Lawyers Reveal Their Most Jaw-Dropping Court Cases
Most court cases aren’t quite as exciting as an episode of Law and Order, but every now and again, real-life legal drama is just as juicy and outrageous as the scripts written for TV. From horrific reasons for divorce to truly stupid clients, incredible “I rest my case!” moments to crucial pieces of evidence falling from the sky, real lawyers have their fair share of scandalous anecdotes.
Bang your gavel and appeal to the jury: here are the most unbelievable moments from actual trials.
#1 Showing Off Your Stolen Goods is Never a Smart Look
My mum was a personal injury solicitor, and she was basically trying to prove that the car that hit her client and caused life-changing injuries (brain damage) belonged to X. X at first pretends not to live where he does, then the car is found abandoned and all wiped down. The trail seems to end. Then, my mum has a hunch and checks X’s Facebook profile.
He had a public profile, and his profile picture was him standing right next to the car in question. She screenshots the photo and sends it to the opposing counsel with a slightly more politely worded “Your client is a total idiot.” She’s retired now but she considers it to be one of the most satisfying moments of her career.
Needless to say, she won the case and her client got a million-pound settlement and is now living in Spain. All for the want of a simple privacy setting and a touch of common sense.
#2 ‘Til Death Do We Spend Some Time Apart
Our client and his wife were both Mormon, and she tried to use it against him. During the divorce, she kept telling him that he had to give her everything she wanted in the divorce because they were sealed in the church and would be spending eternity together. We had to fight him not to give her more than she deserved.
#3 Social Media Strikes Again
My friend was suing a private security company for assault. He explained that one of the security guards also threatened him with a gun. The security company’s lawyer responds that my friend must be lying, as the guards do not carry guns because they are not allowed. My friend finds the Facebook profile of one of the security guards who threatened him.
His profile picture is him mean-mugging with a glock in his hand. My friend emails this to opposing counsel with a note that says “FYI.” The security company agrees to pay an out of court settlement to my friend.
#4 A Dramatic Reveal
I practice immigration law. I had a woman come in and explain that she was from Canada, had been living and working in the US without permission for decades. Boyfriend beat her up to the point where she was hospitalized. She pressed charges and the boyfriend basically let her know via friends that his lawyer was going to call her credibility into question since she was an illegal immigrant.
It turns out her mom was born in the US and met the dad in college, which meant that she could gain dual citizenship via mom. We got her citizenship certificate expedited and I made her promise not to tell anyone. Sure enough, at trial, the defense attorney asks, “Isn’t it true that you are a Canadian citizen who has been working illegally in the US for decades?” To which she replies, “No. In fact, here’s my certificate of citizenship. I’m a dual Canadian and US citizen.”
She said the lawyer looked like a puppet when someone cut the strings. Boyfriend became a guest of the State for a long time.
#5 Don’t Play with My Heart
Lawyer here. One of mine that sticks out is that the husband and wife both played some sort of online role-playing game, sort of like The Sims I think but a little more elaborate and adult (“Second Life” maybe?) I don’t know anything about online games. The wife got heavily involved with the game, like 10 hours a day, and wouldn’t reduce her time playing no matter what he said.
But it was the husband who tipped things over the edge. He set up a fake profile/ avatar and went online to stalk her in the game and found her avatar having sex with some random guy’s avatar. Nothing ever happened in real life (neither of them were exactly oil paintings to look at), but that was enough for the guy to initiate a fairly acrimonious divorce.
#6 Gifting a Victory to the Other Side
For a while, my mother dated a man who really liked to act like a big shot. He was a guy that claimed to know a guy wherever you went. Any time you wanted something he would say “Oh wait, let’s go to the store I’ll talk to the owner and get you a deal.” Nearly every time he did, the owner seemed like he wasn’t entirely sure who this guy was.
He would do stuff like insist on taking the entire family on a vacation, or take everyone out to a fancy restaurant. Or he would show up with expensive gifts out of the blue, like new electronics or guitars. Eventually the relationship ends, but not long after we find out he’s taking us to court because we owe him money.
Court date comes, he presents his case first. He goes through a huge itemized list of everything he ever bought us. Every single item, from a vending machine Coke to a new sink because he broke the old one. Even a birthday cake bought for the youngest child. Once he’s done, the judge asks if there was an agreement to be paid back for any of that. He says it was just an understanding.
The judge asks specifically if he ever said he wanted to be paid back. He says no, that usually when someone buys you something you pay them back. The judge then explained that no, in fact, that’s not usually how gifts work and that by his own admission there was never an expectation to pay for anything. So after his own testimony, the case was closed.
He then appealed. Again he presented his testimony first. Again, closed by his own words.
#7 Dumb Criminals Make Dumb Choices
This wasn’t my case, but in criminal docket court one morning, the accused wore a pair of very unique custom made red cowboy boots…stolen from the house he was accused of robbing. He wore them. To court. To plead not guilty. The prosecutor was laughing.
#8 You Just Played Yourself
One of my father’s friends tried to salt the earth before getting divorced. A rental house and a cabin were deeded to relatives, the cars they drove every day were sold to other relatives for tiny sums, stocks handed over to a trust “for the children,” etc. He even vanished a chunk of cash from the company he co-owned with his wife using phony invoices and stopped paying himself a salary, electing to burn through their personal savings for over a year instead.
He learned that judges really, really, REALLY hate it when you try to hide or intentionally diminish assets, and they will absolutely refer you to prosecutors for fraud. I don’t think that he did any jail time in the end, but his ex-wife got absolutely EVERYTHING, plus the satisfaction of firing him from his own company.
#9 Fighting a Good Fight
This is going to sound crazy, but in college, I got a ticket every day of the week for parking in my driveway. Same cop every day. My girlfriend’s car, too. It was a small apartment building, which had a blacktop parking lot along the side of the building. The police ticketed every vehicle parked in our assigned parking spots for “blocking the sidewalk.”
There was no sidewalk. It was a blacktop parking lot. I was an aspiring student of the law and knew I could argue this. Plus, I didn’t have the money to pay all these tickets. I plead not guilty, got a court date, and continued to collect the tickets. I got the cop on the stand and showed him a series of pictures and asked questions about this “invisible sidewalk.”
He contradicted himself several times and then admitted he ticketed every car he saw parked there whether it was blocking the invisible sidewalk or not. I was up there for about half an hour. For parking tickets. The judge was laughing a bit and finally asked me to approach. He asked me if he dismissed all the tickets and told the cop to stop, would I stop asking questions and leave the court. I agreed.
The next week my girlfriend went in with her stack of tickets and I tagged along. It was the same judge and the same cop. They were both looking at me. As we walked in, I said, “Watch this, baby. I’m going to make the judge dismiss the tickets.” When it was her turn to argue, I walked up with her. She said, “Your Honor, I…” Before she could finish, the judge said “Tickets are void. Next case.”
I was proud. She was baffled at the black magic I’d just sprinkled on her.
#10 The Mister Softee Defense
I once got out of a noise violation ticket. I was driving around and had my music in my car up. Cop pulls me over, gives me a ticket for the noise violation. It wasn’t even that loud—you couldn’t really hear it from outside the vehicle, but I guess my windows were down. I go to court. My defense was legendary. “If the ice cream man can drive around blaring that creepy music, I can listen to my radio.”
The judge tried to keep a straight face, but I got out of the ticket.
#11 This Testimony Is Not Suitable for All Audiences
We once went to an open court with my university, and it was a divorce case. Our whole class was there watching them get divorced. It was a Dutch business guy and his eastern European wife. She was talking about how he forced her to do extreme things in the bedroom against her will. Their children were also there watching, and I remember feeling so bad for the kids.
They were like 12 / 15 and not only did they have to watch their parents’ divorce, they had to hear about their father’s fetishes and how he forced on their mother while an entire class of university students was watching along gasping like we were watching a movie. The lady was crying while she was talking about all his fetishes that she absolutely hated.
Judge asked if he ever was violent. She said he slapped me on my face and bottom, only during sex but I didn’t want it. I remember seeing their 15-year-old daughter at that moment. Completely red face and eyes filled with tears that she tried to hold in. Looked like she wanted to bury her head into the sand. Felt so terrible for that girl.
#12 Justice Prevails
My mother left my dad and hooked up with this piece of crap who would beat her. She had him arrested and got a restraining order. He called her one day from the hospital and said he was jumped while riding a bike and if she didn’t take him back he would say she did it. A few months later, she is in court after he claimed his injuries were from her beating him with a frying pan.
He doesn’t show up. The judge asks his attorney where he is and the attorney asks if they can reschedule because he is temporarily indisposed. My mother chimes up, “He is probably in jail again.” The judge just straight up asks his attorney if he is in jail. The attorney responds, “Yes.” The judge immediately dismissed the case.
#13 Pushing Up a Case
As a young attorney, I had stated a claim that an insurance company was dragging out a case in bad faith, in hopes that my elderly client would die before they had to pay him. I was requesting that the trial date be given priority due to my client’s advanced age. The judge was no spring chicken himself and seemed skeptical when he asked exactly how old my client was, maybe thinking that he was in his 70s and must merely seem ancient to a baby lawyer like me.
When I responded that my client was 92 years old, and that the case had already gone on for five years, the judge was visibly shocked. He immediately granted my motion for priority, completely shutting down the insurance company’s attorney’s attempt to respond. They wrote us a check for a million dollars the next week.
#14 Not a Good Place to Lie About Your Priors
My sister got T-boned by a car, causing a concussion, when I was younger. Long story short, we were in court with the judge, who asked the driver if he had ever sped before. “No, your honor, I never speed” was his reply. The judge asked him a couple more times if he was sure, if he never sped. Ever? The driver was adamant that he never sped and never had before.
A few minutes later, my sister’s lawyer gave the judge some paperwork. She read it, and said to the driver, “It seems that you have some past driving violations. Can you tell me what they are for?” He looked down, “…speeding.” The driver had to pay medical bills for my sister.
#15 Challenge Accepted
Friend of mine is a divorce lawyer. His favorite is the time the husband in a bitter divorce got some slimy lawyer and said he would out-lawyer her and break the bank before giving her anything she wanted. This was in front of my friend, who just happened to be her lawyer. He looks at her and says something truly epic: “I’m working for you pro bono (free) from this moment forward.”
He looks back at the scumbag husband and says, “I got all day.”
#16 A Really Dumb Plaintiff
I represented a company that was sued for breach of contract by a former independent contractor. Dude basically alleged that my client wasn’t paying him correctly in accordance with the contract. During his deposition, the plaintiff admits that he never reviewed any documents to make sure his allegations were true, never reviewed his complaint before filing it to make sure the allegations in it were true, and had no idea whether or not my client actually failed to pay him in accordance with the contract.
Basically, he tells me that he was suing my client because he didn’t think their agreement was fair, even though he agreed to the terms when he signed the contract. The kicker is that he admitted that he owed my client money. At arbitration, he tries to flip his story and starts giving testimony that is the exact opposite of his deposition, so I whip out his transcript and undermine his testimony bit by bit. Needless to say, I won that case.
#17 When Your Client Lets You Down
I was on the losing end of this one. I was representing a pro bono defendant who was attempting to regain custody of her children. The Family Division attorney was laying out his case to the judge for why my client wasn’t ready, and his final point was that my client had refused emotional counselling to avoid violent fits of rage that she had inflicted on her children.
On cue, my client jumps up screaming a stream of really vile obscenities at the judge. I just caught the opposing attorney’s smirk of satisfaction as I got up to usher my client out of the courtroom.
#18 A House in Custody
I was working on a divorce case. Both parties were being unreasonable and not thinking of the kids. In the end, the judge awarded the house to the kids, who would permanently live there, and the parents who had joint custody would take turns living there. His argument was that the kids’ lives should take priority. The best thing was that neither party could afford to buy an additional place on their own, so the couple had to rent a small flat together and also share that.
Pretty cool judge in my opinion.
#19 Never a Bright Idea to Assume
Opposing counsel decided that I had coached my witness, gave him lines to repeat, and that he was lying. Short version is that he asked the witness if he spoke to me before he testified. Witness said he had. Attorney looked like he thought he had me. Attorney asked the witness what I told him, what instructions I gave him. Witness looked him dead in the eye. His words made opposing counsel’s jaw drop: “First thing he told me was to tell the truth no matter what. He said the lawyer is never the one who goes to jail, that he isn’t going to jail for me, and if I lie, I’m on my own.” Attorney looked like someone took the air out of him. Everyone in the courtroom simultaneously looked at me.
Only time I’ve smirked or laughed in court.
#20 We Need to Talk About Kevin
I had a long-time client who was being sued and I got to shut down the guy suing him in a very satisfying way. So my client hired a guy, we will call Kevin, as basically the right-hand man for his company.
The employment contract wasn’t done yet, but they had an agreement that Kevin would work six weeks at a lower wage and then sign the contract and get the agreed upon wage. So the guy works decently for five weeks and then is given the contract to sign. He comes back to the owner (my client) and says that he has some small changes he would like to make.
When the owner gets the contract back he finds that the “small changes” involve removing the “Duties and Responsibilities” section (basically the job description) and the non-compete/confidentiality clause. Not only that, but he has written in a higher salary than agreed and added a bunch of new benefits for himself.
Obviously, my client tells him that he can either sign the contract as it was originally laid out or he can find himself another job. He takes the latter option. But he starts a lawsuit against the owner, wanting to be paid for the six weeks he was supposed to work (which had already been paid), two weeks in lieu of notice, and FIVE weeks of vacation pay.
I got the enjoyable job of telling Kevin, in front of a judge, that he was not entitled to anything under the employment legislation and the only way he could get any of that would be if he had signed the contract. Judge dismissed the case and awarded costs to the defendant, but not before giving Kevin a lecture on wasting the court’s time.
#21 Work to Rule
A woman in my town is a Principal at a local elementary school. She is in her mid-70s (at least). I asked someone why she doesn’t retire, and they explained that she and her spouse went through a very contentious divorce about 15 years ago and she has to give him a portion of her retirement, so she has decided to NEVER retire so he gets nothing ever! Hahahahaha.
#22 Not Wise to Keep Committing the Same Infraction That Got You in Trouble
I represented a man in a slip and fall case in a national chain that grills chicken. The restaurant is not supposed to clean the grills until after they close because it is a huge sloppy mess that involves using a garden hose after applying chemicals to remove all of the grease. The close down process can take up to two to three hours that involve packing up the food for the next day, scrubbing the grills, mopping, etc.
Even though the corporation knew this, they refused to pay more than one hour worth of wages after closing time. Thus, the shift managers and cooks decided that they would start the closing process two hours before closing. This is really dangerous as employees delivering food can track the greasy water into the lobby where the customers were.
On one fateful day, two hours before closing, one of the cooks was cleaning the grills and using the hose to wash them down. My client walks out of the restroom and slips in the greasy water. He hits his head so hard that it causes a subdural hematoma, which requires surgery to relieve the swelling and blood from the brain. Go figure, the video system wasn’t working that day. In any case, the cook was fired and the corporation claimed that they could not locate him during litigation.
I did some research and found a relative of the cook, which eventually led to me finding him. He was angry that they fired him. I asked, “Do you think they are still cleaning before closing because they are denying that they do?” He told me, “Absolutely.” On the first day of trial, I sent my investigator to the restaurant at the time my client was injured, which was two hours before closing, to record video on his cell phone whether they were cleaning or not. Well, guess what, they had the hose out and everything.
At the end of the trial, the defense put on their general manager for the region. He swore up and down that this never happens. We get up and say, “Judge we need a sidebar.” In the judge’s chambers, we revealed the videos to the other side. The attorney for the corporation was freaking out. We completely wiped out their entire defense in a three-week trial with that video. Needless to say, we prevailed.
#23 Seeing is Believing
I’m an attorney in Southern California. My client was charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance. Officer is going through the usual signs and symptoms. Cop testifies that both of client’s eyes were red and bloodshot. Testifies that both pupils were dilated and moved slightly to exposure of light. That’s when I knew I was going to win.
The client gets up on the stand and pops one of his eyes out. My client had a fake eye that could obviously not be bloodshot or have pupil dilation. He was found not guilty.
#24 Just Throw out the Whole Man
My great-great-grandparents had an interesting case. He was abusive, like “pimp her out and then beat her for infidelity” levels of abuse. This was the 1910s, though, and in our state, you couldn’t initiate a divorce for cruelty. In fact, the only possible grounds for divorce was infidelity. A few times, she tried just leaving him anyway.
Once he came home from work and she, plus all eight of their kids, were just gone. But he always found them, and since they were still married, he had every right to grab the kids and go back home with them. Finally, she moved out and went to live with another man. She flaunted the new guy around town until her no-good husband got embarrassed enough to sue her for divorce on the grounds of infidelity.
Although she couldn’t read or write, she put her X on those papers the minute he served her. It was a major local scandal (very Catholic community, divorce was rare), but she got what she needed to be safe. My great great grandma would have made a pretty good lawyer, tbh.
#25 A Tough Look For My Guy
I’m not a lawyer, but I was in traffic court one time and saw a lawyer straight-up murder a cop with words. The cop had previously testified that the weather on the night of the traffic stop was heavy rain and winds so strong that the defendant could only open his window three inches, and that the car had stopped on an area with very little shoulder, forcing the cop to approach from the passenger side, not the driver side. The cop had then testified that he smelled a strong smell of alcohol on the defendant’s breath.
When the defense lawyer got up, he repeated what the cop had said almost verbatim and asked how he could have possibly smelled alcohol on the breath of someone on the other side of the car, through a three inch crack in the window, on a night with pouring rain and strong winds. The cop sort of opened and shut his mouth a few times, squirmed around in his seat, and said, “That’s just what I always write in my log, to remind me that it was a DUI stop.”
The judge threw the case out. No motion to dismiss needed. Then he took a break and called the traffic prosecutor and the cop into his office. I’m guessing it wasn’t for a nice spot of tea and some scones.
#26 An Incredible Plot Twist
My client just needed to not lose her housing, I was trying to get her on one-year probation (but would agree to two) instead of termination. On the day of the hearing, I hatched an amazing plan. I had six summer associates come with me, each carrying huge binders. When my hearing was about to begin, I had them all bring them in and set them in front of me.
The opposing lawyer was a very overworked NYC housing attorney who had budgeted an hour that day for my hearing. She instantly goes, “What is this?” I told her it was my arguments. She said she didn’t have the time. I started off on a two-minute opening I had prepared. then grabbed one of the binders and she was like. “Let me stop you there. What do you want?” I said three months probation, she countered with a year, ended up agreeing on six months.
The binders were all empty.
#27 “C” You at the Bank
Divorce lawyer here. Dad was a real jerk, and Mom tried to save him a lot of money during the divorce. They have three kids who were 16, 13, and eight. Dad wouldn’t sign ANY agreement my mom’s lawyer produced. It had to be his idea and from his lawyer or it wasn’t getting signed. Dad’s lawyer was incompetent and sends an agreement that states he will pay $2,000 a month in child support until all kids are 18.
Mom tried to explain to dad that it needed to be revised to lower every time a child turned 18. Dad called mom a C-word during that negotiation, so mom said screw it, and signed the agreement. Dad paid the $2,000/month for 10 years. So smart. S-M-R-T.
#28 Remember, Remember the Fifth of May
It was a lawsuit against the owner of a Mexican restaurant for not paying his employees and keeping the waiters’ tips. He was just a terrible all-around guy. He created these fake handwritten schedules and payroll records going back years to try and prove that his employees didn’t work but a few hours each week and were paid for what they did work. It was difficult to prove they were fakes, but we managed to trap him during his deposition.
I made the guy go through random bits of his work schedule and asked him to confirm they were correct. We did a random week in February, March, April…then we got to May. “So here in early May, you had two servers working every night, one hostess, one bartender, and two cooks?” “Yes.” “And that didn’t fluctuate. You didn’t have a need for extra staff on, say, weekend nights?”
“No. It was very steady no matter the day.” “What about on this Wednesday? How much staff did you need?” “Just the two servers, my hostess, the bartender, and two cooks. The same as every other night.” “And if you would indulge me, what date are we looking at?” “May 5th.” “Okay. So it’s your testimony under oath that you had the same staffing needs on May the 5th as you did on May 4th and May 6th.” “Yeah.”
Opposing counsel’s head begins to hang while shaking. “So you are comfortable telling the judge you didn’t do extra business on May 5th.” “Yeah. Or June 17th or whatever date you pick. It was always steady.” “You have no problem walking into court and telling the judge and the jury, under oath, that your Mexican restaurant didn’t need any extra help on May 5th. That these schedules and payroll records you’ve produced are 100% accurate. For Cinco de Mayo? You are totally comfortable with doing that?”
“Yeah, I… Oh.” The case settled within a week.
#29 What are the Odds
When I was around 16, I worked as a test shopper, so I’d end up in court sometimes to testify that someone had sold me cigarettes. There was one time where a man was claiming he had sold me cigarettes because the compliance officers never tried to properly train him as a store owner. The officers told him they tried to call him several times, and he was being incredibly difficult to get a hold of. The officers even had a ridiculous amount of notes that described all the times they tried to contact him.
When they pointed out all this to him, his defense turned into, “I don’t own a phone, so it was up to them to try something else to train me.” With absolutely perfect timing, his phone started audibly ringing in his pocket—the second he finished saying he didn’t own one. Our side’s lawyer is now a judge, and she still says that was one of the most perfectly timed things that’s ever happened to her
#30 Major Facepalm
My mom is a lawyer and was representing a black woman who was accused of stealing. My mother is also black and this is how it went down.
Plaintiff’s lawyer: “Please point out the accused.”
Officer: points at my mom
Mom: “I’m the lawyer, officer.”
Judge: dismisses case.
#31 He Wanted an Ultimate Separation
My parents’ divorce seemed simple: dad cheated on mom, mom gets custody of me. Dad didn’t like paying alimony and child support to the tune of $2k a month after he gave up rights, so he had a great idea: Pay a hitman $15k to kill his soon-to-be ex-wife. He ended up going through with it, but the idiot actually paid an undercover cop the money. He then flew back to Canada (home) and waited for the results.
An international task force was formed to try and detain him. Geraldo Rivera covered the story. My idiot dad got arrested in Toronto and flown back to California. In this process, I was three and in care of family back down south, and my mother was in protection by the police. My dad’s (apparently) wealthy family got a good lawyer. He was charged with 17 felonies, and I can’t remember how many he was convicted of.
He got 18 months. After all of this, my mom still had to sue for divorce. It took two long years. My mom is ok, though she’s bipolar now and had to move out of the state. I moved back home after spending time in the military. Today, my dad’s out of jail, just not allowed in the country. I have never met him. We’ve talked four times. Found out when I was 18.
#32 It Hits the Fan
I worked at my local district attorney’s office as a prosecutor when I was freshly minted lawyer. We had a special setting trial on a case that had been reset too many times. The week before, it became clear that this particular case was going to finally be tried. I was ready at the State’s table waiting for defense counsel when he walks in and tells me he’s going to ask for a continuance.
I’m pretty sure I laughed, thinking that it was never going to happen. So the judge walks in angry that he has to sit through another continuance request. Meanwhile, I get the aroma of something foul in the courtroom and I can’t place where it’s coming from. The judge asks the defense attorney why he needs another continuance and the defense attorney pulls out his briefcase, opens it, and pulls out a ziplock bag with soiled underwear inside.
Turns out he defecated his pants that morning in court. He was an elderly attorney and was taking stool softeners. The continuance was granted, and in fact, the entire courtroom shut down for the day to allow maintenance time to clean and shampoo the seats he was sitting on. I have no idea what ended up happening in that case, I never tried it, maybe another prosecutor did, but this was one of my more memorable “I rest my case” stories that I’ve seen a lawyer pull off.
#33 A Crucial Clerical Error
I was in an accident a few years ago. It was definitely the other guy’s fault. He got a ticket for an unsafe left turn, and I got a ticket because I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt. In the section on the ticket, the cop inadvertently wrote, “Did wear seatbelt while operating motor vehicle.” When I got to court, the judge asked how I wanted to plead.
I asked the judge if I could ask a question first, and he said sure. I stated, “The ticket says I did wear my seatbelt while operating my motor vehicle, and if that’s the case, I want to plead guilty.” The judge looks down at the ticket, and looks back at me and says, “Case dismissed! Have a good day.”
#34 He’s the One Who Felt the Burn
My weirdest divorce case involved a couple who separated a decade ago but didn’t officially divorce until a couple years ago. She was going to get his house and he wasn’t coping well. The man went way too far. He burned the house down then faxed his ex-wife the transfer of ownership forms. She’s not getting the house, but he might be going to jail for arson.
#35 That Escalated Quickly
The complaining witness accused my client of harassment/stalking. My client claimed they were dating, but whenever she got mad at him, she’d call the police and say he was harassing her. On the stand, she testified that she’d never dated him, never invited him into her home, wanted nothing to do with him. She presented a photo on her phone of him sitting on her porch to prove that he had come to her property.
I asked the judge permission to look at the photos before and after the porch photo for context. Girl had dozens of photos of the guy, who was clearly her boyfriend. I showed her one such picture: This is Mr. So-and-so, right? (yes) In this photo, he’s on a bed? (yes) The bed is yours? (yes) The bed is in your bedroom? (yes) You took this photo of him? (yes) He’s smiling in the photo? (yes) And in this photo, he’s wearing your brassiere? (yes)
No further questions, your honor.
#36 Keeping Up Appearances
My brother was on a jury back in the days of MySpace. A woman had been hit by a big rig during some foggy weather and she was suing for a back injury. On the last day of the trial, they asked her if she had a MySpace account and then brought up her site for the jury to see, as I think all profiles were open to the public back then. There was a picture of her dancing on the hood of a car, and right next to it was a text exchange of her saying that she shouldn’t go out too much because her lawyer says that she has to look injured. Needless to say, she lost that case.
#37 Start With the Man in Your Mirror, Sir!
I once observed a case where the plaintiff attorney simply played Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” as his closing argument, hoping to evoke an emotional response in the jury. He lost the case.
#38 Driving Himself Crazy
Throughout these really acrimonious divorce proceedings, there was a car that was a huge point of contention between the husband and wife. After months and months of saying he would never let the wife have the car, the husband surprises everyone by giving in. He concedes in exchange for something great, like one of their summer houses. It turns out he’d been working on an ingenious plan. He’d been driving the car for three hours every day in a big loop around the city, putting thousands and thousands of miles on it, basically making it worthless.
The amount of planning and spite that went into that was amazing.
#39 Lost in Translation
The dude in the court right before my brother one time was a guy who claimed to have only spoken Spanish. The judge read off everything that he had been charged with and then the conversation went something like this:
Judge: “Mr. Gonzalez, how do you plead?”
Gonzalez: “No hablo ingles.”
Judge: “Mr. Gonzalez, do you understand a word I’m saying?”
Gonzalez: “No hablo ingles.”
Judge: “Mr. Gonzalez, am I to understand that, in all of this time, no one has bothered to get a translator for you?”
Gonzalez: “No hablo ingles.”
Judge: “Well, I guess if you can’t understand what you’re charged with, we’ll have to drop all the charges.”
Gonzalez: “Gracias, señor.”
Starts walking out.
Judge: “Get back in here!”
#40 The Sovereign
Sovereign citizens always make for a good time. There was this one guy getting a divorce from his wife of 25 years. His entire argument for why he shouldn’t have to pay any alimony to his wife who stayed home taking care of their eight kids (three of whom were still at home) was that since his wife would no longer do her “marital duties,” it wasn’t technically a true marriage. What he meant by this was that she wouldn’t sleep with him anymore because he was trying to force her to have even more kids. He then dramatically referenced the Bible to top it all off. The judge’s face was priceless.
#41 Who is the Sick One?
My ex’s brother helped his friend (he was friends with the couple, but clearly “chose” the guy) hide assets and wash cash in the six months leading up to a “Surprise, I’m divorcing you!” by the friend to his now ex and deceased wife. Trust me when I say it gets so much worse. He did all this because she had just been diagnosed with cancer, was not going to live, and he didn’t see why “his money” should go to “her health care” when she was going to “die in a few years” anyway. It didn’t hold up in court, thank goodness.
#42 Bias on the Bench
I once saw a judge stand up and recuse himself from a criminal case in the middle of a trial, publicly stating that he knew the defendant—and that he was a “son of a you-know-what and guilty as hell!”
#43 Fifteen Seconds of Fame
I was working as court staff in a hearing where a guy was accused of robbing a grocery store. The defendant’s lawyer was arguing that they could not identify the man in the surveillance camera footage as his client. While the footage was being shown to the court, the defendant leaned over and said, loud enough to his lawyer for everyone to hear, “Do you think they can tell that it’s me in the video?”
#44 Take a Rest From the Restroom
A woman came into my office distraught. She moved in with a rich guy from Ohio and they seemed to get along well. Six months after they got married, she files for divorce. That’s where I come in. It turns out the husband had been hiding a dark secret. Dude had a fetish for urine. He asked her to urinate on him in the tub. At first, she agreed to it as she thought it was a onetime thing.
But he kept asking for it more and more. She tried to decline it respectfully, but he wouldn’t get any of the hints. She finally used the tub being too small as a reason. Next day she comes home with two dozen construction guys and their heavy equipment tearing the bathroom walls. A week or so later, they finish up the bathroom. She comes home to a sign left on the fridge with a note to drink up, she got some watering to do.
That’s not the official reason we put in the paperwork, but that was her biggest reason for walking out of that relationship.
#45 Cases Closed
I worked as a paralegal at a firm specializing in land use litigation and real estate. Another paralegal’s husband had once gotten a DWI charge and, as a favor to her, one of the partners offered to defend her husband in court. This is a small community with a landmark windmill in the center of town. Well, this paralegal’s husband’s DWI stemmed from him crashing his car into the windmill. It had been on the front page of the local paper, there were reporters at the arraignment, the whole nine yards.
So, the law firm partner tells the client that when the judge asks him how many beers he had had before his accident, he should tell her that he had just had three. He proceeds to stand up in front of the judge and tell her confidently that he had only had three…cases! The whole room started laughing and he ended up getting jail time.
#46 Cry Me a River
After argument from the Assistant District Attorney, the judge asked the defense counsel why he should allow the defendant to remain on his own recognizance. The defense counsel looks up, obviously searching his brain hard for any reason he can possibly come up with because he knows his client is a dirtbag, before finally responding with the following: “Because my client’s girlfriend lives in the apartment above mine, and I’ll have to hear her crying all night!” The defendant was remanded to jail.
#47 He Learned His Lesson…
I am a lawyer now, but this was when I was still in law school and we had to go watch actual court cases in the local district court. A guy was accused of destroying some stuff that his neighbor owned. After a complicated plea by his lawyer about how some evidence was inadmissible and how, therefore, it could not be proven that the defendant was guilty, the judge delivered the verdict, agreed with the lawyers, and acquitted the client. The defendant then stood up, walked over towards the judge in front of everybody as if to shake his hand, and said out loud, “Thank you, your honor. I swear I’ll never do it again!” The prosecutor then quasi-jokingly says, “Appeal!”
#48 Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold, Depending on the Season…
I supervised a divorce where the wife cheated on her husband during his frequent travels for work. She was the one who filed for divorce, and she got to keep the house. It was a big mess and I defended the husband. Months elapse and the husband is still furious, rightfully so, but has no recourse. Then I have an off-the-books epiphany: “I wonder if she changed the password to the Nest Thermostat?” She did not.
For the next year, he continues to mess with the thermostat. In the middle of summer when they’re sleeping in HIS bed, he turns the heat on to 90 degrees at 3 AM. Middle of winter? Time to shut off the heat and hope the pipes freeze. Away on vacation? Turn the air conditioning down to 55 and let it run 24/7 for a nice surprise bill when they get home.
#49 A No Show
I was in court once for a speeding ticket. The prosecutor didn’t offer me a reduction, so I plead not guilty. We got into court and the judge called the officer who pulled me over to the stand. He didn’t show. The judge was already irritated and he asked the prosecutor where the cop was. The prosecutor admitted that he hadn’t called the cop to come in because he assumed that I wouldn’t show or that I would plead guilty. The judge was pissed. Then, the idiot made the mistake of asking the judge if we could wait an hour for the cop to come.
The judge lost his mind, livid that we had all arrived on time and this dunderhead couldn’t be bothered to do his job correctly. The judge told us that the case was dismissed but that we were not dismissed from the table yet—he wanted us to stand there for ten minutes and watch while he chewed the prosecutor a new one. I must say, I did kind of enjoy witnessing the guy get chewed out for messing up the entire trial—it was like a bonus to me for winning the case!
#50 So Much to Discuss, So Little Time
A lawyer showed up 45 minutes late for court, just to reschedule it because she didn’t have time to talk to the defendant prior to court. Next court date, she showed up late again and proceeded, despite still not having had any time to talk to the defendant beforehand. But there’s a twist: This was my lawyer. The second time she was late, I got to enjoy face-palming as I sat back and listened to the judge and bailiff joke about what a crackpot my public defender was. I did not win the case.
#51 You’ve Got a Friend in Me
I’m not a defendant, but there was this dude in the court I interned at who went in to support his friend but inadvertently wore a shirt that was the exact same color as the ones worn in group trials. The bailiff mistook him for a convict and was repeatedly asking him to sit down. He finally responded: “Hell nah, man. I’m just here to see my friend. I ain’t got no case. He was the one who got caught. I got away!” No. No, you did not get away…
#52 The Mother of All Break-Ups
I’ve had a lot of younger male potential clients come in for divorce consults with their mother. Then, during the consult, the mother does 98% of the talking, and it’s clear who actually wants the divorce. (I’ll usually escort Mom to wait in the lobby while I talk to the son directly, and most of the time he’s just there to appease his mother).
On a related note, I once had just the mother call for a consult because she explicitly said that she wanted her son to get a divorce. I politely informed her that’s not how divorces worked…
#53 Showing Her Hand
This is slightly different than some of the other stories on here, but I once worked at a company where we found out that a lawyer was trying to arrange a class action suit against us. Luckily, we found out about it well before it had the chance to get off the ground. How did we find out so soon, you ask? We found out because this lawyer attempted to email her client, but accidentally emailed all of us instead—with all the details of the class action suit included.
#54 Two’s Company, Four’s a Crowd
My father is an attorney and he always had a story for us whenever we would ask him about his favorite cases of all time. Some dude was allegedly smashing a wall with a sledgehammer along with a group of a few others, to try and break into a private property.
The cops rolled up, and he was the only one who got caught. Fast forward a few months, and this guy is in court. Apparently, a cop on the witness stand began to say something about how “the defendant was the only one caught, but there were two other men who fled on foot and couldn’t be apprehended.” My father’s client’s face lit up when he heard that statement.
He immediately jumped up and screamed “AHA!” before proceeding right away to tell the judge, “That’s not true, your honor! There were four of us!” I guess he thought that if he could disprove something that someone else was saying, then he would be let go on some kind of technicality. Safe to say, he was eventually found guilty of vandalism. My father says that upon hearing the comment, the judge just kind of sighed and unenthusiastically told him that it would be a good idea to keep his client quiet.
#55 Show Me the Money, or Else
I’ve worked as a legal assistant for two family law attorneys for the last eight years. One of the cases that made me the angriest was a man who cheated on his wife when she had cancer. He then leaves his wife and attempts to hide all his assets while she’s undergoing chemotherapy. Fortunately, my boss is a rockstar. She teamed up with a forensic accountant, and they took him to the cleaners.
He even had to pay the forensic accountant’s bill and the attorney fees.
#56 Doing His Duty
There was an episode of paternity court on TV where the girl spent almost the entire episode berating the guy, having people analyze genetic similarities between the child and the “father,” and going on about how this was all ridiculous because she hadn’t been with anybody else in years. The judge finally looked over at the guy and asked him if he had anything to say in his defense since he had just been standing there quietly while taking this verbal assault from his ex-girlfriend.
He motioned to show that he had a folder of paperwork. The bailiff took it up to the judge, who looked it over and then immediately dismissed the case in the guy’s favor. That’s when the mic dropped. He’d been actively deployed by the military for the past four years, and wasn’t even in the country at the time that the baby was conceived.
#57 Who Needs a Bear-Hug?
When I clerked for a judge, we had a weeklong divorce trial between a couple. The husband was a wildlife photographer, and the wife was a stay-at-home wife with no kids who…helped “remodel” the home. Anyway, the husband was mauled by a grizzly bear he was photographing, spent several months in the hospital and rehab, and was served papers shortly after getting out, now without an eye and with severe scarring on his face and side.
She wanted half of everything. The non-scarred half at least.
#58 A Bird’s Eye View of Terror
I represent school districts. One of my clients has a farm that is used to teach agricultural science to the students. The manager of the farm once decided to brutally euthanize a whole bunch of chickens in full view of a group of elementary school students. Sometimes, farms have to euthanize chickens. We understand, and that in and of itself was not the problem.
The problem was that he was whacking the chickens over the head with a hammer. And, to make matters worse, he decided to whack each chicken like five or six times before they died, because he is apparently some kind of psychopath. The poor chickens were NOT dying from this. That didn’t deter him from continuing.
If one of them refused to die, he’d just toss the chicken on the ground and try again with another one. But the birds were all getting horrifically damaged and injured, so they were just flapping in circles on the ground, or walking with terrible, stuttering limps, or screaming in pain. One of the kids recorded the whole thing and holy hell was it awful to watch! Obviously, I recommended that the school district fire him immediately because his behavior was completely unacceptable. He then tried to sue us. For GENDER DISCRIMINATION. That case was practically over before it began…
#59 Lady Luck Failed to Testify That Day
A woman backed out her car directly into a truck in a casino parking lot but luckily it was just a little fender bender damage. My client, the truck driver, said she parked and went inside the casino for a few hours. At her deposition, she testified that she was so hurt that she went right home and to a hospital. I asked if she was a frequent visitor of casino, and if she had a rewards card. She was happy to tell me that not only did she have a rewards card, she had gold status.
I subpoenaed her rewards cards records. She played slots for hours after the accident.
#60 The Claws Come Out
Paralegal here. A couple got divorced over a cat. Wife called cat Snowball because of white fur and only wanted the cat to eat wet food or chicken breast. Husband called cat Lily, again, because of white fur, and believed it should only eat dry food. These two argued for a year over custody of the cat but did not give a darn about their human kids aged six, four, and 15 months.
#61 Ensured to be Screwed Over
My client’s house burned down from an explosion in the fuel oil tank. It was clearly the oil maintenance company’s fault, but his homeowner’s insurance still refused to pay out, citing a ridiculous technicality. Essentially, the policy covered damage caused by the oil heater, but they claimed that because the storage tank exploded, they didn’t need to pay.
During a deposition with the claims adjuster, I asked how she came to the conclusion that the storage tank was not a part, or at least connected to, the heater. She states that she relied on her “expert witness” who was an engineer. Little did she know, I checked this person’s background. He had zero engineering experience.
As you might know, you don’t get attorney’s fees in most cases. However, you do when an insurance company denies your claim in “bad faith.” Her little admission cost the company about 500k in fees, on top of the original claim for 1.2 million. Kaboom, lady.
#62 What’s a Stabbing Between Friends?
I heard a defendant say, “I mean I did stab her… But it was a gentle stabbing…” Dude’s lawyer nearly cried.
#63 Honesty Isn’t Always the Best Policy
I cross examined a custom home builder who had a set price contract with the homeowner. The builder said he put 20% more labor/materials into building the home than the contract provided for, so he sued to cover it. I asked him about how he negotiated the price with my client when he volunteers that he knew he couldn’t possibly build it for the price he promised.
This is textbook fraudulent inducement, and buddy had no idea. He just admitted it.
#64 The Ice-Cold Truth Spills Out
The plaintiff said a car crash injured him so badly that he couldn’t do any work, any regular activities, or pick up his young kids. He then posted a video on his public Facebook profile where he does the Ice Bucket Challenge. If you’re not familiar, he basically lifted a huge cooler filled with ice water over his head. His attorney had no idea he had posted it.
#65 Leave Him to Side Hose
My aunt had a case where the wife had glued all of the outdoor hoses together so he wouldn’t spend more time washing his vehicle anymore. When the glue didn’t work, she just cut them all up. When he bought new ones, she filed for divorce.
#66 The Charges Are Coming From Outside My House
When I was in the military, I was accused of something I didn’t do. At court, the prosecutor described how the investigators staked out my apartment for months. They entered a picture of “my apartment” into evidence. Uh, no? It was my ex wife’s apartment. A place I had NEVER lived (never even spent a single night there).
They asked my lawyer if she objected to the picture. She replied, “I don’t mind them entering it into evidence as long as they change the listing of it.” When they asked what was wrong with the listing, she looked at him and said, “That’s not his apartment.” Because of this, the panel dismissed the case immediately.
#67 Cheaters Never Perjure
I handled a fraud case where a man said someone stole his Rolex at a hotel. There was just one problem: there was no proof that he visited a hotel at the time of the “theft.” The guy’s sworn in and immediately slips that he wasn’t at a hotel, but with his mistress. He just left his watch at her house. Apparently, this genius’ wife noticed his absent watch, so he said someone stole it. He hired an attorney and went through this whole circus just so his wife wouldn’t find out about his affair. Needless to say, the insurance company denied his claim.
#68 The Camera Adds Ten Lies
I represented a DUI client who swore up and down that he didn’t drink. He said a rookie officer and his trainer pulled him over for a tag violation, then walked back to their car with a body camera still on. On the tape, the trainer says, “Get him out for a DUI,” then the rookie replies, “But he’s not intoxicated.” The trainer demands that he “Do it anyway.” Then the body cam clicks off.
My client sat in custody for three weeks until I finally got the tape. The “oh no” looks from the prosecutor and FTO when the judge saw the tape…I’ll treasure that one. Even better, the judge wrote the police chief a letter saying the FTO was dead to him, and he’d deny every search warrant he tried to bring thereafter for being a liar. Glorious.
#69 Loser By a Hair(s)
My dad was a divorce lawyer. He had a client who wanted to divorce her husband for two reasons: He did not have enough hair on his chest. He did not drive fast enough. Keep in mind this was in the 70s when chest hair was a bit more important.
#70 Numbers Can Be All You Need
I sued a landlord who failed to make serious repairs to low-key force the tenant out. The hard part of these cases is proving bad intent instead of just plain idiocy (intent means you get higher damages). So, I request records from an agency called Code Enforcement. Then I strike gold: the landlord left a voicemail saying to hold off on the fines. He’ll make the repairs as soon as the tenant is forced out. That was an easy case.
#71 A Filmmaking Miracle
My brother is an attorney. He had a case where a client said he was permanently disabled from a work accident. At a deposition, my brother overheard the guy talking about remodelling his house, using the money he hadn’t even won in court yet. My brother drove by to see the renovations and saw the apparently disabled client carrying bundles of roofing shingles up a ladder to the roof.
He took a video, made copies, and sent them to the other attorney. The guy dropped the suit and headed back to work.
#72 The Strong Arm of the Law
This gentleman claimed injuries against his employer after a fall at work. He claimed he couldn’t raise his right arm above his shoulder anymore. First deposition comes along and I’m hired by defendant’s attorney to videotape deposition of the plaintiff. Anyone know THE FIRST THING a court reporter asks you to do in a deposition?
“Please raise your right hand and repeat after me…” Plaintiff raises his right arm above his shoulder with ease and no sign of discomfort. Both attorneys looked down at their notes and neither caught it. After four hours of deposition, where the plaintiff pretends like he can’t raise his arm above shoulder level, I call the defense over and show him the first two minutes of the tape. I got a $5,000 bonus and due to my eagle eye, the judge dismissed the plaintiff’s case with prejudice.
#73 A Do-It-Yourself Defense Isn’t the Best Offence
This is so petty but it’s my absolute favorite.
When these clients squabbled over a few inches of land, I had to go up against a lawyer with a reputation for being beyond smug. Part of his case hinged on wheelie bins and how before my client “moved the land boundary” (he didn’t), there wasn’t space to store a full-size bin beside the house. Because a bin could now fit, my client clearly moved the boundary. (This was the extent of his evidence).
During the actual trial, he pulled a fast one by suddenly producing an old aerial photo to show the boundary at the front of the property had also moved. While he argued for it to be admissible, I looked closely and saw that it very clearly showed a wheelie bin in exactly the spot where he said one couldn’t fit. I told the judge we were happy to accept the photo.
That photo did him for nearly 50k in adverse costs. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving chap.
#74 Not the Brightest Match
I had a meeting with a guy who wanted to divorced his wife of two months for the absolute craziest reason. She would sleep with a nightlight, but he could only sleep in total darkness. They apparently never lived together until after getting married. He hated her nightlight so much that he would often sleep on the couch instead, but sometimes he would claim the bed for himself and lock her out of the bedroom for the night. Yeah, I passed on that case…
#75 The Letter of the Unlawful
We hired a private investigator to track our defendant in a fraud/asset recovery case. Private investigator returned with a photograph of torn pieces of paper that clearly constituted a ripped-up note, albeit in a foreign language. I happened to know said foreign language, so pieced it together and realized it was a letter written by the defendant raging at his accomplice for making highly specific mistakes that screwed him over in the context of our fraud/asset recovery case.
It was unbelievable. The handwriting was a match; plus, the defendant also signed it, and the contents were so specific that it was basically a smoking gun. We almost thought they planted it to throw us off, but the guy was just really stupid. Ran into a bit of a fight re: admissibility but the letter ultimately helped us receive a significant settlement that made our clients extremely happy.
#76 A Crime to Remember. Or Not.
I deposed a guy in a large breach of contract/fraud action. I asked him if he’d ever been convicted of a crime and he said no. Late in the deposition, I asked him the question again and he answered “No.” I then whipped out his indictment for felony fraud and his conviction for misdemeanor conspiracy. He denied it was him until I started asking about his co-conspirator (his son) and then he gave me the “Oh yeah I remember something about that…”
#77 The Rooster Just Got Cooked
I represented Mom in a bitter custody fight. Dad wanted full custody and argued mom was an unfit parent. Mom wanted full custody because Dad had a history of domestic violence towards her and the kids.Dad’s lawyer was doing a good job of painting her in a bad light during his cross-examination, and I was starting to get worried.
His lawyer brought a close family friend as a character witness for Dad, who said the usual nice things about Dad. Then he said something about them owning chickens. I thought that was odd, so I asked more questions. I was able to get the friend to spill the beans that the Dad owned chickens for illegal cock fighting. He also took his young children to these fights, and when the children acted up, he’d punish them by forcing them to feed the chickens, who would peck and scratch them.
I could see the color draining from Dad’s lawyer’s face. Mom got full custody.
#78 There’s An App for That
I was a legal assistant when this case came in, but this lady divorced her husband of two months because he got her an iPad case for her birthday instead of the expensive jewelry she wanted.
#79 The Funny Bone is Not Admissible in Court
I sat in on a personal injury case where the plaintiff broke their leg in an accident and had a doctor on the stand as an expert. The woman’s lawyer begins questioning the doctor about his experience with leg injuries (he was a well-known orthopedic surgeon in the area). She asks if he’s ever treated a “tibula” fracture (the leg bones are tibia and fibula) to which he only answers “no” then she starts grilling him with questions about the tibula.
After about six questions she asks, “How did you get a medical license and have been able to practice medicine this long if you’ve never treated a tibula fracture?” And begins a small rant about going after his credentials and those that gave it to him, to which he simply responds, “There is no bone named the tibula”. The lawyer became beet red and everyone in the room tried their best to keep from laughing…including the judge. Ouch.
#80 All Around Me Are Familiar Faces
I got called for jury duty. At the jury selection phase, they asked if “anyone here thinks they should not…” blah blah. Defendant was in the room. I raised my hand. The defending lawyer looked at me like “Oh, this oughta be good” and asked me to explain. I suggested I tell them in private. He insisted I tell the courtroom.
I said: “OK…I probably shouldn’t be on this jury because I was on a previous jury for this man which returned a guilty verdict.” Lawyer’s face went “oh snap.” After they checked their records, the whole jury was “tainted.” Everyone went home and they had to start over.
#81 Convicted with Style
When I was a law student intern, I worked on a drug possession case. Police found drugs in my client’s jacket, but my client said he wasn’t wearing a jacket. In other words, opposing counsel needed to prove the drug-filled jacket belonged to my guy. I had a long meeting with my client where I explained everything and he left happy. On the day of the preliminary hearing, he shows up wearing the exact same jacket that apparently didn’t belong to him.
#82 Married Life Is the Real Hell Inside
I was involved in the most disturbing divorce case ever. The client had an inner ear condition that caused chronic vertigo, but symptoms could be treated with medication. The husband was an evangelical who was convinced his wife 1) was possessed and that her vertigo and general crankiness at his methods were evidence of demonic possession, 2) the medications she took enabled the devil to hide inside her, and 3) the only proper recourse was an exorcism.
He would hide her meds until she got dizzy and then try various methods of exorcism. This included: Sweating it out (put under blankets while incapacitated and locked in a room full of space heater). Freezing it out (pretty much the reverse with AC, fans, and bags of ice). Surprising it out (he would jump out and scare her like it was the hiccups, but instead of yelling ‘Boo!’ he would recite the Lord’s Prayer or Psalms).
The final straw was that he tried to “surprise it out of her” by pushing her down the stairs when they were heading out for dinner. This guy was some type of executive, and they still went out to dinner after the stairs incident. She asked for the divorce at an Applebee’s that night. I have often tried to picture that conversation, as she was adamant that he was a total sweetheart and never acted out of malice or anger.
#83 Breaker of (Logic) Chains
I sued an employer for wrongful termination. It went a little something like this.
My rep: So, you terminated him because he was ill.
MR: And he was ill because he’s disabled.
MR: So, you fired someone for being disabled.
#84 He Didn’t Sign the Crime
My former law partner represented a client who wanted a restraining order against her soon-to-be-ex-husband. As evidence, our client told the judge that when they met to exchange the children for visitation, the ex kicked her. He immediately angrily shouted, “She can’t prove it! I didn’t leave a mark!” Thanks, buddy! 10/10!
#85 House Arrest Should Only Punish The Perp…
I was a prosecutor on a case where an 18-year-old defendant applied for bail. He needed a residential address so his dad showed up to confirm that he could stay at the family home. My fellow prosecutor gets up and asks dad, “Do you really want him home?” Dad goes off the deep end. “Jesus. The grief he brought me and his mother. Out all hours. Taking drugs. Hiding stolen property in the garage. All night parties. I’m on anti-depressants. My wife is in crisis.” As the defendant goes back to the cells, he calls out, “Thanks Dad. I owe you one.”
#86 Sole Custody Is Not in Your Stars
Staff Attorney for a judge. Not a divorce but a custody modification hearing. Ex-wife wanted sole L&P custody of the kids because the ex-husband was spending all his money on a palm reader/psychic and refused to pay child support. On cross examination, ex-wife’s attorney got him to admit that he was spending all his discretionary income on this psychic.
He said he had spent over $5,000 on “readings” and other services there. Judges frequently chime in with questions in domestic matters, so my judge asked why he was not paying support as his divorce decree required. His explanation was i) the psychic could “read” that his children were provided for without his money and ii) he would be able to repay the ex when he takes the children to Mexico permanently to “seek great riches” there.
Which my judge read as, “My psychic told me to kidnap my kids.”
#87 This Call Will Cost You
I saw a guy defend himself (not a good idea) against car theft by claiming the cops had the wrong guy. Just one problem: I got his calls from jail, where he described his crimes at length to his girlfriend. The look on his face when I told him I had copies of his jail calls: priceless.
#88 You Can Put a Price on Nothing
A contractor ripped off my client. At court, I went through the entire contract and asked the contractor to agree to it line by line. He agreed to the payments for his workers. He agreed to the total. However, he failed to list any profit. My last question was “Where is your profit in this contract?” No answer. As written, he worked for free. Due to this, the judge dismissed the case.
#89 Bad Foot Forward
I saw a case where a lawyer described a theft, saying “The footprints make it seem as though he didn’t go to the basement.” The defendant then pipes up, “Actually we did.”
#90 A Dirty Separation
I’m an intern, but the judge I work for used to do divorce work. He has some crazy stories but this one is probably the most outrageous, though the divorce was pretty justified. Every morning, this couple would sit in the bathroom together while one of them had their morning dump. One would sit on the toilet and the other on the rim of the bathtub.
This particular morning, the wife was on the toilet and husband on the edge of the tub. They started to argue about their relationship, so the wife reaches down and basically ended their marriage there and then. She pulls her tampon out and flings it at the husband. I’m told the tampon stuck for a brief second to his forehead before sliding off. He filed for divorce that same day or the next.
#91 Takes One to Not Know One
I sat in on a criminal trial where the defense had no defense other than, “There were documents lying around with the name Jack Smith, and our client’s name is John Smith, so there was obviously someone else living in the house hiding the drugs.” In the very last minute of closing arguments, the prosecutor stood up and dropped the mic.
“I’m really tired of you spending all week pretending you don’t know who Jack is when you know very well. Your trial binders which have been sat on your desk all week say Jack Smith, because that’s what he goes by.”
#92 Get Up to Speed
I prosecuted a traffic ticket and ended my opening statement with something like, “By the end of the day, you’ll agree that the officer caught the defendant going 65 in a 50.” The defendant, representing himself, stands up and says, “While he may have clocked me going 65 in a 50…” The judge stops the trial, excuses the jury, and says,”You just confessed soooooo… Can you change your plea to no contest or what?”
#93 Memories Are Worth More Than Plastic
Wasn’t the reason but did happen during the course of the divorce. Neither side would follow the court orders. When they had to go back to court, they were fighting over a pistol and the man’s grandmother’s bowls. I assumed for weeks that these bowls were some sort of heirloom or expensive china. When they finally brought the bowls in to swap, I couldn’t believe my eyes. They were freaking Tupperware.
#94 Quit While You’re Far, Far Behind
Eight months into a case, 12 hours into a deposition, opposing counsel’s client stood up and changed everything. He said, “I’m sick of this. I made it all up.”
#95 The Honest Thief
I work fraud investigations. I called a suspect who allegedly used money for an incapable individual. I explained the allegation. He stated: “Yeah, they’re correct. I took the lump sum and bought cocaine and booze. I understand it’s wrong, do what you gotta so. I’ll sign a statement or come in the office if you need me to.” I don’t really deal with high level criminals.
#96 Bent Out of Shape
I busted a bunch of people for faking disabilities by hiring private investigators to tail them for a day. One guy claimed he could barely walk. I caught him literally jogging out of his independent medical examination. Also got photos of him throwing his walker aside when he bent down to pick up his keys after dropping them.
#97 The Final “Gotcha!”
Paralegal here. There are so many crazy divorces and divorce will bring out the absolute worst in couples. When thinking of reasons why a divorce started, this one stands out to me the most: At my last firm, we did general law, which included probate. A couple did their will with our firm. We drafted everything; they were mid-70s to early 80s and married 40 years total. Divorced and remarried once.
Husband wanted us to put in his will that his kids get his entire estate but did not want us to tell his wife. He wanted to have us make a secret will and a fake will. The fake will would be signed with her present, and then he wanted us to shred it and he will come in later to sign the “real will.” He copied his wife on the email that had all of this information disclosed in it. Two weeks later, he called us and said he wanted to file for divorce instead.
#98 Little Miss With Big Secrets
My buddy’s divorce lawyer withheld all of the proof of infidelity and other stuff (1+ year of Messages history dumped through some app, provided to my buddy by the guy who was banging his wife) until the last part of the negotiations.
Then the lawyer dropped the bomb that they had proof of her doing all of this insane stuff, including fabricating a rape story when she got caught cheating. (She also got her uncle, a DA, involved with that story). The family was stunned, and her parents were in the room when it happened. Oh, and her cousin represented her. She was very much a “daddy’s little girl” type. Her parents never thought she could be in the wrong…their mistake. She’s a serial cheater, drug addict buying painkillers on Silk Road, habitual liar, and overall horrid person.
In conclusion, my buddy walked away from that divorce scot-free.
#99 Well, I Guess He Walked Right Into That One…
My lawyer dad had a person come in and he couldn’t walk because of some “injury” at work. At the time, my dad was skeptical so he hired a psychologist to do an examination on him, and she found out that something COULD be wrong, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Jump to next week, my dad ends up with a video in his hands of the person WALKING down their driveway to take out the trash.
Busted. So my dad called them and told them “Hey come on in, we have a breakthrough in your case, and you can get some money for your injury.” So the guy comes to his office, and he leaves him sitting in the lobby for almost an hour because my dad knows this guy is a scumbag just trying to get money over nothing (which makes lawyers look bad).
So then my dad calls him into the meeting room, and plays the video. The guy walked out.
#100 Two Is a Marriage, Mom Is a Crowd
A friend divorced her husband because his mother still coddled him at age 40, with his consent. They lived with his mother (common in Asia). By coddle, I mean that she would walk straight into their room after his shower and powder his back for him. They couldn’t lock their bedroom door because his mother would come in as and when she wanted.
If they locked the door, she would knock repeatedly asking what they were doing. Lol, what would they be possibly doing??? Playing poker???
#101 Not So Sinful as To Not Get One, I See
My client was the outrageous one, so my heart went out to his poor wife. He had OCD which manifested in some wild ways, primarily financially, so he made their lives a penny-pinching hell. Examples: he was obsessed with avoiding unnecessary driving (wear and tear on the car, gas expenses), so he cut the whole family’s hair at home and never let them eat at a restaurant or go to the movies.
Weirdest of all: he kept one toilet paper roll on him at all times, and you had to get one square from him before you could go to the bathroom. He never gave more than one square. Wife finally got fed up and left him when 1) he gave her bangs during an in-home haircut and 2) their daughter was so traumatized by the toilet paper thing they couldn’t potty train her.
Also: he HATED paying his divorce lawyer bill. He was also an old-fashioned mega-Catholic who considered divorce a deadly sin. He viewed my whole job as an unnecessary (and sinful) expense.
#102 Did Not See That Coming…
I used to work with an engineer who liked to tell a story about the time he gave a deposition on a patent case. He answered a bunch of questions about a discussion in a specific meeting five years prior. At the end, the lawyer asked when that conversation occurred. My coworker gave the exact time and date of the conversation. The lawyer then asked how he could possibly be so sure about the exact time of a meeting that occurred years in the past. My coworker’s response was “I remember because right after that meeting I went back to my desk and suffered a heart attack.” There were apparently no further questions.
#103 Two Sides to Every Horror Story
I am a lawyer that handles quite a few divorces (among other things), and I’ve seen all sorts of reasons for marriages ending. A guy who is 100% convinced that his wife (our client) is actually a lesbian in love with his sister and just using him as a cover (but he also claims she is having sex with me to pay for her legal fees, and with every male whose phone number is in her call history).
A woman who is divorcing my client because he was “too sad” after his father died last year (my client had to break down her door to get his father’s ashes a few weeks after he left the house and she refused to let him back in or give them to him). A woman who claims my client was emotionally abusive towards her because he refused to yell at her, and sat in silence ignoring her when she screamed at him (he has this recorded, time-stamped for the dates and times she insists the incidents occurred, and she’s listened to them and his complete silence as she goes on tirades and insists this proves her point that he was “emotionally distant and abusive”).
#104 So Much for the Language of Love
Friend of mine divorced his then-wife because she would only speak French when her family would come over. She was Spanish, as was her family. To add, her family spoke English, French, and Spanish; he could only speak Spanish and English. She got bored of being married to him, her family basically talked smack about him while he was there, was only when he recorded a conversation while they were there and got it translated he found out what was going on.
#105 A Million Reasons Why Not
Hopefully soon-to-be-former divorce attorney here. I’ve seen tons of crazy reasons for people to get divorced. Some of them stupid, some of them make perfect sense. I had one person get divorced because her husband wouldn’t take her out to the movies anymore. I had one client who looked through her husband’s phone and found out he was hiring male escorts while he was on business trips.
One female client got a divorce because she hated intimate time with her husband. Her last relationship before she got married was pretty intense, and I guess her husband just didn’t match up. I’ve had a few clients who were teachers get divorced because their spouses found out they were having indecent relationships with students. All of the teachers were female.
One divorce involved an elderly couple who had both recently been widowed. They had both been married to their individual spouses for over 40 years. They married each other out of loneliness. About two years into the marriage, they realized they made a huge mistake. They couldn’t stand each other. It was weird seeing eighty-year-olds complaining about the same thing you see kids arguing about.
#106 Stay for the Pay
The saddest divorce we were hired to do (but ended up not doing for reasons that’ll become apparent), was a woman in her fifties whose husband had really just let himself go. He was over 400 pounds, just did his third triple bypass, refused to do ANYTHING different, just smoked and drank all day long while watching TV.
His doctors told him he was going to die in six months if he didn’t change his behavior. He told them they were all morons and could go to heck. Meanwhile, his wife is this successful woman who makes over $10k a month on her HOBBY, while making six figures in her normal work. She lost all respect for him, all desire, and all love for him by watching his decline.
For the past few years, she could barely stand him. It also sounded like there was some verbal abuse going on where he constantly accused her of cheating–and that’s not the worst part. He also gaslit her while cheating himself throughout their marriage (and spending all his money on substances). His accusations ramped up considerably once she lost about 200 lbs the good old fashioned way.
We were working on her divorce, and one of her provisions was that he keeps her as the beneficiary on his life insurance (for obvious reasons). She assured us he would agree to everything she suggested in the paperwork if she talked him through it. One day, we get an email from her saying to halt the divorce.
Not because they were reconciling, but because he refused to keep her as the beneficiary on his life insurance if they divorced. So, she stopped the divorce. So that she could get the benefits when he inevitably dies in a few months. It was absolutely stone-cold but honestly I couldn’t say I would have done things any differently than her.
#107 It’s That Time of the Month (for a Divorce)
Knew a soldier stationed at Guantanamo Bay who met a local. Fell madly in love. They decided to get married so she could come with him back in the States once his tour was done. She was working on American dishes and was making spaghetti. He comes home from work one day, and she’s making it. She puts the meat in, puts the canned sauce in, and then pulls an unlabeled bag out of the freezer and adds it to the sauce.
At this point in the session, she’s hysterically crying with broken Spanglish. She’s trying to explain she didn’t know any better. Through the hysteria he informs me that her mother and grandmother told her if she wanted to keep her man, she needed to put her menstrual blood in his food. It was so hard to keep my composure. I was trying so hard not to gag.
They both described they were madly in love, but he couldn’t let it go. Weirdest divorce I ever processed, for sure.
#108 The Doghouse Becomes His Revenge
My uncle represented this guy getting a divorce from his wife of 15 years. Super toxic breakup, and they split everything 50/50, even the land that the house they lived in sat upon. Well, she decides to build a house right behind the other house. Mind you, this was a lot of land. There was probably 200 yards separating both home sites, and the backs of the houses faced each other.
The house gets built, and my uncle gets a call from his client asking about the legality of a situation he had gotten himself into. Apparently, his ex-wife would spend a lot of time in her backyard, so he saw her all the time. What he did was buy a female dog and name it the same name as his ex-wife. Anytime he would let his dog back in from letting her out, he would yell “Susan, you witch! Get in here!”
He would also yell if she was peeing on the flowers, “Susan you witch! Quit pissing on the flowers!” or “Susan, you witch! Quit digging in the dirt!” The ex-wife called the cops on him a couple of times, but there was nothing they could do because the dog was registered under the name of Susan so there you go.
#109 Love Is Not a Get Rich Quick
He got drunk at the wedding, she did not like it, and decided to divorce him right after the honeymoon (which she went on without him). Moreover, this was all an elaborate scheme of divorce-robbery, because the guy was loaded, and so was his entire family…but they were loaded because they were a family of EXCELLENT lawyers.
He was a third-generation lawyer, with all the smarts and experience of his predecessors combined. Let’s just say it did not go well for her.
References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19