OK, I posted this some time ago, and it's not a "joke" as such, it's just a description of what happened:
About thirty-eight and a half years ago, oboe was law clerk and bailiff in the federal court. At the start of each session, as His Honor entered the courtroom, I was to say, "Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear Ye! The United States District Court in and for the District of Vermont is now open and ready for the transaction of business, Honorable Bernard J. Leddy presiding! All rise for the Honorable Court!"
It was the first year on the bench for Judge Leddy - he'd just been appointed - and the beginning of my first year as a lawyer admitted to practice. Judge Leddy - also known locally by his first two initials, BJ - had been a success story, having been the son of a failed farmer who moved into the big city and made his own mark in law. BJ was known as working on the "plaintiff's side" of the bar, meaning his clients were the ones suing people. The bar in those days had its share of characters and traditions. One referred to the opposing lawyer as "my esteemed brother" (or "sister" as was the case only infequently in those days). Although he was culturally a plaintiff's attorney and a Democrat his entire adult life, he also was fair as a judge. He did enjoy watching the give and take of the lawyers he'd known as fellow players before his appointment to the bench (by Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson).
However, not all opposing lawyers were gentlemanly to each other, and occaisionally, a plaintiff's lawyer and a defense (paid by the insurance company) lawyer absolutely hated each other's guts. Such was the case with plaintiff's counsel Luke Crispe and defendant's counsel Osmer Fitts (Oz, for short). Luke was known for his theatrics and his "elbow", which he bent frequetly and with gusto. I recall a whispered bench conference in which His Honor was trying to schedule the next day's session earlier than usual, and Luke replied, to BJ's delight, "Geez, I'll still be drunk at that time, your honor."
So, this was a lawsuit for damages arising from an automobile accident and had made its way to the federal court due to "diversity of citizenship" (the plaintiff and the defendant were not from the same state) and the claim was for a sum in excess of $10,000. That's what you needed in those days to get your case into federal court where one supposed the case looked more important, the jury pool was from a broader area, and the damges one hoped would be larger than in state court.
The case in chief had been presented, not without acrimonious exchanges between Luke and Oz. It was time for the plaintiff's counsel to make his argument to the jury. Luke was - well, PISSED OFF that he'd been unable to settle the case before this point, and in his own mind (he'd intimated to me) he blamed it on the tendancy of the defendant's counsel to pinch a nickel until the buffalo $hits.
Luke stood about five feet, maybe eight inches, if I recall. He was solidly built, but not fat or overweight. His hair - and he remained in possession of damned near all of it - was silver, wavey, and brushed back, with the ends just somewhat curled up. His suit was midnight blue with silver pin stripes, and he wore a bright red Scotch plaid bow tie. He wore those thick black rimmed eyeglasses with the temples that go straight back - think of U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater if you're old enough to remember that. He would doff and don the eyeglasses in a dramatic fashion, but when he was really into his argument, he'd leave them in place.
Oz was taller, but had a bit of a paunch - sort of pear shaped. His hair was I don't know what mousy color, thin, and brushed back. He had (of the same color as his hair) one of those Charley Chaplin/Adolph Hitler moustaches right under his nose but not past it, laterally speaking. He wore a store boughten suit also of non-descript maybe light brownish color of I don't know what pattern, with a matching vest which tactfully covered his paunch.
Bear in mind that attorneys are not to make statements in court characterizing an opposing lawyer in a personal, derogatory fashion.
Luke was into his argument, gesturing with exaggeration you might find difficult to imagine, jabbing his forefinger first to the right, then in the middle, then to the left. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. TWO (jab right/down) plus TWO (jab middle/down) is FOUR (jab left/down)! It is so obvious that the plaintiff is entitled to the very reasonable compensation for which he has asked - all but the MOST OBSTUSE can see THAT. . . and THE ONLY REASON WE'RE HERE TODAY IS BECAUSE DEFENSE COUNSEL IS . . ." That was the bait for Oz - he was about to be insulted - and he begain only partially to rise from his seat, his right forefinger poised.
"THE ONLY REASON WE'RE HERE TODAY IS BECAUSE DEFENSE COUNSEL IS CHEAP!!!"
"OBJECT!!!!!" Forefinger thrust high above his head and pointing to the ceiling, Oz jumped up with such energy that his feet actually left the floor for an instant.
Doing his damnedest not to laugh, trying, trying to deadpan (and doing a lousy job of it), BJ asked, "What is your objection, Mr. Fitts?" BJ himself no doubt harbored the same sentiments about Oz, having locked horns with him over so many years.
"Your honor, THAT is UNETHICAL!! That is IMPROPER! THAT IS PERSONAL! THAT IS DEROGATORY! HE CALLED ME CHEAP!!" (I honestly wondered if his face would explode, it was so red.)
Luke, meanwhile, was completely composed, poised, serene, and relaxed. As His Honor spoke, Luke wandered toward the bench as if on a Sunday stroll, gazing at the judge. Still working on that deadpan, BJ said, "Well, uh, Mr. Crispe, perhaps cheap is not a proper word to use."
"Your honor, I respect you, I respect the honorable court." Luke resumed his Sunday stroll, this time toward the jury. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have the greatest respect for the honorable court. And the good judge has said to me that I may not call (pointing at Oz) the defense counsel (pause) CHEAP. . . and so, out of respect for his honor, I will not call (pointing at Oz) defense counsel(pause) CHEAP. . .
". . . BUT I'LL CALL HIM (finger jabbing skyward) STINJAY!!!!!"
At the word "STINJAY!!!" the jury lost it - His Honor lost it - the laughter was earsplitting. Poor Oz collapsed on the defendant's table, head in arms.
This October 4th will be the 39th anniversary of my admission to the practice of law in Vermont - this incident occured just a few months after my admission to practice. I remember this as vivdly as if it had happened yesterday. And I remember those occasional Saturday afternoons when I'd stop by BJ's house, and after a bit, he'd get around to not remembering what happened that day in 1966 and insist that I remind him. That meant it was time for me to act out the whole story, gestures and all. And always, after hearing the word "STINJAY!!!" ol' BJ would just laugh his a$$ off - the first time, the fifth time, the tenth time . . . What a great memory!