These Real-Life Courtroom Dramas Are So Juicy They Should Be Illegal
From Law & Order to Suits, legal dramas are full of jaw-dropping verdicts, ingenious defence strategies, and wild revelations. But in real life, courtrooms couldn’t possibly be as entertaining, right? Objection. We have evidence that proves otherwise. These juicy courtroom dramas prove that the greatest legal scandals are the ones that really happened.
#1 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 a cop 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 cop did not listen. Pissed, 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 cop 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.
Cue the day of the trial. The cop 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 cop was absolutely stunned.
#2 Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold, Depending on the Season…
Wife cheats on her husband during his frequent travels for work. She files for divorce and gets to keep the house and her new man. Months go by and the husband is still pissed and feels trapped. But then he has an 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 a.m. 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.
#3 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 attorney fees.
#4 What a Heel!
In criminal court one morning, the accused wore a pair of very unique custom made red cowboy boots… that were stolen from the house he was accused of robbing. Yes, he wore them. To court. To plead not guilty. The prosecutor was laughing.
#5 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. Oh yeah: he did 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.
#6 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.
#7 The Doghouse Becomes His Revenge
My uncle represented this guy getting a divorce from his wife of fifteen 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 probably 200 yards separating both home sites, so that the back 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. And that’s when inspiration struck. He bought a female dog and named 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 b****! Get in here!” He would also yell if she was peeing on the flowers, “Susan you b****! Quit pissing on the flowers!” or “Susan, you b****! 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, and it was literally a b****, so there you go.
#8 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, but 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.
#9 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.”
The lawyer looked like a puppet when someone cut the strings. It was one of the best moments of my career. poiBoyfriend became a guest of the State for a long time.
#10 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.
#11 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.
#12 Two’s Company, Four’s a Crowd
My father is an attorney and this was always his favorite case. Some dude was allegedly smashing a wall with a sledgehammer along with a group of a few others, in order to try and break into a private property.
The cops rolled up, and he was the only one to get 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 out “’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.
#13 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 scumbag husband and says, “I got all day.”
#14 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 die, and his son will have essentially be told to “eat excrement.”
#15 A Real Mastermind
Another lawyer told me about his weirdest case. There was this a man who was serving 20 years for hiring a hitman (who happened to be an undercover cop) to kill his friend. In prison, he came into some money and hired my friend to prove he was innocent. He wanted our law firm to tell his friend that he better recant his testimony, or else he’d would use his new money to hire a hitman to kill him “for real this time.” This genius told his lawyer his plan on a recorded phone call from the correctional facility.
#16 A Crucial Clerical Error
I had to go to court to fight a fine after I got blindsided by another car. As I was preparing, I noticed that the officer had made a hilarious mistake when he wrote the ticket, and it gave me an ingenious plan. On the day of the court case, the judge asked me how I wanted to plead, and I said “Guilty.” The judge looked confused, but it was all part of the plan—I ended up walking out of there scot-free.
On the ticket, the cop inadvertently wrote, “Did wear seatbelt while operating motor vehicle.” So when I got to the court, 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.”
#17 Some Things Are Worse Than Nothing
When my client was 18, his dad wrote him out of the will before suddenly passing away. The strange thing was that they always got along. It seemed very suspicious. He was then kicked out of the house by his father’s evil wife without a penny to his name. On Christmas Eve, the client went back to get some photos he left there and saw something he shouldn’t have. It was then that he learned just how evil she really was.
He knew where she kept the spare key, so he let himself in. On the way to his room he saw the step-mom’s phone sitting on a table and as he passed by she got a text message. The message read something like, “I’m so happy we got away with it and we can finally be together. He didn’t deserve it anyway.” The client was convinced that, at the very least, she forced his dad to take him out of the will. However, he couldn’t shake the feeling that it could be worse than that.
He kept saying that he thought it’s possible she had something to do with his death. Or maybe she changed the will herself somehow. Unfortunately, because there was no evidence, there wasn’t any proof of wrongdoing. The whole thing really struck a nerve with me and I lost a bunch of sleep over it. But I am happy to report that I recently ran into the client and he is doing much better. He just started law school and is planning to go into estate law to help people get through problems like the one he had. I hope one day to hire him.
#18 Making Small Talk
Fifteen or so years ago, my dad was the manager of a small hotel. One of the semi-regular customers was this big Samoan dude, who booked in for a day at a time, always had a few visitors, and always paid in cash, in a one-to-one conversion with American dollars—highly unusual in Australia.
Dad always said he was a great customer—very friendly with the staff, never gave anyone any problems, and always had a bit of a chat when he checked in. One day, a couple of detectives rolled up and asked to speak to my dad. They showed him a photo of the aforementioned customer and asked if he was currently staying in the hotel. Dad confirmed that he was and in a matter of minutes, a small contingent of cops arrived, stormed the room and escorted the guy away in handcuffs. It turns out the guy was a pretty major drug dealer and was wanted in a couple of states.
Cut to the court date quite sometime later. My dad is on the witness stand and, for whatever reason, the defense is trying to make it out like my dad didn’t know the defendant, and had never seen him before. Obviously, my dad insisted that he did, in fact, know the defendant, but that line persisted from the defense.
As my dad left the witness box, he walked past the defendant and said “Hi, Barry!” to which Barry enthusiastically replied, “Hi Jason, how are you?!” While I’m sure this wasn’t the only thing that counted against him in the case, it certainly couldn’t have helped. He ended up getting quite a few years in jail.
#19 You’ve Got a Friend in Me
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: “Naw, 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…
#20 Better Taxidermy Than Estate Tax, Am I Right?
In my trusts & estates class in law school, we read a case about a man who left everything to his wife, but only if she did something truly disturbing. He wanted her to get his body stuffed and then leave it on the living room couch forever. Luckily for her, the court invalidated that part of the husband’s will. If I recall correctly, part of the reasoning was that it would make it impossible for her to date/remarry if she had her husband’s creepy dead body glaring at anyone who came to see her.
#21 Leave No Trace
I occasionally need to hire a private investigator to track witnesses down. Usually it’s a pretty straightforward process, but this time, I had no idea what I was in for. 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.”
#22 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 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.
#23 Everyone Wants Something for Nothing
More of an estate issue, but a deceased man was married to a woman nine years ago. These are what I call “late in life marriages,” where a woman with nothing marries a retired man with a house, retirement income, and time to vacation. Man brings a fully-paid-for house into the marriage. He takes out a mortgage to presumably afford vacations and new wife expenses. Bank requires both names on the mortgage, so he deeds it to them as joint tenants.
Two years later, she leaves him for another man and was never heard from again. A couple months ago, he finds out he’s going to die. He immediately files for a divorce (but it was never finalized). He created a deed to his children (not valid, because it would need her signature), and a will which describes in detail how terrible she was, and disinheriting her completely (doesn’t matter, because the state allows a wife to avoid the will and take 1/2 of marital property).
He died before anything could be done. She now owns the only remaining assets of the house and a marital car. Even though the son moved into the house and took care of his dying father for two years, no heirs will receive anything. She will receive a hefty house and a $20K car.
#24 The Self-Fulfilling Defense
Currently studying law. One of my tutors told me about a case he had while working for the state, where the defendant tried to claim that being an orphan had given him severe PTSD and mental illness and he was unfit to stand trial. Unfortunately, he was on trial for murdering his parents, so it didn’t really fly.
#25 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.
#26 Well That Backfired
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 hate when you try to hide or intentionally diminish assets, and they will absolutely refer you to prosecutors for fraud. I don’t think he did any jail time in the end, but his ex-wife got EVERYTHING, plus the satisfaction of firing him from his own company.
#27 Driving Himself Crazy
Throughout the 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 concedes in exchange for something great, like one of their summer houses. Then we find out the truth.
It turns out he had 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.
#28 It Hits the Fan
My case had been pushed back over and over. It was finally going to trial, but the defense lawyer asked to push it back yet again. The judge was furious and demanded a reason—it was at that moment that I noticed a horrific smell in the courtroom. I couldn’t place it, but it was getting worse and worse.
Then, after the judge asked the defense why he needed another continuance, the other lawyer simply pulled out his briefcase and opened it. Instantly, the smell got a thousand times worse. When I saw the case’s contents, I almost threw up. The judge almost threw up. The lawyer got his continuance.
It was 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.
#29 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.
What tipped things over the edge, however, was that 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.
#30 I Can’t Get No Better Result
I once watched my friend get out of a speeding ticket by sheepishly and truthfully informing the judge that he was late for a Rolling Stones concert. The judge didn’t miss a beat, just accepted the reason and dropped the ticket.
#31 Live and Learn, Loudly
In my first year, I represented the 19-year-old child of some rich people in San Mateo County CA. My client went on a shoplifting spree, and I had to clean all her cases up with a global plea (meaning we handled them all at once). Being new, I filled out the plea form wrong, swapping the charges with the please. It’s an easy mistake to make. Every court has their own unique form, and I didn’t have experience with San Mateo’s.
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 IF LAW AND WE DO NOT ACCEPT MISTAKES! 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, who clearly had a huge bong rip at 8 AM and wore an all-pink velvet track suit, looked at me like I was the biggest idiot in the world. After I corrected the plea form, the judge made me wait until the very end of the day. Then he called me up to the bench. I’ll never forget the words he spoke to me.
In private he told me, “Sorry to ream you like that. Everyone messes the plea form up, so I just pick the youngest lawyer to yell at. Maybe you noticed all the other lawyers fixing their forms? Anyway, gotta do it to keep the calendars running smoothly. Where did you go to law school?” After that he invited me into his office for coffee and gave me some really good life/work advice.
#32 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!”
#33 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.
#34 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. In my opening, I had hinted that the officer will testify to some falsehoods.
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.
#35 The Cost of Good Grief
This is one of the most heartbreaking cases I ever worked. It was a bad separation. Wife filed a restraining order on the husband (very common, wasn’t a terrible guy but not great either). A year into the divorce, his mother was dying. He asked his sister to speak with his ex-wife and ask to bring the kids to see her in the hospital before she died. The wife never did. Instead, she went to the court and said he violated the restraining order by trying to contact her (you can’t contact someone through another party).
He admitted it and explained the situation but was found in breach of the order. His mother died while he was locked up, and the wife never brought the kids to see her.
#36 Nightmare Step-Aunt
My biological grandmother died 20 years ago of ovarian cancer, she left all her money, trusts, bonds to my grandfather to use (while alive) and disperse (after she passed). My grandfather remarried something like 15 years ago to my step-grandma. My grandfather ended up dying first a few years back. My step-aunt is a greedy nightmare who lives on the opposite side of the country, she’s lived off of her mother and my grandfather for all of her life—I still can’t forgive her for what she did.
She’d come over and take them on “vacation” where she’d use their money to buy herself things and get a free skiing trip about eight times a year. After my grandfather passed, my step-grandma had to move where her children live to get care for dementia. My step-aunt has access to not only her own mother’s estate, but my grandfather’s as well, so she can “take care of her mother’s needs.”
That wasn’t enough. She decided to try and sue my dad and uncle for their dead biological mother’s estate. My dad is bilaterally paralyzed and in a wheelchair. My uncle is a triple bypass survivor with a pacemaker and multiple stints. Both are on fixed disability income. The court date came and I literally wheeled my dad in while my uncle walked with a cane.
My step-aunt is entirely able-bodied and rolling in the millions my step-grandma and grandfather worked their whole lives to earn. The judge took one look at the whole picture and she was absolutely denied access to my biological grandmother’s estate. We were there for less than an hour.
#37 A Bird’s Eye View of Terror
One of my clients has a farm that is sometimes used to teach science. The manager brutally euthanized a bunch of chickens in view of a group of elementary students—but that wasn’t even the worst part. He was not only whacking the chickens with a hammer, they weren’t dying, so he was hitting each other multiple times. When I recommended that the school district fire him immediately, his response was truly disturbing.
He then tried to sue us. For GENDER DISCRIMINATION. That case was practically over before it began…
#38 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. But it gets 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.
#39 The Man Who Totally Wasn’t Me
I wasn’t a lawyer, but a law clerk working with the prosecutor’s office. This guy was caught on the highest quality security cam video I’ve ever seen stabbing a store clerk like 15 times (she survived), and then was tackled a block away from the scene not five minutes later by a man who had see him flee and followed him, 25 feet from the knife and the jacket he’d been wearing that was covered in blood with a receipt with his name on it in the pocket.
It was the literal definition of a slam dunk case. The guy chose to proceed to trial without his lawyer, instead of having the case postponed after his attorney’s house was broken into and all his files were stolen.
This guy’s main argument was that it wasn’t him because in the statement of probable cause written by the officers after the incident they misspelled his highly unique last name by adding a T in the middle (e.g. Johnson became Johnston). He spelled his name out at every opportunity with much emphasis. He also argued it couldn’t be him because the man on the video tied a t-shirt around his head so that the distinctive tattoos there would be hidden, but he would never cover over his tattoos like that because he was proud of them and they represented his heritage as a Korean man.
The jury took less than a half hour to return a guilty verdict.
#40 A House Divided and Bought Under Market Value
I come from a broken home: My mother divorced my father when I was around two. They’d bought a house together, so my dad’s family offered her fair value to buy it from her—but she was too spiteful for that. She refused their offer, essentially telling them to screw off. She didn’t realize it at the time, but that would end up being the biggest mistake she ever made in her life.
When my mom put the house up for sale publicly, there was a bidding auction. My dad’s family then bought it for 40% less than what they offered my mom in the first place.
#41 Status Update: You Lose
I was representing a plaintiff in a hit and run case. Despite me preparing her for several hours the previous day, this client was an absolutely terrible witness for her own case. She couldn’t even identify the street she was crossing when she was hit by the car.
The “gotcha” moment came during cross-examination. The defense counsel pulls out a picture of my client dressed up and ready to hit the club, which was posted to Facebook the day after the alleged accident.
I, thinking quickly, object because the timestamp refers to when it was posted, not when it was taken. So the defense counsel shows the picture to my client and asks her when the picture was taken. Sure enough, she confirms that it was taken the day after the accident—i.e. when she was supposedly in unbearable pain.
#42 No Parting Gift Like One Last Miff
A real client’s will: “To my wife I leave her lover and the knowledge that I was never the fool she thought me. To my son I leave the pleasure of working for a living—for 25 years, he thought the pleasure was all mine.” Best dis ever. We’re supposed to try to discourage clients from doing this, but he would not be deterred.
#43 It’s a Doggone Tragedy
A wife negotiated like a woman possessed for custody of the couple’s dog, which the husband (my client) adored. We negotiated the husband’s visitation rights for the life of the dog. So, she had a vet put the dog down a week after the divorce was final.
#44 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.
#45 Custodial Cruelty
Nasty custody fight. The ex-wife was a lawyer and represented herself. The ex-husband had a pretty terrible lawyer. She kept hauling things back to court trying to get more benefits from him. His lawyer just let it keep happening and it was destroying his life—allegations of child abuse, was taking so much money that he could barely afford a crummy apartment, and couldn’t afford a car which both figured in later for custody.
Finally, the ex-wife’s father (also a lawyer) asked to meet with the judge and mentioned a few things that he knew were going on…and they were absolutely chilling. One of the children was manic-depressive and the ex-wife would take him off his meds before it was the ex-husband’s turn for custody. The child abuse allegations were from the ex-husband trying to restrain the child during a manic episode because he wasn’t medicated. The ex-wife had intentionally timed the child abuse allegation to fall just before the holidays so the ex-husband couldn’t see the kids for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. She bragged to the family that it would do the maximum emotional damage possible doing it then.
The ex-wife had also forged documents to overstate the ex-husband’s income when alimony was being determined. Oh…and the ex-wife was sleeping with the ex-husband’s lawyer. The ex-husband’s lawyer was reported to the bar (not sure what happened there). The Judge ordered a review of everything and arranged for a new lawyer for the ex-husband. It was looking like the alimony would be vastly reduced and the ex-husband was going to get custody.
But then the ex-husband passed away (blood clot) two months later. Years of being screwed over, finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel, but ended up being the wrong light at the end of the wrong tunnel.
#46 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.
#47 This Clause Is Worthy of Paws
One summer, I worked as an administrative assistant to a lawyer who worked in wills and estates. Most of it was the usual petty arguing about percentages of money, but one couple took it to another level. They were deeply concerned about which of their children would receive the urn with the ashes of the family’s long deceased cat. “Wouldn’t want to play favorites.”
#48 Take a Rest From the Restroom
A woman I know married a super wealthy, handsome guy. They seemed to have the perfect life—until one day, she came home and saw a note that made her blood run cold. It said, “Drink up, you’ve got some watering to do.” I thought it was weird, but not divorce-worthy…until she told me the whole story.
Apparently, her husband 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. Then she comes home to the note that started this whole story. I don’t know what exactly she put down as the official reason in the paperwork but that was definitely her biggest reason to walk out of that relationship. Oh, I forgot to add, he also wanted to bring a horse to do the deed as well and at times, asked her to make animal sounds while she stood on top of him.
#49 Tell Your Lawyer Everything
I was on the losing end of this one. I represented a guy who had bought a company and the company failed spectacularly within months due to a number of reasons I could attribute to the seller. They had clearly lied about the company’s finances to induce him to buy. I was suing to rescind the deal, have your crappy company back and give my guy his money back.
I laid out my huge case and thought I had it in the bag, and then opposing counsel asked my guy, “Isn’t it true that you listed this business for sale a month ago?” “Yes.” “And you did sell it correct? You signed a purchase and sale?” “Yes but he never finished paying me, he has more payments to make. I’ll just give his money back when you guys give me my money back.”
My idiot client had me suing over a company that he had legally sold. The idiot never told me. Game over on the spot.
#50 How Could an Environmentalist Be Guilty?
Traffic court, speeding ticket. “Your honor, I didn’t speed, and I can prove it with logic.”
Lady: “I drive a Prius.”
Lady: “That proves I’m responsible. Specifically, in the realm of cars. So I obviously wouldn’t speed.”
She had to pay the ticket.
#51 Sexism Gets You Nowhere
One time, I saw an indigent defendant who was in custody tell the judge his public defender wasn’t working hard enough and he wanted the judge to appoint different counsel. The judge asked him what specifically was the problem and he said, “I don’t want a female lawyer. I need a man who can take charge and fight for me,” or something very similar to that.
The judge (also female) said that’s not how it works, then he started yelling and getting into specifics about his public defender, just mainly I don’t like her, she won’t visit me, etc. The judge is annoyed and looks at him and is like fine, I’ll appoint another attorney for you, but because you are not satisfied with your attorney and I need time to appoint you new counsel I am not going to hear any other issues today and will reset your case. He had no idea, but she had just royally screwed him over.
A few days later the judge sends the defendant notice of his new appointed attorney, who happens to also be female, and a notice of the case reset for six weeks. The case was originally set for a bond hearing and the DA and his PD had agreed to release him on an unsecured bond, meaning he would have gotten out that day if he hadn’t thrown his temper tantrum. Instead, he waited another six weeks in jail. And then when he walked into the courtroom, he realized he’d gotten another female attorney. The look on his face? Priceless.
#52 The Prodigal Son Returns (and Hoards Your Stuff)
My client’s maternal grandpa was wealthy. He divorced their maternal grandma, remarried, and promptly dropped dead of a heart attack. He was only 48 and had no will, so everything went to his new wife. She was actually really nice and was planning on making sure that everything was “fair”…until she died in a car accident 6 months later. That was the beginning of the nightmare.
She was a widow herself prior to marrying her husband, and had a now-orphaned 15-year-old son from the previous marriage who got everything. The client’s mom and her siblings had to go to the auction at their childhood home and buy back as much of their heirlooms and memories as they could afford (and, truthfully, stole some of what they couldn’t).
#53 Just Throw out the Whole Man
My great-great-grandfather was absolutely horrible to his wife, but this was in the 1910s, they had eight children together, and she just couldn’t get away from him—so she started laying an ingenious trap. The only way to get a divorce was by saying someone was being unfaithful, so my great-great grandma moved out and lived with another man.
Then she flaunted the new guy all around town until her no-good husband got embarrassed enough to sue her for divorce on the grounds of infidelity, one of the only ways to divorce someone at the time. Although she couldn’t read or write, she signed 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.
#54 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 while there were still customers in the restaurant. 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. This slurry is so slick that the cook has to wear a plastic smock and slip resistant shoes for the process. While he was waiting for the chemicals to remove the grease, which takes about 15 minutes, the cook goes into the lobby, tracking this stuff into a hallway, to wipe down some tables.
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, right after that, 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 admitted that he was cleaning the grill, but denied that he was the one that tracked the greasy water into the lobby, as did all of the other employees. The corporation during the entire three-week trial testified that cleaning before closing was against their policy and it NEVER happens. Thus, it had to be anything else that caused my client to fall.
I was talking to the cook before trial because we were going to call him as a witness. 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. The videos made my jaw drop.
Well, guess what, they had the hose out and everything. I absolutely could not believe that they would continue to do this at the restaurant at issue in the case. I told my investigator to go back up there when there was a different shift manager and cook to see if they were doing the same thing. Unsurprisingly, they were.
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. He was their last witness. 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. The judge let it in for rebuttal.
The last thing the jury saw before going into deliberations was five minutes of video with audio of the hose as they were cleaning the grills two hours before closing. We completely wiped out their entire defense in a three-week trial with that video. Needless to say, we prevailed. I should add, using sub rosa video against a defendant like this is very rare. They usually stop doing what they are not supposed to be doing during the trial. I guess the restaurant didn’t get the memo.
#55 The Whole Package
I was working in child protection cases at the time. We had a mother who gave birth to twins who both tested positive for cocaine. Mom argued that she shouldn’t be faulted because she hadn’t done cocaine for two months before and that the babies had only tested positive because she had been involved in packaging large amounts of cocaine recently.
Still really not sure why she thought that would get her off the hook in a child neglect proceeding.
#56 I’m Taking Mew With Me
This is one of the few clients who ever got under my skin.I worked with a client who wanted language that her cats would be euthanized and buried with her. We had to explain why legally we couldn’t do that. The moral part just went over her head.
#57 Senior Level Law-Breaking
I’m currently representing a sweet old lady on a case. I’ll be sparse with the details in case anyone figures out who I am. Long story short, this lady’s neighbor convinces her that her house is basically unsellable, that her house requires all sorts of repairs, the repairs to the house would bankrupt her, and that she should just sell the house. To him.
He shows up at her house the next day with documents to sign. She has no idea what’s going on. Doesn’t read anything (actually has an eye condition) and signs everything. When she finally sees a lawyer to close the deal, he says you can’t do this. You see, the price of the transaction was about 36% of what the house is actually worth and there weren’t any repairs that needed to be done that would justify the price. Not kidding, it was stuff like fixing a faucet in the bathroom.
Also, she didn’t understand that she would have nowhere to live afterward. Old lady thought she could just stay in the house for the rest of her life. To make matters worse, she’s living off a modest pension and the other side is suing for the house. They’re essentially trying to get her to cave because her legal fees are getting exorbitant.
I hate people—but this guy is a special kind of evil. If it went to trial, she’d to have to spend a lot of money. Money she doesn’t have. She has an eye condition (uveitis), but it isn’t bad enough to qualify as a defence (non est factum). At the time she was driving. She’s a terrible witness. Her evidence is all over the place. When she was examined (deposed for you Americans) she denies being taken advantage of. Not great for our position.
In Ontario, where I practice, contracts for the purchase of real estate don’t have to be notarized. Thankfully though, we literally just settled this afternoon, so my client can live in peace. In a little more debt than before, but nothing that will bankrupt her.
#58 A Boneheaded Play
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. He simply answers “no.” So, she starts grilling him with questions about the tibula. After about six or seven questions, she asks “how did you get a medical license if you’ve never treated a tibula fracture?” She launches into a huge rant trying to discredit his credentials, to which he simply responds “there is no bone called the tibula.”
The lawyer became beet red and everyone in the room tried their best to keep from laughing, including the judge.
#59 Crimes of Fashion
The defendant was busted for possession of narcotics, they were in the pocket of his leather jacket. He argues the search was illegal because with his buttery smooth leather jacket, there’s no way the officer would have felt the drugs in his pocket during a pat down, so he shouldn’t have reached in the pocket to find the drugs in the first place.
Judge asks if the jacket is the one he was currently wearing in court; it was. Judge asks to feel this jacket and the pockets. Defendant hands it to the bailiff. This is when my jaw hit the floor. As he’s looking, the Judge finds more drugs in the pocket. Needless to say, it didn’t go well for him.
#60 The Honest Thief
I work fraud investigations, mostly charging people who “care for” the elderly but just use the social security checks to buy stuff for themselves. When I confronted one of these guys, I couldn’t believe his words. He said, “Yeah, that’s right. I took the money and bought drugs and booze. I know it’s against the law so do what you gotta do.” I don’t deal with high level criminals.
#61 Mistaken Identity
When I was in law school, I clerked for a criminal defense legal clinic. We had an assault and battery case where there was only one witness to the crime, which was the victim. I was sitting at the defense table with the actual attorney, another law student that worked on the case with me, and the defendant. We were all in similar looking suits as a matter of unplanned coincidence.
The victim was asked to identify the person who committed the assault in court. She pointed to me and not the defendant. Our attorney asked several times if she was really pointing to me and if she was sure, and she said yes. The prosecutor was visibly upset and the trial pretty much ended right then and there, as this was a bench trial and not with a jury. It was never discussed or admitted to, but I suspect that our attorney purposefully had me there at the trial because of my passing resemblance to the defendant.
#62 A Neverending Case of Nepotism
I was at an intersection when a woman races through a red light and smashes into me, totalling my car. It should have been cut and dry, but then I found out who the woman was, and I knew I was in trouble. She was the police chief’s wife, and I ended up in a year-long legal nightmare.
It took a year to fight the case in court, which I eventually won due to the huge amounts of evidence against her. I thought it was all over, but then I got a call and learned that my problems were only beginning. The NEXT day after my insurance company says the case is closed, I get another call saying that the case was reopened. Apparently, I was being sued because the lady had suffered injuries in the crash…a crash that I was ultimately found not at fault for…
#63 I Haven’t Got You, Babe
I used to work in “baby daddy” court as a caseworker. This guy kept telling me, the mother of the child, and anyone who would listen that the baby was NOT his. When they went before the judge, the judge confirmed through DNA testing that he wasn’t the dad. Dude turned around and ripped off his jacket. His undershirt said “NOT THE FATHER!”
#64 Well, I Guess He Walked Right Into That One…
This guy came into my dad’s firm saying he couldn’t walk after an injury at work. My dad then finds a video of the man walking no problem, so he decides to catch the guy in his lie in the most epic way possible. He tells the liar to come into the office because he’s found this huge breakthrough in the case and they were going to win a ton of money.
So the guy comes to his office, and my dad leaves him sitting in the lobby for almost an hour to get a little revenge. Then my dad finally calls him into the meeting room, and plays the video. Let’s just say, after that meeting, a seriously furious man walked right out the front door.
#65 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.
#66 Her Own Worst Neighbor
I worked as a personal injury lawyer. I once met with a lady who had slipped and fallen on an icy driveway. She wanted to sue the homeowner for damages. There was just one (huge) problem. I was taking notes as we spoke, and I asked for the name and address of the person who was responsible for the driveway where she’d fallen. She gave her own name and address. She’d fallen on her own driveway and wanted to sue herself.
#67 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.
#68 A Minor Crime Spree
I was a criminal before I even hit my teens. I should have ended up in juvy multiple times, but 13-year-old me found an amazing loophole in the legal system. I kept getting busted—and kept getting off scot-free. It turns out that a minor can’t plead guilty to a crime without a lawyer present. So every time they brought me in, I would plead guilty, then they would let me leave. A week or so later, I’d get a letter telling me it wasn’t legal to plead guilty without a lawyer, and my case would get thrown out. They never caught on to what was happening.
#69 Motion Denied
I’ve been practicing law for years. On this one case, I was up against this young, hotshot attorney who was straight out of law school. It was a death case, so the stakes were extremely high. I was stunned when this young lawyer refused the settlement I offered. I told her that I’d been around the block, and I knew exactly how this case was going to play out if she didn’t settle.
She didn’t believe me. She basically told me to shut up. She had no idea yet, but that would end up being the biggest mistake she could possibly make. She said she’d see me at trial. So the day comes and sure enough, the judge excludes her documentary evidence—all hearsay—and strikes her witnesses. She has zero evidence when the judge is through with her. Her client was in tears. I think she got sued for malpractice. She wasn’t at that firm long after that debacle. But I told her it would happen.
#70 His Own Worst Enemy
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 store x instead; I’ll talk to Bob 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.
Eventually the relationship ended. Soon after, we find out that 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 every item he ever bought us. Every single item, from a vending machine coke to a new sink. 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, but usually when someone buys you something you pay them back. The judge then explained that no, that’s not usually how gifts work, and that by his own admission there was never an expectation to pay for anything.
So thanks to his own testimony, the case was closed.
#71 Domestic Stupidity
I used to be a domestic violence advocate, and helped victims get protective orders against their abusers. At one hearing, my client told her story of abuse—him hitting her after an argument. The judge asked him, “So, did you hit her?” He says, and I quote, “Now Judge, it was just a little lovetap, you know how it is.”
The judge blinked twice, stunned, slammed his gavel, and granted her petition.
#72 Maybe They Just Had a Question!
Two guys were being tried for robbing a gas station. A customer who saw the robbery was now on the witness stand. The prosecutor asked him to describe what he saw. He said that he saw two guys robbing the store and then running out, when one of them bumped into him. Then the prosecutor looked at the two perps and said “Are those two men in the courtroom today?”
At which point, the two idiots raised their hands.
#73 Ink Master
“Mr. Defendant (local gang boss), you stated that you are not and never have been in a gang.”
“Do you have any tattoos?”
“Yeah, I have a tiger on my calf and one on my chest that says GD 4 Life?”
“What does GD stand for?
“Gangster Disciple. . . err, I mean, umm. . .”
“No further questions, you honor.”
#74 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.
#75 Surprises Comes in Twos
My estate planning professor told us about a guy who had two families, neither of which knew about the other until it was time to read the will. This wasn’t like a love child/mistress type scenario, both were nuclear multi-kid families. Both families showed up for what had to be one of the most awkward will readings in history. I don’t really know how he pulled it off, other than that he was away on “business” frequently.
#76 ‘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.
#77 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.
#78 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.
#79 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.
#80 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.
#81 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.
#82 “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.
#83 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
#84 Save the Drama for Your Mama
My firm hired a private investigator to look into an older client’s husband. After a lot of digging, we found out that he had not one, not two, but three wives simultaneously. After negotiating the client’s divorce, we made a pretty penny handling her ex-husband’s extremely complicated will.
#85 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.
#86 Rest in Peace, or Else
A client had a clause in his will that stated something along the lines of, “If any of the beneficiaries decide to dispute the contents of the decedent’s estate, their share becomes $1 and nothing else.” Seemed like a pretty good way to maintain harmony among his survivors.
#87 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.
#88 Open in Case of Abduction
I had a Russian client. Son of an oligarch. His father created a trust that gave provisions for if he was kidnapped and not found within a certain number of months. Freaked me out. I believe the will had similar language too, but I can’t remember now. Now that I think about it, I believe there was a separate document (in addition to the trust) that provided that his will should be effective to the extent he was kidnapped and not recovered within a certain period of time.
#89 Don’t Take a Chance with the Math
I have worked for a lawyer who worked divorces. This was his favorite case. Guy was making $150K a year, gets a Thai mail order bride, has three kids. Dude has an affair, and now decides that he doesn’t want an FOB wife and mixed-race kids, so he initiates a divorce. The woman’s only priority is to have custody of the kids, so, against her attorney’s advice, she’s willing to do whatever it takes.
She was willing to take a deal where she takes a car and gets $1,200 in child support, no spousal support, and $3,000 lump sum from their joint account, so she can rent an apartment (By the way, there’s ZERO chance that he actually wants custody of the children, because he’s already shacked up with the girl that he’s having an affair with).
She wanted full custody so bad that she was willing to live with three kids in a modest two-bedroom apartment and pull the kids out of expensive extracurricular activities (one of the kids has some talent in an Olympics event, to the level where she was getting professional coaching). She had to go to extreme lengths to cut costs, as well as get a crummy survival-type job after only ever being housewife since coming to the US.
The husband takes it to the front of the judge, against the advice of his own attorney, who tells him that he’d be nuts to turn this down. He doesn’t want to give her any money and figures that the judge will decide between what she wants and what he wants, not realizing that there’s a formula based on income that judges use to determine child support payments.
At the court, the judge awards the wife the a huge lump sum and $1,700 child support…FOR EACH KID. So, now about 50% of his take-home pay is going to his ex for the next 10+ years. The attorney I worked with was a stickler about money who never did anything for free, but this was the one case where he represented the woman for just a nominal fee because he felt the guy was such a massive jerk.
#90 Weird Flex, But Okay
I was in the middle of a mediation that was about to fall apart. Then, at the last minute, the mediator came to me with a bizarre request. In an instant, this turned into the most insane experience of my career. The mediator told me that the Vice President of the company I was dealing with said he’d arm wrestle me for the difference. I win, he pays my number, he wins, we pay his.
I looked to my client, who just said, “Do it. I don’t even care about the money at this point, I need to see this!” The VP was a giant, he probably had 100 pounds on me, but I’ve always been weirdly good at arm wrestling, so we agreed—and I wiped the floor with him. The VP stayed true to his word and I won the mediation the second his hand hit the table. I’ve been an office legend ever since.
#91 Did Not See That Coming…
An engineer was involved in a case, undergoing a deposition. They were asking him about a specific conversation he’d had years prior, and how he could remember it so clearly. His response was utterly disturbing. When the lawyer asked how he could possibly be so sure about the exact time of a meeting that occurred years in the past, the engineer’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.
#92 Doing His Duty
I watched a paternity case where the woman was absolutely, 100% sure that her ex-boyfriend was the father of her child. Finally, when it was his turn to speak, he just handed the judge a single piece of paper. The judge looked it over and immediately dismissed the case. The guy had 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.
#93 Good Call
My lawyer had a client who was divorcing his wife. She was a Holocaust survivor who was about to get money from the German government. He was not Jewish, but still wanted half of whatever settlement money she got. The lawyer absolutely lost it on him. He said that there was a special circle in hell for lawyers who ask for stuff like that and he didn’t plan on ending up there. When I had asked what his worst case was, I expected to hear about an argument over a salad spinner, but that was a real doozy.