Thanks, but no thanks, thank you

Friday, December 30, 2011, Vol. 35, No. 52

I bet more than one of you readers out there heard an upstream relative say to you when you were a kid, “What do you say?” This, of course, was an effort to get you to remember to say the two magic words, “thank you.”

A few years ago in Austin, Texas, a certain lawyer, who’d obviously been well-trained by his upstream relatives, met with some opposition from a most unlikely source. Consider the following, straight from the transcript:

Counsel: “The motion is overruled?”

Court: “Yes.”

Counsel: “Thank you, judge. May I have a moment?”

Court: “This is something you do all the time. It’s automatic that you say ‘thank you’ every time I make a ruling. Don’t thank me for making a ruling. … The next time you thank me for my ruling, I’m going to say, ‘Don’t thank me for my ruling.’”

Counsel: “Thank you, sir.”

Court: “See what I’m saying? Don’t thank me for my ruling.”

Counsel: “Thank you for the instruction.”

The following also is from Texas, from an age discrimination case. The plaintiff was giving a deposition to the defendant’s lawyer:

Q. “What’s your current address, Mr. Hooker?”

A. “2612 Easy Street, Dennison, Texas.”

Q. “OK. You’re living on Easy Street and you’re suing my client?”

A. “Yes, and I’m a Hooker.”

Q. “And you’re a Hooker. Holy mackerel! We’re going to have some fun with this case. A Hooker living on Easy Street and suing my client….”

A. “I shouldn’t even point out my neighbor, whose name is Virgin, but–”

Q. “There’s a Virgin living on Easy Street?”

A. “No. They live around the corner. There are no Virgins on Easy Street.”

The following is from the deposition of a 92-year-old woman. It was sent to me a few years back by a lawyer from Jonesboro, Ark.:

Q. “I am about done here. I have just a few more questions.”

A. “Well, hurry up and get it said.”

Q. “All right. All right.”

A. “I’ll be glad to get rid of you.”

Q. “I’m sure you will.”

A. “I don’t like the look of young men that thinks they’re smart….”

Q. “My mother loves me.”

A. “Well, I don’t care. I’m not your mother.”

I’ve lost my notes on the following depositional dialogue, but I believe it took place in Texas:

Q. “Were you aware that Mr. Brown testified that he slipped off one of the stairs and fell?”

A. “I don’t know that.”

Mr. Smith: “He doesn’t know what any of Mr. Brown’s testimony is…”

Mr. Jones: “I don’t know that he doesn’t know that.”

Mr. Smith: “He knows that you don’t know it.”

Mr. Jones: “I don’t know that he knows that I don’t know.”

Some might say that the kind of exchange illustrate above is a know-know, you know?

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