10 Funny Judicial Quotes

Grey Bitter Bitter by Numbers, Features Lawyer, Lawyer 14 Comments

Our Empire of Bitterness is proceeding full steam ahead. In the meantime, let’s do a Top 10! Here are some of the funniest judicial quotes out there. (Did we miss some? Please enlighten us in the comments section.)

10. Dragnet Roberts

North Philly, May 4, 2001. Officer Sean Devlin, Narcotics Strike Force, was working the morning shift. Undercover surveillance. The neighborhood? Tough as a three dollar steak. Devlin knew. Five years on the beat, nine months with the Strike Force. He’d made fifteen, twenty drug busts in the neighborhood.

– Chief Justice Roberts of the Supreme Court, dissent from a denial of certiorari in a case about probable cause

9. Eminem’s Protégé

Any reasonable person could clearly see /
That the lyrics could only be hyperbole

It is therefore this Court’s ultimate position /
That Eminem is entitled to summary disposition

– Judge Deborah Servitto of Michigan, in an order dismissing a lawsuit against Eminem. More here.

8. The Book of the Byrds

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;” a time to purchase fertilizer, and a time to take a deduction for that which is purchased.

– Judge Goldberg in Schenk v. Commissioner, 686 F.2d 315 (5th Cir. 1982), a case about fertilizer and tax deductions

7. Duck in a Truck

The defendant herein is a truck,
The vehicle is a pick-up,
Alleged by a fed
To be found in a bed
Of marijuana, caught in the muck.

– District Judge Wangelin in United States v. One 1976 Ford F-150 Pickup, 599 F. Supp. 818 (E.D. Mo. 1984)

6. The Oldest Pancake

In a big family the first child is kind of like the first pancake. If it’s not perfect, that’s okay, there are a lot more coming along.

– U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

5. Contractbusters

From the perspective of a person in the position of plaintiff herein, a very practical problem arises with respect to the discovery of a paranormal phenomenon: “Who you gonna’ call?”

– Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 A.D.2d 254 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991)

4. Judicial Spanking #1

Manifestly, any person with even a correspondence-course level understanding of federal practice and procedure would recognize that Defendant’s Motion is patently insipid, ludicrous and utterly and unequivocally without any merit whatsoever…. Defendant’s obnoxiously ancient, boilerplate, inane Motion is emphatically DENIED. Moreover, Defendant’s present counsel-of-record, Mr. [redacted] is determined to be disqualified for cause from this action for submitting this asinine tripe.

– Labor Force, Inc. v. Jacintoport Corp. et al.

3. Rules of Interpretation

What is a moderate interpretation of the text? Halfway between what it really means and what you’d like it to mean?

– U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

2. Posner’s Pigs

Judges are not like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs.

– Justice Posner, United States v. Dunkel, 927 F.2d 955, 956 (7th Cir. 1991)

1. Judicial Spanking #2

The entire opinion for Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp. Here’s an excerpt:

Before proceeding further, the Court notes that this case involves two extremely likable lawyers, who have together delivered some of the most amateurish pleadings ever to cross the hallowed causeway into Galveston, an effort which leads the Court to surmise but one plausible explanation. Both attorneys have obviously entered into a secret pact – complete with hats, handshakes, and cryptic words—to draft their pleadings entirely in crayon on the back sides of gravy-stained paper place mats, in the hope that the Court would be so charmed by their child-like efforts that their utter dearth of legal authorities in their briefing would go unnoticed.

– Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp, 147 F.Supp.2d 668

Epilogue: United States District Judge Samuel B. Kent, who authored the scathing opinion in Bradshaw v. Unity Marine Corp, was later accused of sexually assaulting two women on his staff. He pled guilty to one count of obstruction of justice in a plea bargain with prosecutors and was sentenced to almost three years in prison.

Post image from

Originally Published: Aug 8, 2012

Share this Post

  • Derek

    May I offer two gems from North of the Border? From Justice Quinn of the Ontario Superior Court:

    Bruni v. Bruni, wherein he offers to certify a class action lawsuit for the return of wedding gifts after hearing a family trial and;

    Millver v. Carley, about the ownership of winning lotto tickets. It begins:

    ] After a busy day conducting illegal drug transactions, the plaintiff, the defendant and a mutual friend stopped at a corner store where the defendant purchased some “scratch” lottery tickets. One of the tickets proved to be a $5-million winner.

    [2] The parties dispute ownership of the winning ticket. If the ticket were a child and the parties vying for custody, I would find them both unfit and bring in Family and Children’s Services.

    • Mouse

      Oh my, Justin Quinn just caused a spew of coffee. Wowzers – that is probably one of the funniest decisions (and best use of footnotes) I have ever read.

      THANK YOU!!

    • Bitter Lawyer

      Awesome Derek! We’ll post these on Facebook!

  • Morcal

    Then I am taking a sabbatical too until 9-5. She better be here when I get back.

    • Jerri

      I get sloppy seconds!

  • Sweetpea

    I read the whole brief from Judicial Spanking #2 and laughed the whole time. I bet those lawyers were embarrassed though.

  • southern bitter

    “All I know is when someone says “pornography’, everyone immediately freaks out and thinks, oh my God, he’s going to touch the kiddies.” –Judge Bensonetta Tipton Lane, Fulton County Superior Court, Atlanta Judicial Circuit (in response to a wife’s request to have her sex addict husband’s computer inspected).

  • John

    According to Wikipedia, not only did Judge Samuel B. Kent go to prison prison for lying about sexually abusing two employees, he tried to retire on disability to keep his salary for life. He was impeached, then resigned (forfeiting the salary) and the impeachment proceeding was terminated.

    Kind of makes you feel like someone who had that smart ass of an attitude had it coming.

  • Rohit Sharma

    This is a High Court judge in Northern India, starting off a judgment on a corruption scandal regarding allotment of commercial sites with a few quotes:

    “Power corrupts, Power Point corrupts absolutely [Ed Tufte, Wired, issue 11:09 (September, 2003]”
    Justice A.N. Jindal in Dev Singh v. U.T. Chandigarh [Punjab and Haryana High Court]

  • Eric

    In some prvinces in Canada, the court system has masters to decide pre-trial procedural matters in civil actions. Master Funduk provided written reasons in a matter as follows:

    Any legal system which has a judicial appeals process inherently creates a pecking order for the judiciary regarding where judicial decisions stand on the legal ladder.

    I am bound by decisions of Queen’s Bench judges, by decisions of the Alberta Court of Appeal and by decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada.

    Very simply, Masters in Chambers of a superior trial court occupy the bottom rung of the superior courts’ judicial ladder. I do not overrule decisions of a judge of this Court.

    The judicial pecking order does not permit little peckers to overrule big peckers. It is the other way around.

    — South Side Woodwork (1979) Ltd. v. R.C. Contracting Ltd., [1989] A.J. No. 111, 95 A.R. 161 at 166–67 (Alta. Q.B.).


  • Matt F

    My favorite is from the 2006 order denying a motion for incomprehensibility in the In Re King case in the WD of Texas. The final line of the order says “The Defendant’s motion is accordingly denied for being incomprehensible.” It is then followed by this footnote:

    Or, in the words of the competition judge to Adam Sandler’s title character in the movie, “Billy Madison,” after Billy Madison had responded to a question with an answer that sounded superficially reasonable but lacked any substance,

    “Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I’ve ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response was there anything that could even be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

    Deciphering motions like the one presented here wastes valuable chamber staff time, and invites this sort of footnote.”

  • Pingback: Top 10 Quotes | My Blog()

  • Pingback: Best Wedding Quotes Funny | Wedding Quotes()