Our collection of the DUMBEST & FUNNIEST THINGS EVER SAID IN COURT is presented over several pages:

Strawberries and Apples

John Coleridge (later Lord Coleridge) was cross-examining Mrs. Kennedy, one of the administrators of a religious convent that had expulsed his client because she had been discovered eating strawberries during study time:

eve eating appleMR. COLERIDGE: Eating strawberries, really!

MRS. KENNEDY: It was forbidden, sir.

MR. COLERIDGE: And did you, Mrs. Kennedy, really consider there was any harm in that?

MRS. KENNEDY: No, sir, not in itself, any more than there was in eating an apple. But you know, sir, the mischief that came from that.

The Brick

In 1631, Chief Justice Richardson of England had just condemned a felon to death when a brick suddenly emerged from under the clothing of the convicted, and he hurled it at the judge. But at that very moment, the judge had stooped over and the brick only knock off his hat. The event can be found recorded in the law reports at Dyer 188b.

Justice Richardson quipped:

"You see, now, if I had been an upright judge, I had been slain."

As for the prisoner, he immediately had his hand cut off and he was then hung in open court, which was at that time, the punishment for making any attempt on the safety and security of the court.

Working Clothes

Justice (Lord) Ellenborough (1790-1871), had this exchange with a witness who had just been sworn in, dressed in ratty, dusty brick-layer's work clothes: 

JUSTICE ELLENBOROUGH: Really, witness, when you appear before this Court, it is your bounden duty to be more clean and decent in your appearance.

WITNESS: Upon my life, if your lordship come to that, I am every bit as well dressed as your lordship.

JUSTICE ELLENBOROUGH: How do you mean, sir?

WITNESS: Why, you come here in your working clothes and I come in mine.


The following exchange is reported as having occurred in Paris where the bench was comprised of three judges. The president of the court turned to his colleague on his right and asked for a suggestion. "Three years", said the judge. The president then turned to his other associate who suggested "four years." Then, the presiding judge turned to the prisoner:

"Prisoner, not desiring to give you a long and severe term of imprisonment, as I should have done if left to myself, I have consulted my learned brothers and shall take their advice. Seven years."

The Judge

According to the German magazine Fliegende Blactter, South African authorities had quite a time with aboriginal Africans who practised murder for the purposes of cannibalism.

To sharply discourage the practice, many aboriginals were sentenced to death.

As was customary, one judge asked the prisoner what he would like to have by way of a last meal:

Judge: Is there any particular dish you would like? You have the right to ask it.

Prisoner: Yes. The judge.

I Am Curious

The Green Bag was a law journal published in Boston in the 1890s. One of the issues reported this exchange in court between a judge and a repeat offender pickpocket:

Accused: Your Honor, I should like to have my case continued for a week as my lawyer is ill.

Judge: But you were captured with your hand in this gentleman's pocket. What can your counsel say in your defense?

Accused: "Precisely so your honor. That is what I am curious to know.

That Depends

A judge had this exchange with the prisoner arraigned for vagrancy.

Judge: What is your employment?

Accused: Walking, sir.

Judge: Where do you walk?

Accused: Well, that's according to which way the policeman is coming from.

The Urban Legend

This one is an urban legend in that we have not been able to verify that it actually happened. Here is how it was shared with us (on 2014-10-07).

courtroom door signA defendant was on trial for murder. There was strong evidence indicating guilt, but there was no corpse. In the defense's closing statement, the lawyer, fearing that his client would probably be convicted anyway, resorted to a ruse.

Looking gravely at his watch, the lawyer announced:

"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for you all. Within one minute, the person presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom!"

He looked toward the courtroom door. The jurors, somewhat stunned, all
looked on eagerly.

A minute passed. Nothing happened.

Finally, the lawyer said:

"Actually, I made up the previous statement. But you all looked on with anticipation. I therefore put it to you that you have a reasonable doubt in this case as to whether anyone was killed, and I insist that you return a verdict of not guilty."


The jury retired to deliberate. A few minutes later, the jury returned and pronounced a verdict of guilty.

"But how?" inquired the lawyer. "You must have had some doubt; I saw all of
you stare at the door."

The jury foreman replied:

"Yes, we did look, but your client didn't."

Who Saw The Bullet?

Unfortunately, the source for this (2 Crim. L. Mag. 99, 1881) does not reveal whether this brilliant oration gained this Chicago lawyer's client an acquittal on a charge of killing a dog:

"Gentlemen of the jury, You have heard the witness swear he saw the prisoner raise his gun. You have heard him swear he saw the flash and heard the report. You have heard him swear he saw the dog fall dead. You have heard him swear he dubbed the bullet out with his jackknife. And you have seen the bulletin produced in court.

"But where, gentlemen, where, I ask you, is the man who saw that bullet hit that dog?"

Washed and Combed

Any lawyer who has ever represented a client in criminal court Will tell you that it is essential that the client come to court properly attired. I once saw an accused person stand up when his name was called wearing a T-shirt on which was imprinted the words "FUCK YOU". He was told in no uncertain terms to come back within the hour with other clothing or he would be held in contempt of court. This, of course, was a great start for his lawyer ... not!

In 1891, things were apparently not much different; consider this summation by defense counsel to the jury:

"And now, gentlemen, I leave this poor persecuted innocents caused in your hands with this last prayer: when you get to your room, when you deliberate upon your verdict, do not, I beg of you, allow yourself to be influenced by my clients present exterior, but imagine him washed and combed."


Our collection of the DUMBEST & FUNNIEST THINGS EVER SAID IN COURT is presented over several pages: