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VOL. 36 | NO. 40 | Friday, October 5, 2012

Readers get a kick out of courtroom anecdotes

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Regarding the column in which I quoted lawyers’ courtroom and deposition questions and statements, Ron Curlin of Memphis writes:

“Without question, this is the most hilarious column you’ve ever done. It has brightened my day tremendously! As far as I’m concerned, you have set a precedent with this one, and I fully expect to see more ‘Did They Really Say That?’ columns chosen from the attorney’s side of the proceedings. Thank you for making my day. Keep up the excellent work.”

Ron was not paid to offer up this critique. He began his note by saying that while he looks forward to I Swear in the Memphis Daily News, his wife prefers the I Swear Crossword and “I enjoy bringing the puzzle home to her.”

He adds: “I find myself disappointed when a puzzle column comes out because of my anticipation for a ‘The Record’ column.”

Ron went on to opine that the column on lawyer quotes “topped anything I’ve ever read of yours. If these quotes all come from activities within your Arkansas courtrooms, I am going to be VERY diligent and ultra-cautious to try to avoid any legal entanglements within your state.”

The column that quoted from a pleading in the case of a wrongful doggy death case brought this response from Hal Gentry of Old Hickory: “Thanks to my neighbor, who likes to pick up free newspapers for their crosswords, I was introduced to your column and puzzle through the Nashville Ledger. The ‘Little Thunder Jim’ story is a beaut and reminds me of a small book given to me by my Camden cousin, Bill Reynolds.

“The book, Dog Tales, by Bill Mainer from Branch, Ark., is full of stories of dogs led astray by love. The courtroom anecdotes took me back to Little Rock and many story-swapping sessions with my father, grandfather and their fellow counselors. All because of a free (and enjoyable) crossword. Funny how things connect. Thank you very much.”

Thank you, Hal and Ron, for making my day. Notes such as these, especially this time of the year, make me resolve to keep writing. It was in the autumn of 1984, six years into my tenure as a licensed attorney, that Ruth Williams, then editor of the Arkansas Lawyer, a quarterly put out by the state bar association, allowed me to write a one-page column that I thought would be more humorous than what was in the magazine at that time.

I had a 15-year run in the Lawyer as a columnist. In 1993, Little Rock’s court and commercial newspaper, the Daily Record, through its then-editor, C.S. “Chuck” Heinbockel, asked if I would write a weekly column similar to the column in the Lawyer. The rest, as is often said, is history.

I did not start with excerpts from the Record, but the columns that feature actual quotes from proceedings and documents have been the most popular. Those columns tend to be fueled, in large part, by readers sending me things that they were involved in or otherwise know of.

Thank you, to all who have contributed. Let’s do it again in 2013.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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