  • Witness: “Yes.”
  • Lawyer: “And these stairs, did they also go up?

— — 

Judge addressing the accused: “How do you plea before I find you guilty?

— — 

  • Lawyer: “Now, do you know if your daughter has been involved in voodoo?
  • Witness: “We both do.”
  • Lawyer: “Voodoo?
  • Witness: “We do.”
  • Lawyer: “You do?
  • Witness: “Yes, voodoo.”
  • Lawyer: “Who do…you do…voodoo…I seem to be confused…

— — 

  • Lawyer: “Did he pick the dog up by the ears?
  • Witness: “No.”
  • Lawyer: “What was he doing with the dog’s ears?
  • Witness: “Picking them up in the air.”
  • Lawyer: “Where was the dog at this time?
  • Witness: “Attached to the ears.”

— — 

  • Lawyer: “Now, sir, what is your marital status?
  • Witness: “I’d say fair.”

— — 

  • Lawyer: “Are you married?
  • Witness: “No, I’m divorced.”
  • Lawyer: “And what did your husband do before you divorced him?
  • Witness: “Apparently a lot of things I didn’t know about.”

— — 

Lawyer: “You don’t know what it was, and you didn’t know what it looked like, but can you describe it?

— — 

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

— — 

  • Lawyer: “Sir, what is your IQ?
  • Witness: “Well, I can see pretty well, I think.”

— — 

  • Lawyer: “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?
  • Other Lawyer: “Objection. That question should be taken out and shot.”

— — 

  • Lawyer: “What happened then?
  • Witness: “He told me, he says, ‘I have to kill you because you can identify me.'”
  • Lawyer: “And did he kill you?
  • Witness: “No, he did not.”

— — 

  • Lawyer: “Now, Doctor. Isn’t it true that when a person dies in their sleep they wouldn’t know anything about it until the next morning?
  • Witness: “Did you actually pass the bar exam?

— — 

And no lawyer post would be complete without a lawyer joke.

A7A Mafia Don discovers his bookkeeper ripped him for ten million bucks. His bookkeeper’s deaf—that was the reason he got the job in the first place—the Mafioso assumed a deaf bookkeeper wouldn’t hear anything that he might have to testify about in court. So when the Don goes to confront the bookkeeper about his missing $10 million, he brings along his lawyer, who knows sign language.

The Don tells the lawyer, “Ask him where the 10 million bucks he embezzled from me is.”

The lawyer, using sign language, asks the bookkeeper where the money is.

The bookkeeper signs back, “Don’t know what you are talking about.”

The lawyer tells the Don, “He says he doesn’t know anything about what you’re talking about.”

The Don pulls out a handgun, puts it the bookkeeper’s temple, and says, “Ask him again.

The lawyer signs to the bookkeeper, “He’ll kill you if you don’t say.”

The bookkeeper signs back, “Enough! Money’s in a brown briefcase, buried behind the shed in my cousin Enzo’s backyard in Queens!

The Don asks the lawyer, “Well, what’d he say?

The lawyer replies, “He says you don’t have the balls to pull the trigger.”


— — 

UnderTheGround8I’m promoting a book this weekend. Under The Ground is my new psychological crime thriller based on the true story of an undercover operation done on a guy who murdered his girlfriend and hid her body. He confessed to the u/c operator and turned over the body. What he’d done and where he’d put her was shocking, as was the psychological manipulation done to trick his confession.

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SAS_ChurchLet’s face it. We’re all going to die one day. You. Me. Our parents. Our children. Friends. Neighbours. Co-workers. Even our pets. It makes me wonder why we have so much trouble accepting the inevitable, especially in artificially prolonging life when a person’s entire quality of life is gone, never to return, and they spend their final days in suffering – not just pain and discomfort, but in a total loss of their dignity as a human being.

During my time as a coroner I heard from a lot of family members about the agony that not only the deceased suffered in their final days, but what the ones left behind endured. Inevitably that led to discussions about the ethics of euthanasia.

Death2Euthanasia was also a topic behind closed doors within my medical and legal colleagues. Without question, there are cases of assisted suicide that are overlooked by the authorities and I’m sure that some of the ‘natural’ deaths in seniors care homes are ‘helped along’ by a generous dose of pain killer.

Several years ago I watch as my ninety-five year old mother wasted away in the final months of her long and fulfilled life. It was absolute agony, not so much for Mum, because she was medicated to the point of being mostly unconscious, but for myself and other family members. To see such a vibrant person being ‘punished’ by dragging out her journey to everlasting peace and tranquility was heartbreaking.

I did a lot of soul searching during that time.

Death7I’ll admit that it was tempting to intervene and put Mum out of her misery. I know that’s what she wanted, because we’d had that discussion, but the legal ramifications were far too serious to consider bringing that monster into the family. So, we just bided our time while she literally wasted away in a nursing home bed until her life and dignity exhausted.

I wouldn’t treat my dog that way. When his quality of life is gone, I’ll take him into the vet and have him put to sleep. After all, it’s the humane thing to do.

So why are we so cruel to our fellow humans?

Death4I say the problem lies right in the hands of our legal system. Not our ‘justice’ system. Our ‘legal’ system.

There’s a fine line between the moral and practical approach to death. It’s the moral tail that wags the practical dog in the debate over euthanasia and it needs to be put to rest.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating involuntary euthanasia or playing God against a terminally ill person’s wishes. That’s a ‘slippery slope’ for society to slide down. I’m talking about the legalization of medically assisted suicide, or mercy killing, when the patient – in sound mind – has clearly expressed their desire to be euthanized when their quality of life has expired.

Death6We’ve been using Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders for years and our system totally accepts the moral and legal reasoning behind them. We also ‘pull-the plug’ on people who are brain dead but their body still functions.

What I want for myself, and I’ve told my next-of-kin this, is a Put Me Out Of Misery (PMOOM) order. When my quality of life is gone, the last thing I want to do is unnecessarily delay the inevitable. Out of sheer respect for my dignity, somebody please give me a push over the edge.

I believe it’s the humane thing to do, but that’s just my opinion.

What do you think? I’m dying to hear your words.