Every lawyer knows that at a certain time, all courtroom cases come to a breaking point—that moment where they think they’ve either won or lost. However, some breaking points are more dramatic, outrageous, or just plain ridiculous than others. They can take a slam-dunk case and turn it into a flop, but they can also transform a losing battle into a flawless victory. Need proof? Just read on.
1. Done And Busted
I had a client who was accused of taking a young woman’s car and then crashing it and fleeing the scene. The girl testified at trial that she had given him the keys that night because she had been drinking and she “would never, ever drink and drive.” I just sat back and let her speak, because she didn’t know that I’d already won.
Apparently, she was not aware that I had requested and obtained a copy of her driving record, which showed she received a charge for exactly that—drinking and then driving—after the incident in question. I still remember the look on her face when I handed her the driving record and said, “Except for that one time you got caught a month later, right?”
The look on the judge’s face was equally memorable.
2. The Bend And Snap
My father is a judge. I remember him talking about a case where a woman sued for a severe back injury that she claimed prevented her from working and taking care of her kids. The lawsuit didn’t go quite as she planned. In the middle of the trial, a pen rolled off the table, and she bent over to try to reach it from her chair, but the pen rolled too far away.
So she stood up and bent over again to pick it up before going back to her seat as if nothing out of the ordinary just happened. My dad couldn’t believe his eyes. Noticing his stare, the lady snapped rudely at him, “What are you staring at?” My dad asked the woman if she was okay, and she responded that she was totally fine.
Realizing the problem, her attorney quickly leaned over and said something to her. The woman then loudly started complaining about her back and how much it hurt, but no one believed her at that point.
3. No Bueno
Someone my brother once knew went to court for his arraignment. While he was there, he watched as the judge read a man’s charges ahead of him. The judge asked the man, “Mr. Gonzalez, how do you plead?” Mr. Gonzalez answered, “No hablo inglés.” The judge paused, then asked him, “Mr. Gonzalez, do you understand a word I’m saying?” Mr. Gonzalez repeated, “No hablo inglés.”
Incredulous, the judge inquired, “Mr. Gonzalez, am I to understand that this whole time, no one has bothered to get a translator for you?” Again, Mr. Gonzalez responded, “No hablo inglés.” Defeated now, the judge remarked, “Well…I guess, if you can’t understand what you’re charged with, we’ll have to drop all the charges.” The guy ruined himself in a second.
Mr. Gonzalez then hastily answered, “Gracias, señor,” and walked out. That’s about the moment when it dawned on the judge, too: Mr. Gonzalez could understand English after all. Realizing the facade, the judge quickly shouted, “Get back in here!” and ordered that he return. Mr. Gonzalez nearly got away with it, if he’d only just shut his mouth.
4. How Helpful
I wasn’t a lawyer yet, but I clerked for a DAs office throughout law school. I’ll never forget this kidnapping case I worked on. It involved two Asian male defendants who were both the same age and looked relatively similar. During the trial, a lawyer asked the witness on the stand if he could identify the defendant who pushed an uzi into his face.
But it was clear the witness was having trouble differentiating the two defendants. That’s when the crucial moment happened. In a true moment of brilliance, one of the defendants RAISED HIS HAND and basically pointed to himself like, “Right here, bud.” I thought his defense attorney was going to have a brain aneurysm. It was hands down the dumbest thing I’d ever seen.
5. Caught In The Act
My brother’s EMT instructor used to live in Chicago. This instructor had his license suspended for numerous traffic charges, including evading officers. But he forgot about his arraignment date until about an hour prior, so this complete fool did the worst thing possible. He hopped on his motorcycle and drove himself to court.
After he arrived and the judge read his charges, the judge obviously asked him how he got to court that day. The instructor claimed that his brother gave him a ride. The judge responded, “Is that right?” The instructor replied, “Yes, your honor.” But the judge was about to dunk on him. He turned to the bailiff and asked, “Do you have that footage from parking deck three?”
The court then proceeded to play CCTV footage of the instructor driving up to the courthouse without a license on the same bike they’d caught him on previously when he’d fled from pursuing officers. Welp, there was no denying it now. Needless to say, his license remained suspended, and the judge told him he couldn’t go anywhere near the bike during that time.
6. A Fashion Don’t
I work as a lawyer. One of the most significant ways I’ve seen someone mess up their own case occurred when I showed up to the court to defend my client, only to find that my client had arrived wearing the same dress she had on in the evidence video that showed her damaging her ex’s property. I mean, come on. You really do have to wonder what goes through people’s heads sometimes…
7. Justice Prevailed
I found it necessary to represent myself on a custody matter because my ex was physically harming our daughter. My daughter came to stay with me, and the day she arrived, she had a bruise on the side of her face. She told me her mother had sucker slapped her and bounced her face off the refrigerator door handle. I reported this to local law enforcement and CAS with no results.
Skip ahead to almost two years of making myself knowledgeable on court procedures and self-representation, and I knew that regardless of the issues, my ex could never resist the need to correct me. My ingenious plan went perfectly. When I finally appeared in front of the Superior Court justice with my ex and her lawyer, the justice asked about my ex slapping my daughter.
I informed him of the bruise on her face and that my daughter told me her mom slapped her. My ex then went into a rage, yelling that she would never hit our daughter and that I was making this up to paint her out to be a bad mother. I looked at my ex and said, “Our daughter told me that you slapped her and bounced her face off of the booze cabinet.”
Without missing a beat, my ex immediately corrected that it wasn’t the booze cabinet; it was the refrigerator. Her lawyer did a facepalm, and the court justice winked at me as he put it over for a final hearing to award me custody. Sweet justice.
8. Identity Crisis
This happened during an employment case. We go to the deposition of my client and get everything set up. The first question posed to my client is simple enough: “Please state your name.” But instead of answering, my client immediately looks at me and asks, “Can we take a break?” We do, and she pulls me out into the hall. What she says next is jaw-dropping.
She tells me that she’s been lying to me about her real identity. Apparently, she’s a serial scammer and has changed identities seven times since the 90s. She thought the other attorneys had somehow figured it out, and that’s why they’d asked her the name question. Um, excuse me? What???
9. The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth
I’m a trial lawyer, so I have a ton of these. My favorite was probably a drink and drive case where the officer was in a Buffalo Wild Wing with my client watching a fight on TV. Like, the officer was standing at the bar in full uniform, then when my client walked by him to leave, followed him out. My client was only actually going to his car to grab his phone charger because he was going home with the bartender.
Like, he hadn’t even closed his tab yet. The officer detained him and charged him for opening his car door, then fabricated this story for his report about how the client got in the car, turned it on, and began to pull out of the space to leave the parking lot. He also denied being inside the restaurant—this was all on the stand, under oath, to my face. Well, he had a surprise in store.
I talked to the bartender and got the security tape. It very clearly—like surprisingly good quality—showed the officer standing at the bar, watching my client walk out the front door, then follow him 30 seconds later. The parking lot camera also showed my client barely touched the door handle before the officer stopped him. But the story doesn’t end there.
Eventually, the officer underwent an “internal review” where the board determined he hadn’t done anything wrong. A few months ago, he shot an unarmed man while on patrol. He also trains new officers now and tells young college girls he pulls over to call him “Tommy.” For what it’s worth, bad officers lie under oath ALL THE TIME.
This story is just fun because I got to prove him wrong and save my client from a conviction.
10. Labor Of Lies
I once dealt with a worker’s compensation case where a client claimed he hurt his back falling off the side of his truck while putting a tarp over the load. The claim appeared legitimate because the hospital admitted him, and the doctors had provided him with medication to manage his pain. So, we pursued the case. But there was much more to this guy’s original story.
It turned out the company had a surveillance camera. The injury seemed fishy to the employer, so the company reviewed the recording of the incident. It turned out the idiot had climbed off the side of the truck, then laid down on the ground and started yelling for help. He made the whole thing up. It’s no wonder employers question work comp injuries. This guy ruined it for all of the legitimate claims.
11. Shady Solicitor
I was still in law school working for a solo practitioner part-time. We had this divorce case where the husband got caught cheating. The couple’s only marital asset was their bank account, which the wife cleaned out to pay for her attorney’s fees. There was absolutely no reason for her to spend that much money on an attorney.
As a result, the wife’s attorney inflamed her client to fight on every little issue possible to earn the full retainer. Now, our client was also stupid. He didn’t pay the court-ordered temporary child support, and because of that, he had to pay some of her attorney’s fees. Eventually, we were all given a court date to resolve any remaining arguments.
We prepared to argue that our client would pay the support order but that the wife owed back half the bank account amount. We get in front of the judge, and the opposition tried to argue that the wife used the money to pay for her new place and moving fees and that she therefore reasonably didn’t have it. At that exact moment, we knew we’d done it.
What they were saying was a complete lie; we had the financial statement showing that nearly the entire amount went towards the wife’s lawyer’s retainer. We showed it to the judge, and the proof was in the pudding. The judge then turned around and faced the attorney. She told the attorney that her signature was on the financial statement, meaning that she was either lying on the statement or lying to the judge.
The judge told the attorney to think very carefully about her next words and that, in her own opinion, the wife needed to pay half the money back. The attorney went white as a sheet. She asked for a recess, and then completely changed her resolution position. We had her back to the wall because she knew that this could amount to a bar complaint if we wanted to make one.
After all, she’d made a false statement to the tribunal. We got our client back all his money, and he got to claim his child for the next five years on his taxes. I honestly felt bad for the wife; she had absolutely no clue how badly her attorney was screwing her over financially and with the case. This, among other things, is why I refuse to practice family law.
12. Bad Judgement
I am a lawyer now, but this happened when I was in law school, and we had to watch actual court cases in the local district court. A guy stood accused of destroying some stuff his neighbor owned. After a complicated plea by his lawyer about how some evidence was inadmissible, the prosecution could not prove the defendant was guilty.
The judge agreed with the defense, delivered the verdict, and acquitted the guy. What happened next was just bewildering. Much to the exasperation of his lawyer, the defendant then got up, walked toward the judge as if to shake his hand, and said, “Thank you, your honor, I’ll never do it again.” The prosecutor then quasi-jokingly said, “Appeal.”
13. Friendly Felon
My dad was the manager of a small hotel in Australia. One of his semi-regular customers was this big Samoan dude who always booked in for a day at a time, had a few visitors, and paid in cash in a one-to-one conversion with American dollars. It was highly unusual, but my dad always said he was a great customer. The guy was very friendly with the staff, and he never gave anyone any problems.
They always chatted whenever he checked in. One day, everything changed. A couple of detectives came to the hotel and asked to speak to my dad. They showed him a photo of the customer and asked if he was currently staying there. My dad confirmed that he was, and in a matter of minutes, a small contingent of additional officers arrived, stormed the guy’s room, and escorted him away in handcuffs.
It turned out the guy was a pretty major dealer wanted in a couple of states. Cut to the court date quite sometime later. My dad took the witness stand, and for whatever reason, the defense claimed that my dad didn’t know the defendant and had never seen him before. My dad insisted that he did know the defendant, but that line persisted from the defense.
Frustrated with the defense lawyer, my dad made a bold move. 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?!” It destroyed the defense’s position. While I’m sure this wasn’t the only thing that counted against him in the case, it certainly couldn’t have helped.
14. A Bump In The Road
I was working as a paralegal. We were defending a claim that had run into tens of thousands of pounds against our client. It was a trailer park where a woman had tripped over a speed bump while walking back to her caravan, and damaged her knee. The fall was genuine. The question was whose fault this was. She claimed it was the trailer park’s fault because she hadn’t seen the speed bump due to low lighting, poor marking etc.
Going through the various questions to her, our barrister asked how she knew the speed bump was poorly marked, or something similar. Her response was, “Well, I remember thinking how it wasn’t well marked when I was walking up to it.” Needless to say, it was a short day in court after that point. I mean, if she saw it in the first place…
15. Me, Myself, And I
This was during a deposition. It was a case where two former employees decided to start their own company in a VERY niche market, but decided to make their plans on company laptops they unsuccessfully tried to brick. Now, there isn’t anything specifically wrong about wanting to leave one company and start your own. The problem was how they did it.
They were trying to poach existing clients while still employed, which breached their fiduciary duty, particularly of loyalty. I believe we also went after them for intentional interference with contract, as they weren’t trying to solicit new clients for their business, but rather trying to get existing ones to break their contracts with our client.
Using the company laptop to try to do it just made it way easier to catch them…when the company IT guy found all the emails. Yep. These were not the smartest bulbs in the drawer—but at the deposition, they really let it all hang out. One of the defendants was the one being deposed. She said she “answered to a higher power than the company.”
When pressed on what that meant, she said “herself.” That got reused prominently at trial.
16. Caught Red-Handed
I was reviewing the transcript of an interview with a child. The child made incriminating statements against my client. At one point, when discussing the allegations, the child used an odd word, but I didn’t think much of it. A few days later, I was watching a video of the child interacting with their grandmother, who hates my client, from about a week before that interview. That’s when it all became so clear.
The grandmother used the exact same odd word in the exact context the child later used it. At that moment, it became clear that the child had been coached. It was the first real “ah ha!” moment of my career.
17. He Was Three Shades To The Windmill
I worked as a paralegal in a firm specializing in land use litigation and real estate. Another paralegal’s husband got a DWI, and as a favor to her, one of the partners offered to defend her husband in court. This is a small town with a landmark windmill in the center. Well, this paralegal’s husband’s DWI stemmed from him crashing his car into the windmill.
It made the local paper’s front page, with reporters at the arraignment—the whole nine yards. So, the law partner tells the husband that when the judge asks him how many drinks he had before his accident, he should tell her that he had three. The husband then proceeds to stand in front of the judge and say that he only had three…cases.
The whole room started laughing, and he ended up serving some time.
18. A Total Trainwreck
I was sued for a car crash. While the plaintiff was on the stand, she began recounting the event, and everyone realized the stomach-dropping truth. It was a completely different crash. Different cars involved, different time of day, everything. Upon cross-examination, she revealed that she had FOUR lawsuits running concurrently and couldn’t keep them all straight.
The jury foreman looked at me and rolled his eyes! Her eventual payout from my insurance was a pittance, less than the initial settlement offer before the whole thing went to trial. Her lawyer was shaking with anger when court adjourned. He was one of those “we don’t get paid unless we get money for you” guys, so he lost a lot of money on that one.
19. In Case It Wasn’t Clear
I was sitting in court, waiting for my turn. One of the cases ahead of mine was a littering case. During his testimony, an officer said he saw the defendant throw a clear wrapper from a pack of gum out of his car window. Although it’s seldom a good idea, the accused decided to defend himself. He then called his girlfriend to take the stand.
He asks her, “Did I throw a gum wrapper out the window?” His girlfriend replies, “No, you did not,” with this huge grin on her face. The defendant is now also grinning and goes, “What did I throw out the window?” Her answer made the entire courtroom groan. She triumphantly replied, “It was the plastic wrapper from your smokes!” The guy rested his case right there.
He literally thought he would get off because the officer couldn’t properly identify the clear plastic he’d just admitted to throwing out the window. He was wrong.
20. Paper Trail
I worked on a case involving defective processors. In discovery, we got emails from the defendant’s engineers who had worked on the processors. They were in an Asian country, but the emails were in English because they were going to US executives. As we read them over, one email’s contents absolutely sealed our victory.
One of the more senior engineers basically laid out the exact defect we were suing over, explaining what the problem was and why it was their fault, and finishing with: “This is a big problem, we ship JUNK to the customer!” Needless to say, we hit them over the head with that in mediation, and they settled shortly after.
21. Nickel And Dime
I represented myself in small claims court. My lease had an exit clause that said if I fronted two months’ rent, they would work to lease my place and return any money that was unused. I checked with the office ahead of time, and they ensured me there was a waiting list for the units, so I gave them the two months and moved. This turned out to be a huge mistake.
They never returned a dime. I talked to the new tenant and confirmed they moved in a week later. In court, the judge was commenting on how he didn’t see anything explicitly saying they would return any unused rent, even though that intent was stated to me a few times. Dumbo from the leasing office piped in with “Your honor, in almost every case we can return some money, but in this case we didn’t have a tenant in the two months after he left.”
So she gave the case back to me and I presented the affidavit from the new tenant confirming the move-in date. Judge awarded me double what they owed. Turns out leasing office dumbos 1 and 2 thought they could lie to me and “return” my excess rent money to themselves. Protect yourself, people! Landlords are jerks.
22. Botched Effort
A judge I worked for oversaw a trial where a woman claimed that a boob job left her so badly maimed that she couldn’t bear to go out in public. It sounded pretty terrible, frankly. But little did the prosecution know, the defense attorney wasn’t at all concerned by the woman’s allegations—because he had a secret ace in the hole.
For the next two hours on cross-examination, the doctor’s defense attorney read aloud all of the woman’s posts since the surgery, alongside blown up pics of her wearing a bikini in Aruba and mini-skirts and low-cut shirts at bars for “ladies night.” On a break, the woman ran out of the courtroom, crying. 20 mins later, her lawyer came back and told the judge she was dropping the case.
23. At Least He Was Honest
I served on jury duty once. During the trial, I watched as the judge asked the defendant how he pleaded on each count. On the first count, the defendant expectedly answered, “Not guilty.” But on the second count, he shocked everyone. He randomly responded, “Guilty.” His lawyer was like, “What!?” The defendant admitted, “Yeah, I did that one.”
The court went silent, and the jurors tried and failed not to titter. The judge turned to the camera and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll come back to you in a moment.” The monitor went blank. The whole jury pool had to be sent to another case because the defendant had just ruined this one.
24. Hammering Out The Details
My father is an attorney. Officers caught some dude allegedly breaking into private property with others by smashing a wall with a sledgehammer. Some officers rolled up, and he was the only one to get caught. During the trial, one of the officers testified that, “The defendant was the only one caught, but there were two other men who fled on foot and couldn’t be apprehended.”
Upon hearing this, my father’s client’s face lit up in an ‘AHA’ moment. He immediately told the judge, “Not true, there were four of us!” Facepalm. I guess the guy thought that if he could disprove the officer’s testimony that they’d let him go. What he didn’t realize was that he’d just admitted guilt. My father said the judge just kind of sighed and told my father it would be a good idea to keep his client quiet.
Safe to say, he was found guilty of vandalism.
25. On The Record
It was my third month of practice, and I was in family law at the time. I was representing a mom in a petition for a restraining order against the boyfriend/dad. At issue in the broader case was child visitation, custody, support, etc., but today’s hearing was just on the restraining order. We had pretty good facts but it was mostly based on the testimony of the parties.
My client was way more reputable as a witness, so I was feeling confident. 10 minutes before the hearing, my client shows up. I give her a last-minute prep on what to expect and then she says “I’m glad I’m going through with this. I can’t deal with it anymore and he’s just getting worse. To top it off, he left me a ranting voicemail on Saturday.”
“You have your phone with you?” “Yes.” We play the voicemail, and the recording stunned even me. It’s a full two minutes of ex-boyfriend screaming stuff like, “I should have killed you when we were together,” and, “You were always such a witch. I hope you burn in a fire.” I didn’t have time to ask her why the heck she hadn’t said anything to me about the voicemail before the bailiff called our case.
We sit, and the judge asks if either side has additional evidence, and I ask for permission to play the voicemail. Ex-boyfriend, who didn’t have an attorney, didn’t object, so I played the whole nasty two-minute rant in open court. Judge goes, “We’re going to take a brief recess before I issue my ruling. If the parties want to meet and confer in the hall, they are welcome to.”
Boyfriend knew he was screwed. We settled the whole darn case then and there. My client got her wish list in terms of custody, supervised visitation, child support, plus the restraining order, to boot.
26. He Told The Truth
I once saw a case of child neglect where the guy fought the child’s adjudication as being “neglected.” He demanded a trial. So, yeah, we had a trial. The district attorney questioned him about his addiction issues, then asked, “Sir, when was the last time you used methamphetamines?” The defendant smashed his case to smithereens with two sentences.
He responded, “I ain’t gonna lie. I’m high right now!”
27. Money Back Guaranteed
Years ago, I had to do something at an outlet mall in a bad part of town. It took me about 20 minutes and then I found that my car had been towed. Ubered to the tow yard, and the giant sign says “cash only.” Had to call another Uber, drive to the ATM and back, and pay them $300-some bucks. Got a horrible hand-written receipt that, believe it or not, was itemized.
I went home, Googled, found that they violated the law in three separate ways: They towed illegally, illegally refused to accept credit cards, and had multiple charges that the law called “unreasonable.” So I got my revenge. I took them to small claims court. The judge began by asking the tow yard owner about his relationship with the property owner and how the decision was made to tow my car.
“Oh,” the slimy tow truck dude answered, “My cousin works there, if he says tow, I tow. It’s a hundred percent fine!” The judge’s eyebrows begin to rise. “But,” the dude continued, “BUT what I detest the most, your honor, is this JERK claiming I don’t take credit cards. I’m a businessman! I take credit cards all the time! He’s a low life who does not have any credit cards, that’s why he wanted to pay cash!”
I was having a “HOLD IT” overload, and the judge saw me smiling and hopping in my seat and patting my manila folder of receipts. “Do you actually not have any credit or debit cards?” the judge asked me. I pulled out my wallet and showed him, and then I pulled out the clincher. It was a time-stamped photo of the “CASH ONLY” sign I took the day of, and another one I took the morning of the hearing.
The guy mumbled something like, “Okay, you got me there” and then had nothing but, “Huh, I didn’t know that” when the judge asked him about the legality of each unreasonable itemized charge. Anyway, each violation pays double the total tow charge, and since there were three, that’s how I made $1,800 on a $300 investment.
28. Just To Clarify
This happened during a trial for possession of marijuana. The defendant’s case initially went pretty well, all things considered. It was only toward the end that things suddenly took a bad turn. The defendant asked, no, demanded that he be allowed to take the stand. The judge agreed to let him, and the defendant approached.
Once there, before his counsel could ask him anything, he turned to the jury and said, “I’ve been trying to tell them I wasn’t going to smoke it. I was just trying to sell it!” The courtroom went silent. I am pretty sure the defense counsel practically fainted on the spot, and the prosecution immediately asked for a recess. Soon afterward, the guy was charged and later convicted.
29. Lies Don’t Pay
A friend of mine was an attorney in New York for a while. He was defending a guy who was asleep in the backseat of his car while intoxicated and a NYS Trooper detained him. On the stand, the Trooper testified that he visually saw “the key in the ignition.” My friend gave him like three chances to walk it back. “Are you sure, Trooper, that you actually saw the key IN the ignition?” The guy wouldn’t back down.
“Yes, counselor…” And then my buddy dropped the hammer. “You are aware that my client drives a Toyota Prius?” BAM. My buddy moved for immediate dismissal, and the DA didn’t argue. Case dismissed. Nothing happened to the Trooper. As to WHY the Trooper did this? Promotions & Overtime. Imagine you’re running the entire New York State of officers. You have about 5,000 Troopers—what metric do you use to gauge how effectively they’re performing their tasks?
For the most part, Troopers ride alone. So Trooper #1 drives around all day on his shift and issues zero tickets. Trooper #2 manages to issue, say, five tickets a day and makes an arrest four times a month? You’re going to assume that Trooper #2 is “doing his job.” An “aggressive” officer is one who has a lot of tickets and so forth.
Also, court appearances are almost always on overtime. Officers’ unions are very specific about overtime pay rates and when they apply. If you’re an “effective” Trooper and you write lots of tickets, you’re going to be in court a LOT at 1.5 your hourly rate, sometimes 2.0 your hourly rate, depending. So it pays them to be like this.
30. Me And My Big Mouth
We had no evidence that the woman who slammed into my stopped car going 85mph wasn’t sober…until she indignantly admitted it on tape in her deposition. She busted into my deposition and demanded she go first because I was a “lying witch.” She then excitedly told my lawyer that the report was wrong because it said she was coming from the movie theater when she was actually coming from her friend’s bar.
“Did you have anything to drink at your friend’s bar?” “Of course.” “How many drinks” “I dunno, they just keep my glass full.” “Did you take any medicine that day?” “Methadone and low blood pressure medicine.” “I see.” The officers had refused to breathalyzer her at the scene because her husband was a fire-fighter who they knew personally.
They told her to go home, sober up, and go to the hospital later. I heard the whole thing but had no proof until she handed it to me. They settled same day.
31. A Rock Solid Defense
Years and years ago, my partner represented a plaintiff in a lawsuit to recover “stolen” property. The plaintiff alleged a neighboring farmer came on to his property and took some sizeable decorative limestone markers from his field without his permission. During the trial, the plaintiff was put on the stand and cross-examined.
Little did anyone know, the defense attorney already knew a supremely important detail. One that the client had failed to tell my partner. The defense began by asking how large the stones in question were, and the plaintiff said they were hundreds of pounds. Next, the defense asked the plaintiff how he thought the defendant managed to carry them off his property.
The plaintiff matter-of-factly answered, “He pulled up in his truck and loaded them into the bed.” Finally, at the apex of the trial, the defense attorney inquired, “Why do you think it happened that way?” The plaintiff’s reply? “Well, because I was there. I helped him load them.” My partner said that he almost grabbed all of his papers, threw them in his briefcase, and walked out right then and there.
I was in court as a witness, and the man charged with the offense was a right idiot. The defense attorney was trying his absolute best to defend him when the accused suddenly stood up during the trial and said, “Wait, you forgot the bit where I threw his wheelchair out the third-floor window!” His lawyer’s reaction was explosive.
He unleashed a litany of profanities at the accused as he explained that he had left that part out on purpose. Even more shockingly, his lawyer then began to furiously walk around the room while reading out his client’s various offenses before finally announcing, “My professional experience tells me this man should be put away for the next 80 years, AT LEAST!”
Then he turned and left the room. To be honest, he’s my spirit animal.
33. Justice Is Served
I once had an illegal immigrant client in for not paying his child support, and he was beyond difficult to work with in any capacity. I’m talking, whomever he spoke to from my office, he would demand their phone number, current address, and social security number because he thought he was entitled to it since we’re government employees.
He also was just not a fun guy to talk to and was just straight up rude to everyone. So these types of things rarely go to trial and usually, people don’t even serve any time as long as they work with us, but not this guy. He was uncooperative the whole pre-trial process and refused to show up to anything unless there was a threat of warrant.
It gets to the day of the trial and he starts giving the judge heck over every little thing, demanding her SIN, address, and phone number, and claiming some weird straw man argument. He cited unrelated contract and business laws (again this is child support), but there was one thing that finally did him in. He called the judge a “stick up the butt witch.”
He was promptly found guilty and sentenced to the max time. I literally did nothing but read his payment history, cited how much he was behind, and sat back to watch this guy argue himself into serving six months. It was pretty satisfying seeing him escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs. Not exactly a strict win for me, but…still a win, to be honest.
34. Justice Is Blind
This incident was the cherry on top of a series of absurd events. In a nutshell, the opposing party’s son—and presumably the party himself—lied about being blind to make himself seem even more sympathetic as a witness. We had no idea until he took the witness box. Luckily for us, he wasn’t very bright, and he made a big slip-up once he got there.
After making his way to the stand, the opposing counsel asked him to take the oath. Without thinking, he picked up the card and read it aloud in front of everybody. In light of the opposing party’s deceitfulness, the judge dismissed the whole thing in our client’s favor shortly after. I was a trainee at the time, but my boss, who was in her late sixties then, said it was the most ridiculous case she’d ever handled.
35. V For Vendetta
I’m not a lawyer, but I am a very observant girlfriend. My boyfriend’s car was involved in an accident. He was parked in an area where, during certain hours, you were not permitted to park as it would block semis from being able to maneuver to deliver goods to a steel plant. A girl backed her vehicle into the driver’s side door of his Ford Fusion.
The authorities were called for insurance purposes, and my boyfriend states that it appeared the officer and the girl knew each other, as they were on a first-name basis. He received a parking ticket. It took forever for the insurance companies to sort it out because she didn’t think she was at fault because he was parked illegally.
However, that doesn’t matter to the case. If you hit someone’s car, you’re not going to get off scot-free, so she ended up having to pay for his deductible. And this is where the nightmare began. The local PD, who obviously did know the girl, started straight-up harassing us. My boyfriend received a piece of mail from our magistrate stating he failed to pay a parking ticket.
He was just going to pay it. I looked over the paperwork, though, and found that the vehicle they identified was traded in before the ticket was issued. The ticket indicated a white Toyota Tundra, but the license plate block was not filed out. It was signed, but you could not make out the badge number. We had traded his Toyota Tundra in for a Ford Fusion in December.
The ticket was written in February of the following year. I was furious. So I gather all the evidence for him, and he went before the magistrate. The officer testified that he saw a white Toyota Tundra illegally parked at a certain location that had a parking time restriction and that it was owned by my boyfriend when he ran the tags.
I should note that my boyfriend had had several parking tickets while he owned the Toyota Tundra. That’s our guess on how he got just enough info to write the ticket. My boyfriend presented his evidence and the judge dismissed the case. The judge was heard saying to the officer that he would like to speak to him afterward, and he chastised him for wasting the court’s time.
The officer later told my boyfriend that if he had contacted him, they could have “taken care of it” outside of getting the magistrate involved. Needless to say, we haven’t had an issue since.
36. Drunken Display
My client was in a custody battle, and the opposing party claimed he had a drinking problem. I inquired to him about the opposition’s accusation, but he denied it 1,000%. I had a “real talk” with him and asked him to be honest and not hide stuff from me. Still, he denied the claim, and we go to court. Of course, it didn’t go well.
During the cross-examination, the opposing party produced video evidence of him finishing work, driving to an abandoned parking lot to drink a few tallboys, and then picking up his kid from school—every single access visit. He not only didn’t tell me that, but he also forgot to mention that his ex’s brother owns a private investigator firm. Idiot.
37. Playing House
I tried to sell my home myself, and the buyers wanted a term period for the land contract before getting their own mortgage. I agreed to one year, had a simple contract drawn up and after we both signed it everything seemed fine. I didn’t know how wrong I was. Within 30 days, they present me with their own land contract that was pages long to “protect their investment.”
At about page three, it very clearly stated that, “If for any reason the home burns down, purchaser will receive all insurance proceeds.” First, I still had a mortgage, and the proceeds would go to pay that off. Second, that’s a pretty targeted thing to say. Not lawyers’ terms of the house being destroyed, and it’s surrounded by woods and waterways, just “if it burnt down.” But it got worse.
Page four stated that this would remain a land contract until my mortgage was paid in full, so they’d never buy outright. I returned it to them with a letter stating those two things were never happening and I wasn’t signing. They stopped paying, so I began eviction. Six months later, the lawyer I hired was an idiot, so I’m sitting down with their lawyer myself.
He brings out the contract they’d tried giving me and began talking about their iron-clad case due to the agreement. I asked him one simple question to absolutely ruin him. I asked him to show me my signature. The look on his face when he realized it wasn’t there, oh man. After we talked, it turned out he knew them and wrote the contract—without the burn-the-house down stipulation; It seems they added it.
Not only did I “win,” I’m pretty sure they lost a lawyer friend.
38. Done Dirty
I was a volunteer family advocate. I worked with families who were falsely accused of child mistreatment. Part of that job was going to court with them. One day, I was contacted by a family whose children were in foster care because of parental substance use. Except the family claimed that they didn’t use, but that no one would believe them.
They had a court-appointed attorney who did nothing but tell them to stop using. I honestly didn’t believe them, since I was pretty jaded at the time. Still, I told them to request their case file so that I could review it myself. I was surprised when they called me back and had the case file. I met with them and went through everything.
I noticed the claims of substance use, and court findings of substance use, but there was one huge thing missing. There were no test results in their paperwork at all. I told them to ask for the results. Long story short, the caseworker wouldn’t give them the actual results, and the lab wouldn’t either. Well, that’s alarming.
So, I tested them myself at a different lab. They tested clean. Color me shocked. There were four months to go until the next court date. Every time the court-tested them, they went right after to the other lab and did a second test. All clean. I told them to tell the lawyer beforehand that if the courts claimed any dirty tests, to ask in court for the test results.
Their lawyer didn’t want to. I was starting to get mad. So, on the day of court, I had a stack of clean test results in my bag. The lawyer wouldn’t even look at them, and he was openly hostile to my presence and involvement. Court starts. For what it’s worth, I had been in this judge’s courtroom before with other families. It wasn’t my first rodeo.
The child protection services supervisor stands up and says that the parents have had 12 dirty screens in the past six months. At this point, the lawyer actually did ask her for the results. Her answer made my blood boil. She said she didn’t have them with her. Like, really? Well, obviously at this point I knew exactly what to do.
I got my own results out of my bag and handed them to the mom, who was next to the lawyer. She tried to get him to take them, but he ignored her. I got so agitated that the judge said, “Mrs. Baez looks like she’s about to have a stroke. What’s going on?” I stood up and explained that we had clean tests taken immediately after the mandated ones that Child Services claimed were dirty.
I briefly explained that the parents had tried getting copies of their results and had been refused, and refused continually. I said that the parents had consistently denied ever using substances and had clean tests to prove it. The judge ordered Child Services to provide copies of all the test results at a hearing in a week. When it finally happened, I was so vindicated.
At that hearing, the case was closed and the children were released from foster care. The family never got an apology from anyone, but they were too traumatized to pursue it. They packed up and moved away within a month.
39. A Slippery Slope
The plaintiff was being deposed in the lawsuit she filed alleging gender discrimination and harassment. She was claiming her boss had made some inappropriate innuendos and overtures. The defense attorney asked her if when the alleged statements or events took place, was she shocked? “No.” Was she offended? “No.” Was she damaged in any way? “No.”
“So why exactly are we here?” “Well, honestly, I’d rather not be.” Meanwhile, her attorney stared straight down, scribbling notes and doodling. We ended the deposition there and asked her attorney if this was going away now. We got a call later offering to settle for $1,000 and a letter of apology. My best guess is that she was pressured by a friend or family to talk to an attorney, and the lawyers ran with it without really talking to their client.
40. The Wrong Place, The Right Time
I was prosecuting a convenience store owner for luring a young girl, who regularly came into the store, back to a part of the store to grope, fondle, and kiss her. However, it was the only section of the store without surveillance camera coverage. They were in the backroom for about two minutes and 17 seconds, per the time stamp on the videos.
Of the many arguments the defense put on, one was that there was no way there was enough time for anything to happen. I knew just how to shut this down. In my rebuttal on closing, I asked the jury to imagine what could happen in the room in that amount of time, and I asked them to all close their eyes while I timed out 2 minutes and 17 seconds on my watch, in silence.
After about 60 seconds, two of the jurors started crying. Knew it was going to be guilty right then.
41. A Friend In Need
My client was riding his motorcycle on a relatively calm street when this guy exited his garage, without looking, and ran over him. In the deposition, the guy brought a witness who was with him at the time in the passenger seat. The whole time, the witness maintained that my client was driving too fast and that there was no time to brake the car.
I asked him the same question a few times in different ways, making him tell the story again. In the fourth telling, he was already a bit frustrated and let it slip: “—Look, I’ve already told you. We were exiting the garage and, as soon as I sat up from getting my cell phone from the car’s carpet—” “—Wait. So you didn’t even see the crash?”
There was no coming back from that.
42. A Dog Eat Dog World
I filed the lawsuit in January. We exchanged “discovery” over the next few months, and I filed a motion for summary judgment, meaning I’m asking the court to let me win the case without a jury because the case is so obvious. Right before I file this motion, I figure, let’s review the discovery materials and see if there’s anything I missed.
And what do you know, the other side made a massive mistake on literally just the fourth out of 100+ questions that I asked. It’s a dog bite case, and every single time I asked about the bite, the response says something along the lines of, “We admit to this and that, but we deny that our dog was involved in any dog attack.” Just one moment won me the whole case.
Question 4 asks whether they admit that their dog was not leashed on the day it bit my client, and they simply answer, “Admit.” Meaning, they admit their dog was not leashed, AND they admit that their dog was the one that bit my client. That was the ONE thing that was genuinely in dispute. They tried to argue at the hearing that it was a mistake and they only meant to admit to the lack of a leash.
Nonetheless, the judge held them to their word, most likely because the other evidence made it clear it could only have been their dog, anyway.
43. Cuts Like A Knife
I knew that officers had beat up my client and framed him. They described a knife in his possession that “caused them to fear for their safety.” Oddly, they never seized it. We won the court case and then filed a civil rights case. While deposing an officer, he described the knife in detail. No more than three minutes later, he slipped up and claimed his partner told him my guy had a knife, but he never saw it himself.
I told him, “That’s not what you just said,” and saw him panic. His lawyer panicked too and asked to see me outside. When we got in the hallway, I withdrew my settlement demand, and the case settled for a substantially larger amount within 45 minutes.
44. Know Thyself
This was a custody case I was prosecuting. The dad went on about how he has changed his life around and worked through the AA program. I asked him what step he was on, and he proudly proclaimed, “Three.” I then asked him what step three is, and he had no idea. I then asked him what step two was. Again, no idea. Parental rights terminated.
45. What Lies Beneath
At a restraining order trial, it was essentially my client’s word versus his, regarding an assault. He did a good job dressing up and acting very appropriate during most of his testimony. But in an instant, his perfect façade fell apart and revealed evil. He was asked a series of open-ended questions, and you could see him getting tenser.
He then said something to the effect of, “That freaking witch coming up on me. What was I supposed to do?” As soon as he said, it a look came over his face and the judge’s face, and everyone knew the ruse of the respectable young gentleman had failed. I won.
46. Nothing But Net Profits
We were in a five-week jury trial on a civil case. Big business dispute. About 15 witnesses later, the plaintiffs call their last witness, their damages expert. The guy talks about his damage analysis, which was about the lost profits my clients allegedly caused this company. The whole time, the guy has a PowerPoint slide up, which shows his damages figures.
But as lawyers know, it’s just an aid for the jury and not actual evidence. The examination comes and goes, and the plaintiff passes the witness to us. I look at my boss. He looks at me. We know something he doesn’t know. The witness literally never read his damages number into the record. There was no admissible evidence, because even though he showed the number on the screen, he never said the number, nor admitted it into evidence.
We didn’t ask the damage expert a single question. Plaintiff rests. We move for a directed verdict, asking the court to rule as a matter of law when there is no evidence, that they had submitted no evidence of any monetary damages. We won. It was more than $10 million. Simply because he didn’t read the number. That was it.
47. Signed, Sealed, Delivered
I was the client in this case. In my divorce trial, my ex-wife has spent about two hours explaining to the court what a jerk I was and all the horrible things I had done to her and my children, claiming that I was unfit to be a parent. Two solid hours…Lie upon lie. Just six months earlier? My wife had snuck into my house—she’s the one who moved out—and went on my computer to type me a love letter.
“Oh, you’re so wonderful! You’re such an amazing father, a great provider, and a great husband! You’ve done so much for the community. Please don’t leave me!!! ” That’s the gist of it. Well, she didn’t print it or sign, it was just a file on my computer left on the screen for me to find. So our challenge, after all her testimony to the contrary, was to get her to admit she wrote this letter. I told my attorney—ask her! She won’t be able to lie if she’s sworn in.
Plus, I thought she was going to feel incredibly guilty about all these lies. So…he handed her a printout. He had one too. He started reading it, then he asked her to continue the reading. She started to cry. He asked her, “Do you remember writing this letter?” Her face was shriveling. She looked at her attorney and said, “I’m sorry Sandy.” This is what actually did her in.
Then she looked at the courtroom and said “Yes, I wrote this.” There was silence for a few moments. Then the judge said, “Attorneys—in my chambers! Now!” My attorney told me later: “The judge understood that when your wife said, ‘I’m sorry Sandy,’ that meant that her attorney was aware this letter MIGHT be brought up and that she had instructed her client to lie.”
The judge was F U R I O U S. Back in the courtroom, my attorney went down the list lie by lie. Did he really do this? Did he really do that? When you say he was doing this, wasn’t it really that? Etc. Then he had her read the entire letter again. After that, my divorce went from me being 1/2 inch away from losing all custody to getting full custody. Made for TV or what?
48. Do You Even Lift, Bro?
This was a good one. The plaintiff was saying he couldn’t work and had back injuries after a minor car accident. I found a video on Facebook of the plaintiff squatting 300 pounds the month before his deposition. So, I sent the video to his attorney after the deposition, and the case immediately went away. He also adamantly denied being able to work out or doing any lifting during his deposition. It was all a big lie.
49. Child’s Play
My husband was in the middle of a paternity case once defending himself. His ex was trying to take basically full custody of their son and only give him visitation two days a month. Her reasoning was that he wasn’t involved, didn’t go to doctor appointments, didn’t take the kid to school, etc. My husband asked her, “When was the last time you told me about his doctor appointment?”
She thought for a second and said, “Never.” He asked, “Would you have let me take him to school if I had asked?” Again she thought for a second and said, “No.” Needless to say, they got 50/50 time-sharing with joint custody. They were not married when the kid was born, and where we live that means the dad has zero rights.
His ex didn’t want him to be involved because she hates him, so he was forced to take her to court just to be able to take his son to the doctor and to school. If he had simply done those things in the past she would not have let him, and he had no rights. He once kept his son past what she told him he could, and she threatened to call the authorities and report him for kidnapping.
50. Oops, My Bad
My girlfriend had a very minor nose-to-tail and a rookie officer who happened to drive by booked her on some massive charges and fines. She went to trial, and her lawyer tore apart the officer. In the report he filed, the officer ticked her ethnicity as African—she’s white and European. He also put the wrong date, the wrong street name, and didn’t get the other witness details.
The prosecution and officer argued that she had signed the witness statement, so while a few things were accidentally filled out wrong, it reflected what happened. Her lawyer asked the officer to show the court her signature on the statement. He looked at it and went pale as a ghost. He looked back up and said, “Oh, I must have forgot it.”
The prosecutor and a few officers who went to the trial for some reason all let out audible groans. The judge adjourned for 10 minutes, and the officers still wanted to press on, but the judge threw it out immediately after recess. He also gave the prosecutor an earful for taking such a ridiculous case to trial and acting like it had any chance at all.
51. Think Before You Speak
I watched my lawyer have this moment last time we were in court. My ex mistreated my kid, so I withheld visitation and hired a lawyer. I offered supervised visitation with a plan to integrate regular visitation once he completed anger management and parenting classes as well as had six months clean of all substances. I thought this was reasonable.
When he was on the stand, he mentioned that he had been taking prescription medications for 10 years. This was supposed to illustrate that he’s been on meds for a decade and never had a problem being a “good” dad. My lawyer asked what medications, and he listed off a bunch: medications like methadone, Klonopin, Vicodin, OxyContin etc.
She asked why he began taking those particular medications. His reply was his funeral. He said, “Well, I messed up my back last year riding my quad.” She asked him to repeat himself. He said it again. The look on her face was amazing. She said, “So, you’ve been taking large amounts of medications for 10 years?” He said yes. She said, “10 years of major medications due to an injury that happened two years ago?” Done.
52. Not Very Sportsmanlike
When I practiced insurance defense, I was handed a file to take over of a slip and fall. The guy tripped on a hose and tore his ACL. My partner had taken the guy’s deposition already, so I read the transcript. It took me only a few lines in to know we’d won. I’m a Michigan football fan, and I’ve watched every game for 20 years.
This guy testified that he was the starting safety for a certain rival for certain years. Also that he graduated with a double major that doesn’t exist at that school. I immediately knew this was false. My partner didn’t understand. I dug deeper, and found out he lied about so much stuff unrelated to the fall for no reason.
Eventually, I found high school records from football injuries of head trauma, knee injuries, oh and a slip and fall injury a few months after ours. He also testified he rehabbed an ACL surgery after one month. We immediately settled.
53. The Proof Is In The Payment
I represented an elderly Indian couple who didn’t speak English very well and owned a rental property. They had a tenant at the time who had not paid rent in over six months. They had tried to evict her on their own, but when they got to court, the tenant produced some hand-written notes that they had given her the year prior thanking her for payment.
Sadly, they had failed to date the notes. So of course, the tenant added recent dates herself. The tenant also produced a partial certified check receipt, but most of it was illegible. Anyway, because of their poor English, they had difficulty understanding the questions and giving intelligent answers, so they lost the initial case.
They hired me to help address all of the various lies that the tenant was putting forth. Anyway, we re-filed. I had my clients pull the banking records, so we could show the date that the certified check was actually deposited into their account. The plan was simple: Let the tenant make the same arguments and then present the banking statements showing the deposit date. My clients also found a photocopy of one of their notes that was undated, unlike the copy the tenant presented the last time.
Well, when the judge finally understood that the things the tenant had presented occurred the year before, his cheeks turned bright red and he asked the tenant, “What year did you make this payment?” The tenant started saying something like she couldn’t be exactly sure when…and the judge cut her off again in a very loud voice and said, “What year?!”
Needless to say, the clients got their eviction granted. But here’s the best part. When the tenant arrived at court, I watched as she got out of her car, walked to the back, and pulled out a wheelchair. She then proceeded to stay in that wheelchair until the case was over. Once the judge left the courtroom, she folded-up the wheelchair and carried it to her car, mumbling that she “hates lawyers.”
That was a very satisfying day.
54. Walk A Mile In His Shoes
I got robbed in my home. Long story short, he would have gone behind bars anyway, but the kicker is that the shoes he wore to court were the same shoes he took from my house. The judge asked if I wanted them back. I said yes. The judge made him take them off in court and walk back in socks. Donated the shoes, it was more about the principle.
55. Bare With Me
I had a ton of these when I used to do Family Law. Once, my client’s husband was alleging that she had been high and in her birthday suit in public. As I’m crossing him, I get him to admit that she was in fact changing out of her bathing suit at the beach and covered by a towel at all times. Only it was his exact words that were so unforgettable.
He says: “Well, she was naked…under the towel.” I come back with: “Just like you’re naked under your clothes right now?” Even the judge chuckled.
56. The Invisible Man
I had a client charged with battery. The alleged victim didn’t really support the prosecution’s case, and in any event, was reluctant to testify. They still had another witness though, and she said that my client was hitting the alleged victim, so it wasn’t looking great for me, to be perfectly honest with you. But then it all changed in an instant.
The prosecutor and I were talking before court started, hanging out by the courtroom doors, when the witness walked in. She looked right at my client, who was sitting not five feet from me, then scanned the room and said, “Where is [client name]?” The prosecutor and I looked at each other for a minute, and then he said he needed to check on something.
When I saw him a few minutes later, he told me he was dismissing the case.
57. Mistaken Identity
When the petitioner’s attorney called me my brother’s name when I was on the stand. My brother is a jerk and I don’t associate with him anymore. However, he has a lengthy, sordid history and it pops up on traffic stops occasionally. So I was in court over custody of my oldest child, and her mom’s attorney was trying to paint me as a hypocrite for being an addict.
I (truthfully) denied it all on the stand, when the lawyer said, “Now James, I must remind you that you are under oath, and by denying this, you are committing perjury.” I stared him in the face and said, “My name is Bill, James is my brother.” Even the judge laughed at him, and the only reason we didn’t bring it up sooner—we knew he submitted it as evidence but had no idea why—was because I really wanted to know what he was up to with it all.
58. Let’s Go To The Tape
I got into a car accident after another driver crashed into my car. The driver was such a jerk, talking tough, blaming me, saying that he knew a bunch of lawyers, and here’s the kicker—he threatened that he was going to take me to court. I’m a laid back dude in contrast, and I was cordial to him. We went to the station and made our statements to the traffic investigator.
I didn’t have a dashcam at the time, but a day later I got a copy of the CCTV footage that was looking directly at the scene of the accident. I showed the investigator the video, and he was absolutely stunned by how wrong the other guy was. At that point, I told the investigator the truth: I was an attorney, and I’d decide if I wanted to take the matter to court.
The following day, I got a call from the guy who hit me. Apparently, he said he also saw the CCTV footage, and he had called to settle things. I was just shocked because this dude who was previously Mr. Alpha Male did a total 180 and was suddenly polite and respectful. Amazing what an impact video has, especially when you’re at fault.
59. I Regret My Actions
My grandfather was a small-town Georgia lawyer, and he told of a time he was representing an insurance company in a civil suit after a car accident. The plaintiff claimed to have received “whupneck” from the accident, supposedly caused by my grandfather’s client. Pop asked him what exactly he meant by “whupneck.”
The plaintiff, wearing a neck brace, proceeded to answer: “It’s when you can’t move your head like this” and then he shook his head back and forth. The judge promptly dismissed the case.
60. The Five Finger Discount
I was a witness on this one. It was a shoplifting case. During cross, the examiner asks the accused—based on his testimony during his detainment—“you listed [place he shoplifted] as your employer. Why?” His response: “I make so much from them every year, they might as well pay me.” The public defender just about collapsed.
I’ve got a good one. When I was interning at the court for a judge, I observed a pre-trial hearing for a murder case. The defendant allegedly slew his grandmother because she wouldn’t give him money, then stuffed her in a closet. Horrifying stuff. During the hearing, the defendant’s lawyer, prosecutor, and judge went through some typical procedures.
Then the judge asked the defendant if he had anything to add. The defendant smugly said, “Yes, actually, I don’t think I’m mentally fit to stand trial according to article X.” The judge let him finish, then looked him straight in the eye and said: “The fact that you just told me this shows me you’re perfectly fit to stand trial.” Better luck next time.
62. This One’s Going In The Burn Book
I was an attorney for an insurance company defending a lawsuit where the plaintiffs were two girls who claimed they were irreparably harmed and their lives would never be the same because severe back injuries kept them from being active. There was just one problem. They forgot to set their Instagram accounts to private.
As it turned out, the accounts were full of pictures of them riding jet skis, dancing, and pictures of them at the gym. The underage drinking pictures were just icing on the cake.
63. Delayed Reaction
A gas station chain had one of their station’s gas tanks leak and pollute a church playground. They then tried to say they weren’t liable because the pollution didn’t start seeping up through the ground until years after it happened. Yeah, swing and a miss on that one, boys.
64. Mother Doesn’t Know Best
It was day two of a child custody modification trial. The opposition and her attorney were and are crazy. Their allegations were so weak that I told my guy, “Screw it. Let’s go for custody ourselves.” I’m cross-examining mom about her proposed custody plan for dad in some detail and I ask her, “Would you accept this for yourself?”
She snaps back, “Absolutely not!” I ask, “Why not?” “Because I’m a MOTHER.” To his credit, my guy kept a straight face the entire trial and never once got angry. Her petition was denied outright. Ours was accepted by the court. If the mom or her lawyer hadn’t been such pains to deal with, my guy probably would have agreed to some small reductions in his custody just to keep the peace.
Instead, the judge gave us nearly everything we asked for.
65. Don’t Believe Your Eyes
This was actually fairly recent. I was in a deposition of a fact witness to a fatal automobile accident. The defendant’s attorney had called the deposition, and over the course of an hour and a half or so, elicited a lot of testimony that seemed to place my client (the slain man) partially at fault, which would impact the money the family got.
After sitting quietly for an hour and a half, I asked fewer than a dozen questions. The last of which was about the specific location of my client when he had first seen them. Based on the witness’s answer, it was clear that my client couldn’t possibly be at fault. I sent a follow-up letter that same day and the case was settled within the next two weeks.
66. Power To The People
I’ve been up against plenty of lawyers as a union chief steward. Years ago, we had an arbitration related to healthcare costs. The company spent the better part of a year trying to break us from pursuing the case. The day had come for our arbitration. The lawyer we were up against was actually Paul Newman’s nephew, if you’ll believe it.
Anyway, it was my turn to take the stand. His first question to me was presenting the grievance as evidence and asking me what step it said it was on at the top of the page. Our grievance process is a two-step system, progressing to arbitration if it’s not settled. So I said, “Second step.” Then he smugly asks, “And where is the first step?”
To which I replied, “The first step is a verbal discussion. It goes into writing at the second step.” He looked hurt, but persevered anyway. He had no clue what I was about to do to him. A few more questions in, he asked, “If the entire company got base level insurance, instead of a premium option, that would satisfy the contract?”
He was hoping I would argue that the base level insurance wasn’t sufficient, because he was trying to paint the picture that we were just trying to get premium insurance at a base level price. I responded with “Yes.” He looked dumbfounded. Asked me, “Yes?” I said again “Yes, that would satisfy the language in the contract.”
He kind of looked at his other papers he was going to submit as evidence, then muttered, “No further questions.” I knew at that moment that they had brought no real arguments to the table, and that all our hard work was about to pay off tenfold. We got our answer from the arbitrator six weeks later, during a contract negotiations meeting.
It was insanely satisfying watching them read the email during one of the sessions, and the immediate shift in demeanor from their side of the table. They got real quiet. We were awarded 100% of the arbitration. Full back pay for all employees who were being overcharged, and reduced rate for the premium insurance.
67. The Ringer
I sort of have an opposite story, in that the lawyer knew when he lost one. When I was about four years old, I was ill one day and the only option my parents had to take care of me was for my dad to take me to work with him. My dad was an attorney, so it just so happened that work was the courthouse where he was arguing a case that day.
My dad knew the judge and I was allowed to lay down on a bench during arguments from the two attorneys present, my dad and opposing counsel. I was a pretty well-behaved kid I guess and was quiet, and just sort of laid down on the bench and stayed silent. I have vague memories of the incident, but nothing really defined.
As my dad tells the story, the judge grew “bored” at one point, looked over to me, waved and gave me a smile, and commented on how well behaved I’d been during all of this. Dad said it was at that moment the opposing counsel knew he’d lost the argument and subsequently the case. Dad joked about needing to take me to court more often.
68. Friends In High Places
I got a hidden shout out from a federal judge in a ruling that I consider to be one of the high points of my career. Here’s what happened. Before a hearing for an emergency injunction, I was watching the hearing before mine. At the end of that hearing, the judge accidentally used a pun, and could not stop laughing. She was literally crying.
I decided at that moment I was going to intentionally use a pun in my hearing. I did—I accused the opposition of engaging in a “shell game” by diverting some federal funds to an egg industry trade group. The judge called me on it, but laughed heartily. My client won. A major newspaper reporting on the case said the judge “winced” at my puns but agreed with my arguments. False!
When the written ruling was issued, the last sentence said that an injunction was issued for protection against “any plans they may be hatching.” Undeniable shout-out.
69. Message Mix-Up
I once worked at a company that found out a lawyer was trying to arrange a class action lawsuit against us before it ever got off the ground. We found out because this lawyer attempted to email her client but accidentally emailed us instead. She completely destroyed every element of surprise they had for their case; the email contained all the lawsuit details.
70. Rigging The System
My brother served on a jury back in the days of MySpace. It was a case where a big rig had hit a woman during foggy weather, and she was suing for a back injury. On the last day of the trial, the opposing counsel brought up her MySpace account to show the jury a picture of her dancing on the hood of a car. Right next to it was a text exchange saying that she shouldn’t go out too much because her lawyer said she had to look injured. Needless to say, she lost that case.
71. No, You May Not
This happened during my first internship at a court. The prosecution was charging a girl alongside other people with substance possession. However, before officers could successfully detain her, she managed to throw her drugs away. This meant that no one could prove that she’d bought or owned them because they technically could have belonged to one of the other people in the group.
During her trial, the judge ended up dismissing the case there just wasn’t enough evidence against her. The judge then inquired if she wanted to say anything. The girl’s reply destroyed everything in an instant. Unbelievably, this girl decided to ask then and there if she could get HER substances back. The defense attorney looked like he was about to have a heart attack.
72. Don’t Help Me
I used to be an officer and spent a lot of time in court. This guy was up for a DWI. He began relating his side of the story by telling the judge he “only had two bottles of vino.” His lawyer was desperately trying to get him to stop talking, but the defendant yelled, “Don’t interrupt me!” Agreeing with the lawyer, the judge intervened and tried to help out.
She said, “I think you should take a moment to listen to your attorney.” But the guy couldn’t be stopped. Rather than heeding the judge’s advice, the guy snapped back, “Don’t tell me what to do. I’m not a darn child!” Well, okay then. The judge just smiled, leaned back, and said, “By all means, continue.” Unsurprisingly, it went badly for him.
73. Out Of Bounds
My grandfather was a big-time lawyer back in the day for an oil company. One time, the federal government tried to assert its dominance over the company by launching a case against them. But my grandpa was ready for the challenge. He showed up to court and stoutly announced that they had absolutely no jurisdiction in this case.
Somewhat taken aback, the judge asked him, “I’m a federal circuit court judge, the highest judge around. How can this be out of my jurisdiction?” Smoothly, my grandfather answered, “The oil in question was drilled in Texas, refined into gasoline in Texas, and sold in Texas gas stations. Since it never crossed state lines, interstate commerce never happened, so the federal government has no jurisdiction.”
So there. The judge agreed with him and closed the case. It really angered the guys from Washington!
74. The Letter Of The Law
This one’s a definite fail. While I was working as a law clerk, a defendant wrote to the judge to explain that the two bongs found on his car’s floorboard did not belong to him; they were actually his girlfriend’s. He claimed that he was too afraid to speak up earlier because she was on Section 8, which forbids the use of substances. This letter dug his grave.
See, he was on probation at the time the officers pulled him over, and it didn’t matter who owned the materials because he was still in violation of his probation. In other words, his attempt to get his charges dismissed not only screwed over his girlfriend, but it also confirmed IN WRITING that he absolutely knew the items were in his car. Genius.
75. What’s In A Name?
My mom got pulled over in my dad’s truck. The officers wrote the ticket in my dad’s name. Well, my dad was at work an hour and a half away from where it occurred at the time. Judge threw it out pretty quick.
76. Don’t Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth
This one is a head-shaker. I was present for an accused individual’s sentencing after a common suggestion by both the prosecutor and defense attorneys. Things were going fine until the time came to calculate the total amount of days the defendant would serve according to each infraction. This is where things suddenly took an odd turn.
The defense attorney began to argue that the crown attorney had her numbers wrong and insisted that the sentence was actually supposed to be 75 days LONGER than what was about to be agreed upon. Huh!?! It was a surreal moment. The defendant’s jaw just dropped in disbelief.
77. Smart Judge
I saw a lawyer schedule a preliminary trial on a non-offender court date usually reserved for family or traffic issues. The lawyer insisted that not doing so would violate his client’s right to a speedy trial. Whatever, the judge allowed him to do it. Except, it turned out the judge permitted it because he knew the lawyer would be late. He was always late.
The accused was in custody and needed to be transported about two hours out of town to attend this court case. So, when the inmate arrived at court on the scheduled day, the lawyer was—you guessed it—late. The judge immediately instructed the clerks not to contact the lawyer’s office, and he started looking at his watch.
After about 10 minutes, the judge called it, and we out processed the defendant back to his transport vehicle. Ironically, just as the prisoner was moving off the property, the lawyer pulled into the parking lot. The judge then called for a closed-door session between himself and the lawyer. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that conversation…
78. Pay Attention In School
While I was in court, a defendant apprehended for warrants asked the judge for bail. He tells the judge that he moved and that no one had served him with the warrants. Now, there’s some question as to his identity. The judge asked the defendant where he was born, and he answered, “Puerto Rico.” The judge quizzed him, “Where in Puerto Rico?” The defendant said, “San Juan.”
Next, the judge inquired, “When were you last in San Juan?” The defendant replied, “A couple of years ago.” Finally, the judge challenged the defendant by asking, “How did you get there?” To which, the defendant confidently answered, “I went on the Amtrak.” The judge smirked and denied his bail. When you flunk geography, it’s for a long time.
79. Someone Should Have Told Him
I once watched as a lawyer verbally ran through the evidence against the guy he was defending, trying to claim there wasn’t enough even to call a trial. Everything was going totally fine until he made one huge mistake. He proclaimed, “I believe a more seasoned judge wouldn’t have let this trial move forward.” The judge’s face changed immediately.
The lawyer didn’t know that the judge had already given the okay to move forward with the trial. He’d just insulted the judge. The judge immediately gave him a hard “motion denied.”
80. Not The “Positive” They Expected
I am a lawyer. I was licensed for less than a year when I represented a guy in a custody case. He was adamant that his ex was on drugs, so I requested drug testing. The judge said that both parties had to be tested, which I had warned my client would likely be the judge’s request. The mom tested clean; it was my client who tested positive for drugs. We did not win the case. The same guy also fell asleep during the hearing.
81. Speedy Trial
Many drivers already know that most officers have a policy of not pulling people over for going less than five MPH (8 KPH) over the speed limit since that’s within the error of speed detectors. That’s not binding, of course, just best practice. But I saw a guy get up to defend himself on a speeding ticket, which I wholeheartedly support.
Unfortunately, this guy seemed to be under the impression that the “five MPH rule” was an actual law of some kind. He kept saying to the officer, “You admit I was only going five miles per hour over the speed limit?” and the cop kept agreeing with him. He really didn’t realize he was repeatedly admitting guilt. It was bad.
82. Proxy Plaintiff
I know of a case where a landlord didn’t want to sue for eviction under her name because she collected rent in cash and didn’t declare it while her building was in foreclosure. So, she somehow managed to convince her accountant to sue her tenants in his name for her. Apparently, the accountant thought there was such a thing as a client-accountant privilege.
So, the accountant shows up to eviction court with the tenants. Obviously, his name is not attached to the building or the leases in any way. The judge questioned him about it, and the accountant swore he could get the landlord on the phone to vouch that he’s “authorized” to do this in her name. But nope, that’s not how it works, buddy.
You can’t borrow someone else’s name to sue someone if you’re trying to do illicit things under your own name. Realizing the accountant was not the real landlord, the judge dismissed the case with no prejudice.
83. Always Follow Protocol
I worked for a barrister who turned up to a hearing—and made a terrible discovery. He found out that the opposing counsel had secretly contacted the judge’s chambers with a whole bunch of information about the case. That’s a horrendous breach of professional ethics. Barring special circumstances, one of the very, very basic rules of litigation is that you always file stuff with both the judge and the opposing counsel.
But the opposing counsel neglected to share all the details. So, during the hearing, my barrister just shrugged his shoulders at the judge when asked if he knew about the information. The judge then spent the rest of the hearing tearing the opposition apart. Thanks to their own thoughtlessness, they lost an absolutely unloseable case.
84. He Needed To Cool Off
A friend of mine is a defense attorney. He once told me about a time when he represented a guy with a lengthy record for assault. Basically, this guy took an A/C unit and threw it at his girlfriend. My buddy tells me he was somehow able to get this lunatic a plea deal for one-year probation and no time behind bars—a lucky break.
The judge is ready to accept the deal when he asks the defendant if he wants to say anything. The defendant responds, “Yeah, I don’t know why they charging me with assault. I never touched her. I just threw an A/C at her.” The judge immediately rescinded the plea deal because of the defendant’s attitude and lack of remorse. It later went to trial, and he got a year in the slammer.
85. Maybe Whisper Next Time
I worked as court staff in a hearing that involved a guy accused of robbing a grocery store. The defendant’s lawyer argued that they could not identify the man in the surveillance camera footage as his client. While the court played the footage, the defendant leaned over to his lawyer and loudly asked, “Do you think they can tell that’s me in the video?” Yup, I think they can tell now…
86. Nice Try
I was an expert engineer witness at a deposition defending a contractor who also happened to be an engineer himself. The plaintiff claimed the defendant was liable both as an engineer as well as the contractor. The defendant argued that he was indeed the contractor, but that didn’t mean he was the engineer for the project just because he was one.
After six hours of headache-inducing questioning, the plaintiff’s lawyer finally pulled out a letter written and certified by the contractor. When the judge read it, he almost burst out laughing. The sheet clearly stated, “I am the engineer for the project.” The lawyer then sat back and basically had a “let’s see what you got to say now” look on his face. Long story short, the defendant lost.
87. Silence Is Golden
I went to court over a ticket. The lady in front of me was there for a DWI-related hit-and-run. The judge had to assign a lawyer for her because she was so shook that she quit her job. When the judge asked the prosecuting attorney for details on the case, this lady legit piped up with, “You mean that car I hit while I was intoxicated?”
She’d just implicated herself. The poor judge just stopped, took his glasses off, and said, “Everything is recorded in this courtroom. I told you not to talk to anyone about your case except the attorney that I assigned for you.” You could tell he was ready to walk out of the room with the level of stupidity this lady showed.
88. Always Read The Fine Print
I observed court once, and I watched a prosecutor proceed against a self-represented individual for breaching a condition in his probation order. During the trial, the prosecutor brought in a probation officer as a witness and proceeded to question him about the offense. It was the only evidence the prosecutor had to go on.
This next detail is where the whole case fell apart. The prosecutor argued that the accused never fulfilled his conditions before his probation ended because he never completed counseling. Even though the self-represented defendant cross-examined the witness poorly, neither the prosecutor nor the probation officer could establish that the defendant really had breached his probation order.
You see, the wording in the probation order said the defendant needed to complete counseling AS DIRECTED. As it turned out, the probation officer never directed the defendant to attend counseling and then breached him for failing to do something he never told him to do. The judge agreed with the defendant’s point, got very angry, and talked down to the prosecutor. The defendant won.
Once while I was attending court, I watched in absolute bemusement as a defendant turned to his lawyer during his trial and blatantly exclaimed, “Yeah, I stole the car, but you said that you would convince him I didn’t do it!” He said this in front of everybody, loud and clear. I still facepalm whenever I think about it.
90. Weeding Out The Source
I’m an attorney, and I heard about a hearing that involved multiple defendants brought together before the judge. At some point, the judge noticed a strong pot smell in the courtroom and asked if any of the defendants had pot on them. Initially, no one came forward, and the judge proceeded, but the odor grew stronger and stronger.
Finally, the judge demanded the perpetrator to come forward. One of them eventually admitted to having several bags on him. I’m not sure what the charges were before him that day, but I wouldn’t want to have been his attorney. Imagine not only learning that your client decided to bring his stash with him to court, but then having to watch in horror as he admits it to the judge. Oof.
91. He Paid The Price
I don’t practice family law, but I occasionally cover simple family law hearings for my colleagues. One time I went to family law court, and I saw a detained guy brought in for failing to pay child support. This guy vehemently denied the charges against him. But his explanation as to why he wasn’t guilty was ridiculous.
His defense was that he didn’t pay child support because he didn’t have the full amount to meet his payments. A sympathetic plight, yes, but he could have handled the problem so much better. He could have made partial payments, but instead, he just opted to pay nothing because it wasn’t the full amount, and then he admitted it to the judge while denying that he failed to make his payments. Like, bruh.
I once saw a man in court plead not guilty to possession of illicit substances. Normally, this plea would have been perfectly acceptable, if not expected. Unfortunately, he decided to follow it up with something along the lines of: “Your honor, I’m not guilty, cause if I had known the fuzz were coming, I wouldn’t have had them on me.” I don’t think the judge agreed with his logic.
93. Lie Of Omission
I participated in an unfair dismissal case. The client claimed his employer dismissed him without reason or following procedure. After we had already started the case, it came out that not only was he given three written warnings beforehand, but his company had also called him in for a disciplinary hearing before his dismissal. Don’t lie to your lawyer.
94. Immoral Motorist
I was the victim of a hit-and-run car accident. My leg was pretty mangled. Luckily, officers were able to apprehend the driver of the car. It turned out he was a rich kid who was driving his mum’s convertible Porsche. Of course, he claimed that he was innocent and denied all knowledge of hitting me. Regardless, he still went to court to face charges.
At the trial, the prosecutor asked him how long he had been driving. His response was nothing short of brainless. He queried, “Do you mean how long have I been driving lawfully or unlawfully?” Of course, the judge went nuts, asking him why and when he had been driving unlawfully. His defense team just sat down in their chairs and shook their heads. The prosecution won the case.
95. Owning Up
We had some huge issues with a landlord—trying to enter without letting us know beforehand, not answering to fix issues, very aggressive when talking with us—when he decided to sell the place. He didn’t check with us about the visits and just showed up randomly with potential buyers. We told him to get lost, and he eventually left but called us the same evening to threaten us.
We sent emails to remind him of our rights as tenants and he answered by threatening us some more, IN AN EMAIL. We eventually end up in small claims court, and he fabricates a story about how we are terrible tenants and we try to discourage buyers. We just showed the judge the emails as well as the open complaint to the authorities we filled a few days earlier.
The judge couldn’t believe it and gave the landlord a formal warning, plus gave us three free months of rent. In the end, the guy just used a real estate company to sell the place. All went smoothly and we still live there with lovely landlords that aren’t completely bonkers.
96. A Mother’s Love
Not mine, but my mom’s story. She was fighting for custody on behalf of the father, trying to prove that the kids were living in subpar conditions with their addict mother in spite of the ample child support he had provided. It was a tough case because courts are so hesitant to pull kids away from their moms, and they have the upper hand.
Then the mom burst out that she had been feeding the kids cat food as proof that she wouldn’t let them starve. Needless to say, the judge didn’t take that as a good reason for the kids to stay with their mom.
97. Caught You
While I was interning at court, this dude attended in support of his friend but wore a shirt in the same color as the defendants in the group trials. The bailiff mistook him for a convict and asked him to sit down. The guy responded, “Heck 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, he didn’t get away.
98. Photo Finish
I took my old landlord to court when I was in college. She had taken my security deposit over false allegations: They claimed I “trashed” the place, not knowing that I took pictures and video when I moved in and out. Their “evidence” was a VHS quality recording of going through a perfectly clean apartment in better condition than it was when I moved in. Oh, but it got better.
They opened up the top of the stove and found a single piece of elbow macaroni under it, holding it up triumphantly. That was the crux of their “defense.” The judge was not amused, and I got all my money back plus my lawyer fees and the filing fee. She then fought against her own lawyer to avoid paying him like she should have.
99. Time To Face The Music
I once observed a memorable case where the plaintiff’s attorney inexplicably decided that it would be a good idea to play Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” as his closing argument. Seriously. Rather than summarizing his case’s details, he opted to just awkwardly play the song in a feeble attempt to evoke an emotional response from the jury. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work.
100. Facts Of The Case
I worked on a termination of parental rights case. The main arguments were that the parent was stable, working lawfully, had a proper apartment, didn’t need psychotropic medication anymore, and was basically ready to be a parent again. After a couple of months of negotiating with all parties, we had a pre-trial to convince the guardians.
I met with my client before the hearing to see if anything changed. “Nope, all good, let’s get my kids.” Great, that’s not happening today, but let’s try. We got to court. My client, who’s super-hot headed and quick to anger, got riled up and went off on the guardians by screaming in open court. And unfortunately, it didn’t end there.
My client then decided to reveal that she’s no longer working, no longer in an apartment, didn’t want to have a relationship with the guardians (even though her kids loved them), planned on moving out of state, and thought the family could live off state aide when she got them back. The last and most shocking part? She was four months pregnant!
The court learned all of this in the matter of 15 seconds. I was too shocked to even react. Speechless. She was not the image of stability and parental fitness that I had been trying to paint for months.
101. Revenge Is A Dish Best Served Cold
The wife cheated on her husband during his frequent travels for work. She was the one who filed for divorce, and she got to keep the house. Months elapse and the husband is still furious, rightfully so, but has no recourse. 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 AM. Middle of winter? Time to shut off the heat and hope the pipes freeze. Away on vacation? Turn the air conditioning down to 55 and let it run 24/7 for a nice surprise bill when they get home.
102. Invasion Of Privacy
Not a lawyer, but I took my brother-in-law’s landlord to small claims court (He’s on SSI and I’m his conservator). We sued her for over $4,000 after she just decided she didn’t like him and changed the locks on his apartment door. She also stuffed all of his belongings into trash bags and dragged them out to the curb. This was all done the day after she cashed his rent check.
It all started because she was letting herself into his apartment with no notice and was going through his stuff while he was gone. When I found out about this, I told him to let her know that was NOT okay. He did, and that’s why she kicked him out. I’m very organized, and presented the judge with a folder containing photos, receipts, short videos on DVD and the sheriff call logs, as well as a concise timeline of events.
The landlord showed up with her son and countersued for the exact same amount we were suing them for. Claiming that the apartment was trashed, there were holes in the walls and they would have to repair everything before being able to rent again. During the hearing, the judge asked for evidence of the damage to the room.
The son whipped out his cell phone and showed a video panning and walking around the room. The video showed my BIL’s apartment obviously still being lived in (his stuff was all still there) and no visible damage, but there were a lot of posters and things hung on the walls. When the judge looked at the video he asked, “Where is the damage?” The son replied, “You can’t see it. It’s behind all of the posters.”
The judge frowned and looked at the video again, and then said, “Did you take this video when he was still living there at this time?” The son replied, “Yes.” This was the clincher, the judge then asked, “Did you ask his permission to enter the apartment to take this video?” Silence. We were awarded the full amount.
103. I Don’t Think That Word Means What You Think It Means
This was unbelievable. My co-worker’s girlfriend filed for divorce a few weeks ago. That’s right, girlfriend. They aren’t married, and common-law doesn’t apply in my state. They lived together for five years. She has a job. She isn’t on the mortgage. And she left him a few months ago. There are no kids involved. They were never engaged.
In the “divorce,” she wants him to leave his house and she wants to be the one to move back in. She also wants him to pay her $2,800 a month for some reason. I referred him to my divorce attorney, and now that attorney is probably going to represent him. The chick is nuts. She has already tried to get a restraining order against him that was dismissed.