We’d all like to think that the justice system exists to serve the people. That’s why lawyers go to school for so long, right? But like all things, in reality, the justice system can be a huge mess. These lawyers took to Reddit to spill the tea on their most disastrous cases and clients. If you thought the people on Judge Judy were wacko, strap in. They look like angels compared to these clients.
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. By Alien Design
My father is a patent attorney, and when I was around 14, he told me about a guy who wanted to patent the iPhone 3 because "aliens" had given him the design for it.
3. 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?" We had told our client 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.
She berated 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.
4. Solid as a Rock
One of the most infuriating cases I’ve had as a criminal defense lawyer was a guy that got busted for selling rocks to a confidential informant. The CI was wired for sound and video so the whole transaction is crystal clear. Plus, the cops ID'ed his car as the one that drove to the scene, plus he was stopped a couple of hours later with the buy money in his possession AND the serial numbers were recorded.
The prosecutor offered him five years which was the mandatory minimum. 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. I felt like Lionel Hutz trying to string together a closing argument with a straight face. He got 20 years.
5. With a Wave of a Hand
The main witness for the prosecution was on the stand and was asked if she could identify the defendant. She was scanning the courtroom & seemed confused—my friend was already silently celebrating because if she couldn't identify him, he could probably get all charges dropped. As he was mentally adding this case to the 'win' file, he 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. 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 or anything relating to doctor/patient interaction. She had one case where a female patient had accused a male doctor of groping her several times during a procedure. Allegedly, the doctor had been coached to say that it's possible that he inadvertently brushed the patient's chest, and that if it happened, it was an unintentional consequence of following standard procedures.
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," and the doctor says, "I don't know what you want me to say, man. I'm a tit guy. Always have been."
7. What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
The prosecutor suggested that my client had burgled canned goods to use them in the drug 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 drugs. Needless to say, I didn’t win that one and I learned to never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer.
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.
9. Guilty as Not Charged
My client walked into the police station and told the front desk that he thought the cops were looking for him. He then volunteered that he and a friend robbed a gas station last week. Then, after police arrested and gave him his rights, and after he spoke at length with counsel, which was 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 blood swabbed at the scene. And the best part? The police had no idea beforehand that it was him.
My client and his friend had covered part of their faces, the surveillance video was horrible quality, and the store clerk, couldn't provide the police with as description beyond "two males." And since my client had no criminal record, he wasn't in the DNA database from previous crimes.
He had just heard a rumor that police were investigating, and assumed they knew it was him. I had to laugh when I got the police report and read all of this. I then focused on securing him as fair plea deal because he had no chance at an acquittal.
10. Missing STU
I had a client come in saying that he "needed to sue Stu for robbing all his checks." When I asked him if Stu had a last name, he said no. When I asked him if he knew any Stu, he said no. When I asked him what proof he had that Stu was robbing him, he showed me all of his pay stubs.
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 insisting that we needed to find Stu.
11. 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.
Let's just say it was extremely kinky, she confirmed it was true, and 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.
12. 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 her. He immediately angrily shouted, "she can't prove it. I didn't leave a mark!" Thanks, buddy!
13. Justice McServed
This woman wanted me to sue McDonalds because their employees beat up her son. He was trying to rob the place.
14. Need-to-Know Basis
I had a family client whose ex 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. After 45 minutes of this the mother says, “I don’t know why he’s saying this, he abandoned his other kids.”
Cue my jaw dropping. I'd never even heard him mention having other kids. Turned out, yeah, he 100% abandoned them, has had no contact for years and never made any efforts. Please give your lawyers important information especially if another party involved knows your secrets.
15. Gordon Ramsey’s Idiot Sandwich
I had a case a few months ago where a man was charged with shoplifting. It turned out he was 70 years old, had absolutely no criminal record, and had shoplifted a SANDWICH which he ate politely in the store. He honestly thought he had paid for it. I was so angry that he was ever charged in the first place.
When I saw him in court, he was absolutely terrified. I immediately withdrew the charges and wished him well.
16. 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, which resulted in her having to take Coumadin and diminished her enjoyment of salads at the Friday night fish fry.
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. He asked again if her foot was wet, and she affirmed that yes, her foot was wet.
Then the moment came when he went back to his desk, flipped through her deposition and read the part where she was extremely adamant that her foot wasn’t wet. Then he did some fancy legal stuff, the case was thrown out and I went back to work.
17. Branded as a Thief
I had to try to defend a man who walked into a convenience store with a knife demanding money. He wore no mask, just his casual clothes, and walked through every aisle, being spotted by every security camera in the store. After the robbery, he ran back to the hotel where he was staying, carrying an open back pack full of money all the while being seen by the hotel’s security cameras in the process.
He then went into his room, threw the bag on the floor and hid under a bed until police arrived. I spent a long night thinking about it before passing the case to somebody else because I have no idea how to defend someone with so much evidence against them.
18. Judge’s Ruling
Opposing counsel was a nightmare. He was late for everything, his work was extremely subpar, and so forth. He even accused me of lying multiple times when he had dropped the ball. During another hearing in which he did 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.”
19. The Right to Remain Silent
The case before ours was for theft and 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 stands up and says real loudly, "told you I could get away with stealing all of it." He thought his case had been dismissed.
20. Admission of Guilt
This person I was representing was on trial for assault on a police officer and a DUI. The allegations are that he was screaming obscenitieshe to the officers and, at one point, kicked one in the face. 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.
21. 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.
22. All My Fingers and Toes
There was a guy who cut off all of his fingers. He clearly had some really awful mental illness, I assumed schizophrenia or psychosis, but I never really found out what his deal was. 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 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. 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. I remember his biggest question was whether he would get more money if he went back and cut off his feet too.
23. In Other Words...
There had been a fight in a club where the accused had broken someone else's jaw. At the trial, the accused had six friends who insisted he had been identified wrongly because he never have a beard and the victim said his attacker had one. There was just one problem with his defence strategy...
All six witnesses used a very specific phrasing to the tune of, "my friend doesn't have facial hair because he is a professional in the food industry and it would go against the regulations." After three of the witnesses had repeated the same exact phrasing, the judge stopped one to ask if he knew what a couple of the terms in that line meant, and the witness couldn't explain it.
The defense lawyer got busted for instructing the witnesses. She'd also gotten the defendant to reject a plea deal that exchanged prison time for a fine and community service.
24. Bye the By Confession
A defendant was arrested for a breaking and entering. He went into a neighbor's home, sat down, smoked a cigarette, and acted like he owned the place. When the police came and arrested him, the defendant straight up, and with no prompting, basically said, "oh, and I killed my other neighbor." They didn't have many leads so this pretty much gave them what they needed. I don't know how the defendant's attorney is going to be able to defend with that confession.
25. Nothing but the Truth
I was involved in a pretty messy custody case where the other party 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 pee.
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 drug use. So, opposing counsel decides to call their client for direct examination and asks, “you don’t use crack, 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 drug.” 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.
26. 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 had been altered to make it look like the proper procedure was followed. I noticed the alteration. The opposing counsel quickly got that witness out of the room and after a quick adjournment, my client got a large settlement.
27. 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 slides an envelope across the table. I wish I'd never opened it. It’s a multitude of pictures of his overweight wife spread eagle with the camera three feet away showing her intimate parts. Yes, the judge saw. And no, he wasn’t pleased. Apparently, my ex had caught wife sending these pictures to men on the internet.
28. Not EscVaping
I was sitting in court doing some plea paperwork with a defense attorney when we hear this "Ksssssssstt- shhooooo" to our left. We look to see his guy sitting in the gallery all by himself, sitting in the cloud of a biggest vape hit I have ever seen. Then he has the audacity to tell the judge it "went off in his hand."
29. Gaming the System
My friend worked for a major video game publisher and when people tried to sue them for small amounts due to some game being bad, they would just pay whatever the person wanted. It was cheaper than dealing with the country's terrible justice system. Until the day everything changed...
One guy sued them because a game was bad, but unlike the rest of the complainers, this one was a law student. He represented himself and tried to throw the book at the company. They decided to make an exception for this guy. They instead 'threw the book’ back at him. The lawsuit kept escalating until both sides wasted lots of time and money.
Then as the final move, they offered to settle in front of a judge. There in front of the judge they put the price of the game on the table in cash and told the guy to just take it and stop bothering them. The judge thought it was very fair, and told the guy that if he refused that settlement he would be fined. He was very unhappy. He spent like $5000 in bureaucracy and airplane fares to get $60.
30. Sign of Implication
When I was in law school, I did the criminal defense clinic where we "help" a public defender, aka do small cases by ourselves. I had a guy accused of shoplifting 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, and I convinced the guy to take community service and probation.
31. 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.
32. On the Record Permanently
A guy was convicted of attempting to harm several police officers. At his sentencing, the prosecutor revealed the defendant got a prison tattoo while he was awaiting sentencing. It was, get this, a tombstone with the names of all the cops he tried to hurt. But the defendant still had the audacity to beg for a lenient sentence. He got a few hundred years in jail.
33. 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 smoke 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.
34. Conspiracy Legalities
I was working in a law 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 also making sure I kept a good line of sight to reception in case I needed 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 stole her pets, and that it was all part of a bigger conspiracy involving the army and the Illuminati.
She was worried that our local newspaper was going to steal her thoughts and publish her manuscript without her consent, and wanted to register the copyright in her manuscript. We then had a perfectly rational and reasonable discussion about copyright laws. I explained that in our jurisdiction she didn't need to register it and that she had rights as an author automatically on creation of the work.
I told her the most useful thing she could do is ensure she had evidence of her creative work, and that she should send a digital copy to herself and a friend, and also leave a copy with a friend. That way if it was published without her consent, she could prove it was her work. We spoke for nearly an hour, she thanked me and then left. She got free legal advice and I didn't get stabbed with a scissor. I hope she found the help she needs.
35. Berry Unsatisfied
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.
36. Not Your Common Crook
Without going into too many details, I had a guy that 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.
37. Scratch Resistant
I worked as a receptionist at a small personal injury firm and 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 and a slew of other health problems to arise. 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.
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. She got a firm "sorry, can't help ya" from our office, in part because we did not do malpractice, veterinary or otherwise, but also because she sounded like a one-way ticket to Crazy Town.
38. Taint It Wrong
I got called for jury duty and was at the jury selection phase. Then they asked if "anyone here thinks they should not..." blah blah. The defendant was in the room. I raised my hand. The defending lawyer looked at me like "oh this oughta be good" and asked me to explain. I suggested I tell them in private. He insisted I tell the courtroom.
I said, “ok...I probably shouldn't be on this jury because I was on a previous jury for this man which returned a guilty verdict." The lawyer's face went "oh no." 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.
39. Purrsonal Injury Claim
I am a personal injury lawyer in the UK. I took a call from a potential client that 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.
She claimed that when the house was inspected, she was not told to get rid of the cat. It was therefore the council's fault that she fell down the stairs. We didn't take the case on.
40. King of the Rock
A guy found a rock in the middle of Melbourne that he believed came from an underground volcano. Therefore, in his head, this man believed that he a) discovered the volcano, b) he owned the volcano and c) that the Melbourne city council and indeed the Victorian government should pay him rent to live on top of his underground volcano. No, I did not take on the case.
41. Failure to Keep My Mouth Shut
I was working at the local jail when an inmate came back from court and immediately went on a watch to make sure he didn't take his own life. Apparently, he was up for a plea deal and was only looking at six months, but started questioning some of the facts, which let in a ton of previously denied evidence.
This new evidence linked him to six B&E’s and assaults. He walked out of court facing a 99-year sentence, which he was certain to get. All because he opened his mouth.
42. So Help Me Dad
I was a character witness for my childhood dog in a civil trial between our neighbors and my parents. Opposing counsel was questioning me, I wasn't even out of elementary school at the time, 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 to me is one I will never forget. He asked, "did 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 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.
43. Take a Stab at It
Making his statement before the sentencing, the defendant who assaulted a step daughter, her friend, and a niece, pulled a knife from god knows where, and stabbed himself twice before getting wrestled to the ground. How he got it through the metal detector, no one knows. He lived through that but died two months later in prison of natural causes.
44. Quick to Judge
There was a new judge with a chip on his shoulder. The plaintiff called me to get an adjournment on a motion I had made because they wanted more time to submit opposition. I don't have a problem with this, but the Court refuses to accept this kind of request over the phone, so we have to appear in Court the next day.
So, I go and plaintiff doesn't show up. When our case gets called, I request the adjournment and the judge explodes on me. He demands to know why, insists he doesn't grant adjournments, and just yells for no reason in front of a courtroom full of attorneys. I tell him it's the plaintiff's request, and they are not there, but they want more time...he doesn't want to hear it and just says, "request denied, call the plaintiff and tell them to get here by second call."
Then I realized I just won my case because the judge decided to be a butt hole. I call the plaintiff and let them know what happened and they panic. They are about to lose their case. The judge has to grant my motion, it's unopposed. There is no way they can get an attorney to court in time.
So, the case is called again, and again I'm the only attorney on the case. I go up to the defendant's table with the biggest grin on my face and say "Your honor, I'm here on behalf of defendants with an unopposed summary judgment motion." The Judge has no choice but to soften, re-hear my request for an adjournment, and grant it.
45. 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 since we used to do it all the time, and that "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.
46. Women’s Intuition
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. I tried to explain that if we go into the courtroom with a pre-arranged agreement between my client and his ex-wife, my client would get a way better deal than if he makes excuses and says he can’t pay anything at all. If he tries that, the judge will probably make him pay much more than $200/month.
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 the judge won’t care about this and 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 started to look for another lawyer.
47. Screaming Proceedings
I was a baby lawyer in my first year representing the 19-year-old child of some rich people in San Mateo County CA. My client had gone on a bit of a shoplifting spree and we were cleaning 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 counts she was charged with for the counts she was pleading to. It’s an easy mistake to make. Every court has their own unique form and I was unfamiliar 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 OF 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 had clearly just taken a huge bong rip at 8 AM and who was wearing an all-pink velvet track suit was looking at me like I was the biggest idiot in the world. I corrected the plea form. 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/work advice. Turns out he likes talking to new lawyers.
48. 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 killing 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.
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 legal 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.
49. 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. 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.
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