Disorder in the Court: a Collection of 'Transquips'


     Most language is spoken language, and most words, once they

     are uttered, vanish forever into the air.  But such is not

     the case with language spoken during courtroom trials, for

     there exists an army of courtroom reporters whose job it is

     to take down and preserve every statement made during the



     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:


     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 stay all night with this man in New York?

     A.  I refuse to answer that question.

     Q.  Did you ever stay all night with this man in Chicago?

     A.  I refuse to answer that question.

     Q.  Did you ever stay all night with this man in Miami?

     A.  No.


     Q.  What is your name?

     A.  Ernestine McDowell.

     Q.  And what is your marital status?

     A.  Fair.


     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?

     A.  Yes.

     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 defendant?

     A.  Yes, sir.

     Q.  Before or after he died?


     Q.  Officer, what led you to believe the defendant was under

         the influence?

     A.  Because he was augmentable and he couldn't pronunciate his


     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.


     THE COURT: Now, as we begin, I must ask you to banish all present

     information and prejudice from your minds, if you have any.


     Q.  Did he pick the dog up 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


     MR. BROOKS: Objection.  That question should be taken out and shot.


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