Lawyers see a lot in their daily lives, so something has to be pretty unbelievable to shock them—but these stories were so wild, they’re unforgettable. From clients who just couldn’t keep their mouths shut to opposing counsel who totally missed a slam dunk, these cases are proof that all’s fair in a court of law. Alright tea-sippers, buckle in for these totally jaw-dropping tales coming right from lawyers and clients who were witness to these insane real-life courtroom stories.
1. Surefire POS
I did a bail hearing back in my second year of practice as duty counsel. The guy had trapped his girlfriend in the cab of his pickup, twisted one arm up behind her back to her shoulder, and broke it. As if that wasn’t bad enough, then he did the same thing to the other side. I had to represent him while she and her family sat in the front row of the court.
She had both arms in casts and in slings. Thankfully, the person posting his bail melted down on the stand and we had to adjourn. By the time he was up for bail again he’d gotten private counsel. They proceeded to put the same surety up on the stand even after I warned him not to. In front of the same Justice. He got detained.
2. In All Honesty
I’m cross examining the alleged victim and in answering my question she says, “Oh yeah, I lie all the time!” Needless to say, I won that trial.
3. Full of Hate
I had to represent a horrible guy while working at a medium-sized firm. He was a small business owner and he called the only package delivery guy in the area by a horrific name. The package delivery guy rightly files a case against him. My client basically screwed himself because he ran his business out of his house, and it was a package-based business.
He also owned a ton of arms and he was afraid that they were going to take them away because of the suit. At the preliminary hearing I argued that the delivery service in his area was basically a utility with a monopoly. Their fancy lawyers saw that I could’ve gotten treble damages so they dropped the case. I felt slimy, but I was about to feel worse.
The jerk didn’t even pay me. And my spineless partner didn’t want to sue him for fees because I only had six hours for the whole matter.
4. By Alien Design
My father is a patent attorney, and when I was around 14, he told me about a guy who wanted to patent the iPhone 3 because “aliens” had given him the design for it.
5. I’m Not Paying
When I worked on insurance defense, I spent a lovely afternoon bickering over $5,000 on behalf of a huge truck company. The “negotiations” happened at the plaintiff’s home. He’d been hit by one of my client’s semi-trucks on the interstate, and while it managed not to kill him, it tore off an arm and a leg, and shattered almost everything else.
He was almost entirely immobile, confined to a power chair that he could barely operate, and confided to us that if he had function in his remaining hand, he’d end himself. Oh, the $5,000? It was based on an estimate to renovate his bathroom so that he could actually use it. He’d been peeing and pooping in a bedpan in the living room.
I felt like a complete monster sitting in front of him and arguing about such an insignificant sum.
6. Matter of Manners
I was in court for a directions hearing. The judge was already in a bad mood and asked why we were here for such a pointless litigation. The barrister starts to make our case when I hear, “EXCUSE ME, WHY WERE YOU SO RUUUUUUDE TO ME?” We had told our client NOT to come and yet here she was in court. Evidently, she’d heard how stupid the judge thought her case was and she was not happy.
She berated the judge for about three minutes while my co-counsel and I desperately tried to shut her up. The case did not go very well to my client’s surprise and fury.
7. So Help Me Dad
I was a character witness for my childhood dog in a civil trial between our neighbors and my parents. Opposing counsel was questioning me, I wasn’t even out of elementary school at the time, and he asked if our dog was aggressive. She was a very loving Rottweiler who was incredibly protective of me and my siblings.
The lawyer’s final question to me is one I will never forget. He asked, “Did your father tell you what to say before you came into court today?” I responded “Yes.” Then he asked, “What did he tell you to say?” I said, “The truth.” Now I was too young to remember the courtroom reaction, but according to my father the judge audibly laughed and the opposing counsel lost all the wind out of his sails.
8. Solid as a Rock
One of the most infuriating cases I’ve had as a defense lawyer was a guy that got busted for selling rocks to a confidential informant. The CI was wired for sound and video so the whole transaction is crystal clear. Plus, the officers ID’ed his car as the one that drove to the scene, plus he was stopped a couple of hours later with the buy money in his possession AND the serial numbers were recorded.
The prosecutor offered him five years which was the mandatory minimum. He absolutely declined to even consider a plea, insisted on a jury trial, insisted on taking the stand and telling a ridiculous story about how it wasn’t him in the video even though there wasn’t any doubt. I felt like Lionel Hutz trying to string together a closing argument with a straight face. He got 20 years.
9. Showing Off Your Stolen Goods is Never a Smart Look
My mum was a personal injury solicitor, and she was basically trying to prove that the car that hit her client and caused life-changing injuries (brain damage) belonged to X. X at first pretends not to live where he does, then the car is found abandoned and all wiped down. The trail seems to end. Then, my mum has a hunch and checks X’s Facebook profile.
He had a public profile, and his profile picture was him standing right next to the car in question. She screenshots the photo and sends it to the opposing counsel with a slightly more politely worded “Your client is a total idiot.” She’s retired now but she considers it to be one of the most satisfying moments of her career.
Needless to say, she won the case and her client got a million-pound settlement and is now living in Spain. All for the want of a simple privacy setting and a touch of common sense.
10. Just Dumping
My father was a defense attorney who mostly dealt with really awful cases. On one, a man was charged with ending his wife’s life via carbon monoxide and disposing of the body. My dad had to argue that while they may be able to prove he disposed of the body, no one could prove the wife didn’t end her own life. Therefore, he can only be convicted of the lesser charge of dumping the body.
Her weeping family was in the courtroom the whole time.
11. With a Wave of a Hand
The main witness for the prosecution was on the stand and was asked if she could identify the defendant. She was scanning the courtroom & seemed confused-my friend, the defense lawyer, was already silently celebrating because if she couldn’t identify him, he could probably get all charges dropped. As he was mentally adding this case to the “win” file, he happened to glance over at his client–who had just helpfully raised his hand to make it easier for her to identify him.
Even the judge facepalmed on that one.
12. Social Media Strikes Again
My friend was suing a private security company for attacking him. He explained that one of the security guards also threatened him with a piece. The security company’s lawyer responds that my friend must be lying, as the guards do not carry arms because they are not allowed. My friend finds the Facebook profile of one of the security guards who threatened him.
His profile picture is him mean-mugging with a glock in his hand. My friend emails this to opposing counsel with a note that says “FYI.” The security company agrees to pay an out of court settlement to my friend.
13. Environmental Enemy
A partner sent out a firm-wide email congratulating his team on a great win. It detailed how their win meant that our client, Giant Fossil Fuel Company, wasn’t liable for damage to the environment caused by leaks in their pipes. Instead, the taxpayers would be covering the cost. The partner went on to say something to the effect of “This saves our client $x billion a year in environmental cleanup and pipe maintenance.”
Even though it wasn’t my case, that one has always stuck with me and made me feel like total scum.
14. Breast to Tell the Truth
My friend’s mom was a defense lawyer for a hospital. Her job was to represent doctors accused of malpractice or anything relating to doctor/patient interaction. She had one case where a female patient had accused a male doctor of groping her several times during a procedure. Allegedly, the doctor had been coached to say that it’s possible that he inadvertently brushed the patient’s chest, and that if it happened, it was an unintentional consequence of following standard procedures.
So, they get to the deposition and I guess the first question the doctor gets is something along the lines of, “Walk me through what happened,” and the doctor says, “I don’t know what you want me to say, man. I’m a tit guy. Always have been.”
15. A Dramatic Reveal
I practice immigration law. I had a woman come in and explain that she was from Canada, had been living and working in the US without permission for decades. Boyfriend beat her up to the point where she was hospitalized. She pressed charges and the boyfriend basically let her know via friends that his lawyer was going to call her credibility into question since she was an undocumented immigrant.
It turns out her mom was born in the US and met the dad in college, which meant that she could gain dual citizenship via mom. We got her citizenship certificate expedited and I made her promise not to tell anyone. Sure enough, at trial, the defense attorney asks, “Isn’t it true that you are a Canadian citizen who has been working illegally in the US for decades?” To which she replies, “No. In fact, here’s my certificate of citizenship. I’m a dual Canadian and US citizen.”
She said the lawyer looked like a puppet when someone cut the strings. Boyfriend became a guest of the State for a long time.
16. Oh, I Totally Did It, BTW
My dad started out in defense and lucked out on one of his first cases. An old friend’s wife’s life was horribly ended while he was away, dismembered with an ax. Her body had been found by fluke, and there was a tiny bit of circumstantial evidence pointing to the husband. He was an upstanding citizen, the two had never fought, it was a silly case. The lawyer got the husband acquitted, and while they were having celebratory drinks, the husband said something that made my dad’s blood run cold.
He admitted he’d actually done it. My dad immediately walked out of the bar and switched to corporate law.
17. What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
The prosecutor suggested that my client had burgled canned goods to use them in the trade of illicit substances. I thought this was ludicrous, mocked the prosecutor, and turned to ask my client whether he’d ever done such a thing. He replied that he once exchanged a frozen chicken for illcit substances. Needless to say, I didn’t win that one and I learned to never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer.
18. Gifting a Victory to the Other Side
For a while, my mother dated a man who really liked to act like a big shot. He was a guy that claimed to know a guy wherever you went. Any time you wanted something he would say “Oh wait, let’s go to the store I’ll talk to the owner and get you a deal.” Nearly every time he did, the owner seemed like he wasn’t entirely sure who this guy was.
He would do stuff like insist on taking the entire family on a vacation, or take everyone out to a fancy restaurant. Or he would show up with expensive gifts out of the blue, like new electronics or guitars. Eventually, the relationship ends, but not long after we find out he’s taking us to court because we owe him money.
Court date comes, he presents his case first. He goes through a huge itemized list of everything he ever bought us. Every single item, from a vending machine Coke to a new sink because he broke the old one. Even a birthday cake bought for the youngest child. Once he’s done, the judge asks if there was an agreement to be paid back for any of that. He says it was just an understanding.
The judge asks specifically if he ever said he wanted to be paid back. He says no, that usually when someone buys you something you pay them back. The judge then explained that no, in fact, that’s not usually how gifts work and that by his own admission there was never an expectation to pay for anything. So after his own testimony, the case was closed.
He then appealed. Again he presented his testimony first. Again, closed by his own words.
19. Drawings Don’t Count
One of my professors is a lawyer and mentioned a case where he was defending a man who claimed his anime child smut was protected as free speech.
20. Show and Tell
A lawyer I used to know was in court on a work injury case. The judge asked his client, “just what is the nature of your injury?” His client replied, “I can’t raise my arm this high anymore,” while she raised her arm up to show just how high she couldn’t raise it.
21. Facts Don’t Lie
It was a fraud trial. The prosecutor gets right to the point. This was pretty much the third question in to the defendant: “So you earn £45,000 a year, have no properties, no other source of income, no inheritance and as far as I’m aware have not won the lottery yet you have foreign bank accounts with £x million and a Ferrari. It must simply be a coincidence that the defrauded entity has an accounting black hole pretty much equal to those riches.”
The defendant pretty much gave up at that point.
22. Winning by Losing
I represented a mom in a custody case. Both parents were fighting for primary custody of the kids. Mom was admittedly a mess and suffering from some mental health issues. Dad took the kids and didn’t bring them back for a few months in violation of the order. So, I got the kids back and handed them off to mom. Here’s where it gets bad.
When I met with mom and the kids, I realized the kids were doing way better with dad and should be with him. Tried to reason with mom, she didn’t listen. Ultimately the child protection office got involved and the children was placed with dad. I last saw mom many years ago and she was still not in a super healthy place. So best ending happened and not because of me.
23. A Misplaced Identification
When I was in law school, I clerked for a defense clinic. We had a battery case where there was only one witness to the incident: the victim. I was sitting at the defense table with the actual attorney, another law student that worked on the case with me, and the defendant. We were all in similar-looking suits as a matter of unplanned coincidence.
The victim was asked to identify the person who committed the battery in court and she pointed to me and not the defendant. Our attorney asked several times if she was really pointing to me and if she was sure, and she said yes. The prosecutor was visibly upset and the trial pretty much ended there as this was a bench trial and not with a jury.
It was never discussed or admitted to, but I suspect our attorney purposefully had me there at the trial because I did have a passing resemblance of the defendant.
24. Missing STU
I had a client come in saying that he “needed to sue Stu for robbing all his checks.” When I asked him if Stu had a last name, he said no. When I asked him if he knew any Stu, he said no. When I asked him what proof he had that Stu was robbing him, he showed me all of his pay stubs.
There were clear, monthly deductions by “SCU” and as soon as I saw it, I knew. I asked, “do you have children?” He said yes. I then told him, “your Stu is the SCU-the Support Collection Unit. They take money out of your check to pay for your child.” He left the office insisting that we needed to find Stu.
25. Dumb People Make Dumb Choices
This wasn’t my case, but in docket court one morning, the accused wore a pair of very unique custom made red cowboy boots…stolen from the house he was accused of robbing. He wore them. To court. To plead not guilty. The prosecutor was laughing.
26. Mom Problems
I have a case where we suspected the mother had Munchausen by proxy. The child was always fine with the dad, but mom would take the child to the doctor every other day. When they didn’t give the answer mom wanted, she’d get a second, third (etc.) opinion. Mom was oddly close to the nurses and doctors.
Child had some type of cancer where they needed a colostomy bag and mom didn’t clean it. It was infected so bad that the child couldn’t wear it anymore. The kid was getting sicker and dying. Mom (allegedly) pushed her child in the shower and it messed up their head. It’s possible that mom is feeding her pills too because child puked blood from time to time.
Now the child has seizures once a week from the shower incident. Mom spent $400,000 on medical bills in one year. Mom made a false GoFundMe and only used ~$200 of the thousands she received on medical bills. The page has since been removed, and the case is still open until we can find more experts to testify.
27. Dear Diary…
I worked a harassment case with a plaintiff who was paid to role play with her boss, and kept a very detailed diary about their, uh, encounters on her work computer. At one point she was asked to read from the diary for the record. She was asked at several points if she wanted her new husband to leave the room while she did this, but declined.
Let’s just say it was extremely kinky, she confirmed it was true, and the only mention of her now-husband was that he was boring in bed but she was going to marry him because she couldn’t get her first, second, or third choice. He ended up leaving on his own after she read that part out and confirmed that she was writing about him.
28. Knowing When to Stop and For How Long
A friend told me this story. He’s not a lawyer but was job shadowing or something and was in court for the day. Anyway, one of the cases was a girl contesting a stop sign violation. The prosecutor asked how long she was stopped at the stop sign and the girl responds 40-50 seconds. The prosecutor asks her to look at the clock in the courtroom and proceeds to stay silent for the next 30 seconds, which is a really long time.
Once the 30 seconds is up, the prosecutor looks back at her and says were you really stopped 40-50 seconds and the girl was basically silent. I’m pretty sure she was found guilty.
29. What’re You Going to do, Tear it Down?
My friend was working on a case where a guy had attacked a uniformed officer. First, the court watched a video of the event with the guy shouting all sorts of curses at the authorities. He then, when asked to answer for his offense, started to pretend to speak another language. His solicitor just said, “Please forgive my client he does speak English, however he is an idiot”.
After this blatant lie, the client then started to pretend that he was deaf and dumb. He mimicked what he thought was sign language, pointing at his mouth and shaking his head. His solicitor again said, “Please forgive my client. He is not deaf and dumb, he is just stupid.” My magistrate friend then said to the defendant “Please take a seat Mr. X.” The client immediately responds, “Yeah no problem luv.” Complete mess of a case. I feel so sorry for the solicitor.
30. To Trash or Not?
I once represented an innocent company in a lawsuit which, if they lost, would have ended their business. I knew the owners, they were great people, and they absolutely didn’t do what they were being sued for. Opposing counsel, and their client, were the scum of the earth (this was a widely shared opinion).
One day, reviewing some documents before producing them, I came across a very, very bad document. I understood what it meant, but I also understood that it could easily be misconstrued, and if misconstrued, would virtually nail my client’s coffin shut. I was traveling, so I put the document in my briefcase to take back to the hotel so I could talk with my co-counsel about it.
That night, I didn’t call my co-counsel, but I did stand in my hotel room, next to the trash can, for almost a half-hour. I was in agony. If I tore up the document and threw it away, no one would ever know. My good, innocent client wouldn’t have to deal with it. Instead, I put the doc back in my briefcase, took it back in the next day, and put it back in the pile of documents to be produced.
The other side found the document and made hay with it. It was painful. We went to trial, and the jury found in favor of my client on every issue. They saw the truth, not the misconstruction. And, best of all, I got to keep my soul.
Ugh. Well, fresh after law school, I worked on a case where the people involved were sketchy in every possible way. My role was very limited—I was just helping with some securities filings. The problem was that nothing quite added up and when I brought the discrepancies over to my boss, she just told me to put the information in anyway. She was very friendly with the client—we saw him at our office all the freaking time, as he’d often just drop by to chat and hang.
Years later, the company folded and their clients, many of whom were quite vulnerable, lost hundreds of millions of dollars. I was not at all surprised. My boss was someone whom I had dreamed of reporting for years (for that and other sketchiness), but she was slippery enough that she always had some level of plausible deniability, and nothing ever came of it.
I think about that old file often. It’s not great to feel like you may have helped legitimize a bad operation. My experience there definitely jaded me quite a bit, even compared to other junior lawyers.
33. Screwed Both Ways
I’m a lawyer in Winnipeg, Canada here. The toughest are cases where you cannot actually tell the client what to do. I had one case where the client was alleged to have sprayed someone with bear spray and pointed a taser at the complainant. Citizens are not allowed to own tasers here. The authorities apprehended him a few hours later.
After I interviewed him, I had to specifically NOT ask what he did with the arms. If I told him to throw them away, I am counseling him to commit an offense by destroying evidence. If I told him to keep them, that’s also an offense, since it’s possession of prohibited device. It is unethical and possibly against the law if you counsel someone to commit a prohibited act.
So, I can tell him what the consequences are of each choice, but I can’t recommend he do one or the other. Meanwhile, client keeps asking me what to do and all I can say is that you have to make your own decision.
34. Care or Cash
I remember one of my first moral dilemmas. I had a client with a fairly arguable case against another company. They were very, very motivated to pursue the suit but their facts were pretty tenuous. At the end of the day, it was nothing more than a he-said-she-said situation, and quite honestly their witnesses weren’t the best. I was put in the position where I could take the case and make a good $20,000, or I could do the right thing and tell my client that he’d be exposing himself to a huge of risk.
I explained that, given the circumstances and what they were alleging, it was anyone’s game. I told him that in my personal opinion, it wasn’t worth paying $20,000ish to have an indefinite shot at more money. He ultimately agreed with me, but I can see how less scrupulous lawyers may have stirred the pot on that one. “Oh yeah, you’ve got a case, let’s hit them hard, etc.”
35. Oral Admittance
My former law partner was representing a client who wanted a restraining order against her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Our client was telling the judge that when they met to exchange the children for visitation, the ex had kicked her. He immediately angrily shouted, “She can’t prove it. I didn’t leave a mark!” Thanks, buddy!
36. Fighting a Good Fight
This is going to sound crazy, but in college, I got a ticket every day of the week for parking in my driveway. Same cop every day. My girlfriend’s car, too. It was a small apartment building, which had a blacktop parking lot along the side of the building. The officers ticketed every vehicle parked in our assigned parking spots for “blocking the sidewalk.”
There was no sidewalk. It was a blacktop parking lot. I was an aspiring student of the law and knew I could argue this. Plus, I didn’t have the money to pay all these tickets. I plead not guilty, got a court date, and continued to collect the tickets. I got the cop on the stand and showed him a series of pictures and asked questions about this “invisible sidewalk.”
He contradicted himself several times and then admitted he ticketed every car he saw parked there whether it was blocking the invisible sidewalk or not. I was up there for about half an hour. For parking tickets. The judge was laughing a bit and finally asked me to approach. He asked me if he dismissed all the tickets and told the cop to stop, would I stop asking questions and leave the court. I agreed.
The next week my girlfriend went in with her stack of tickets and I tagged along. It was the same judge and the same cop. They were both looking at me. As we walked in, I said, “Watch this, baby. I’m going to make the judge dismiss the tickets.” When it was her turn to argue, I walked up with her. She said, “Your Honor, I…” Before she could finish, the judge said “Tickets are void. Next case.”
I was proud. She was baffled at the black magic I’d just sprinkled on her.
37. Evidence in Black and Blue
I’ll never forget this case. A woman had been attacked. State’s witness recants on the stand, saying her boyfriend never laid a finger on her and never set her on fire. She came to court with a swollen, burnt, bandaged face and a bunch of missing teeth from when she was, allegedly, thrown into the wall. They went into chambers. Everyone’s just staring at me, although we’re all professionals and we all know what’s coming.
My client has a right to remain silent, and my duty is to my client. Back in open court, the Judge doesn’t even give me a chance to make a motion to dismiss the case. He throws it out himself. My client gets to walk out of court. His maimed girlfriend is held in contempt and given the maximum 30 days. Sometimes the easiest cases are still the ones that still make you think years later.
38. Justice McServed
This woman wanted me to sue McDonalds because their employees beat up her son. He was trying to rob the place.
39. Spinning Wheels or Spinning Lies?
I’m not a lawyer, but a friend’s sister went to court over a moving violation. She’s an engine tuner and had built herself a beautiful first gen Mitsubishi Eclipse with 6 or 700 horsepower at the wheels. This car, inevitably, attracted the attention of the local law enforcement, who pulled her over with no fewer than eight cruisers after some slightly aggressive acceleration around a left turn.
During cross-examination, she asked the officer who’d made the call and why exactly she had been pulled over. “I heard the engine revving, and I saw you spinning the tires and sliding around the corner.” “To be clear, officer, which tires were spinning?” “The rear tires.” “So I was spinning the rear tires, and it was the back end that swung out?” “Yes ma’am, that’s correct.” “And you’re sure that’s what you saw?” “Clear as day, ma’am. The light turned green, you stepped on the gas, and the rear tires broke loose under power.” “The rear tires broke loose under power? There’s no doubt in your mind that’s exactly what happened?” “None at all.”
To which, she finally concluded with, “Your honor, this officer is either lying or hallucinating. My car is front wheel drive.”
40. Need-to-Know Basis
I had a family client whose ex wasn’t letting him see his kid. So, we were in court with him explaining how important parenting was to him, how much he loved being a father, etc. After 45 minutes of this, the mother says something that made my jaw drop to the floor. She states, “I don’t know why he’s saying this, he abandoned his other kids.”
I’d never even heard him mention having other kids. Turned out, yeah, he 100% abandoned them, has had no contact for years and never made any efforts. Please give your lawyers important information especially if another party involved knows your secrets.
41. The Mister Softee Defense
I once got out of a noise violation ticket. I was driving around and had my music in my car up. Cop pulls me over, gives me a ticket for the noise violation. It wasn’t even that loud-you couldn’t really hear it from outside the vehicle, but I guess my windows were down. I go to court. My defense was, “If the ice cream man can drive around blaring that creepy music, I can listen to my radio.”
The judge tried to keep a straight face, but I got out of the ticket.
42. The Sympathy Card
My friend is a lawyer and was doing a custody case about three years ago. The father (his client) walks up to him, looks him in the eye, and says, “I’ve messed up. I’ve lost my wife, I’ve lost my kids, and I’ve lost my happiness. All I’ve ever been able to do is drink and get angry, but they have been a light to me. If you can help me get them back, it would mean the world to me.”
He knew that the guy was guilty of everything so he didn’t know what to do. In the end, he decided to just be honest. His strategy in court was to say exactly what the father did. He appealed to the jury’s humanity and, surprisingly, won. The couple are actually back together now and the guy has resolved his issues.
43. Gordon Ramsey’s Idiot Sandwich
I had a case a few months ago where a man was charged with shoplifting. It turned out he was 70 years old, had absolutely no record, and had shoplifted a SANDWICH which he ate politely in the store. He honestly thought he had paid for it. I was so angry that he was ever charged in the first place.
When I saw him in court, he was absolutely terrified. I immediately withdrew the charges and wished him well.
44. Justice Prevails
My mother left my dad and hooked up with this piece of garbage who would beat her. She had him detained and got a restraining order. He called her one day from the hospital and said he was jumped while riding a bike and if she didn’t take him back he would say she did it. A few months later, she is in court after he claimed his injuries were from her beating him with a frying pan.
He doesn’t show up. The judge asks his attorney where he is and the attorney asks if they can reschedule because he is temporarily indisposed. My mother chimes up, “He is probably in the slammer again.” The judge just straight up asks his attorney if that’s where he is. The attorney responds, “Yes.” The judge immediately dismissed the case.
45. Getting Cold Feet
I was defending a nonprofit against a 60-something grandma who was looking for a retirement settlement after falling out of her pickup truck in the charity’s parking lot. The premise of her case was that our parking lot was in bad shape, which it was, and that she fell into a pothole and broke her leg, which resulted in her having to take Coumadin and diminished her enjoyment of salads at the Friday night fish fry.
It was going along fine until my lawyer put up a photo of the pothole taken the day of the incident filled to the brim with water after a recent rain. He asked the lady if she had gotten her foot wet, to which she replied that she couldn’t recall. He talked a little more about how perhaps if her foot wasn’t wet, it might have been because she fell out of the truck and didn’t really fall into the pothole. He asked again if her foot was wet, and she affirmed that yes, her foot was wet.
Then the moment came when he went back to his desk, flipped through her deposition and read the part where she was extremely adamant that her foot wasn’t wet. Then he did some fancy law stuff, the case was thrown out and I went back to work.
46. Pushing Up a Case
As a young attorney, I had stated a claim that an insurance company was dragging out a case in bad faith, in hopes that my elderly client would die before they had to pay him. I was requesting that the trial date be given priority due to my client’s advanced age. The judge was no spring chicken himself and seemed skeptical when he asked exactly how old my client was, maybe thinking that he was in his 70s and must merely seem ancient to a baby lawyer like me.
When I responded that my client was 92 years old, and that the case had already gone on for five years, the judge was visibly shocked. He immediately granted my motion for priority, completely shutting down the insurance company’s attorney’s attempt to respond. They wrote us a check for a million dollars the next week.
47. The Ol’ John Hancock
I’m a lawyer’s assistant. My boss asked me to falsify the signature of a recently dead man in order to have a will validated. In my country when a person passes it takes up to four days to have the act registered, and in that time frame my boss legalized a secret will in which one of the sons of the deceased would be substantially benefited. It was of course her client.
48. Selling It All
I used to do a lot of cases where my firm would basically cover our clients’ losses on loans. We had one case where the debtor kept saying he really wanted to repay our client according to the agreed repayment plan. The meeting dragged on for an hour and he seemed very eager to tell me about why he was in debt in the first place.
I finally asked him out of curiosity why he had taken out the debt. His answer broke my heart. It turned out his son (who was around my age) had terminal cancer, and he and his wife had sold everything they owned and took out huge loans with their house as security to provide him with the best possible treatment—and eventually hospice. And, as he said it, “now my son is gone but the debt is not.”
All I could do was warn him about the planned foreclosure four weeks later, if he did not find a way to repay as promised. Turned out he did find a way to come up with the money, but I still think a lot about that case.
49. Branded as a Thief
I had to try to defend a man who walked into a convenience store with a knife demanding money. He wore no mask, just his casual clothes, and walked through every aisle, being spotted by every security camera in the store. After the theft, he ran back to the hotel where he was staying, carrying an open back pack full of money all the while being seen by the hotel’s security cameras in the process.
He then went into his room, threw the bag on the floor and hid under a bed until law enforcement arrived. I spent a long night thinking about it before passing the case to somebody else because I have no idea how to defend someone with so much evidence against them.
50. A Pretty Embarrassing Mix-Up
I was representing a woman with a severe neck injury. Opposing counsel presented a test result that showed her cervical exam was normal. I felt almost bad when I pointed out he had the wrong cervical area in mind…
51. A Hollow Victory
I had one case where an ex-husband and ex-wife were against each other. Both were completely fraudulent. Both were trying to use their young daughter against the other. One was a chronic cheater/opportunist and the other was constantly high or drunk and trying to access his former wife’s financials (she was quite well off when they got together). I feel like our client edged out our opposition VERY MINUTELY by being a slightly better person, but it was a hollow victory no matter who won.
52. Your Dog, Your Problem
I used to work for a law firm specializing in subrogation cases on behalf of insurance companies. Basically, if you file an insurance claim for something that wasn’t your fault, your insurance company will pay you, but then go after the person whose fault it was to recover their money.
This is the story of my lowest point as a lawyer. It involved a customer who made a claim for a car accident. The accident happened because a dog ran out into the street and the car didn’t have enough time to stop. Unfortunately, the dog’s life ended in the impact. There was also some damage to the car, which the insurance company paid to the car owner, but it turned out there was an ordinance in the accident location requiring dogs to be on a leash in public areas at all times. Meaning, technically the dog owner was at fault in the accident.
So, my job was to write a demand letter to the owner of the dog who just passed, demanding that he pay for the damage that was caused to the car during the accident THAT ENDED HIS PET’S LIFE. The dog owner never responded, and luckily the insurance company decided it wasn’t worth additional fees of pursuing it further. It just about destroyed me to write that letter. Luckily, I don’t work there anymore and haven’t done any subrogation work since.
53. Judge’s Ruling
Opposing counsel was a nightmare. He was late for everything, his work was extremely subpar, and so forth. He even accused me of lying multiple times when he had dropped the ball. During another hearing in which he did another dumb move, the judge says, “I’m glad you are the last case on the call and all of the other attorneys have left the room so they aren’t here to hear me say that you are a terrible attorney.”
54. Not a Good Place to Lie About Your Priors
My sister got T-boned by a car, causing a concussion, when I was younger. Long story short, we were in court with the judge, who asked the driver if he had ever sped before. “No, your honor, I never speed” was his reply. The judge asked him a couple more times if he was sure, if he never sped. Ever? The driver was adamant that he never sped and never had before.
A few minutes later, my sister’s lawyer gave the judge some paperwork. She read it, and said to the driver, “It seems that you have some past driving violations. Can you tell me what they are for?” He looked down and replied, “…speeding.” The driver had to pay medical bills for my sister.
55. A Worthless Life
My business law professor told me a story I’ll never forget. When he was the attorney that represented my hometown government, he had a case where law officers were chasing a suspect. The suspect opened fire and they returned it. After it was all said and done, they realized that one of the bullets from the officer’s piece had inadvertently ended an innocent bystander’s life.
The family of the bystander sued. Apparently, she was transient and an addict and had been in the area to try and score. The family’s attorney was asking for millions in restitution. My professor said he was “scared witless” about having to go before a jury and state that the family of the woman did not deserve such a high amount of restitution because (being an addict) the woman’s life really had no monetary value to begin with.
Thankfully the city and the family settled out of court. I can only imagine how bad my professor would have felt if he had actually been compelled to make that argument to the jury. Who wants to say to a jury and to family in the court gallery that someone’s life had literally no value?
56. The Right to Remain Silent
The case before ours was for theft and was going on much longer than it should have. The defense lawyer calls for a motion to dismiss, claiming lack of evidence. The judge says he will entertain said motion after lunch, hits the gavel, and says court will reconvene at 1 PM. Then the defendant stands up and says real loudly, “Told you I could get away with stealing all of it.” He thought his case had been dismissed.
57. A Really Dumb Plaintiff
I represented a company that was sued for breach of contract by a former independent contractor. Dude basically alleged that my client wasn’t paying him correctly in accordance with the contract. During his deposition, the plaintiff admits that he never reviewed any documents to make sure his allegations were true, never reviewed his complaint before filing it to make sure the allegations in it were true, and had no idea whether or not my client actually failed to pay him in accordance with the contract.
Basically, he tells me that he was suing my client because he didn’t think their agreement was fair, even though he agreed to the terms when he signed the contract. The kicker is that he admitted that he owed my client money. At arbitration, he tries to flip his story and starts giving testimony that is the exact opposite of his deposition, so I whip out his transcript and undermine his testimony bit by bit. Needless to say, I won that case.
58. Mid-Case Twist
The most challenging case I ever worked was one where a man was sick with cancer and sued every possible product he encountered. This is very typical in product liability cases; plaintiffs will cast a wide net and then, over the course of discovery, you narrow down to a list of a handful of likely suspects. My client, thankfully, was highly unlikely for reasons I won’t elaborate upon.
The morally challenging moment came when I was chatting with my boss one afternoon about scheduling depositions, discussing how Plaintiff clearly lied about XYZ because of ABC, and joking around about something unrelated when our phones both buzz at the same time. We both got an email: Plaintiff has passed, and his attorney (and family) were going to re-file as a wrongful passing case. There was a beat where we just stood there in silence before my boss gave me instructions for advising the client while he made phone calls to the other parties’ counsel.
That moment hit me hard overtime. Not because I thought my client had anything to do with the disease— I genuinely believe it didn’t. Rather, it was a combination of two things. First, it was the first time someone I actually met (at deposition, in the course of work) passed on mid-case. Second, it was the fact that—by necessity—we only had a moment to take in the Plaintiff’s passing before treating it like a litigation event to deal with.
A few months later, I left that practice area behind for business dispute litigation instead.
59. Admission of Guilt
This person I was representing was on trial for hitting a law enforcement officer and driving under the influence. The allegations are that he was screaming swears to the officers and, at one point, kicked one in the face. We’re sitting at the defendant’s table and the officer is testifying about the statements my guy made to him including some pretty horrific name-calling.
Out of nowhere, my client starts to yell and swear at the officer. We lost that trial.
60. No Knowing the Language
The client said they didn’t speak English so we had to get an interpreter. When asked questions, the client kept answering in English and the interpreter would have to stop and ask again and then answer in the language. It was a long confusing deposition to say the least. The client spoke better English than anything.
61. Consultation Therapy
During a consultation with me, a potential client kept turning the subject to how the authorities investigated cases. I foolishly asked why they wanted that information and that opened the flood gates. The person admitted that they’d killed someone. I get off the phone fast. A week later, I get notified that I’m the on-call lawyer of a minor who was suspected of murder.
When I read the file, my jaw dropped. This kid was accused of something that was pretty much identical to the one that monster from the phone call had admitted committing. One guy had done the thing, but it looked like another one was being set up to do the time. I had to get rid of the suspect as a client but couldn’t tell anyone why.
It still upsets me that I knew the truth but couldn’t say anything since the person had admitted it during a consultation.
62. All My Fingers and Toes
There was a guy who cut off all of his fingers. He clearly had some really awful mental illness, I assumed schizophrenia or psychosis, but I never really found out what his deal was. He had decided one evening that a good way to get some money would be to break into a butcher shop and use a meat saw to cut all his fingers and both thumbs off at the knuckles, which is pretty much exactly what he did.
He was found the next morning, somehow having survived. He was put in a mental health facility and made a pretty much full, albeit fingerless, recovery. He wanted to sue someone. He didn’t really know who he wanted to sue. He had just got it into his head that if he was injured, he would get compensation. I remember his biggest question was whether he would get more money if he went back and cut off his feet too.
63. Stability, Not Drama
I was working on a domestic battery case, trying to help an innocent parent who had custody of two kids. Got lots of evidence of her ex-husband showing up and screaming at my client, past history of mistreatment, corroborating testimony from family members of my client, and even more. It should have been an easy case, but we had no idea what we were in for.
The night before trial, our client gives us two years of Facebook messages. It turns out the “monster ex-husband” is focused only on getting visitation with the children, repeatedly asks to see them, sets up dates, and then my client misses the hand-off and taunts defendant about how he can’t see his kids. She’d hid it all from us. We were furious.
We negotiated a settlement that included specific visitation, and helped our client finally begin divorce proceedings. Our client wanted to use the court to avoid sharing custody out of spite, but what our client and the children needed was stability— not more drama. I thought we were representing an innocent single mom. Turns out she was a wolf in disguise.
64. Never a Bright Idea to Assume
Opposing counsel decided that I had coached my witness, gave him lines to repeat, and that he was lying. Short version is that he asked the witness if he spoke to me before he testified. Witness said he had. Attorney looked like he thought he had me. Attorney asked the witness what I told him, what instructions I gave him. Witness looked him dead in the eye and said, “First thing he told me was to tell the truth no matter what. He said the lawyer is never the one who goes away, that he isn’t going away for me, and if I lie, I’m on my own.” Attorney looked like someone took the air out of him. Everyone in the courtroom simultaneously looked at me.
Only time I’ve smirked or laughed in court. I wanted to put my feet up on the table like I was Vincent LaGuardia Gambini, hands behind my head, and say, “I’m done with this guy.”
65. Don’t Actually Hit Me
I saw a case where a bunch of 18-year old kids were drinking, got into a fight, and then of course one of them said “Hit me.” The one who said “Hit me” ended up hitting his buddy’s head. The way he landed was a freak accident and the boy actually passed on from his injuries.
66. In Other Words…
There had been a fight in a club where the accused had broken someone else’s jaw. At the trial, the accused had six friends who insisted he had been identified wrongly because he never have a beard and the victim said his attacker had one. There was just one problem with his defence strategy. All six witnesses used a very specific phrasing to the tune of, “My friend doesn’t have facial hair because he is a professional in the food industry and it would go against the regulations.”
After three of the witnesses had repeated the same exact phrasing, the judge stopped one to ask if he knew what a couple of the terms in that line meant, and the witness couldn’t explain it. The defense lawyer got busted for instructing the witnesses. She’d also gotten the defendant to reject a plea deal that exchanged prison time for a fine and community service.
67. Tell Your Lawyer Everything
I was on the losing end of this one. I represented a guy who had bought a company and the company failed spectacularly within months due to a number of reasons I could attribute to the seller. They had clearly lied about the company’s finances to induce him to buy. I was suing to rescind the deal, have your awful company back and give my guy his money back.
I laid out my huge case and thought I had it in the bag, and then opposing counsel asked my guy, “Isn’t it true that you listed this business for sale a month ago?” “Yes.” “And you did sell it correct? You signed a purchase and sale?” “Yes but he never finished paying me, he has more payments to make. I’ll just give his money back when you guys give me my money back.”
My idiot client had me suing over a company that he had legit sold. The idiot never told me. Game over on the spot.
68. Bye the By Confession
A defendant was detained for a breaking and entering. He went into a neighbor’s home, sat down, lit a smoke, and acted like he owned the place. When law enforcement came and detained him, the defendant straight up, and with no prompting, basically said, “Oh, and I got rid of my other neighbor.” They didn’t have many leads so this pretty much gave them what they needed. I don’t know how the defendant’s attorney is going to be able to defend with that confession.
69. King of the Rock
A guy found a rock in the middle of Melbourne that he believed came from an underground volcano. Therefore, in his head, this man believed that he a) discovered the volcano, b) he owned the volcano and c) that the Melbourne city council and indeed the Victorian government should pay him rent to live on top of his underground volcano. No, I did not take on the case.
70. Hush Hush
My first job was investigating an incredibly sketchy company. This one manager had basically figured out creative ways to grease people and funnel money to folks who should not have been getting it. We had to CONSTANTLY tell people they needed to change their behavior. That giving a Chalet ski trip to a Saudi government official is actually bribery, doesn’t matter if they could afford that on their own.
In the end, though, I am obligated to keep their secrets, no matter what they’ve done. That’s…not really why I went to law school.
71. It Hits the Fan
I worked at my local district attorney’s office as a prosecutor when I was freshly minted lawyer. We had a special setting trial on a case that had been reset too many times. The week before, it became clear that this particular case was going to finally be tried. I was ready at the State’s table waiting for defense counsel when he walks in and tells me he’s going to ask for a continuance.
I’m pretty sure I laughed, thinking that it was never going to happen. So the judge walks in angry that he has to sit through another continuance request. Meanwhile, I get the aroma of something foul in the courtroom and I can’t place where it’s coming from. The judge asks the defense attorney why he needs another continuance and the defense attorney pulls out his briefcase, opens it, and pulls out a ziplock bag with soiled underwear inside.
Turns out he defecated his pants that morning in court. He was an elderly attorney and was taking stool softeners. The continuance was granted, and in fact, the entire courtroom shut down for the day to allow maintenance time to clean and shampoo the seats he was sitting on. I have no idea what ended up happening in that case, I never tried it, maybe another prosecutor did, but this was one of my more memorable “I rest my case” stories that I’ve seen a lawyer pull off.
72. We Need to Talk About Kevin
I do mostly solicitor work so if I’m doing my job right I don’t get a whole lot of these type of moments. That being said, I had a long-time client who was being sued and I got to shut down the guy suing him in a very satisfying way. So my client had hired a guy, we will call Kevin, as basically the right-hand man for his company.
The employment contract wasn’t done yet, but they had an agreement that Kevin would work six weeks at a lower wage and then sign the contract and get the agreed upon wage. So the guy works decently for five weeks and then is given the contract to sign. He comes back to the owner (my client) and says that he has some small changes he would like to make.
When the owner gets the contract back he finds that the “small changes” involve removing the “Duties and Responsibilities” section (basically the job description) and the non-compete/confidentiality clause. Not only that, but he has written in a higher salary than agreed and added a bunch of new benefits for himself.
Obviously, my client tells him that he can either sign the contract as it was originally laid out or he can find himself another job. He takes the latter option. But he starts a lawsuit against the owner, wanting to be paid for the six weeks he was supposed to work (which had already been paid), two weeks in lieu of notice, and FIVE weeks vacation pay.
I got the enjoyable job of telling Kevin, in front of a judge, that he was not entitled to anything under the employment legislation and the only way he could get any of that would be if he had signed the contract. Judge dismissed the case and awarded costs to the defendant, but not before giving Kevin a lecture on wasting the court’s time.
73. It’s a Card Game, Sir
As a public defender I defended a grown man accused of stealing Magic cards from Walmart. There was an hour-long security video meticulously showing, from dozens of angles, that he was picking up sets of cards, unwrapping them and discarding the wrappers around the store. He insisted that he was innocent and we actually went to a jury trial instead of securing a plea deal.
It took the jury eight minutes to convict him and the judge laid into my client telling him that he was the worst thief he had ever seen. But here’s the best part. At one point in the trial I had to spend 45 minutes explaining to the judge what Magic cards are. He couldn’t understand why anyone need more than one deck.
74. Nothing but the Truth
I was involved in a pretty messy custody case where the other party had kept the child from my client for weeks at a time. The other side was playing lots of stupid games and kept requesting continuances. I requested a test for illicit substances, which the judge ordered. However, the ex-husband wouldn’t cooperate. He showed up, stood in front of a toilet for literally two hours, and then claimed he couldn’t pee.
I was representing the plaintiff so the burden was on me to prove that the ex-husband shouldn’t be around the kid. I called multiple witnesses that testified to the defendant’s use of illicit substances. So, opposing counsel decides to call their client for direct examination and asks, “You don’t use crack, right?” I fully expected the defendant to just lie and say he was clean.
Instead, there was a really long pause and the defendant said, “Yes, I do.” My head almost exploded. I didn’t ask any questions on cross examination because I didn’t want to muddy the waters. I won and the child is doing great.
75. Purrsonal Injury Claim
I am a personal injury lawyer in the UK. I took a call from a potential client that had fallen down the stairs in her own home. She had tripped over her own cat. She told me that she wanted to sue her local authority as her home was owned by the council and she was not allowed to keep pets as part of her lease.
She claimed that when the house was inspected, she was not told to get rid of the cat. It was therefore the council’s fault that she fell down the stairs. We didn’t take the case on.
76. Taint It Wrong
I got called for jury duty and was at the jury selection phase. Then they asked if “anyone here thinks they should not…” blah blah. The defendant was in the room. I raised my hand. The defending lawyer looked at me like “Oh this oughta be good” and asked me to explain. I suggested I tell them in private. He insisted I tell the courtroom.
I said, “Ok…I probably shouldn’t be on this jury because I was on a previous jury for this man which returned a guilty verdict.” The lawyer’s face went “Oh no.” There was a commotion and a wait while they looked up records. Yep; verified. The whole jury was now “tainted.” Everyone goes home, and they start over.
77. Scratch Resistant
I worked as a receptionist at a small personal injury firm and was the first line of defense against the more outlandish cases. One of the most ridiculous calls I took involved a woman wanting to sue her cat’s veterinarian for malpractice because her cat scratched her, which in turn supposedly caused her liver to fail and a slew of other health problems to arise. She believed the vet was at fault because she was convinced the cat was carrying some obscure disease and the vet had failed to catch it.
It was my second day on the job, so I put her through to an attorney, not yet knowing what else to do with such a ridiculous situation. She got a firm “sorry, can’t help ya” from our office, in part because we did not do malpractice, veterinary or otherwise, but also because she sounded like a one-way ticket to Crazy Town.
78. The Closet Stays Closed
I’m an immigration lawyer, so the worst I see are people trying to pass off sham marriages for green cards, or bogus asylum cases. Years ago, I was a junior attorney at a firm and handed a case with a dicey marriage. This couple was majorly mismatched. I met the husband. He was South American, tanned, soap opera star handsome, totally fit, dressed in expensive clothes and dripping with gold jewelry.
Then after I put together the paperwork, the wife came in to sign it. She’s about 15 years older than him, short, dumpy, homely. Dressed in old, frumpy clothes. She tells me that “in his culture” couples don’t kiss, and don’t make love unless they want to have children, and he’s not ready to be a father yet.
Because of his work, he mostly stays in a co-worker’s spare bedroom on the other side of the city. She gives me photos of them together as proof of their marriage. A bunch are from his most recent birthday. It’s in a club. She’s the only woman in the photos. All the other guys are shirtless. Most have glitter on their bodies. I ask a fellow attorney who is gay what he thinks. He recognizes the club as a gay bar that he’s been to. We still filed it, without the club photos, and he got his regular green card.
79. Weird Flex, But Okay
We were in mediation on a case and were close to settling, but we were just far enough apart that it looked like it wasn’t going to resolve. The mediator comes in and tells me the Vice President of the company I’d dealt with all this time, who was this like 270-pound burly guy who my associate swears resembled pro wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow, says he will arm wrestle me for the difference.
So essentially if he wins, we take his final number, if I win, he pays ours. The mediator, who is a character, says it’s crazy but I should just do it! Then my client jumps in and says he wants to see this too and he doesn’t care about the money. Now, I am 6’0 and 185 pounds, so I was going to have a severe weight disadvantage, but I have always been weirdly good at arm wrestling.
So I say, screw it, tell him it’s on if he’s serious. Mediator leaves, I put on some DMX and start bouncing around a bit to get worked up like a fighter about to enter a ring. Go into the room, we agree we are doing this, shake hands and get set up. The mediator is bouncing off the walls and we have my client and two other attorneys watching.
Mediator says “Go” and I just lock my arm and absorb this guy’s initial push, then feel his arm give slightly when he realizes he isn’t moving me and then I just go full force and had him down so fast my associate initially thought I lost. We shook hands again and went back to our caucus room, and my client was ecstatic that I not only did that for him, but I won too! The mediator came in still giddy saying it was the craziest thing he’s seen in his career as a mediator.
He then said the guy is red-faced and frantically texting because he thinks he didn’t have authority to pay that much and did not contemplate actually losing. However, sure enough and true to his word, minutes later we had the signed agreement. Then we went out for some drinks to celebrate, and within a day I became a legend in the office.
80. A Keen Eye
I was at a hearing arguing that my client was wrongfully terminated because the employer didn’t follow proper procedures. During the hearing, a witness for the employer tried to offer documents that had been altered to make it look like the proper procedure was followed. I noticed the alteration. The opposing counsel quickly got that witness out of the room and after a quick adjournment, my client got a large settlement.
81. I’m Not Even Your Lawyer
I worked at legal aid for a while. Every day was “outrageous” but here’s the story of how I got a restraining order on my first ever “client.” The very first person I ever spoke to in a law capacity was a woman who wanted to sue her contractor for $250,000 for an unfinished job and emotional distress. First, being upset at an incomplete job isn’t emotional distress. Second, the contract was only for about $100,000 and upon further questioning I learned that this contractor had actually completed all terms of the contract. This woman eventually admitted she was suing him because he was “rude and always late.”
I informed her that we would not take this case. Additionally, I warned her that a failure to pay the contract would most likely result in the contractor suing her. She found this idea ludicrous and began to yell at me in my office—first person on my first day—about how she had a right as an American that I act as her lawyer. So, I handle that, we are not helping her in this case.
Two days later, I get the most messed up call. It’s from the Contractor’s attorney stating that this woman has cited me as her attorney and threatened a hailstorm of suits upon the contractor from me. It took all of five minutes for the other attorney to realize what was going on. Heck, they even made sure to remind me of the steps I should take to protect myself from any related suits this lady might bring upon me.
About a month later, the woman comes in again, furious because the contractor sued her and was able to get a lien on the property. She said this was my fault because I didn’t help her. I manage to talk her down. She then immediately gets fired up again because “they are trying to scam her into giving them all her documents.” Turns out, trial on the matter was coming up in about a week, and they had requested photographs of allegedly unfinished work, damages, etc… as well as the original contract and payment receipts.
Basically, all stuff that is very typical and reasonable to request and that she is obligated to provide. She (and nearly every client I worked with in this capacity) thought that evidence was supposed to be a “surprise” at trial and that sharing this information would hurt her case. Of course, it would hurt her case because she is a liar.
Anyways, I end the meeting by repeating that I am not her lawyer and even make her sign a paper signifying that she understands this. She leaves. Months pass, I’m no longer at working there. Lady finds me at my school. I get a call from the freaking dean asking me to swing by. Says he just met with a disgruntled client of mine who says I cost her her home, marriage, and children (apparently things went downhill fast).
She claimed she would do everything in her power to make sure I never did anything again. Anyyyways, dean is a nice guy and helped me with my restraining order paperwork.
82. Not Your Common Crook
Without going into too many details, I had a guy that wanted to bring a class-action suit against the company that made his underwear because he was convinced his underwear was the reason he had a crooked, uh, manhood. He assured us that as soon as the jury saw his…equipment, they’d side with him. We didn’t accept his case.
83. Marriage Snapshots Fired
I had a client once who started his divorce case by representing himself before hiring me to take over. I catch up with what’s already gone down by asking my new client what he’s filed with the court. He slides an envelope across the table. I wish I’d never opened it. It’s a multitude of pictures of his wife in very revealing positions. Yes, the judge saw. And no, he wasn’t pleased.
Apparently, my client had caught his wife sending these pictures to men on the internet.
84. Incredible Gamesmanship
Two high school kids spend their day getting angry with each other so they decide to drive to a fast-food restaurant to fight. They park, get out, immediately approach, and swing. Kid A connects the first blow squarely and solidity across Kid B and instantly drops him. The whole fight was one punch with a total elapsed time of a few seconds. The restaurant is sued for failure to protect its patrons.
The case is weak. Unfortunately, Kid B hit the pavement hard and had severe brain damage. Attempts were made to settle, but they were after millions. We knew walking in they had two former employees testifying about large crowds building up after school. The plaintiff attorney aimed to prove the restaurant had a reasonable expectation of trouble and should have had armed guards in the parking lot.
At best, their witnesses wildly exaggerating to the point of perjury. Their credibility was shaky in being highly disgruntled for being fired. We had a list of witnesses ready to refute their claims. At trial, the plaintiff attorney presented first. He spent a long time building up the bad blood between the kids, the serious damages of Kid B, and his potential earning capacity.
A lot of foundation work to build sympathy for his client. We break for lunch on day two, after which it would be the defense presentation. As we were talking through where we were and how we should proceed, we realized the restaurant was not really mentioned at all. Plaintiff held back his “star” witnesses to rebut the defense presentation the restaurant was safe. So when we reconvened, we say, “The defense rests your honor.”
The plaintiff attorney fell out of his chair. He begins frantically shuffling papers on his table and was stammering. The judge says, “I take it you will need a few minutes for your close?” After that break, the plaintiff’s attorney gave one of the worst closing remarks I’ve ever heard. The jury’s verdict: Kid B 10% at fault. Kid A 90% at fault. Restaurant 0%.
85. Yeah, I Can’t Support That
A few years ago, a partner in a law firm I worked for at the time asked me to do some pro bono work for a Non-profit. Sure, I was glad to help. Upon further research I realized it was an organization that promoted conversion therapy. The founder lost his license on his county of origin and wanted to come to my country to keep this business going.
I told this to the partner, and he said “Well, it is at the end, psychological aid.” I refused to do it and he gave the assignment to someone else who also refused. He ended up doing it himself but apparently told the client not to use the name of the firm in anything.
86. Curb Appeal
I had one where I pretty much knew the jury was on my side by the end. I had prepared my closing statement the night before so I was ready to go. There was a break where the jury was out before receiving their instructions. I noticed that the opposing counsel was writing his closing statement during that break and would likely continue while the judge was reading the jury instructions.
His table was a mess of papers and books everywhere. He was frantically scribbling on a notepad and shuffling through papers, adding things up in a phone calculator, etc. I decided to clear everything off of my table and put it out of sight. When the jury came back in, I just sat there with nothing but a brand new, clean yellow pad and a pen.
Opposing counsel was still scribbling and shuffling and his table was still a mess. I sat back and crossed my legs and pressed my fingertips together and listened while the judge read the instructions to the jury. I like to think that made a good final impression on the jury. They came back with a verdict fully in my favor.
87. Berry Unsatisfied
Client wanted to sue because there were no strawberries in the fruit salad she bought from a supermarket. Thankfully a secretary was able to screen the call. She asked if the package said it had strawberries, and the response was, “no, but I thought it would have.” I don’t know how these people manage to make it through life.
88. Family Law Blues
Family law attorney here. I just had a custody case go back to court over freaking eyeglasses. My client didn’t like the glasses her ex bought the kid. So stupid. I want to go back to defense. Gang homicide cases had nicer people than family law.
89. Sound Advice
I once litigated a case against a party who chose to represent himself…and I managed to have objections sustained against every single question he asked my client on cross-examination. When the other party realized he wasn’t even going to be heard in this dispute that he had no doubt been thinking over and preparing for years, he just stood there in the well and actually wept.
Don’t try to represent yourself, kids. Lawyers’ knowledge on a lot of matters may be pretty superficial—but we know how proceedings in court go.
90. Not EscVaping
I was sitting in court doing some plea paperwork with a defense attorney when we hear this “Ksssssssstt- shhooooo” to our left. We look to see his guy sitting in the gallery all by himself, sitting in the cloud of a biggest vape hit I have ever seen. Then he has the audacity to tell the judge it “went off in his hand.”
91. Blame the Elevator
I was instructed to say that a mother had been negligent in allowing her child to play with an elevator that my clients had failed to maintain. The elevator started moving with open doors and decapitated her daughter right in front of her eyes. I don’t work for insurance companies much these days.
92. Major Facepalm
My mom is a lawyer and was representing a black woman who was accused of stealing. My mother is also black and this is how it went down. Plaintiff’s lawyer: “Please point out the accused.” The officer points at my mom. My mom says: “I’m the lawyer, officer.” The judge dismisses the case.
93. Seeing is Believing
I’m an attorney in Southern California. My client was charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance. Officer is going through the usual signs and symptoms. Cop testifies that both of client’s eyes were red and bloodshot. Testifies that both pupils were dilated and moved slightly to exposure of light. In my opening, I had hinted that the officer will testify to some falsehoods.
The client gets up on the stand and pops one of his eyes out. My client had a fake eye that could obviously not be bloodshot or have pupil dilation. He was found not guilty.
94. What are the Odds
When I was around 16, I worked as a test shopper, so I’d end up in court sometimes to testify that someone had sold me smokes. There was one time where a man was claiming he had sold me cigarettes because the compliance officers never tried to properly train him as a store owner. The officers told him they tried to call him several times, and he was being incredibly difficult to get a hold of. The officers even had a ridiculous amount of notes that described all the times they tried to contact him.
When they pointed out all this to him, his defense turned into, “I don’t own a phone, so it was up to them to try something else to train me.” With absolutely perfect timing, his phone started audibly ringing in his pocket—the second he finished saying he didn’t own one. Our side’s lawyer is now a judge, and she still says that was one of the most perfectly timed things that’s ever happened to her
95. An Elderly Spat
Lawyer in a small town here. I mostly do estate planning, probate, old people stuff, etc. I have a client who sued his ex-wife for not selling the house after the divorce like she was supposed to. Judge held her in contempt, and asked what he wanted my client to do, and he had her thrown in prison. But here’s the craziest part: They are both nearly 80 years old.
96. Remember, Remember the Fifth of May
It was a lawsuit against the owner of a Mexican restaurant for not paying his employees and keeping the waiters’ tips. He was just a terrible all-around guy. He created these fake handwritten schedules and payroll records going back years to try and prove that his employees didn’t work but a few hours each week and were paid for what they did work. It was difficult to prove they were fakes, but we managed to trap him during his deposition.
I made the guy go through random bits of his work schedule and asked him to confirm they were correct. We did a random week in February, March, April…then we got to May. “So here in early May, you had two servers working every night, one hostess, one bartender, and two cooks?” “Yes.” “And that didn’t fluctuate. You didn’t have a need for extra staff on, say, weekend nights?”
“No. It was very steady no matter the day.” “What about on this Wednesday? How much staff did you need?” “Just the two servers, my hostess, the bartender, and two cooks. The same as every other night.” “And if you would indulge me, what date are we looking at?” “May 5th.” “Okay. So it’s your testimony under oath that you had the same staffing needs on May the 5th as you did on May 4th and May 6th.” “Yeah.”
Opposing counsel’s head begins to hang while shaking. “So you are comfortable telling the judge you didn’t do extra business on May 5th.” “Yeah. Or June 17th or whatever date you pick. It was always steady.” “You have no problem walking into court and telling the judge and the jury, under oath, that your Mexican restaurant didn’t need any extra help on May 5th. That these schedules and payroll records you’ve produced are 100% accurate. For Cinco de Mayo? You are totally comfortable with doing that?”
“Yeah, I… Oh.” The case settled within a week.
97. Gaming the System
My friend worked for a major video game publisher and when people tried to sue them for small amounts due to some game being bad, they would just pay whatever the person wanted. It was cheaper than dealing with the country’s terrible justice system. Until the day everything changed…
One guy sued them because a game was bad, but unlike the rest of the complainers, this one was a law student. He represented himself and tried to throw the book at the company. They decided to make an exception for this guy. They instead ‘threw the book’ back at him. The lawsuit kept escalating until both sides wasted lots of time and money.
Then as the final move, they offered to settle in front of a judge. There in front of the judge they put the price of the game on the table in cash and told the guy to just take it and stop bothering them. The judge thought it was very fair, and told the guy that if he refused that settlement he would be fined. He was very unhappy. He spent like $5000 in bureaucracy and airplane fares to get $60.
98. The Hot Water Incident
I work as a secretary and the one thing that annoys me is people who come to us because they want to sue a company for the money for a tiny reason. For instance, this one lady is suing a hot water bottle company because hers exploded in a pretty fishy “accident” and burned her legs. After that, she lost her job and gained weight and is suing for damages and losses and “mental health issues” because of that accident.
That was clearly not because of the hot water bottle accident. Her case is going for years now and I’m sick of her file on my desk.
99. Sign of Implication
When I was in law school, I did the defense clinic where we “help” a public defender, aka do small cases by ourselves. I had a guy accused of shoplifting a yellow FUBU shirt. Guess what he wore to the trial? A freaking yellow FUBU shirt. I asked the prosecutor to re-offer the plea deal. Thank god, she did, and I convinced the guy to take community service and probation.
100. A Tough Look For My Guy
I was in traffic court one time and saw a lawyer straight-up burn a cop with his own words. The cop had previously testified that the weather on the night of the traffic stop was heavy rain and winds so strong that the defendant could only open his window three inches, and that the car had stopped on an area with very little shoulder, forcing the cop to approach from the passenger side, not the driver side. The cop had then testified that he smelled a strong smell of drinks on the defendant’s breath.
When the defense lawyer got up, he repeated what the cop had said almost verbatim and asked how he could have possibly smelled alcohol on the breath of someone on the other side of the car, through a three inch crack in the window, on a night with pouring rain and strong winds. The cop sort of opened and shut his mouth a few times, squirmed around in his seat, and said, “That’s just what I always write in my log, to remind me that it was a driving under the influence stop.”
The judge threw the case out. No motion to dismiss needed. Then he took a break and called the traffic prosecutor and the cop into his office. I’m guessing it wasn’t for a nice spot of tea and some scones.
101. Not Sure What We’re Fighting About
My mother-in-law was so crazy that my wife and I had been forced to cut her off almost completely. Every once in a while, my wife would give in and let her mom visit, which always turned out badly. Eventually we broke up and got divorced and I got full custody of the kids. MIL went nuts and decided to sue me for custody. I looked over the law and for any form of visitation or custody you need to have had contact in the last 6 months and she hadn’t seen them for over a year.
So, we go to court. I can’t afford a lawyer but the law was pretty clear. She goes through three lawyers, each of them quits in turn. So, she finally winds up representing herself. During the last hearing she was talking to the judge and said something to the effect of “I don’t want to get custody of them, I just want to be able to visit.” The judge then asked her point blank, “This is a custody hearing. Are you telling me you no longer want to get custody?” She said yes and the judge dismissed the case immediately.
102. Don’t Stop Believing
My dad is out of state on business driving through some no-name town when he goes through an intersection. Suddenly, a cop pulls him over and tickets him-stating that he ran a stop sign. My dad insisted that there was not any stop sign, but the cop did not listen. Angry, he went back to the intersection and saw that there was indeed a stop sign hidden behind a tree and twisted in the wrong direction!
Even angrier, he went into a convenience store and bought a disposable camera. The clerk laughed because he saw what happened and knew what was up. Luckily, my dad had to be back there in a few weeks for work. The cop assumed that someone with out of state plates would just pay the ticket, and was shocked when my dad turned up in court, calmly presented his evidence to the judge, and strolled out in five minutes scot-free.
103. Women’s Intuition
Before trial, I was trying to convince my client to give his ex-wife $200 in child support while he was looking for a job. There was just one problem, though: It turns out my client already had a job…but he had requested his bosses to pay him under the table, so that he wouldn’t have to pay any child support. I tried to explain that if we go into the courtroom with a pre-arranged agreement between my client and his ex-wife, my client would get a way better deal than if he makes excuses and says he can’t pay anything at all. If he tries that, the judge will probably make him pay much more than $200/month.
Even so, my client kept saying he couldn’t pay that much because he was jobless and poor-even though he wasn’t. After fighting with him about how the judge won’t care about this and how he should be a decent parent and take care of his kids, he said to me, “I should have gotten a male lawyer, women just don’t get it.” My jaw dropped, and then I told him exactly what I thought of him.
Since I was defending this idiot for free, I told him that he was trash and said he could use the 20 minutes until his hearing started to look for another lawyer.
104. A Crucial Clerical Error
I was in an accident a few years ago. It was definitely the other guy’s fault. He got a ticket for an unsafe left turn, and I got a ticket because I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt. In the section on the ticket, the cop inadvertently wrote, “Did wear seatbelt while operating motor vehicle.” When I got to court, the judge asked how I wanted to plead.
I asked the judge if I could ask a question first, and he said sure. I stated, “The ticket says I did wear my seatbelt while operating my motor vehicle, and if that’s the case, I want to plead guilty.” The judge looks down at the ticket, and looks back at me and says, “Case dismissed! Have a good day.”
105. Just Doesn’t Get It
When I was about to start college back in the 90s, I took a receptionist job in a defense firm. I would answer the phones until 1pm and then tag along with one of the lawyers and watch them do their jobs in court. Everyone was very nice and did me a huge favor because the experience taught me that being a lawyer wasn’t for me. One particular case always stands out. It was so horrible.
There was shooting and a crowd gathered around the body. A detective was asking people if they’d seen anything. Our defendant said ‘yes!’ when he hadn’t seen much, but he just wanted to help. He was a simple-minded person, but never formally diagnosed with anything. When I met him, it was clear that he was a sweet person who really liked people but was dealing with a low IQ and some reasoning issues.
The detective separated our defendant from the crowd and started questioning him. After a few minutes it was clear that the defendant was just giving answers that he thought the detective would want to hear. He really wanted to make the detective happy. Instead of just dismissing the guy, the detective apprehended him for giving false information.
He had a few minor thefts on his record (again he had issues), so he was looking at serious prison time because he talked to the authorities. He had no diagnosis or health records to back up any claim of mental deficiencies and anything resembling that would cost money he didn’t have. He lived with a relative who was equally broke.
His lawyer was contemplating a guilty plea because he’d lied directly to a law officer and admitted it. I left before the case got resolved, but it’s the one I still think about. This guy was harmless and was likely going to spend time in prison, where the outcome would likely have been very bad for him. The thing that stuck with me was how unnecessary it all was. It was suffering for literally no purpose. Putting him in prison was not going to magically give that guy better cognitive skills other than making him distrust people.
106. Motion Denied
I’ve been practicing law in the same venue for many years with the same judges and attorneys. New hotshot attorney out of law school is opposing counsel. It’s a really serious case. My client was not responsible, but opposing counsel would not listen to reason. On the eve of trial, my client is willing to offer a decent amount to settle the case.
I call the attorney and encourage her to take it. I told her that if she didn’t accept, when we went to trial the next day I was going to have all her evidence thrown out and strike her witnesses. She thought I was bluffing. I assured her I was not. I told her to call any attorney in the area and ask them if I was a straight shooter.
She basically told me to shut up and that she’d see me at the trial. Big mistake. Huge. Sure enough, the judge excludes her documentary evidence—all hearsay—and strikes her witnesses. She has zero evidence when the judge is through with her. Her client was in tears. I think she got sued for malpractice. She wasn’t at that firm long after that debacle. But I told her it would happen.