Lawyers Share Their “Oh GOD” Moments In Court
Being a lawyer is tough work. They have to prepare prosecutions, talk to judges, and keep the best interests of their clients at heart. But what happens when a client or a case is just too ridiculous handle? From bitter divorces to hot-headed defendants, these horrific courtroom stories made us realize some that lawyers are well worth their retainer fees.
#1 In All Honesty
I’m cross examining the alleged victim and in answering my question she says, “Oh yeah, I lie all the time!” Needless to say, I won that trial.
#2 Matter of Manners
I was in court for a directions hearing. The judge was already in a bad mood and asked why we were here for such a pointless litigation. The barrister starts to make our case when I hear, “EXCUSE ME, WHY WERE YOU SO RUUUUUUDE TO ME?” When I heard this, my heart dropped. I knew exactly who it was: My ridiculous client.
We had told her NOT to come and yet here she was in court. Evidently, she’d heard how stupid the judge thought her case was and she was not happy. So she then decided berate the judge for about 3 minutes while my co-counsel and I desperately tried to shut her up. The case did not go very well, to my client’s surprise and fury.
#3 Dumb People Make Dumb Choices
An accused man came into court one morning wearing a pair of very unique custom-made red cowboy boots…taken from the house he was accused of robbing. He wore them. To court. To plead not guilty. The prosecutor was laughing.
#4 Solid as a Rock
One of the most infuriating cases I’ve had as a defense lawyer was a guy who got busted for selling rocks to a confidential informant. The CI was wired for sound and video so the whole transaction is crystal clear. He had a whole bunch of other evidence piling up against him. The guy was guilty as sin, it was just a matter of how lenient I could get the court to be.
The prosecutor offered him five years which was the mandatory minimum. His response shocked me. He absolutely declined to even consider a plea, insisted on a jury trial, insisted on taking the stand and telling a ridiculous story about how it wasn’t him in the video even though there wasn’t any doubt. He got 20 years, I spent the entire time trying not to laugh AND cry at the same time.
#5 With a Wave of a Hand
The main witness for the prosecution was on the stand and my friend, a lawyer, asked her if she could identify his defendant. The woman was scanning the courtroom for a minute and seemed confused. In fact, my friend was already silently celebrating because if she couldn’t identify him, he could probably get all charges dropped.
Just as he was mentally adding this case to the “win” file, my friend happened to glance over at his client…who had just helpfully raised his hand to make it easier for her to identify him. Even the judge facepalmed on that one.
#6 Salt of the Earth
I once amended a will for a doctor in which he disinherited his son by removing everything he had intended to bequeath and replacing it with a “manure spreader.” I didn’t ask any questions because changing a will is an easy thing to do. But one day, that doctor will pass, and his son will have essentially be told to “eat excrement.”
#7 Breast to Tell the Truth
My friend’s mom was a defense lawyer for a hospital. Her job was to represent doctors accused of malpractice. She had one case where a female patient had accused a male doctor of groping her during a procedure. Reportedly, the doctor had been coached to say that it’s possible that he inadvertently brushed the patient’s chest.
So, they get to the deposition and I guess the first question the doctor gets is something along the lines of, “Walk me through what happened.” His response made the lawyer’s blood run cold. The doctor just straight-up says, “I don’t know what you want me to say, man. I’m a tit guy. Always have been.” They settled.
#8 Show and Tell
A lawyer I used to know was in court on a work injury case. The judge asked his client, “just what is the nature of your injury?” His client replied, “I can’t raise my arm this high anymore”…while she raised her arm up to show just how high she couldn’t raise it. Some people are so stupid, you should always walk away from defending them.
#9 Missing STU
I had a client come in saying that he “Needed to sue Stu for taking all his checks.” When I asked him if Stu had a last name, he said no. When I asked him if he knew anybody name Stu, he said no. When I asked him what proof he had that Stu was fleecing him, he showed me all of his pay stubs. When I looked at them, I realized the ridiculous truth.
There were clear, monthly deductions by “SCU” and as soon as I saw it, I knew. I asked, “Do you have children?” He said yes. I then told him, “Your Stu is the SCU: The Support Collection Unit. They take money out of your check to pay for your child.” He left the office still insisting that we needed to find and detain Stu.
#10 Oral Admittance
My former law partner was representing a client who wanted a restraining order against her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Our client was telling the judge that when they met to exchange the children for visitation, the ex had kicked out at her. He immediately angrily shouted, “She can’t prove it. I didn’t leave a mark!” Thanks, buddy!
#11 Justice McServed
I’m a lawyer, and this woman wanted me to sue McDonald’s because their employees beat up her son. While he was trying to hold up the place and grab the cash. No thanks lady, not taking that case.
#12 A Dog’s Life
A man came into the family firm my friend was working in and says his wife was cheating on him. He’s extremely rich and wants to get divorced. The lawyer proceeds to ask him about his assets. He says that she can have the house, the car, the boat, the kids, etc. The lawyer asks him what he wants to keep, then. His reply was so disturbing it’s impossible to forget.
The man angrily responds, “That woman only loves her dog. I want her to suffer so I want the court to order that the dog be taken away from her and cremated. She can have 50% of the ashes and I’ll have the other 50%.”
#13 Things Got Bloody
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 the husband, my client, was on the edge of the tub. They started to argue about their relationship.
Suddenly, the wife reaches down, pulls her tampon out, and flings it at 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.
#14 Dear Diary…
I worked a harassment case with a plaintiff who was paid to role play with her boss, and kept a very detailed diary about their, uh, encounters on her work computer. At one point, she was asked to read from the diary for the record. She was asked at several points if she wanted her new husband to leave the room while she did this, but declined. This turned into a huge mistake.
Let’s just say it was extremely kinky stuff in the diary. But that wasn’t the worst part. See, the only mention of her now-husband was that he was boring in bed but she was going to marry him because she couldn’t get her first, second, or third choice. He ended up leaving on his own after she read that part out and confirmed that she was writing about him.
#15 The Right to Remain Silent
The case before ours was going on much longer than it should have. The defense lawyer calls for a motion to dismiss, claiming lack of evidence. The judge says he will entertain said motion after lunch, hits the gavel, and says court will reconvene at 1 PM. Then the defendant suddenly stands up and says real loudly, “Told you I could get away with it.” He thought his case had been dismissed.
#16 Admission of Guilt
This person I was representing was on trial for assault of an officer. The allegations are that he was screaming awful things. We’re sitting at the defendant’s table and the officer is testifying about the statements my guy made to him, including some pretty horrific name calling. Out of nowhere, my client starts to yell and swear at the officer. We lost that trial.
#17 By the Way…
A defendant was detained for a breaking and entering. He went into a neighbor’s home, sat down, and acted like he owned the place. When officers came, he made an even more disturbing confession. With no prompting, he said, “Oh, and I killed my other neighbor.” They had no leads on that case, and now they suddenly had the guilty party.
#18 A Keen Eye
I was at a hearing arguing that my client was wrongfully terminated because the employer didn’t follow proper procedures. During the hearing, a witness for the employer tried to offer documents that proved their case. When I looked at the documents, I knew I’d won. They’d been doctored to look like proper procedure had been followed.
The opposing counsel quickly got that witness out of the room. After a quick adjournment, my client got a large settlement.
#19 Marriage Snapshots Fired
I had a client once who started his divorce case by representing himself before hiring me to take over. I catch up with what’s already gone down by asking my new client what he’s filed with the court. He gives me an envelope I wish I’d never opened. It was a multitude of pictures of his wife spread-eagled with the camera three feet away.
Apparently, my client had caught his ex-wife sending these pictures to men on the internet. Were they relevant? Yes. Did I want some warning? Heck yes.
#20 Sign of Implication
When I was in law school, I did the defense clinic where we “help” a public defender, which basically means doing small cases by ourselves. I had a guy accused of taking a yellow FUBU shirt. Guess what he wore to the trial? A freaking yellow FUBU shirt. I asked the prosecutor to re-offer the plea deal. Thank god she did.
#21 A Woman’s Worth
Divorce lawyer here. There was this soldier who was stationed at Guantanamo Bay and met a local. They fell madly in love. They decided to get married so she could come with him back to the States once his tour was done. She was working on American dishes and was making spaghetti. He comes home from work one day while 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 mediation session she’s crying with broken Spanglish. She’s trying to explain she didn’t know any better and that it was supposed to help. What she said next shocked even me.
Through the sobbing she informs me 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 to hard not to gag. They both said that they were madly in love, but he couldn’t let it go. They ended up going through with the divorce.
#22 Furrious Reaction
My friend got engaged, which apparently ticked off his ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend sued him for custody of their two cats AND $500,000 for something like the lost value of the cats because she claimed they were service animals. They were not at all service animals, just regular cats. She did not win her case.
#23 On the Record Permanently
A guy was convicted of attempting to harm several uniformed officers. At his sentencing, the prosecutor revealed the defendant got a tattoo while he was awaiting sentencing. When I saw it, my jaw dropped. It was a tombstone with the names of all the officers he tried to hurt. The defendant still had the audacity to beg for a lenient sentence. He got a few hundred years in the slammer.
#24 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. But all wasn’t what it seemed…
It turns out he’d been working on an diabolical 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, I’ve never forgotten it to this day.
#25 Bias on the Bench
I once saw a judge stand up and recuse himself from a 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 heck!”
#26 Guilty as Not Charged
One day, a report came across my desk for a client I was defending. When I read its contents, I burst out laughing. Here’s the story: My client walked into the station and told the front desk that he thought the officers were looking for him. He then volunteered that he and a friend held up a gas station last week.
Then, after officers gave him his rights, and after he spoke at length with counsel (not me) he repeated his confession in a video statement. He wasn’t forced or coerced. He hadn’t been detained for an unreasonable time. They hadn’t even interrogated him. But as a result of his confession, they were able to get a DNA warrant and matched him to the scene. And the best part?
The officers had zero idea beforehand that it was him. Like worse than nothing. My client and his friend had covered part of their faces, the surveillance video was horrible quality, and the store clerk couldn’t provide officers with a description beyond “two males.” And since my client had no record, he wasn’t in the DNA database.
He had just heard a rumor that officers were investigating, and assumed they knew it was him. Best I could do was get him a plea deal, even though he’d committed the perfect heist.
#27 Berry Unsatisfied
This client wanted to sue because there were no strawberries in the fruit salad she bought from a supermarket. Thankfully a secretary was able to screen the call. She asked if the package said it had strawberries, and the response was, “No, but I thought it would have.” I don’t know how these people manage to make it through life.
#28 Taint It Wrong
I got called for jury duty and it was at the jury selection phase. The lawyers then did the “If anyone here thinks they should not…” speech with the defendant 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 him in private. He insisted I tell the courtroom. So I confessed the dark truth.
I said, “Well, I was on a previous jury for this man, which returned a guilty verdict.” The lawyer’s face just dropped. I had immediately ruined the case, because now everyone in the jury had heard me. There was a commotion and a wait while they looked up records. Yep; verified. The whole jury was now “tainted.” Everyone goes home, and they start over.
#29 Purrsonal Injury Claim
I am a personal injury lawyer in the UK. I took a call from a potential client who had fallen down the stairs in her own home. She had tripped over her own cat. She told me that she wanted to sue her local authority as her home was owned by the council…and she was not allowed to keep pets as part of her lease. We did NOT take that case.
#30 Fifteen Seconds of Fame
I was working as court staff in a hearing where a guy was accused of holding up 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?”
#31 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 thing 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.
#32 Failure to Keep My Mouth Shut
I was working as a warden. A guy came back from court absolutely wrecked, even though he was up for a plea deal and had only been facing about six months. I was confused why he was so upset, so I asked around. Apparently, he started to question some of the facts, which pushed the prosecution to dig around more. They weren’t prepared for what they found.
A mountain of more previously unknown B&Es were linked to him. He walked out of court that day facing a 99-year sentence, which he was certain to get. All because he opened his mouth.
#33 Need-to-Know Basis
I had a family client whose ex wide wasn’t letting him see his kid. So, we were in court with him explaining how important parenting was to him, how much he loved being a father, etc. Then suddenly, the mother dropped something that changed the entire case. She says, “I don’t know why he’s saying this, he abandoned his other kids.”
Cue my jaw dropping. You see, I’d never even heard my client mention having other kids. Turned out, yeah, he 100% abandoned these other children, has had no contact for years and never made any efforts to see them. Please give your lawyers important information, especially if another party involved knows your secrets.
#34 Copy That, Sir
A couple in their mid-70s to early 80s did their will with our firm. We drafted everything. They had been married 40 years total, divorced and remarried once. The husband wanted us to put in his will that his kids get his entire estate, but—and this is a big 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. Yeah, that sounds about right, my man.
#35 Mother Knows Best
This guy signs over Power of Attorney to his mother before leaving. As soon as he was out of the country, his mother files for divorce on his behalf because she never got along with his wife. Dude is in the middle of the desert and didn’t know until he came back, three weeks after the fact. Just absolutely ridiculous, honestly.
#36 So Help Me Dad
I was a character witness for my childhood dog in a civil trial between our neighbors and my parents when I was still in elementary school. Opposing counsel was questioning me, and he asked if our dog was aggressive. She was a very loving Rottweiler who was incredibly protective of me and my siblings. The lawyer’s final question is one I will never forget.
He asked, Ddid your father tell you what to say before you came into court today?” I responded “Yes.” Then he asked, “What did he tell you to say?” I simply said, “The truth.” Now, I was too young to remember the courtroom reaction, but according to my father, the judge audibly laughed and the opposing counsel lost all the wind out of his sails.
#37 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 jerk just trying to get money over nothing. So then my dad calls him into the meeting room, and plays the video. The guy walked out.
#38 Trauma Savings
My client was the outrageous, so my heart went out to his poor wife who he was divorcing. He had OCD which manifested primarily financially, so he made their lives a penny-pinching nightmare. He was obsessed with avoiding unnecessary driving due to wear and tear on the car and 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.
One of the weirdest things of all was that 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. The 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.
#39 Egged on
As a teenager, I got busted with a couple of buddies for throwing eggs at cars. We were only actually in the courtroom for our sentencing. There was no trial. The judge called each of us up individually to ask us if we had anything to say. One of my friends tells the judge that he is a good kid who doesn’t normally do things like this, which was a lie. We did it all the time.
He goes, “I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” I wish there was a video of my other friend and I sitting in the benches watching this happen. We simultaneously dropped our heads into our hands because we couldn’t believe that idiot just said that. The judge was not pleased, and she took the opportunity to remind him that going to a store, buying eggs, going to another location across town, and then throwing those eggs at cars was not just being in “the wrong place at the wrong time.”
#40 Women’s Intuition
RIGHT before trial, I was trying to convince my client to give his ex-wife $200 in child support while he was looking for a job. There was just one problem, though: It turns out my client already had a job…but he had requested his bosses to pay him under the table, so that he wouldn’t have to pay any child support. Oh, but it gets even worse.
Even so, my client kept saying he couldn’t pay that much because he was jobless and poor—even though he wasn’t. After fighting with him about how he should be a decent parent and take care of his kids, he said to me, “I should have gotten a male lawyer, women just don’t get it.” My jaw dropped, and then I told him exactly what I thought of him.
Since I was defending this idiot for free, I told him that he was trash and said he could use the 20 minutes until his hearing to start looking for another lawyer.
#41 Did Not See That Coming…
This witness 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. He gave the exact time and date. The lawyer then asked how he could possibly be so sure about the exact time of a meeting that occurred years in the past. His response was, “I remember because right after that meeting I went back to my desk and suffered a heart attack.” There were no further questions.
#42 Incomprehensible Proceedings
I was on a jury once for a murder trial. I got selected and the trial started almost immediately. The man was charged with slaying his neighbor. They made their opening statements and there was even a bloody note. It wasn’t terribly long but they clearly put a lot of effort into their strategies and were ready for battle. Of course, no one knew what was going to happen…
The first witness was called. It was the son of the man on trial. I forget the first question but it didn’t matter, he immediately broke down crying and invoked his 5th amendment right. Everyone freaks out. Judge and lawyers were very confused. Jury had no clue what was going on but we were quickly ushered out immediately after that.
A few minutes later, a law rep explained what had happened to us. The judge declared a mistrial. The prosecutor must have suspected that the father was taking the fall for the son who actually ended the neighbor’s life. Rather than risk losing, there was a mistrial while they sorted out who to actually charge and try.
#43 No Knowing the Language
The client said they didn’t speak English so we had to get an interpreter. When asked questions, the client kept answering in English and the interpreter would have to stop and ask again and then answer in the language. It was a long confusing deposition to say the least. The client spoke better English than anything.
#44 Pointing Fingers
There was a guy who cut off all of his fingers. He clearly had some really awful mental difficulties, and he had decided one evening that a good way to get some money would be to break into a butcher shop and use a meat saw to cut all his fingers and both thumbs off at the knuckles, which is pretty much exactly what he did.
He wanted to sue someone. He didn’t really know who he wanted to sue. He had just got it into his head that if he was injured, he would get compensation.. He was found the next morning, somehow having survived. He was put in a mental health facility and made a pretty much full, albeit fingerless, recovery. But there was a kicker.
I remember his biggest question was whether he would get more money if he went back and cut off his feet, too.
#45 My Precious
A couple got divorced over a cat. The wife called the cat Snowball because of its white fur and only wanted the cat to eat wet food or chicken breast. The husband called the cat Lily again because of its 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 thought about their human kids aged 15 months, 4 years, and 6 years old.
#46 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, the lawyer convinced the judge that the evidence was inadmissible, so the guy couldn’t be convicted.
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!”
#47 Not Your Common Crook
Without going into too many details, I had a guy who wanted to bring a class action suit against the company that made his underwear because he was convinced his underwear was the reason he had a crooked, uh, manhood. He assured us that as soon as the jury saw his…equipment, they’d side with him. We didn’t accept his case.
#48 Conspiracy Theories
I was working in a firm and got a call from reception advising that someone had arrived and needed some intellectual property advice. I went to reception to find a clearly disturbed woman with a persistent facial twitch and a small-wheeled suitcase. I took her to a conference room, while trying to think up an excuse to dodge the meeting.
The client proceeds to put her suitcase on the table, open it, and reveal thousands of handwritten pages and one half of a pair of scissors. She explained that she had written a manuscript about how the city council gave her schizophrenia and hepatitis, aliens took her pets, and that it was all part of a bigger conspiracy involving the army and the Illuminati. So yeah, I proceeded to advise her that she owned the copyright to…that.
#49 Wildly Overreacting
I once had a heavily pregnant client that attacked her husband of less than a year with an iron. Said client was now sitting in a cell, sobbing, and insisting that her husband deserved it and she wanted a divorce. I asked what he had supposedly done, assuming he’d cheated or something similar. It turned out that she’d checked his phone and found a single dirty website in his browsing history…from over two years beforehand.
Sure, it wasn’t the most pleasant thing to discover, but hardly worth battering him and demanding a divorce.
#50 Mens Rea-lization
A couple of decades ago, my friend was busted with an illicit substance. During his appearance in court, he told the judge that he, “Wasn’t going to use it all, most of it was for selling!” He somehow thought that would get him off easier. I swear you could see his lawyer wince as my friend said that. Spoiler: He did not get off easier.
#51 Scratch Resistant
I worked as a receptionist at a small personal injury firm, so I was the first line of defense against the more outlandish cases. One of the most ridiculous calls I took involved a woman wanting to sue her cat’s veterinarian for malpractice because her cat scratched her, which in turn supposedly caused her liver to fail.
She believed the vet was at fault because she was convinced the cat was carrying some obscure disease and the vet had failed to catch it. This is when I made a huge mistake. It was my second day on the job, so I put her through to an attorney, not yet knowing what else to do with such a ridiculous situation. The lawyers said no.
#52 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.”
#53 Playing Favorites
The wife wanted to divorce her husband because he kept taking their dogs for walks while she was at work, unintentionally making it so they’d rather cuddle the husband instead of her after a long day.
#54 Nothing But the Truth
I was involved in a pretty messy custody case where the ex-husband had kept the child from my client for weeks at a time. The other side was playing lots of stupid games and kept requesting continuances. I requested a drug test, which the judge ordered. However, the ex-husband wouldn’t cooperate. He showed up, stood in front of a toilet for literally two hours, and then claimed he couldn’t go.
I was representing the plaintiff, so the burden was on me to prove that the ex-husband shouldn’t be around the kid. I called multiple witnesses that testified to the defendant’s addictions. So, opposing counsel decides to call their client for direct examination and asks, “You don’t use, right?” I fully expected the defendant to just lie and say he was clean.
Instead, there was a really long pause and the defendant said, “Yes, I do that.” My head almost exploded. I didn’t ask any questions on cross examination because I didn’t want to muddy the waters. I won and the child is doing great.
#55 Major Facepalm
My mom is a lawyer and was representing a black woman. 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.
#56 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 authorities 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.
#57 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.
#58 So in Debt With You
I’m a divorce lawyer, and one client filed for divorce because he owed his bookie $70,000. He didn’t actually want to leave his wife, but he figured he would get half the house in the divorce, which was worth $700,000, and pay his debts. He had already blown through their life savings gambling. He was the worst guy.
#59 Judge’s Ruling
Opposing counsel was a nightmare. He was late for everything and his work was extremely lazy. He even accused me of lying multiple times when he had dropped the ball. During yet another hearing in which he did yet another dumb move, the judge says, “I’m glad you are the last case on the call and all of the other attorneys have left the room so they aren’t here to hear me say that you are a terrible attorney.” I felt so vindicated.
#60 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.
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.
#61 Just Throw out the Whole Man
My great-great-grandparents had an interesting case. He was awful like “pimp her out and then beat her for infidelity” levels of terror. 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 got her revenge. 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.
#62 What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
The prosecutor suggested that my client had burgled canned goods to use them in a substance trade. I thought this was ludicrous, mocked the prosecutor, and turned to ask my client whether he’d ever done such a thing. He replied that he once exchanged a frozen chicken for his fix. Needless to say, I didn’t win that one. Dang.
#63 Leave No Trace
I’m an attorney and occasionally need to hire a private investigator to track someone down. We had a case where husband and wife passed on within a few months of each other of natural causes. They had a mortgage with a small balance, but the bank didn’t want to foreclose because it was such a small amount, yet they couldn’t write off that sum, either.
My office was retained to see if the family would pay it off and get title to the house. I did my normal search and couldn’t find any next of kin. Which was weird, because I always can find someone. I spoke to the neighbors, who were friends with the couple for 20 years, but the neighbors knew nothing. They said they felt foolish that in reality, they knew nothing of the departed couple.
The deceased never mentioned family, where they were from, or anything about their past. I reached out to our P.I., who asked for a week to get a report to me. P.I. calls me a week later and says he needs more time, I give it. Finally, the P.I. calls to say there’s no report and he’ll give a discount on the bill. He can’t find them. There is no record of the couple, they simply appeared in the 80s.
In fact, the couples’ first record of existence is the mortgage application. In the 1980s, this couple would have been in their 40s. When I asked for a further explanation, the P.I.’s answer was shocking. He told me, “This is for sure witness protection.”
#64 Spitting Distance
When I worked for a judge, two prominent local news people had a divorce. They filed mutual restraining orders against each other for “violence.” The filings were vague on details, but still somehow conveyed bitter levels of bad blood. At the hearing, it turned out it was spitting. More specifically, during a heated argument, flecks of spittle managed to touch the other party. Judge denied the restraining orders.
#65 In Clear Violation
This guy getting a divorce becomes suspicious and insanely jealous that his separated wife is having an affair. He secretly follows her to a bar and waits outside in his car. She comes out many hours later in the dark and follows another car to a house. The husband follows her and parks down the block. He gets out and sees the house her car is parked at.
He goes around into the backyard. He’s sneaking around looking in windows and finally opens a sliding glass door and enters the house. His wife and the guy she’s with hear him moving around, lock the bedroom door, and call 9-1-1. He starts pounding on the bedroom door and shouting at his wife, and then the authorities kick in the front door.
The officers get everyone downstairs to sort this out. That’s when the guy made a shocking realization: His wife was sleeping with his own divorce lawyer.
#66 Getting Cold Feet
I was defending a nonprofit against a 60-something grandma who was looking for a retirement settlement after falling out of her pickup truck in the charity’s parking lot. The premise of her case was that our parking lot was in bad shape, which it was, and that she fell into a pothole and broke her leg, and now she was trying to get damages.
It was going along fine until my lawyer put up a photo of the pothole taken the day of the incident filled to the brim with water after a recent rain. He asked the lady if she had gotten her foot wet, to which she replied that she couldn’t recall. He talked a little more about how perhaps if her foot wasn’t wet, it might have been because she fell out of the truck and didn’t really fall into the pothole.
So he asked again if her foot was wet, and she affirmed that yes, her foot was wet. Which is when he knew he had a slam-dunk against her. He then went back to his desk, flipped through her earlier deposition, and read the part where she was extremely adamant that her foot wasn’t wet. Then he did some fancy argument stuff, the case was thrown out, and I went back to work.
#67 Food Fight
I’m a divorce lawyer. This one time during mediation, it took the couple two hours to decide who would get the groceries left in the fridge. The estimated value of the groceries was around $40. Two hours of my time, opposing counsel time, and mediator time added up to about $1,000. It all came down to a bulk-sized jar of peanut butter.
#68 Family Matters
I had a case where a wife needed to prove her husband was cheating on her. Initially, she thought he was cheating on her with, of all people, her own brother. There was just one problem with that theory. She claimed she didn’t have a brother at all and grew up as an only child. So naturally, they were really curious to find out who this “brother” of hers was.
When they questioned the husband, he said that the guy who claimed to be his wife’s “brother” said that “We’ve known each other for so long” and “I grew up with her” and all that jazz. At first, my friend assumed it was probably a long lost brother or something, but then when the husband was asked to describe the guy—get this. He described the wife’s father.
According to the wife, her father wasn’t there during her wedding and was replaced with her uncle instead. The husband hadn’t met him before. He was cheating on his wife with her father! Absolutely wild.
#69 Not Sure What We’re Fighting About
My mother-in-law was so crazy that my wife and I had been forced to cut her off almost completely. Every once in a while, my wife would give in and let her mom visit, which always turned out badly. Eventually we broke up and got divorced and I got full custody of the kids. MIL went nuts and decided to sue me for custody.
Meanwhile, I looked over the law and for any form of visitation or custody you need to have had contact in the last 6 months and she hadn’t seen them for over a year. So, we go to court. I can’t afford a lawyer but the law was pretty clear. She goes through three lawyers, each of them quits in turn. So, she finally winds up representing herself.
During the last hearing she was talking to the judge and said something to the effect of “I don’t want to get custody of them, I just want to be able to visit.” The judge then asked her point blank, “This is a custody hearing. Are you telling me you no longer want to get custody?” She said yes and the judge dismissed the case immediately.
#70 Seeing Is Believing
This is a victory one. 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. Officer 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.
Lawyer here. I once had to defend a guy that ended his own grandmother’s life and rubbed his own poop all over the corpse. It was bad…
#72 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.
#73 Show Me the Money, or Else
I’ve worked as an 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.
#74 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 words 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.
#75 A House in Custody
I was working on a divorce case. Both parties were being unreasonable and not thinking of the kids. So the judge came up with an ingenious plan. He awarded the house to the kids, who would permanently live there, and the parents had to take turns living there. The best thing was that neither party could afford to buy an additional place on their own, so they had to rent a small flat together.
#76 Common Mistake
I always remember this great story. This private investigator came to court with a pile of evidence that this woman who was wheelchair-bound was running around doing errands. He shows all his stuff in court…and then the defense calls the person’s TWIN SISTER who moved in to help her after her accident. That was, in fact, the person the P.I. had been stalking.
#77 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.”
#78 The Funny Bone Is Not Admissible
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 surgeon. She asks if he’s ever treated a “tibula” fracture. 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?” She 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 went beet red and everyone in the room tried their best to keep from laughing. Ouch.
#79 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.
#80 I Don’t Have All Day
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.
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.
#81 A Real Mastermind
I had aclient who was serving 20 years for hiring a hitman to do in his friend. In the slammer, he came into some money and hired me to prove he was innocent. His brilliant plan to do this was to have us tell his friend that he better recant his testimony, or else our client would use his new money to hire someone to off him “for real this time.” This genius told me this plan on a recorded phone call from the correctional facility.
#82 Brush It off
He was frustrated by her hoarding. She was frustrated by his utter uselessness. He filed for divorce and she was my client. Her prized possession was a room or two full of scrapbooking materials. His prized possession was a yard full of junk cars that he never worked on. They had no children and no real assets.
They hated each other more than any two people I’d ever met, and the only terms they would agree to were these: he gets the scrapbooking stuff, and she gets the cars. The woman also took the house, as he had no income and didn’t want it anyway. These two also fought over a toilet brush, as he didn’t want to have to buy one when he moved out. I politely instructed my client to “give him the stupid toilet brush.”
It was the shortest divorce decree I ever drafted. I intentionally squeezed it onto one page, and the judge and I had a good laugh over it. Once the decree was signed and filed, she hauled all the scrapbooking stuff to the yard, and he removed it to the dump. She then called a junk shop I referred her to and had all of his cars removed from the yard.
#83 You’ve Got a Friend in Me
There was this dude in the court who went to support his friend but inadvertently wore a shirt that was the exact same color as the ones inmates wear. The bailiff mistook him for a convict and repeatedly asked him to sit down. He finally responded: “Heck 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…
#84 Don’t Stop Believing
My dad once got a ticket while driving through some tiny town in another state. He went through an intersection only for an officer to suddenly pull him over and say that he ran a stop sign. My dad insisted that there was not any stop sign, but the guy did not listen. Peeved, he went back to the intersection and saw that there was indeed a stop sign..but it was hidden behind a tree and twisted in the wrong direction!
This power-tripping office likely figured my dad would just pay the ticket—but he doesn’t know my dad. When he saw the “stop sign” my dad went into a convenience store and bought a disposable camera. The clerk laughed because he saw what happened and knew what was up. Cut to the long-awaited day of the trial.
The officer clearly never expected someone from out of state would bother to show up, but he was in for a rude awakening. My dad strolled into the courthouse with all the evidence he’d compiled proving the ticket was bogus and the cop was crooked. My dad walked out scot-free in five minutes. The guy was absolutely stunned.
#85 Holier Than Thou
There was Seventh Day Adventist lady in an abusive relationship who wanted to divorce her husband, but apparently she needed the husband’s permission, which he won’t give her. So she wanted us to hire a “lady of the night,” if you get my drift, to seduce him, get it on video, and then mail THAT to the church leaders to show the marriage is broken.
#86 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. Officers rolled up, but he was the only one who got caught. Fast forward a few months, and this guy is in court.
Apparently, an officer 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.” This 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 his “brilliant” confession.
“That’s not true, your honor! There were four of us!” He said. 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.
#87 Do Not Go Gentle
I heard a defendant say, “I mean I did stab her… But it was a gentle stabbing…” Dude’s lawyer nearly cried.
#88 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 for the past four years, and wasn’t even in the country at the time that the baby was conceived.
#89 The Invisible Man
I’m a lawyer who investigates the backgrounds of witnesses for our cases. I found someone who was pretending to be someone else who died as a kid. My boss alerted the feds and they investigated and found out he had faked his demise 20 years before to avoid an embezzlement trial. He got convicted for the false identity because he filed taxes in the fake name.
#90 Smarten up
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.
#91 There’s an App for That
I was an 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.
#92 When the Hunter Becomes the Hunted
Oh man. I’m a P.I., and one time this guy made me as I was following him and started chasing me. It was actually good evidence because I just started videoing the speed and maneuvers we were doing as he chased me—he had his young boy with him in the car and it was a custody case. Lost him with the ol’ run a red light at a busy intersection. Dude was not a good dad, from what I observed.
#93 The Sympathy Card
My friend is a lawyer and was doing a custody case about three years ago. The father (his client) walks up to him, looks him in the eye, and says, “I’ve messed up. I’ve lost my wife, I’ve lost my kids, and I’ve lost my happiness. All I’ve ever been able to do is drink and get angry, but they have been a light to me. If you can help me get them back, it would mean the world to me.”
He knew that the guy was guilty of everything so he didn’t know what to do. In the end, he decided to just be honest. His strategy in court was to say exactly what the father did. He appealed to the jury’s humanity and, surprisingly, won. The couple are actually back together now and the guy has resolved his issues.
#94 Family Law Blues
Family law attorney here. I just had a custody case go back to court over freaking eyeglasses. My client didn’t like the glasses her ex bought the kid. So stupid.
#95 Old Grudges
Lawyer in a small town here. I mostly do estate planning, probate, old people stuff, etc. I have a client who sued his ex-wife for not selling the house after the divorce like she was supposed to. Judge held her in contempt, and asked what he wanted my client to do, and he had her thrown behind bars. But here’s the craziest part. They are both nearly 80 years old.
#96 Getting Into Icy Territory
I once got out of a noise violation ticket. I was driving around and had the music in my car up pretty loud. A cop pulls me over and gives me a ticket for the noise violation. I go to court about it. My defense was, “If the ice cream man can drive around blaring that creepy music, I can listen to my radio.” The judge tried hard to keep a straight face and I got out of the ticket.
#97 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, “I’m working for you pro bono (free) from this moment forward.”
He looks back at the jerk husband and says, “I got all day.”
#98 Screaming Proceedings
I was a baby lawyer in my first year representing the 19-year-old child of some rich people. My client had gone on a bit of a shoplifting spree and we were cleaning all her cases up with a one-size-fits-all plea. Being new, I filled out the plea form wrong and put down a wrong number somewhere. It was an easy mistake to make.
The judge calls my line, starts reading off the plea form, notices the mistake, and then starts screaming at the top of his lungs “COUNSEL! WHAT IS THIS?! WHAT IS THIS?! IS THIS YOUR FIRST DAY ON THE JOB? THIS IS A COURT OF LAW AND WE DO NOT ACCEPT MISTAKES! DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR CLIENT JUST DID? LOST THE CASE. FILL THIS PLEA FORM OUT CORRECTLY OR I WILL HAVE YOU TAKEN INTO CUSTODY FOR CONTEMPT!”
I did not expect a reaction like that. My client was looking at me like I was the biggest idiot in the world. I corrected the plea form. Then the judge made me wait until the very end of the calendar to take my plea. Afterward, he called me up to the bench. In private he told me, “Sorry to ream you like that. Everyone messes the plea form up so I always pick the youngest lawyer to yell at.”
He kept going and said, “the older guys will grumble and complain, but if you noticed they all fixed their own forms and we didn’t have any more problems. Keeps the calendar running smooth. Where did you go to law school?” After that he invited me into his office for coffee and gave me some really good life and work advice. Turns out he likes talking to new lawyers.
#99 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 he has 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.
#100 In the Doghouse
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 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 peeing on the flowers!” or “Susan, you witch! Quit digging in the dirt!” The ex-wife called the authorities 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.