The Perils of Making Pop Culture References at Depositions

Depositions can be funny. One of the joys of being a member of the Texas Bar is receiving the Texas Bar Journal, which always included the famed “Et Cetera” column by the late U.S. District Judge Jerry Buchmeyer, who offered amusing moments and excerpts from litigation.  For years and years and years, Judge Buchmeyer collected funny quips and quotes from deposition transcripts, trial pleadings, and trials and published them in his column.  In fact, his column became so popular, that whenever anyone flubbed a question during a deposition, someone would inevitably remark, “That’s one for Buchmeyer.” Sadly, Judge Buchmeyer passed away in 2009, but the world can enjoy his columns at the Texas Bar Journal’s website here.

We always wanted to submit something to the column but never had the opportunity.  Recently, though, something happened at a deposition that we – and apparently only we – thought was amusing.  Here is an excerpt from a recent toxic tort deposition:

Q     Do you know whether or not the specifications that were discussed were altered at any time after the summer of 1969?

A     No, sir.  I don’t know.

Q     So you have no personal knowledge of any subsequent negotiations which may or may not have occurred after the summer ’69.  Is that correct?

A     Correct.

Q     Summer of ’69. Somebody needs to make a Bryan Adams reference here, I think.

After that remark, though, there were crickets in the room.  Crickets! When we received the transcript, we turned to the relevant page to see if the court reporter had added, “Whereupon, there were the sounds of crickets.” Worse was the deafening nature of the silence! From both those assembled in the room and those attending the deposition by telephone! The attempt at humor fell flat, but it seemed so clever to us in our own minds! How can one discuss the summer of 1969 without referencing the old song by Bryan Adams? Oh, well. Maybe this deposition excerpt would not have been one for Judge Buchmeyer’s column, but how can one resist making a pop culture reference under those circumstances? How could anyone? Oh, bah, humbug.