Most language is spoken language, and most words, once they are uttered, vanish forever into the air. But such is not the case with language spoken during courtroom trials, for there exists an army of courtroom reporters whose job it is to take down and preserve every statement made during the proceedings.
Mary Louise Gilman, the venerable editor of the National Shorthand Reporter, has collected many of the more hilarious courtroom bloopers in two books, Humor in the Court (1977) and More Humor in the Court.
Q: …any suggestions as to what prevented this from being a murder trial instead of an attempted murder trial?
A: The victim lived.
Q: (Showing man picture.) That’s you?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And you were present when the picture was taken, right?
Q: What is your relationship with the plaintiff?
A: She is my daughter.
Q: Was she your daughter on February 13, 1979?
Q: Have you lived in this town all your life?
A: Not yet.
Q: Now, Mrs. Johnson, how was your first marriage terminated?
A: By death.
Q: And by whose death was it terminated?
Q: You say that the stairs went down to the basement?
Q: And these stairs, did they go up also?
Q. And lastly, Gary, all your responses must be oral. Ok? What school do you go to?
Q. How old are you?