Funny stuff

Sometimes You Have to Laugh at the Law


This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Sometimes you have to laugh at the law"

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


Sometimes you have to laugh at the law

I hope you enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday; now I offer you the following humorous tidbits, parsed from my Legal Antics blog at I hope they’ll tide you over until the December holidays.

First, as this quote from a recent California Court of Appeals case shows, while some lawyers may believe their legal arguments are fascinating, their captive audience is not always as enthusiastic:

Appellate counsel for both sides have done an outstanding job, resulting in briefs that have been more than ordinarily helpful to the court. The fact remains that the issues are far from enthralling; they demand an almost microscopic examination of dry, lengthy contract documents. As we embark on the resolution of these issues, then, we think it only fair to suggest that the reader might want to be sitting in a comfortable chair, with a cup of strong coffee nearby.

American Guarantee and Liability Ins. Co. v. ADP Marshall Inc. (CA4/2, Dec. 4, 2007) no. E041182 (Richli, J.).

Fortunately, not all lawyers are as dry and boring, as evidenced by Kevin A Gliwa’s attorney biography, found on the Web site of the Otten Johnson law firm:

Kevin, a Shareholder practicing in Otten Johnson’s real estate group, was raised by penguins following a childhood boating accident. He graduated magna cum laude from Colby College,  where he learned that not all issues can be reduced to black or white. He received his law degree from Boston University, which he attended on a full football scholarship through an administrative error. Thereafter, he worked for four years as an associate at a large law firm in New York, where he once rode an elevator to the top of the Empire State Building. He lectures frequently to his children on a variety of subjects. He enjoys swimming and fishing, despite the painful memories.

In the years since Kevin’s bio was published at Otten Johnson’s predecessor Web site, he has received many bemused queries, often pertaining to the state of his health. To limit future inquiry, here are his answers to some of the more frequently asked questions:

(a) Emperor, not King.

(b) Yes it was cold, but I had a sweater.

(c) Sushi.

Of course, no matter how funny we are, not everyone likes us, as can be gleaned from this lawyer joke, one of my favorites:

Two physicians boarded a flight out of Seattle. One sat in the window seat, the other sat in the
middle seat. Just before takeoff, an attorney got on and took the aisle seat next to the two physicians. The attorney kicked off his shoes, wiggled his toes and was settling in when the physician in the window seat said, "I think I’ll get up and get a Coke."

“No problem,’ said the attorney, ‘I’ll get it for you.’       

While he was gone, one of the physicians picked up the attorney’s shoe and put a thumbtack in it. When he returned with the Coke, the other physician said, "That looks good, I think I’ll have one too."

Again, the attorney obligingly went to fetch it and while he was gone, the other physician picked up the other shoe and put a tack in it. The attorney returned and they all sat back and enjoyed the flight.

As the plane was landing, the attorney slipped his feet into his shoes and knew immediately what had happened.

"How long must this go on?" he asked. "This fighting between our professions? This hatred? This animosity? This putting tacks in shoes and spitting in Cokes?”

So, I suppose the lessons to be learned this week are that wise lawyers ensure their legal briefs and Web site biographies are interesting and never let their shoes out of sight.

We Are Some Wild and Crazy Lawyers

Drlogo11 A recent Daily Record column is entitled "We Are Some Wild and Crazy Lawyers."

A pdf of the article can be found here  and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


We are some wild and crazy lawyers

Sometimes, we lawyers take ourselves far too seriously.

While the legal matters that we handle for our clients are most certainly serious, there is levity to be found in the law as well.

In fact, I have an entire legal blog that is devoted to chronicling legal humor. And, since it’s summertime and we all deserve a break, I’ve assembled some of my favorite law-related humor for your reading enjoyment.

First up, one of my favorite lawyer jokes:

Two lawyers are in a bank, when, suddenly, armed robbers burst in.
While several of the robbers take the money from the tellers, others line the customers, including the lawyers, up against a wall, and proceed to take their wallets,
watches, etc.

While this is going on lawyer number one jams something into lawyer number two’s hand.

Without looking down, lawyer number two whispers, ‘What is this?’ to which lawyer number one replies, ‘it’s that $50 I owe you.’

Next up, a courtroom transcript that is proof that even seemingly dry, dull court proceedings can be unexpectedly funny:

By the Court: You may call your next witness.

By Defendant’s Attorney: Your Honor, at this time I would like to swat [opposing counsel] on the head with his client’s deposition.

The Court: You mean read it?

Defendant’s Attorney: No, Sir. I mean to swat him on the head with it. Pursuant to Rule 32, I may use the deposition ‘for any purpose’ and that’s the purpose I want to use it for.

The Court: Well, it does say that.

Quiet pause.

The Court: There being no objection, you may proceed.

Defendant’s Attorney: Thank you, Judge.

Thereafter, Defendant’s attorney swatted plaintiff’s attorney on
the head with the deposition.

By Plaintiff’s Attorney (the victim): But, Judge ...

The Court: Next witness.

Plaintiff’s Attorney: ... We object.

The Court: Sustained. Next witness.

As further proof that our colleagues on the bench are still in touch with their sense of humor, I offer the following excerpt of a letter authored by the Hon. William R. Wilson Jr. of the U.S. District
Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas:

Re: … Plaintiff’s Eighth Motion in Limine to Prohibit the Defendant From Touching, Manipulating or Marking on Defendant’s Demonstrative Aids

Dear Attorney X,

Are you kidding? Please advise.


/s/ Wm. R. Wilson Jr.

Next, from one of my favorite blogs, “Overheard in New York” (www.overheardin, comes the following conversation overheard by a New Yorker in the 77th Street Subway Station:

Dispatcher’s voice on walkie talkie: Four black males seen in the subway station, dressed as women. Repeat, four black males dressed as

Cop, into walkie talkie: 10-4 to central. ... Is that breaking a law?

Finally, I offer you a helpful list of things you probably should avoid saying the next time you’re stopped for speeding:

I was smoking, I was smoking marijuana. It’s right here in my ashtray. I just picked up an eighth, here it is. I smoked a bowl’s worth. I was just smoking the last hit of the bowl. I have been smoking for the last
half hour. There may be something in the trunk. Is this test only for marijuana because I might not want to take the urine test if they are testing for other drugs.

People v. El-Khawam, 20 Misc.3d 1103(A) (N.Y.Dist.Ct. June 16).

Hopefully, this collection of legal antics made you laugh, or at least crack a smile. Because, as lawyers, we have to laugh at our chosen profession. If we don’t, I can assure you the rest of the world will happily assume the task for us.

Check It Out

CheckmarkIf you haven't already done so, be sure to check out Sui Generis' sister blog, Legal Antics, which is devoted to law-related humor. 

Legal Antics is a blog focused on all that is funny in the world of the law. It features occasional "Comedic Breaks" which include humurous courtroom outtakes and law related jokes, "Crimes & Misdemeanors", a round up of (alleged) criminals at their worst, and my oh-so-witty observations about the law and those who practice it.

Headline of the Day

 New York Lawyer brings us this intriguing and oh-so-revealing headline:  CLE, Not T&A: NY State Bar Cancels Porn Star's Talk.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Apparently the Family Law Section of the New York State Bar Association had booked a retired porn star to speak at its summer meeting.  Yes, it's true.  I kid you not.

What's that you say?  You're wondering what she was scheduled to speak about?  Well, my friend, that's nearly as funny as the headline.  From the article:

The topic of Ms. Steele's planned talk was to have been "Sex and love - making your time away from the office really count and how to not wind up as one of your clients."...

"It was basically an entertainment presentation at 9:15 one of the nights," he said. "Her spiel is about relationships and making the best of your relationships."

Sounds like a perfectly reasonable presentation for a bar association meeting, doesn't it?  Doesn't it?!?!

Especially coming directly from the mouth of a Miss "Sydnee Steele", who had previously starred in more than 200 porn films and billed herself as an "internationally published author, speaker and sexual empowerment consultant."

Do I ever wish I was making this up.  Do.I.Ever.

Sui Generis--Getting Back to its Roots

Tree_branches_and_roots_01 I've decided to make a few changes to Sui Generis.  Over time, this blog has strayed from the concept I'd originally envisioned--a blog devoted to New York legal issues--in large part because I simply can't resist chronicling legal humor.

But, it's time for Sui Generis to return to its roots.  From here on in, this blog will focus on New York law, but I'll continue to highlight the humor in the law over at my new blog, Legal Antics.

At Sui Generis I'll continue to summarize decisions from all Appellate Divisions and the New York Court of Appeals, with a focus on cases of interest to civil litigators and criminal practitioners. Important updates regarding the rules and procedures for the federal and New York appellate courts are also provided on a regular basis.

I'll continue to include regular features such as "Define That Term", the "Monday New York Blawg Round Up" and the Wednesday "New York Legal News Round Up."   I'll also post the weekly articles from my Daily Record column, "Legal Currents."

Posting frequency at Sui Generis will be slightly reduced, since a number of regular features will be shifted over to Legal Antics, but I expect to continue to post at least once per day.

My new blog, Legal Antics, focuses on all that is funny in the world of the law. It features occasional "Comedic Breaks" which include humorous courtroom outtakes and law related jokes, "Crimes & Misdemeanors", a round up of (alleged) criminals at their worst, and my oh-so-witty observations about the law and those who practice it.

So, I hope you'll head on over and check out Legal Antics and that you'll consider subscribing to it or signing up to receive regular updates via email.

The Brazilian Nanny vs. the Dominatrix

Mantik It's hard to improve on the title of this article from the New York Law Journal:  So a Nanny and a Dominatrix Walk Into a Courtroom...

The article describes a lawsuit pending in the Southern District of New York brought by a Brazilian nanny, in which she seeks over $47,000 from her former employer based on allegations that her former employer, Scarlet LeMay, violated the Fair Labor Standards Act and the New York Labor Law.

My favorite part of the article is the description of the defendant, Ms. LeMay:

Ms. LeMay has had a long career as a dominatrix and advertises under "Ultimate Encounters" in the escort listings of the Yellow Pages. She also goes by the name of Vampyra in her role as lead singer for the goth band Mantik.

Man, is my life ever boring!  But, I digress...

After a little sleuthing I was able to locate a Mantik CD, which can be sampled and purchased here, should you be so inclined.  And, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, feel free to visit Ms. LeMay's MySpace page.

Personally, my favorite Mantik song is "Pleasure of the Whip."  What's yours?

Foiled Again By That Confusing Medical Terminology!

Laugh Here's another funny deposition transcript to get you through the day:

Q     And the serratus anterior nerve that-- or the nerves that go to it, where do they come from?     
A     The neck, the cervical region.     
Q     From the cervical region?     
A     Yes.     
Q     And did you do any examination of his cervical--of his cervix--to determine if there was any problem with his nerves going through his neck?     
A     He doesn't have a cervix, but, yes, I examined the biceps.

Pray For Me Now

LaughSnyder v. Murray City Corporation, 2003 UT 13, 2003 WL 1860524 (Utah 2003) is an amusing case wherein the plaintiff, annoyed that the city council opened its meetings with prayer, filed suit seeking, among other things, to have his own prayer read at the beginning of each meeting. 

Surprisingly, the Supreme Court of Utah held that if the city council insisted on saying a prayer at the start of each meeting, Mr. Snyder should be allowed to offer his prayer.   My guess is that after that decision, prayers were said no more.

Why do I think that and what exactly was his "prayer"?  You ask, I answer:

OUR MOTHER, who art in heaven (if, indeed there is a heaven and if there is a god that takes a woman's form) hallowed be thy name, we ask for thy blessing for and guidance of those that will participate in this meeting and for those mortals that govern the state of Utah;

We fervently ask that you guide the leaders of this city, Salt Lake County and the state of Utah so that they may see the wisdom of separating church and state and so that they will never again perform demeaning religious ceremonies as part of official government functions;

We pray that you prevent self-righteous politicians from mis-using the name of God in conducting government meetings; and, that you lead them away from the hypocritical and blasphemous deception of the public, attempting to make the people believe that bureaucrats' decisions and actions have thy stamp of approval if prayers are offered at the beginning of government meetings;

We ask that you grant Utah's leaders and politicians enough courage and discernment to understand that religion is a private matter between every individual and his or her deity; we beseech thee to educate government leaders that religious beliefs should not be broadcast and revealed for the purpose of impressing others; we pray that you strike down those that mis-use your name and those that cheapen the institution of prayer by using it for their own selfish political gains;

We ask that the people of the state of Utah will some day learn the wisdom of the separation of church and state; we ask that you will teach the people of Utah that government should not participate in religion; we pray that you smite those government officials that would attempt to censor or control prayers made by anyone to you or to any other of our gods;

We ask that you deliver us from the evil of forced religious worship now sought to be imposed upon the people of the state of Utah by the actions of mis-guided, weak and stupid politicians, who abuse power in their own self-righteousness; All of this we ask in thy name and in the name of thy son (if in fact you had a son that visited Earth) for the eternal betterment of all of us who populate the great state of Utah.


Nope, Still Not Missing Law School.

Here is yet another reminder of why law school reminds me of a really, really bad dream--lame attempts at Laugh_2humor by law professors lacking anything that even resembles social skills--brought to you by Overheard in Law School:

Diversity is Fun!

Conflict of Law Professor: Not only is Black & White Taxicab Co. v. Red & Yellow Taxicab Co. a case demonstrating the Erie Doctrine, but it also demonstrates the ethnic rainbow.

Posted by Country Mouse at 5:21 PM