Some people should really learn that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law. From shocking confessions on the stand to some of the worst defenses we’ve ever heard, these clients gave their lawyers a little TOO much to work with. Put on your judging robes for these stunning courtroom moments, courtesy of Reddit.
1. Not So Fast, Buddy
I was in traffic court, and the first guy to go before the judge got pulled over for driving at some crazy speed, like 225 KM (140 MPH). To my surprise, the judge essentially told the guy that he would drop the ticket fee and the points on his record if the guy would admit to the court that his speeding was a mistake and that he wouldn’t ever do it again.
The guy managed to give the stupidest reply ever: “Well, I drive that fast all the time. So, I’m really good at it, and I don’t think it was dangerous at all because of how good of a driver I am.” All the guy had to do was say he was sorry and he would have walked out totally free. Instead, he got a $2,500 fine and two points on his record.
The worst defense I ever saw in court occurred when my ex-wife tried to take my son away from me. Just a year before, I’d won full custody over him due to the conditions of mistreatment he’d suffered under her household. While she didn’t conduct any of the mistreatment herself, she knew of it and did nothing, thereby choosing her then-partner over our son’s welfare.
However, after that year was up, she was still allowed visitation rights. So, she decided to take my son for the summer and then refused to give him back under this delusion that my custody was only good for a year. Now, I’d previously gone easy on her in court, but only because in the middle of our first court battle, she gave up because she didn’t want all the terrible things about her to get out publicly.
But this time, in my attempt to save my son from what should have been treated as a kidnapping case, I pulled no punches. I spoke openly about how she was unfit as a mother and an unstable person, as well as her history of suicidal and self-destructive behaviors, such as self-mutilation (which my son picked up on and thankfully through therapy no longer partakes in).
I also spoke about how she used to threaten to take our son’s life when we were together and about how she never put him first, even when he was being mistreated, which was what led to my getting custody of him in the first place (she originally had full custody of our son). Anyhow, when the judge asked her about these behaviors, she just screamed out in the middle of the courtroom, “I don’t want to hurt anybody. I just want to take my own life!”
The entire courtroom went into shock and fell silent for a moment. Her lawyer just kind of slumped down, and that certainly was the nail in the coffin for her case. I didn’t even have a lawyer at the time, and I thought I was so screwed despite being the obviously more stable parent. When the judge ruled in my favor, he cited my ex-wife’s erratic behavior in court as one of the reasons.
If anyone is wondering how my son is doing, he is doing great. He went from living with her and constantly missing school, getting poor grades, and being frightened and mistreated all the time to a loving household where he is now a perfect A-student who hasn’t missed a single day of school in over two years.
He’s happy and is a wonderful kid who I admire because I really don’t know if I could have done as well as he has if our roles were reversed.
3. I’m A Guilty Flight Risk, Your Honor
Although I was in the public gallery for this while studying law, I was not the lawyer. This happened in the Leeds Crown Court back in the early 90s. A 75-year-old foreign (yes, this IS important) man was facing a preliminary hearing relating to charges that he had inappropriately touched a 13-year-old relative. His barrister made a successful plea for bail based upon this man’s being an established pillar of the immigrant community.
The judge asked the old man if he had anything to say before he was given bail until his next hearing in a month. Inexplicably, the man then chose to defend his actions by saying, “She was wearing very, very tight shorts, and I should not be held responsible because no real man could resist seeing something like that.”
The judge quickly reminded him this was a preliminary hearing, not a trial, so he should wait until the trial to argue his case—especially when making statements that are far from exculpatory and are better suited to mitigation. What the man said next shocked everybody: “I cannot reappear in a month because I am flying back to my home country tomorrow, and I will not be coming back.” WHAT?
The barrister appeared to be just as surprised as the rest of us. The judge immediately ordered the defendant’s passport seized, and he got remanded into custody until his trial.
4. You Can Fix A Ticket, But You Can’t Fix Stupid
This happened while I was working as a medical assistant. One of our diabetic patients got a speeding ticket while his blood glucose was low, and he seemed to be under the impression that this would be an iron-clad excuse to get him out of it. So, he called our office one day, and I answered, “Dr. X’s office. [My name] speaking. How may I help you?”
The patient said, “Hello. I need the doctor to write a letter for me.” I responded, “I can definitely help with that (we do this frequently, usually for a jury duty excuse or a note stating they need to bring their medications with them when they travel, etc.). What is the letter for?” The patient answered, “I got a speeding ticket last weekend, and I’m going to contest it. I need a letter from the doctor stating that I have diabetes and that it impairs my ability to drive, so it wasn’t my fault I was speeding.”
I sat there in stunned silence. Finally, I responded, “…Let me run through this with you, just so I’m clear what you’re asking for.” “Okay,” the patient replied. I reiterated, “You want a letter stating you have diabetes?” The patient responded, “Yes.” I then confirmed, “And you want it to say your diabetes impairs your ability to drive?”
Again, the patient replied, “Yes.” I then asked him, “And you believe telling the judge that your diabetes impairs your ability to drive will get him to throw out the ticket?” Once again, the patient answered, “Yes.” Whew, boy. So I said, “…I don’t think that’s a good idea, sir.” Indignant, the patient responded, “What? Why!?”
I then explained, “Even if they agree with your argument and toss out the ticket, which I doubt they will, if you tell them that you have a medical condition that impairs your driving ability, I’m pretty sure they’ll take your license away.” But the patient disagreed: “No, no. See, I’m only impaired when my blood sugar is low.” Me: “Right, but…”
This went on for a few minutes before I eventually told him that I’d ask the doctor to see what he thought. Unsurprisingly, the doctor agreed with me and said the patient would lose his license if he did that. So, we didn’t write the letter in the end, but the patient still brought this argument to traffic court, regardless. The patient is now driven to all his appointments by his family members.
5. Asking For Trouble
I was a paralegal for a district attorney’s office for several years. I’ve seen a lot of very dumb offenders in court. Most of the time, I volunteer to go take notes because I can get a good laugh once in a while. This happened during in-custody arraignments on a Saturday morning, so it was mostly boozehounds that did something stupid while partying on a Friday night; young guys and gals in jumpsuits looking scared.
The judge that morning had a pretty easy-going nature and would ask each defendant a few questions, usually along the lines of, “What’s your name? It says here you committed [blank offense]…Tell me what you do for a living and how you’re going to better yourself, so you don’t commit [offense] anymore, and I’ll let you go home [until later arraignment date].”
ALL of the answers were scared responses from these kids, like, “I live at home with my mom… I’m a banker, so I get a paycheck. I promise I’ll never drink again, so I won’t commit [offense] anymore!” Then they’d get dismissed or set up for their next court date, but they got to go home regardless…Except for this one guy. This guy blew up his whole case.
To give you a mental picture here, imagine a 30ish-year-old male with no hair, a big long blonde beard, and facial tattoos so you could barely tell that he was white. He walked up to the podium, and before even being asked any questions from the judge, he said, “My name is [Jerk], I live [at his address], and I make no promises I’m not going to commit this offense again.” Umm…
So, his first statement was basically a confession—way to go. The judge blinked a couple of times, then said, “…Okay. And what do you do for a living, [Jerk]? How do you make money?” [Jerk] responds, “Well judge, no offense or nothin’, but that’s none of your business, so don’t ask.” The judge just gave a big smile back at him and said, “Great! You’re in contempt, soo…See you tomorrow! Maybe you’ll have some better answers for me then.” Then the guards just wrapped [Jerk] right back up and took him back to holding. It was wonderful.
6. A Series Of Unfortunate Events
I had a case that, at first, looked like a standard unemployment deal. My client was a dock worker, made pretty good money, but hadn’t worked for six months and was about to lose his house. I asked for his story, and couldn’t believe what I heard. He told me this path to unemployment and where he was now started 20 years ago.
At the time, his older son was in the army deployed at a base in Korea, while his younger son was at a high school party in their town. Apparently, his younger son got into it with another kid over a girl, and the kid grabbed a barbecue fork and pierced his son in the neck. The nightmare only got more horrific. He bled out before an ambulance could arrive and lost his life.
After that, nothing was the same. The older son was devastated because he wasn’t there to protect his brother, and he and his wife ended up divorcing over the grief. Eventually, his older son returned and made a life for himself. He had a couple of kids, and it all seemed good. However, six months prior, he just walked into his garage and offed himself.
He left a note that he couldn’t live with not having been there for his baby brother, even after all those years. So my client went into a depressive state, stopped working, and stopped paying bills. He just couldn’t deal with the grief and destruction of his family that emanated from that one rather random event. What pulled him out of almost ending his own life was that the guy who slayed the younger son came up for parole.
He went and spoke against him getting out and then realized he had to live for his grandkids. I still think about that client regularly.
7. Stop: Slammer Time
I saw this go down in court while waiting for my traffic ticket. The judge said to the defendant, “So, you were seen pulling a stop sign out of the ground and throwing it in the river,” and the accused answered, “Yes, sir.” The judge then asked him, “Were you intoxicated?” The accused replied, “No, sir.” The judge then insisted to the defendant, “The ticket says you were intoxicated,” to which the accused again answered, “No, sir.”
Suddenly, the judge got an idea. He said, “Okay, let’s say I believe you. I will throw out this drunken disorderly charge,” and the accused replied, “Thank you, sir.” But the judge wasn’t finished talking yet: “But, I will have to charge you with the destruction of government property and endangering the public. That comes with at least a year in prison. So, I’ll ask one more time: Were you intoxicated?” Oh, snap.
The accused changed defense tactics super fast: “Yes, sir. Very intoxicated, sir.”
8. You’re Fired!
I was a newly-minted attorney who couldn’t find work and took anything that came to me. I represented a mother in a custody battle. The dad lived with his father, the child’s grandfather, who had been convicted TWICE of violently harming the grandchildren. My client absolutely forbade me from bringing the grandfather’s convictions before the judge.
She said that he made “some mistakes,” and while she wanted full custody, of course, she felt terrible that the grandfather’s “past mistakes” might be used against him in the future. I was having none of that. I brought it up to the judge anyway. My client fired me on the spot during oral arguments and ended up suing me. It was a mess, but I would do it again.
9. A Not So Smooth Move
I’m a law student, and this is my former professor’s story. A defendant got busted for possession of narcotics; they were in the pocket of his leather jacket. He argued the search was unlawful because, with his buttery smooth leather jacket, there was no way the officer could have felt the drugs in his pocket during a pat-down. Therefore, the officer should never have reached into his pocket to find the drugs in the first place.
The judge then asked if the jacket in question was the same one the defendant was currently wearing in court—it was. Curious, the judge asked to feel the jacket pockets for himself, so the defendant handed his jacket over to the bailiff. The judge couldn’t believe what he found. There were more drugs in the guy’s pocket. Needless to say, it didn’t go over very well for the defendant.
10. No One Saw This One Coming
We were defending a doctor who made a mistake. One of his patients was suffering from an eye condition that required a unique recovery. After surgery, the patient had to lie face down for the entirety of their day to prevent further eye damage. It had something to do with eye pressure and a gas buildup near the back of the eye. This is where it gets ridiculous.
As it turned out, the patient had decided he was going to go on a plane, but just keep his eyes down the whole flight. The doctor we were defending didn’t tell the patient that they couldn’t fly during the recovery. So, the patient got on a plane. When they took off, everything was OK. However, during the descent, which people with ear problems can attest, the rapid change in pressure messed up this patient’s condition.
They went completely blind in both eyes due to the descent of the plane. Unbelievably, we lost the case and the doctor had to pay up.
11. She Got Smoked
A friend of mine once got a ticket for leaving her car standing in the marked-off no parking zone in front of a grocery store, which she thought was outrageous because she was just running in to get a pack of smokes. Then she saw how much the ticket was for, something like $120, which she thought was just ridiculous because, dang it, she was just running in for a pack of smokes. I mean, come on, how is that worth $120?
Her plan was to go to court to contest the ticket and point out to the judge how ridiculous that amount was. She intended to offer to compromise at, say, $40 because, for Pete’s sake, she was just running in for a pack of smokes, so let’s be reasonable here. Yes, her plan was to haggle with the judge over how much the ticket should be worth. But it was even more stupid than that.
So she went to court and sat there for most of the day, waiting for her case to be called. Eventually, she got bored and went outside to grab a smoke and hang out. But while she was out, her case got called. She missed the whole thing. She didn’t get to try the whole, “Come on, $120? For that? I’ll give you $40, and even that’s outrageous,” defense on the judge.
Not only did she get hit for the full value of the ticket, but she also had to pay court costs.
12. Who Dunnit?
There was a case where a mother sold the family farm out from under her son, who was supposed to inherit it. The consequences were brutal. In retaliation, someone in the family tried to off her. There were so many suspects that almost every lawyer in the county was assigned to defend one of them. Forensics eventually narrowed it down to two suspects.
Each adamantly pointed to the other as pulling the trigger, to the point where it was going to be hard to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt of either one’s guilt. They both pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and served two years.
13. Bad Case Of The Smuggler’s Blues
I’m an immigration lawyer who does mostly VAWA (Violence Against Women’s Act) and asylum cases, but I handle other stuff on occasion as well. I had a prospective client come in who was interested in pursuing a relatively straightforward application. He told me that he might have a history that could affect his immigration. I had no idea what I was getting into.
He said that it was only one arrest a while back, and it wasn’t serious. I said, “OK,” as nobody’s perfect, and these things happen. A single arrest is generally not a deal-breaker. As I was talking with him, I decided to Google his pretty unique name. A news article came up, from his country, in his language. It’s dated the same year that he said.
I asked him, “What kind of offense did you say it was?” He said, “Oh, I think it was drug-related.” I figured, alright, marijuana arrest or something—nothing we can’t overcome. I clicked through to the article. The photo in the paper looked a lot like my prospective client. It turned out, my prospective client’s arrest was not for marijuana at all. It was for blow. And not a little.
This guy was caught attempting to smuggle numerous pallets of blow. I must have looked a little bug-eyed because the guy gave me a sort of sheepish look and a shrug. I told the prospective client that maybe we should start by filing a few FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests to see what comes up, and we would go from there.
He agreed. Suffice it to say, getting caught smuggling multiple pallets of hard substances is not a small-time arrest.
14. Okay, Let’s Get Real
I was a juror for a case against a woman charged with selling a stolen revolver to a pawnbroker and possession of a revolver by a convicted felon. She took the stand and admitted to finding the revolver at a friend’s house and taking it to the pawnbroker. Her attorney’s entire closing argument was that the state failed to prove that it was a revolver, and the charges should be dropped.
Never mind the fact that the defendant admitted to it being a revolver, the guy that owned it said it was his revolver, and we had the dang revolver right there in front of us. Still, the defense said it was not a revolver because the state had not fired it to prove it was a revolver. Oye. There was no way that defense would work, right?
But, of course, as soon as we got back to the room to deliberate, one of the other jurors said he was not convinced it was a real revolver. I wanted to scream. Seriously, we had the revolver in a clear plastic box in the jury room with us. We even had a bailiff come in at one point to take it out and pull the slide back since we were not allowed to handle it ourselves.
The juror was still unconvinced. That was a really long day.
15. Great Balls Of Fire
I investigated and prosecuted many arson cases, so I generally worked a lot of fire proceedings. One time, the crews rolled up on a garage fire. They were met with a horrific sight. The home’s resident was holding a blood-soaked towel to his crotch. The medics got him stable and transported him. Later, he told us that a “voice” told him to eat a whole box of saltine crackers without drinking any water, and he was like, ok, and did that.
Then the voice told him to eat the newspaper, and he was like check. Then the voice told him to cut off his testicles with a can opener, and he was like, yep. Then the voice said, set the van on fire in the garage, and he was like, you got it. He did all those things in that order, and there were photos of the scene with his junk right there on the garage floor. We got him into mental health court, and he did pretty well.
16. Was This A Dumb Defense, Or A Genius Defense?
My grandpa was a public defender, and this was a defense he used for one of his clients, who was accused of attempting to break into a car. Here’s how it happened: Man #1 was sitting in his house. He looked out the window and saw Man #2 next to a car parked in the street. Man #2 was out there fiddling with the car door for like 10 minutes, and Man #1 realized Man#2 was trying to break into the car, so he called for help.
Man #2 ran away, which caused Man #3 to get picked up nearby because he matched the description of Man #2. So, my grandpa met with Man#3 (his client) and told him what he was accused of doing. His client then asked, “Wait, what kind of car was it?” When my grandpa told him, the client got a devious grin on his face: “I can prove that it wasn’t me.”
Grandpa: “How?” Client: “You said the guy was out there for 10 minutes? I can break into that car in less than 20 seconds.” Grandpa: “Prove it.” So, he found one of whatever kind of car it was, and the client proceeded to pick the lock in 12 seconds. My grandpa then brought the judge outside, and the client did it again for the judge. After making the client do it one more time to be absolutely certain, the judge then dismissed the case.
17. Good Riddance To This One
I usually defend defective construction and personal injury matters. However, early in my career, we had a case involving a husband and wife who ran a foster home, and one kid was alleging the husband had molested them. I was assigned to defend only the wife under their homeowner’s insurance policy. The allegations against the husband were terrible, but the wife had no idea what was going on. But the details were even more heartbreaking.
This poor woman, a former foster child, was trying to give back and help other foster children in the system, and now she found out her husband was a true monster. It was so cruel and unusual, and we just wanted to get her out of the case. Until it all took an even darker turn. When we got more documents, we learned this wasn’t the first child to make allegations.
The dad had been doing this for years, and she knew it. Maybe she was involved, maybe she just ignored it; either way, the whole thing turned ugly. I instantly wanted nothing to do with it. A few weeks later, my boss came in and said he gave the case back to the insurance carrier. It was the only case I’ve ever felt morally opposed to handling.
18. Dude, Where’s My Weed?
I went to a preliminary hearing once for a 16-year-old getting hit with a murder charge. Basically, the 16-year-old, who looked like he was 30, was getting charged as an adult for attempting to buy quite a bit of pot off of some drug dealer. The dealer tried to rip him off by stuffing the package with cereal instead of the actual pot.
When the kid opened the box during the exchange, he saw that he was getting burned and fired at the dealer. The kid fled to his half-brother’s house until law enforcement found him. Officers interrogated him, and he confessed to everything. The court threw out the officer’s interrogation as evidence because minors have to have a parent or legal guardian present when getting questioned.
The kid didn’t have an official guardian. Nobody knew where his father was, and his mother lived in another state 400 miles away. The kid had been living with his half-brother in a house with about seven other people for the few months prior to the incident.
19. Double-Header Doom
There was a case where a guy had gotten into an argument with another guy at a recreational baseball game. After the game was over, the one guy left and went home. The other guy stayed at the baseball field with his son. About 30 minutes to an hour later, they were still at the baseball field, and the other guy came back. Then the chaos began.
He had a baseball bat and walked straight towards the dad at the pitching mound. He started hitting him over the head with the bat until he became unrecognizable. The kid froze in terror while this guy took his dad’s life. He then walked over to the kid and did the same thing to him. The guy was sentenced to life behind bars.
20. Clearly, You’re Just Reading Too Much Into It
In a recent trial, we were reading to the other side’s witness (male, married, heterosexual) a document in which he said, “I’m a genie [(he misspelled ‘genius’)]. I’ve managed to double penetrate [John] and get him to agree to this stupid proposal.” We asked him, “You were happy because you had deceived [John] into agreeing to this proposal, and you know you had ‘had one over’ him and sold him a bad deal, correct?”
The guy replied, “No. What I actually meant in that email was that I had sold [John] a very good proposal, one that I would accept myself, and I was so ecstatic that I wanted to sleep with him to celebrate.” This was actually brilliant for me. Aside from the fact that this response was clear perjury, I loved it because it allowed me to turn around and give a long, long stare at his wife, who was sitting at the back of the courtroom.
She became so red I wondered whether she might explode. The man was boasting about having deceived our client in his emails, but he came up with a number of fantastic explanations as to why we all misunderstood his messages. For example, in other emails, he called our clients idiots and fools and said that he could probably get them to erect statues to worship him, which he later explained away by saying he was a big fan of Michelangelo’s “David” and always wanted a statue of himself.
The judge ended up throwing out his testimony as deceitful and untrustworthy and referred him to the CPS for contempt of court (perjury under oath). This was in the UK.
21. A Nasty Piece Of Work
I once witnessed a domestic harm case. The couple was in their late 70s or early 80s, and the husband was the accused. When asked if he did indeed hurt his wife, the husband’s response was absurd. He started complaining that some 40-odd years ago, the wife pretended to be ill, and (horror of horrors) he had to do the laundry all by himself. It was as if he expected the judge to just go, “Oh, okay. I guess that’s cool then.” Crazy.
22. Trial And Error
Several years ago, I was doing a civil trial (personal injury), defending a woman who (allegedly) hit a bus matron with her car. We had offered to concede liability and just try damages. In other words, the jury wouldn’t hear the circumstances of how the injury happened, just that we agreed my client caused the injury. The jury would therefore only be deciding the amount for the damages, and we had evidence that the plaintiff was significantly exaggerating her injuries.
But the plaintiff’s attorney refused to agree to our concession, thinking that if the jury heard the circumstances, they’d want to give even more money to punish my client. So, we went to trial on liability. The plaintiff called one witness, her client, who testified that an older woman in a green car hit her. Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea. They rested…and I moved for a dismissal for failure to prove a case.
There was literally no evidence connecting my client to this incident—just an older woman in a green car. The plaintiff never bothered to call my client to the stand. The attorney told the judge that the bus driver had written down my client’s license plate and given it to law enforcement. They never bothered trying to find the bus driver.
So, the attorney asked if she could just put the accident report in, and I objected that it was hearsay. Then, the attorney actually said, “Please just let me put this in, I haven’t had work in a while, and I got retained by a firm to try this case. I really need to win this.” Of course, I didn’t agree, and the judge dismissed the case. I felt a little bad for her, but that was maybe the worst presentation of a case I ever saw.
I spoke with the jury afterward, and they all said they hated the plaintiff, didn’t believe a word she said, and likely would have found in my favor anyway. The moral of the story: BE PREPARED IN COURT.
23. No Response Is Never Good
An Air Force couple had a son. They got divorced. The mother took the son with her to her duty station in Japan and remarried a civilian employee there. The dad was deployed and then moved stations. He kept bugging the mother about when he could see the son. At some point, she just stopped responding. A few months later, the dad filed a report with her command requesting they make her communicate with him.
The dad got a call from an Office of Special Investigations (OSI) agent who he knew. The agent asked him for his son’s full name and date of birth. The dad gave it to him, and the agent said, “Look, I didn’t tell you this, but you need to call OSI on her base and find out what happened.” The truth was so much more than the guy could possibly handle.
The mom had gone to the field one day, and the eight-year-old son had been bugging the new stepdad while he was gaming. The stepdad got mad and beat the kid with a piece of the banister from the stair he was working on. Two days later, the mom came back from the field and found the son unconscious, still on the floor.
Because the stepdad’s last home of record was in Maryland, he was tried in federal court in Baltimore. The ER doc who treated the son took the stand and talked about seeing the internal crush injuries, and the coroner spoke about how hard you would have to hit an eight-year-old on the front to cause such bruising on his back. It was heartbreaking.
24. He Was Hooked On Phonics
I was a law clerk working with the prosecutor’s office. This guy was caught on the highest quality security camera video I’d ever seen. He knifed a store clerk like 15 times (she survived), and not five minutes later, he was tackled a block away from the scene by a man who had followed him after seeing him flee. He was only 25 feet away from the knife, and the blood-covered jacket he’d been wearing still had the store receipt with his name on it in the pocket.
It was the literal definition of a slam dunk case. Moreover, after his attorney’s house was broken into and all his files were stolen, the guy chose to proceed to trial without his lawyer instead of just having the case postponed. Anyway, this guy’s main argument was that it couldn’t have been him because, in the officer’s statement, they misspelled his highly unique last name by adding a “T” in the middle (e.g., Johnson became Johnston).
He spelled his name out at every opportunity with much emphasis. He also argued it couldn’t be him because the man in the video tied a t-shirt around his head so that the distinctive tattoos there would be hidden…But, of course, he would never cover over his own tattoos like that because he was proud of them, and they represented his heritage as a Korean man.
Needless to say, the jury took less than a half-hour to return a guilty verdict.
25. From Bars To A Ball And Chain
I’m a lawyer, and the most ridiculous argument I’ve ever heard was the one that I actually made! One of my clients got busted cooking crank. This was a very clear-cut case; they actually caught him in the middle of a cook. There was no way that he was getting out of this one. Even worse, he was cooking at home, and his children were there.
Yep, the DA loaded him up with felonies, there was no bail, and he was being held in the county prison. My client knew he was screwed. Before he got caught, he’d been planning to get married in a few weeks, so he asked me if he could get released for 24 hours so he could still get married. I told him I’d ask but that there’s no way in freaking heck they’d let him out.
First, I asked the DA if they would allow it. Nope: They laughed. So, I filed a motion with the court. Now, I knew the judge loved to rule on drug offenses, but I also knew that he was a crusty old conservative “family values” kind of guy. I knew just what I had to do. There was no law involved, but I put together an argument about the sanctity of marriage and how the state should encourage marriage at all times—that sort of thing.
We held a hearing, and I made my argument. The DA was totally opposed and called it ridiculous. Surprisingly, the judge granted it. The judge actually decided to allow my client 24 hours to get married. He had to surrender at the county prison at 8 AM the next day, along with some other conditions, but still…he was allowed out.
Everyone was stunned; nobody could believe it. The day of the wedding came, and my client was released. He got married, and then he went straight back to prison. Everything went exactly like how it was supposed to—which was also pretty shocking.
26. You Got The Wrong Guy
While I was working in the public defender’s office, we had a pretty good case. Two guys walked into a store, and one of them was packing a revolver. They shoved around the old store clerk and got him to open up the registers. After looting all the cash, the robbers walked out of the store and to their car. But karma was about to get them. The store clerk, who I think was also the owner, went and got his piece and made chase.
He managed to pop off a few shots at the robbers as they wheeled away with great haste. Two officers in the same shopping center were responding to a stabbing at a nearby AA meeting. They heard the shots and saw a car speeding away. This is where it just got silly. As they turned the corner, they saw the old man pointing down the road after the vehicle with his firearm in hand.
They yelled an order to “Freeze! Put down your weapon!” or something to that effect. The old man made the mistake of turning before putting down the piece, so the officers opened fire. The clerk was shot three times by the officers, but fortunately not fatally. The robbers later crashed a few blocks down the road. The clerk was a pretty good shot and managed to hit the getaway driver in the leg, causing him to pass out at the wheel due to blood loss.
27. For God And Country
This happened in a drug treatment court, where some guy chose to defend his actions with the following speech: “It was Independence Day, your honor. A day to celebrate the freedoms that our forefathers fought and gave their lives for. A day to celebrate what this country is. So yes, judge, I DID do some crack. For freedom.”
The judge just chuckled and just said, “Don’t be stupid.” Then, unbelievably, the next five defendants tried the exact same thing, and the judge kept throwing the book at them progressively harder. The key takeaway here is this: Get to court early so that your BS excuse can go first.
28. This Didn’t Check Out
There was a grandparent custody case where the dad was photographed inappropriately touching the eight-year-old daughter under the Christmas tree. The child went for a medical exam, and the doctor reported extensive injuries usually associated with that type of harm. Then he made the worst mistake of his life. He then accidentally checked a box to indicate the injuries were not related to mistreatment.
Law enforcement said there was nothing they could do about it because of the checked box. The mom ended her life “because the dad didn’t want to sleep with them both at the same time.” Officers lost two polygraph tests and a couple of kits. The grandparents lost the custody case, and the dad got full custody. Just horrible.
29. He Was A No-Show
I was defending a guy who was charged with theft of property and breaking and entering. The District Attorney offered a plea deal of 18 months in the slammer. He said he couldn’t be away from his family for 18 months. The guy had some priors, and a trial could have cost him to be gone away a lot longer, but he insisted on taking it to trial.
We struck a jury, and he came to the first day of trial. Surprisingly, the DA was still offering the 18 months right before the trial was to start. The evidence against him was overwhelming. I told him so, but he still wanted to take it to trial. We got through the first day. On the second day, the wheels entirely came off the whole thing.
First, he didn’t show up. The judge said to finish the trial without him, to which I argued against. We went ahead anyway. The jury found him guilty, and they swore out a warrant for him. Later on that day, I found out he hung himself overnight. He really just couldn’t stand to be away from his family for those measly 18 months.
30. Ask A Stupid Question…
I was the bailiff on a kidnapping case where the defendant acted as his own attorney. During jury selection, he had the option to wear civilian clothing but chose to remain in his prison attire, complete with handcuffs and waist restraints. When it came time for him to cross-examine the victim, she was understandably very upset. She was crying and refused to look at him.
The defendant’s first question went like this, “You seem upset. Does it make you nervous to be questioned by the person who attacked you?” You could hear a pin drop in that courtroom. He was found guilty and sentenced to 46 years to life in prison.
31. Trafficked Then Turned On
There was a case where a lady had been the victim of human trafficking. She was kidnapped in her home country and sold into a ring in the United States. She escaped and applied for asylum. She told the FBI everything she knew about her kidnappers and the others who bought her, putting her life in danger in the process.
She was told that’s all it would take to get her asylum and permanent residency. Nope. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) still tried to send her back. However, she won her case, but only because one of the top attorneys in New York took her case on pro bono. It was unbelievable how hard ICE fought to get her sent back and how intense the entire case got.
32. Office Prowler
I used to be an Employment Lawyer, and I defended someone at a Tribunal who would pick on meeker women in his office, flirt with them, and give them shoulder rubs over time. Eventually, as more time would pass, this guy’s hands would get lower and lower until he was full-on groping the women’s breasts in the office.
The difficult part was that he did it in such a sneaky and deceptive way that when all the other employees saw the shoulder rubs, they then suspected that he and his victim were an item. Therefore, the evidence didn’t fall in the poor girl’s favor. He won the case. When he did, he said seven words to me that made my blood run cold.
He told me afterward, “I can’t believe you got me off,” basically admitting it. I quit law after that. I lost the stomach for it.
33. Bad Driver
I’m a public defender. I had a client accused of hit-and-run damage to unattended property: To wit, a stop sign. My client had parked his car in front of a gas pump and walked into a quickie mart. The car then rolled away from the pump without him, rolled over the curb, and then over a stop sign and into a ditch. Seeing this, my client then ran out of the store, got into his car, and promptly sped off.
This was all captured on video by a conveniently-timed passing city bus. Oh, and to make matters worse, his driver’s license was also suspended. My guy wanted me to argue that it wasn’t hit and run because, technically, he wasn’t driving the car when the thing got hit. He had exactly half a point. I had to tell him that his argument solved, at most, only half of the problem because it sure as heck was him driving for the ‘run’ part of the hit and run. He took the plea deal.
34. The Butterfly Effect
I worked in migration law, more specifically in family reunification for unaccompanied refugee minors. My job was to help the parents and siblings with the rightful procedures so they could come live here too. The pandemic made it impossible to schedule meetings at an embassy and delayed everything by months. This one family had made it through the official proceedings and got the green light to pick up their travel papers at the nearest embassy, pre-pandemic.
Then the delay came. This set off a chain of jaw-dropping events. One day after the original appointment, their six-year-old son was kidnapped for ransom. They tried for weeks to find enough money but failed, and the boy died on a video the kidnappers sent to me. Not a day goes by that I don’t see his face in my mind’s eye.
Not a night goes by without seeing him in my dreams. The family needed someone to blame, so they blamed me. If only I could have brought them to safety sooner. The most painful part is that were the embassies not closed, they would’ve been safe. Instead, they still live far away, waiting their turn.
35. Mea Culpa
I’m an actual lawyer, but this story comes from my time as a law student. As a 1L, they send you off to observe a day in a courtroom to see what it’s really like. Nobody tells you how much talking goes on in courtrooms when motion hearings are going on rather than an outright trial. There’s a noted buzz throughout the room; it’s usually attorneys speaking to their clients about how the process goes.
I happened upon a domestic harm hearing. When the poor victim took the stand, that buzzing stopped. You could hear a pin drop as she was sworn in and began testifying. Her attorney set the stage for the morning and then asked her, “And then what happened?” The victim looked right at the judge and said, “I made him hit me, your honor.” There was an audible gasp.
The judge, probably overstepping his bounds a little here, intervened in the questioning to say to her, “Ma’am, forgive me, but I feel like this is an important point you need to know, dear: You can’t make anyone hit you, and you didn’t make him hit you.” The woman, rather than being consoled, instead looked completely baffled.
She waited for a few beats and then finally said to the judge, “I’m pretty sure I did. I mean, I jumped on his back and hit him over the head with a frying pan, after all, your honor.” The entire courtroom burst into laughter, and the judge conceded that she had, in fact, made him hit her.
36. Trial Trauma
There was a case in which the defendant was the child’s stepfather, and he mistreated her. At 17, she testified to all the things her step-father did over a period of five years. The defense attorney tried to blame the girl for “allowing” everything to happen to her. Since the girl became a very attractive teenager, the attorney used the “she was just too sexy and biologically, the step-father couldn’t control himself” defense.
The prosecution was watching the jury while the defense was cross-examining the girl and saw so many head nods, as though the jury agreed with the idea. Thankfully, the jury did eventually decide to convict the stepfather, but it took a lot of work. After hearing the defense attorney’s statements and seeing certain jury members agree with the idea, we lost a little bit of faith in humanity that day.
While the victim did an incredible job working through the mistreatment in therapy, she exhibited trauma symptoms from testifying in court.
37. An Air-Tight Case
I took a guy to small claims court because his employee/stepson not only installed the wrong sized air-handler, but he installed it backward. The guy’s only defense was that his stepson was useless and that he, personally, did not install it. I won because it was ultimately his employee that did the work incorrectly. Afterward, when the guy asked if he could come to get the air-handler, I told him no because he should have done that in the first place.
In the end, it turned out that I probably could have sued him for even more money because after giving us the verdict, the judge directed me to where I could go to file for suing out of small claims court, as well as the paperwork I’d need to do it.
38. Small Man At Large
When I was in law school, I worked with a group that helped get restraining orders for people in abusive relationships. Family court in Queens was very much a cattle call situation, and it was easy to watch hearing after hearing, which I always found fun. On one particular day, there was a case involving two gay men. One guy was a HUGE man: Fat and definitely over 6’ 4”. He claimed he was being mistreated by his tiny partner.
At first, the magistrate was very incredulous and was likely thinking what we were all thinking, given the massive size disparity between the two. But when the tiny guy got up to speak, he immediately started scolding his larger partner for saying the things he was saying. At some point, he even threw a pen at the bigger man.
When the bigger guy began to cry, the little guy started taunting him. The courtroom quickly made a 180-degree turn: We believed the poor big guy then.
39. Shattered Hoop Dreams
A girls youth basketball team from a reservation in the upper midwest went to play in the statewide YMCA league championship game against a non-Indigenous team that was from a town bordering the reservation. The team from the reservation was unsurprisingly severely underfunded, and the girls were from very underprivileged homes.
They got to the game. Right before tip-off, disaster struck. The other team accused them of having boys on their team and demanded that the referees “verify” that they were all female, or else they would file a formal complaint and walk off the court. The two YMCA referees, who were non-Indigenous, agreed. They told the Native-American girls team that they must comply or they would be considered forfeit.
Their team coach got cornered and asked the girls to comply. They did, and each one was required to essentially open their shorts at the waistband to prove they were not male to these referees in the locker room. They were humiliated and mortified, and many ended up suffering PTSD and have long-term mental health injuries. Then came the crushing kicker.
The case got thrown out of court on a technicality. It was absolutely heartbreaking for these girls. Not to mention motivated by prejudice and hatred from the non-Indigenous team, which was all over the evidentiary record. It still makes me ill to think of what transpired and what all of these terrible adults did to those poor girls.
40. Just Keep Your Mouth Shut
My cousin sat on a jury for a domestic case where a woman was put in the hospital by her boyfriend. She’d been in a coma for 18 months and couldn’t even appear in court. Apparently, her boyfriend pushed her through a door and down the stairs. The guy’s defense lawyer was trying to get him off with a lighter sentence. But then the defendant decided to open his mouth.
He actually tried using the defense of “If she would have just listened to me about not touching my revolver, I wouldn’t have gotten so mad! I didn’t think the push was strong enough to put her through the door. I didn’t mean to put her in a coma; it just happens.” The boyfriend ended up incarcerated for three years and is no longer allowed to possess revolvers. He was deemed mentally incapable of handling such things.
41. Wrong Terminology
I’m not a lawyer, but I work in a personal injury firm and have worked in a couple of other firms in the past. Absolutely everyone will blow their dang case the second they’re allowed to speak for themselves. Sometimes, this happens even if they’re right. My boss once told me a story about a client of his who completely misunderstood the term “pre-existing” and almost blew her entire case.
Apparently, his client kept insisting that her injuries—which she’d sustained in an auto accident—were all “pre-existing conditions” in her deposition. Dumbfounded, it was only after my boss finally asked her to define “pre-existing” that they all found out that the last half hour of the deposition was unusable.
42. Trying To Do The Right Thing
There was a case where a guy had committed murder and, after a week, couldn’t take the guilt. So, he decided to hand himself in. When he got to the station and confessed, officers asked him where it happened. He told them. Their response was infuriating. They said it was out of their jurisdiction and to go to another law enforcement station to confess because it was closer to where the slaying happened.
So he left and went the next day instead. In the meantime, no one looked for him or asked or anything. It went completely unreported. He did hand himself in, and they began to start proceedings for a case against him. They wanted to include on the report the fact he had been turned away from the first station and still handed himself in to show some sort of character.
However, the judge and the officers said they wouldn’t allow it because it would make them look bad. They said they wouldn’t let the jury even hear about it.
43. The Sister Has Got To Go
I was an articling student at the time. A woman called our firm asking for advice on immigration law. I told her I couldn’t give advice, but I could take any details and book a meeting. She wanted to know about claiming refugee status. I asked her where she was a refugee from. She then told me that she didn’t want to claim refugee status; her sister did.
I asked her where her sister is from, and she told me Hong Kong. I then asked her why she was fleeing Hong Kong. She told me that her sister wasn’t fleeing Hong Kong; rather, she was visiting on a six-month visa. So I asked why she wanted to help her sister get refugee status. She says she doesn’t; she wants her sister to leave.
Now, at this point, I was thoroughly confused. So I got her to elaborate. Her confession was bonkers. As it turned out, her sister is visiting and, to quote her, “She is ruining the family!” Her sister was threatening to stay on after her visa expired, and this lady wanted to know whether she could do that. This required no formal advice.
She couldn’t stay. So she asked me what to do about her. I told her, if she doesn’t leave when her visa expires, call law enforcement. She thanked me and hung up.
44. Sorry Isn’t Enough
I was going through a bunch of case files. The saddest one that I picked up was a 17-year-old boy who got sent to prison for having intercourse with a 14-year-old girl. What made me sad was the way that the prosecutors manipulated the boy to procure a confession. It was one of those “if you write a nice apology letter to her parents, maybe we can make this all go away” scenarios.
He wrote a heartfelt letter that said, “I’m so sorry I put your family through this hardship, I wasn’t thinking, it was irresponsible, etc.” It had this soulless sticky note on it that just said “CONFESSED” in all caps. The kid ended up doing time.
45. Family Feud
I worked at a large firm that mainly did corporate law. Once, we had this pretty wealthy client who ran a bunch of “nightclubs” and “massage parlors,” which were actually brothels in disguise. They also had other adult entertainment ventures. He was very professional in running his business and set up a pretty sophisticated corporate structure to pay the least amount of taxes possible.
Although he seemed as legit as possible, for all intent and purposes, he was a glorified pimp. He was also father to around 10 children, one of which would always give us trouble when we needed documents signed. My client was fed up with his son’s screw-ups and wanted to settle with him to give all his equity to his other sons.
We arranged a meeting so we could discuss and define the terms of the agreement. Instead, we had a disaster. Our client and his son physically fought each other in the meeting room. Soon, my client got hit with every constitutional and administrative measure his son’s lawyer could think of. I spent a whole year cleaning up my client’s mess, fighting nonsense allegations from blackmail and embezzlement to money laundering.
46. One Line Did Him In
I was part of the defense team for a trial in Texas. The defendant was a guy who, when he was 19, committed a theft at a Dollar General store in Houston. A few days later, he was driving through a different part of the state and got pulled over at dusk in the middle of a thunderstorm. He took off across a clearing and into some woods.
Officers chased him. On the other side of the woods was an apartment complex. He jumped up and climbed the wall. Suddenly, a shot went off. It came from his weapon from the theft. What wasn’t clear was whether he got to the top of the wall and took a shot at the closest officer, or if, as he said, the weapon fell out of his hoodie pocket as he was grabbing for it and went off randomly.
This happened in a poor, rural county at night and during a thunderstorm; therefore, the bullet was impossible to find. Hence, there was no scientific way to prove a thing besides that the arm fired. At trial, the officer’s exact testimony was, “I fought in combat during Iraq and have experience being shot at. When I heard the piece go off, I had the exact same feeling as back then, so I know he fired at me.” This was the end, but we didn’t know it.
My co-counsel cross-examined him and said, “Have you been suffering any PTSD-related perception issues since leaving the service?” The officer froze for several seconds, looked at the prosecutor, and just said, “Do I have to answer that?” There was a big fight with us and the state about getting his records and medical history, but eventually, the judge shut it down.
The trial continued without the officer being compelled to answer, and the jury came back guilty, and he got something like a 40-year sentence from them. That one was going to appeal, as the judge should have looked at the records we wanted before denying us, saying they were irrelevant. It still blew my mind at the time that the jury was so confident based pretty much just on that sentence.
47. Who Was This Guy Kidding?
This occurred while I was in court to change my last name. I was 14, and I wanted to change my last name to match my stepdad’s last name. But in order to do so, my biological father had to be present for the appointment and sign off on it. Okay, fine. Everything went smoothly until the judge stated to me, “Okay, if everyone will sign here, your name will be changed,” and my bio-dad suddenly responded with, “I’m not signing.”
When the judge asked him why, my dad’s answer was bonkers. He said, “What if she gets pregnant out of wedlock? I want the baby to have my last name.” Um, what!? I was only 14 years old at the time! I had never even kissed a boy, and I hadn’t even spoken to my dad in at least five years. Fortunately, the judge told him that was an irrelevant point and convinced him to sign the papers.
I was glad to leave that part of my life behind me that day.
48. Manners Will Get You Put Away
There was a couple that broke up, and the woman got a restraining order on the guy. A month or two later, the guy went out with his friends to some bar. Later on that same evening, the ex-girlfriend showed up at the same bar. The guy went up to her and said, “I know you have a restraining order against me. Are you comfortable with me being here, or should I leave? I won’t bother you either way.”
The woman said she didn’t want him around, so he left right away. It was his doom. You aren’t supposed to be within 100 feet or have any contact with the person who filed a restraining order. So the fact this guy said that one sentence to her got him put away for three years, even though he was there first and trying to be courteous by asking and then leaving right away.
49. He Was Badgering The Witness
I sat in on a human-trafficking trial. The victim was sitting behind a screen hiding from view of the gallery, giving evidence through an interpreter while she was undergoing cross-examination by one of two defense lawyers. I sat and listened while the lawyer shot questions and accused the victim of lying about her alleged traumas.
The victim denied the accusations as best as she could. Then, the lawyer sat down and her partner, a man with a loud voice, stood and continued the questioning. The next thing I knew, the poor girl behind the screen was sobbing, and the judge was subtly reprimanding the lawyer for scaring her. The judge called a break. I served my documents and left.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget that trial or the way that girl cried for the rest of my life. It was heartbreaking.
50. They Should Have Said They Were Undercover
I once was the defendant in traffic court. I showed up in a suit and tie and was waiting for my attorney. The judge was already there, and the first part of the day was about just making sure all the defendants showed up. Then, the city attorney offered the defendants a discount to plead guilty (i.e., first-time offenders have to sign up for a class on safe driving; other than that, it’s a 30% discount off the top—ALWAYS FIGHT YOUR TICKETS, PEOPLE!).
Anyway, I wasn’t going to accept a plea deal because I had an airtight case. Even my lawyer agreed—she was nice and actually listened to me and did the groundwork. So, she and I refused the initial offer. She then told me to wait outside while the city attorney tried (again) to get me (and others) to take the plea deal.
But the thing about traffic court is that the officer who wrote the ticket has to show up. My attorney was concerned because the guy who ticketed me typically shows up. We went back into court, and a group of guys came in, all wearing ripped jeans, graphic t-shirts, and dirty work boots (in stark contrast to the suit and tie I was wearing).
One of them looks familiar, but I can’t place him, and I figure it’s just some more people waiting for tickets. Then it hit me: They were the officers for the various cases. The judge was not amused. Their defense for their “condition” was that the court was “too early.” I and about 10 other people all had our tickets dismissed. I even have the signed letter from the judge framed. We didn’t have to say a thing.
I felt bad for the poor city attorney, though. He looked like he wanted to melt into the floor when the judge asked to speak to him. Like seriously, I honestly feel he felt he was walking to his execution.
51. Her Life Was A Lie
My client got married to a college graduate who went to school on a baseball scholarship. The guy got injured, so he couldn’t work. So my client supported the guy for eight years while he dealt with the pain and collected disability. One day, my client called the guy’s dad for an unrelated matter. That’s when his web of lies completely unraveled.
His father told my client that the guy had never been to college, never played baseball, and was never injured. After my client confronted the guy, he took my client’s inheritance, left the state, and left his two kids with my client.
52. Worth A Try
I was waiting in court for a traffic ticket when a woman’s case came up. She was able to prove that the time on her traffic ticket (9 PM) was incorrect since the officer (who was on the stand) admitted he worked the early shift that day. He had meant 9 AM. She argued that if he made one mistake on the ticket, there could be others. The judge agreed and dismissed the ticket.
So then, this good old homeboy contested his ticket next. The officer stood up and recited the usual facts (time of day, location, weather conditions, radar, etc.). At the end of it, the homeboy just nodded. The judge, as patient as ever, asked if the homeboy wanted to challenge any part of the officer’s statement. “No, no,” said the homeboy. “No, that was really good.”
The judge then asked, “So, if you are admitting guilt, why did we just do this?” “Well, I figured that if that woman got off on a mistake, maybe my officer would make a mistake too,” explained the homeboy. “Did he?” asked the judge. “Nope,” said the homeboy. “It happened just like he said.” Everyone in the courtroom laughed, and the homeboy got a small fine.
53. Nowhere To Go
I worked for a foreclosure firm. My job, in particular, was to notice defendants and interested parties and clear titles to proceed. One case that has always stuck with me was that in the event of underage parties, we would have to notice their guardian ad litem. I had one cross my desk in which a 16-year-old girl and her 12-year-old brother needed to be noticed.
This wasn’t at all too unusual, as it happened a lot with wills and such. However, in this case, it took me all day to track down their representatives so I could get the notices out. As a result of my investigation, I came to find that their father had passed on earlier that year in a car accident and their mother from a terminal illness six months after that. Let me remind you: They were being noticed as our firm needed to know who to sue to foreclose on their home.
54. An Idiot’s Proof
A guy was in court for taking the lives of two relatively young girls while driving intoxicated. The defendant’s lawyer claimed that the young girls should be at fault because “this man was intoxicated and the girls were sober; they should have had the reaction time to get out of the way.” I mean, wow. Not only was it a pretty stupid defense, but, in terms of the worst defense, nothing beats that. It was absolutely appalling.
55. Nothing Is Cooking Here
The most shocking case I’ve ever worked on was a family court trial. The mother had an untreated mental illness, most likely severe postpartum depression, amplified by being untreated because she refused medical treatment. She testified that the father of their six-month-old daughter put the baby in the microwave one day while at home.
She said she didn’t see it happen, but she knew it happened because when she picked up her daughter, her skin made the same popping sound that chicken makes after you microwave it. The father did not microwave his infant daughter.
56. He Maid A Big Mistake
There was a case where a maid’s son was being prosecuted for having intercourse with his 13-year-old cousin. He was an adult. The whole family got involved. Several family members came by to talk with the defense attorney. The cousin’s sister even got flown in from Mexico to testify. She talked about the cousin as if she was the biggest tease on the planet.
Suffice to say, she was very aggressive with boys very early on. Basically, she really did come on to him, and the maid’s son was perhaps too naive, innocent, or weak-willed to refuse her advances, but refuse her he didn’t. (But yeah, he was technically an adult.) The maid’s son had so much faith in the United States justice system that he honestly believed that if he was 120% truthful, the court would see this as one massive mistake and let him walk away. That ended up being a fatal mistake.
After his testimony, the defense attorney went on about how he did not just tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him, God, but he overshared, testifying that he didn’t have relations with the girl just once. He had intercourse every which way. He even told the judge, “I put it in, but then I took it out; it felt weird.” His defense attorney could not believe it.
On the one hand, the guy was just nice and good-natured and pure, almost to the point that you’d expect such pure honesty from a child. On the other hand, his attorney thought that he was “too stupid to lie.” Or at least, know when to keep his mouth shut and not dig the hole any deeper. The cousin’s sister, who was a similar age, sank the ship even further by saying her sister didn’t have anything happen to her that would have contributed to her overly aggressive behavior.
She just is aggressive with boys. She was an early bloomer, and she loved the attention she got from older guys. And the maid’s son knew this and should’ve known better, for that if nothing else. The maid’s son was looking at 127 years. This was the first case where I’d heard them say that when he goes behind bars, to make sure that the reason he’s there doesn’t get released to anyone more so than it needs to be.
They felt that if the other inmates found out, they would hurt him, as the cousin was extremely underage. Hence why he was getting the book thrown at him so hard. He ended up getting 88 years and had to register as an offender.
57. A Hostile Work Environment
When I attended my sister’s sentencing for a minor offense, I listened to this court-appointed attorney talk about another case. It involved an 18-year-old girl who was in trouble for hitting her 50-year-old coworker’s car and then not telling anyone until the coworker noticed. The coworker was yelling and carrying on about how this obviously pretty concerned 18-year-old girl wouldn’t even acknowledge her at work anymore and how she found the younger girl both cocky and disrespectful.
The girl’s court-appointed attorney basically just explained, “She told me she was afraid of you and wanted to stay out of your way while this was being worked out.” Then, in a perfect demonstration of the attorney’s point, the older woman just screamed, “THAT’S RIDICULOUS.” As far as defending yourself goes, that wasn’t a great way to do it.
58. Angling To Stay
I had a client who was an extremely nice guy. He was a green card applicant and worked on a fishing boat in Alaska. When he was out on the boats fishing for crab or whatever, there was no way for anybody to communicate with him. He was out there for months at a time. Phone calls and letters aren’t reaching anybody out in the middle of the Bering Strait.
One such time when he was out fishing, he got slashed all the way through the chest with a massive hook in a freak accident. Nobody stateside knew. My client was taken (somehow) to the hospital and survived, but I didn’t hear from him for months. Well, the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) happens to issue this guy an interview notice, but he’s nowhere to be found.
The USCIS marked him absent for his interview. I tried to reach out to him but couldn’t find him. It snowballed into a nightmare. The USCIS then denied this poor guy’s case. He called me about a month later, and things had gotten worse. He tells me all about the hook on the ship but also told me that after he got home from the hospital, his wife was upset that he didn’t earn her any money due to his injury.
She proceeded to beat the living daylights out of him with a baseball bat. She took all of his money and things and then left him for dead. So now, he was back in the hospital. This guy was the single most mild-mannered, nicest guy ever. I ended up putting in vast amounts of unpaid work for months to turn his application around.
We switched up his green card application and filed a self-petition through the Violence Against Women Act. We ended up getting his green card approved in what felt like a miracle, and he then went back to Alaska to happily fish and is living his best life. He still calls me once in a while, just to say hello and thank you. I’m glad he’s doing better.
59. Don’t Anger The She-Hulks
I’m a lawyer, and I once attended a hearing that involved a man trying to get an ex parte order against his girlfriend, which is relatively rare. It happens, but the vast majority involve women getting them against men. In any event, before his particular hearing could start, we were all treated to a first-hand glimpse of why the guy needed it.
A woman came into the courtroom flanked by two other women. All three of them were straight out of central casting for what you’d imagine NYC gang women to look like. They walked in and saw the woman’s partner sitting in the courtroom (though his hearing wasn’t up yet). The girlfriend immediately lost her mind.
She started threatening everyone in the room—especially the magistrate. It was crazy. After the magistrate ordered the women to leave, the bailiffs struggled to remove them, and they eventually ended up needing to call in for extra help to escort them out. Finally, about 30 minutes later, when the dude’s hearing was up, the magistrate almost instantly granted the restraining order.
He even said that he’d put a note in for the full hearing about that woman’s conduct. That woman seriously didn’t do herself any favors that day.
60. Superstore Sicko
There was a case where a man was at a Walmart, and the employees observed him creeping in the kid’s section, taking pictures of kids in and around the dressing rooms. So they called law enforcement and confronted the man, who proceeded to flee in his car. Officers pursued him at high speed, and he rammed into the back of a semi-truck, which ended his life.
Months later, the man’s family sued the trucking company, claiming the truck was improperly changing lanes which led to his demise. Given all the time and cost of taking the case to trial, the insurance company was authorized to settle the case for $50K. The attorney who represented the family said he could not believe they could get $50K for a guy running from law enforcement that ran into the back of a truck.
61. Oh. Okay, Then…
I went to court for a traffic violation in the state of Florida, and I was sat in a room full of people who were also there to contest their tickets. While I was there, a lady who looked like she was a waitress got up to make her case in front of the judge. Standing right in front of the officer that ticketed her, she point-blank told the judge that her violation was “BS from a know-it-all cop.” The judge then questioned the officer, who explained, “Your honor, the defendant’s car was going 75 in 35 and ran several stoplights.”
Hearing this, the judge then proceeded to ask the woman why she thought those charges were unreasonable. Her answer was parody level. “I was drinking last night and woke up late. I couldn’t lose another job, so I needed to be on time.” In addition to paying for her tickets, she ended up paying an extra $500 for wasting the judge’s time.
62. The High-Speed Chase
There was a case where officers were chasing a van that was speeding and driving dangerously on the freeway. The officers decided to shoot the tire to stop the van, probably so he would not cause a massive crash. One officer fired a few bullets, and they ended up stopping the van. Little did they know, the worst had already happened.
It turned out the van was filled with fleeing migrants, and one of the bullets hit the baby of a migrant couple. The baby didn’t make it. The officer was sentenced for murder.
63. If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d Bake A Cake
A guy baked a cake for a couple of his friends, and without telling them, he baked some weed into it. One of the people who ate it left and got really sick. After finding out why they got sick, they took the guy to court and started a trial. This went all the way to the Supreme Court, where they decided that giving people narcotics without their knowledge was now officially considered an offense. It carries a maximum sentence of four years.
64. Blowing Smoke
As a public defender, you’re thrown into a lot of terrible cases with little hope of winning and with very little time to win them. My approach was to make any argument within the ethical rules that govern attorneys, which led me to one hilarious court appearance involving a client of mine who was charged with possession of marijuana.
It was a misdemeanor first offense that carried no incarceration time in my state. My client and his friend had been toking in a park, and a citizen reported it. By the time the officer arrived, my client and his friend were sitting in a parked car. My client admitted to the officer that he had been toking. Obviously, I thought that my client had no defense here.
The other guy also admitted to toking and gave the officer the weed and pipe from his backpack. The entirety of the evidence was the admission and the physical evidence. So, I argued at trial (bench trial, no jury), with zero expectation of winning, that the state had failed to prove my client ever possessed the marijuana.
I asserted, “Your honor, for all we know, the other guy at all times had possession of the marijuana. For all we know, he held the pipe to my client’s lips and lit it for him.” A discussion amongst myself, the judge, and the prosecutor ensued: Can you smoke marijuana and not be in possession of it? I got the decision a few months later: Not guilty.
65. Just An Unlucky Soul
I was a clerk for a judge who was assigned to felonious cases, conservatorships, and guardianships. My first week on the job, this dude came into court looking like an absolute mess. He had bandages all over his body, an eye patch, grey hair, and was utterly expressionless. He walked in with his hands and legs chained up after sitting in solitary for 30 days.
I thought he must have done something serious. It turns out it was just a hearing to determine whether the state should be the guy’s official guardian. He had been taken in for burglary after he broke into an apartment building. While waiting for arraignment, he tried to pluck out his eyeball, and thankfully, failed. He was sent to the hospital, then just sent back to the facility.
The next day, he heard voices in his hand, and he tried to peel the skin from the palm of his hand using a broken plastic spoon. He partially succeeded. He continued trying to cut off the skin from his arms and legs, sometimes scratching or biting himself, and he, unfortunately, caused numerous severe injuries to himself. Keep in mind this was all in the county cell.
At his arraignment, his public defenders told another judge his story and he was immediately sent for a mental evaluation and his case was handed to my judge. In the meantime, he sat rotting for weeks in a cell “under watch” because there were no beds available in the actual mental hospital. He was nice to the judge and just an unlucky soul.
He was finally committed to the state mental hospital, which meant he displaced another patient.
66. Caution, Contents Hot!
A woman sued McDonald’s for burning herself when she spilled her coffee. The cups McDonald’s used at the time were prone to spilling, and their coffee was brewed way too hot. It was significantly hotter than any other fast food place that brewed coffee. The spill resulted in the woman having severe burns. Upon reviewing similar occurrences, she found out that dozens, if not hundreds of people had had similar experiences, resulting in permanent injury and substantial medical expenses.
McDonald’s was aware of this and refused to brew at a lower temperature or use better cups used by other fast food places. The woman did not request an excessive amount of money, either. All she wanted was for McDonald’s to splurge on better cups and/or brew their coffee at a lower temperature and to pay enough to help cover the medical bills of people who had been affected.
67. You Dope
In my law graduation, I was working as a trainee for the college as a lawyer assistant, and I honestly saw the following scene where the judge asked the accused, “Where were you on Tuesday at 11:00 PM?” The accused responded, “I was working in the street selling pot.” The judge asked again, “You were doing what?” The accused repeated, “Selling pot.”
The look on his lawyer’s face…
68. The Sign Says No Trespassing Dude
There was a bench trial for a trespassing charge. A guy went into some sort of low-income housing owned by the city or state. He went into the complex and started yelling at someone, and was taken in for trespassing. There were only two witnesses, the guy, and the arresting officer. The officer testified first for the prosecution. The defense attorney was a public defender.
It seemed like it was a slam dunk case, and both sides were going through the motions. The officer gave his side of the story about the guy walking past no trespassing signs, yelling at someone, and refusing to leave. The defendant got on the stand, and the guy reaffirmed everything the officer said. When asked if he saw the no trespassing sign, he said he did.
He also admitted that he was aware he needed permission to enter the premises and wouldn’t leave when asked to do so. The public defender just had this look of defeat on his face. Finally, both sides had their closing arguments, and it went to the judge. But there was a twist. The judge read over the law out loud and engaged the two lawyers in a discussion.
The hang-up was that the law said that a person could not trespass and prohibit the enjoyment of the complex by others. They discussed the “prohibit the enjoyment of the complex by others” a bit between the three of them, and then the prosecutor tried to toss in some more arguments, which the judge shut down. The judge found the guy not guilty because no one proved that he prohibited anyone from enjoying the complex.
The judge told the defendant that he was fortunate this time and to stay away from that place.
69. Redeem This!
There was a hearing for a guy who shot an officer. His defense lawyer put together a reasonably compelling case that the guy just hit a bad spot in his life and that he still had some redeemable qualities. Then the guy stood up, looked the judge straight in the eye, and told him to “suck a dick.” The judge, being a man of the world, simply stared right back at him, smiled, and said, “Sir, I respectfully decline.”
Needless to say, he got the maximum sentence handed down, and his lawyer just buried his head in his hands.
70. Demented Dad
As part of my university course, I had to sit in on a court case and create a court report. I turned up on a random day and asked to enter the courtroom for my course, and they allowed it. As it turned out, I was in a hearing about a man who was inappropriately engaging in carnal behavior with his stepdaughter and her friends.
A key piece of evidence was a photo of his daughter tied to a bed and stripped. It was very obviously her; her full face was in view, and she also had a very recognizable and undeniable birthmark on her jaw. The man’s defense was that he couldn’t have taken the picture because he didn’t recognize the girl in the photo. The judge dang near laughed at him right there in the courtroom.
71. The Third Case Was A Charm
I was in court a few years back and had the chance to see a few different trials. Three of them stood out, including one where some guy set fire to a store. He was found at a nearby station with a butcher knife in hand. He said that he merely found it there. He started crying in front of the judge. Then, when he was leaving the courtroom, he smiled at us on his way out.
72. Last One Standing
There was a high-profile case in our city. An entire family, who was living in poverty, was slaughtered, with only one individual remaining. This family had a laundry list of weird stuff going on. The father lived in a caravan, the eldest daughter was turning tricks, and it was rumored the father was sleeping with the daughter.
The sole survivor was convicted and then had his conviction overturned a year before he was due for parole due to bad chains of evidence on some items and officers moving a couple of items before taking photos of the scene. It was believed he did it but got off on some technicalities. He then got remarried and lived in a different country.
73. Revolting Reverends
Before I was admitted to the bar, I worked as a paralegal on a number of high-profile historic cases involving minors, mostly defending priests. Some of the details were pretty confronting. Our law firm represented three of four priests accused over a period of a few years and in different matters. The worst I can recall was not a particular case, but one specific victim of several priests from different schools and years during the 1970s or early 80s.
This victim wasn’t even a party to proceedings; instead, it was other victims. His name just happened to pop up in all of these witness statements from other victims and in official records. He was passed around within different Catholic boys’ schools from one violator to the next. His parents didn’t believe him, but other students would try to protect him and one another by reporting it to local authorities on various occasions.
The authorities didn’t follow up or investigate for years, despite several children and some parents complaining. It was horrible to read very detailed accounts of the pattern of grooming and escalating such mistreatment that would occur and how it was so easily tied to faith and desire to please God, but also to see how these informal networks of violators operated within the Catholic school system to affect so many children.
He developed behavioral issues, drinking and substance dependence issues, and other health problems like many others. It was a stark reminder of how easily people can fall through the cracks and be failed by the people empowered and entrusted to protect them when they are vulnerable.
74. Hidden Treasures
I’m an international tax lawyer. There is so much Holocaust money that has remained hidden in Swiss and other European and global banks by families who immigrated to America after WWII. The families were so scared of disclosing the funds to ANY government that it remained unreported and untaxed. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. I help bring it back into the system through IRS amnesty programs. It’s much, much more common than you’d think.
75. May He Rot In Prison
An officer once recounted to me a story concerning a call about a guy “getting it on” with a girl in his van. Law enforcement responded to the call, where they soon made a shocking discovery: The man was twenty, and the girl was twelve. When they took the guy into custody, he tried to defend his reprehensible act with, “But she told me she was 14.” Um, what!? Seriously, what is wrong with people?
76. Emotions Finally Take Precedent
There was a mom who was cooking dinner. From where she was standing, she could see her child playing outside. Suddenly a taxi van drove in the street and hit the child at quite a high speed. This sent the child flying through the air. When she hit the ground, she had a lot of momentum, so she slid over the street. The mother, obviously in shock, ran up to the child.
When the mother grabbed her child, her hand vanished in the back of her child’s head. This was the first case ever in Dutch law where emotional damages were accepted.
77. The Proof Was In The Pull-Up
I work on child protection cases. I got an opening brief for a case saying that the mom didn’t actually neglect the kids. She got pulled over for expired tags, and the kids were in the car. The officers ended up conducting a search and found drugs and a pipe. So far, pretty standard and nothing too much for alarm. But it was about to get so much worse.
During the stop, the officers pulled the children out of the car and found that the two-year-old daughter had a rather old diaper on. When they went to change her, they found what the examining doctor later called the worst case of diaper rash he had ever seen. There were pictures. No person who saw that could say the child wasn’t neglected. I cited those pictures very liberally in my answering brief. Severance was affirmed.
78. Prime Suspect
Nothing scares me like the failures of the system, as reflected in this case I’m about to tell you. A woman was slashed 20 times, just really bad stuff. When the body was found, the knife was in her chest, which means she was jabbed in the brain before being jabbed in the chest. Law enforcement convinced the medical examiner to determine the case was a suicide because the door was latched from the inside when the body was found.
The door was open when the officers arrived, and the body had already been “discovered.” The only person who told the officers that the door was latched when they found the body was the FIANCE. In any other investigation, anywhere, this person would be the prime suspect. So basically, the officers took the word of the person who should be the prime suspect to determine that this woman who was slashed 20 times, including from behind into her brain, committed suicide. What a joke.
79. It’s Payback Time
I took a guy to small claims court. His defense was, “I didn’t have the product, so I couldn’t ship it to him, obviously.” The judge was like, “But you took his money?” The guy replied, “Yeah, so I could buy the product and ship it to him.” The judge then asked, “Did you do that?” The guy answered, “Not yet.” Finally, the judge asked him, “Do you have his money?” The guy’s dumb reply did him in: “No, I had had an emergency and had to spend it.”
That was that. I won.
80. Nursing Home Nightmares
I worked on a case where a male nurse harmed bedridden patients at a low-income nursing home. We represented the women and sued the nursing home. One of the women had a hip fracture. The worst part was that they complained to staff, and no one listened to them for the longest time because they were old and didn’t have a lot of family.
Our research uncovered tons of other lawsuits across the country alleging all sorts of negligence at other nursing homes run by the parent company.
81. That’s NOT What Kids Are For
I once gave testimony as a health professional in a child custody case. It was so disturbing, I’ve never forgotten it. The mother wanted to revoke the father’s joint physical custody of their eight-year-old girl. The issue was that the father kept asking the girl to wipe his butt, apply lotion, and wash his genitals for him. The father’s case was that, because he was obese, fatigued, suffering from frequent diarrhea, he was too taxed to take care of his own hygiene without assistance.
The guy insisted it was acceptable for her to do this as long as she wore gloves to avoid contracting Hepatitis C from him. He also argued that it taught her a lesson about compassion and caring for those unable to do so themselves and that it helped them to bond. Truly incredible.
82. A Covert Collaboration
Mine is a worst/best defense sort of scenario. A few years ago, I was doing jury duty for the crown court in the Old Bailey. It was to judge this case against a Sri Lankan gang in London. Essentially, someone had gotten attacked with a machete in a car park and left for dead. There were six suspects in this trial, two of which had left the country. What was very clear was that all six of these people were in complete cahoots.
Every one of the four came to trial and blamed one other, so no one got blamed twice, but every one of them got the blame placed on them. Most of the evidence either pointed to one of the guys in the trial or to one of the guys that had left the country. We had to vote “not guilty” because there was so much reasonable doubt against all of them that none of them could be prosecuted.
83. Stop Spreading The News
During law school, I clerked with the public defender’s office. I was working on a homicide case where our client fatally beat his wife. Then he got in his car, recorded all his calls, and called all of his family and friends to tell them what he had just done. He had no remorse and told everyone how happy he was that she was gone.
This experience, along with others, made me realize that I did not want to do this type of defense work.
84. That Poor Pupper
I’m an animal control officer, and I was seeking permanent possession of this guy’s dog after he intoxicatedly bit, choked, and tormented it (he’d already been charged with animal cruelty, which is a separate case date). This guy was what we call a seasonal transient, meaning he was homeless but only stayed in the city during the summer.
In court, he represented himself. His defense ranged from admitting he had made a mistake while intoxicated to accusing the witnesses of being biased against homeless people during the cross-examinations. His story also fluctuated about his behavior towards his dog, ranging from “she’s dog aggressive, and I was disciplining her” (despite no other dogs ever having been present) to a vague “she wasn’t listening to me.”
My “favorite” parts of his defense were the following: 1) He tried to argue that because we had no photos of physical damage, no mistreatment had occurred. Unfortunately for him, our state cruelty laws don’t require an animal to be injured to be considered mistreated. 2) He had pulled her up by her ears so that her front feet didn’t touch the ground and bit her multiple times on the ears and face.
In court, he defended this by claiming that it was a valid training technique used by “Alaskans” and many breeders. His proof was a handwritten name and number of a “breeder friend of his” on a square of paper. He lost. His dog, an absolute sweetheart with huge bat ears (and not an ounce of dog aggression that the shelter could find after multiple behavior tests and assessments), was adopted by an older retired couple looking for a good pet to keep them company at home.
85. Was Her Face As Red As The Traffic Light?
I remember going with my mom to court for some petty traffic ticket. It was a mass of people all waiting to talk to the judge about their tickets, and, halfway in, one lady walked up with a ticket for not stopping at a red light. She first said that the light was yellow, then said, “Okay, it was red.” Then she said the law didn’t apply because she was on a bike, not a car.
The judge laughed, and some of the other people in there, including my mom, laughed under their breath, too. She left with a bright red face, and she had to pay the ticket in full.
86. Pure Genius
I knew a guy who once argued that the officers who responded to the domestic he had perpetrated had no right to charge him with drug possession. Why? Because according to him, the drugs were so pure, no one could have seen them. Right.
87. It’s Oregano, I Swear
I was recently reminded of a situation that nearly made me laugh in court. I got caught with 35 grams of weed after some officers came into the place where I lived. Except, they never had it tested for confirmation. So, when the prosecutor kept bringing up “cannabis” during my trial, my lawyer pointed out they never actually tested the “green plant matter in question.” Sure enough, the judge was like, “Yep, you’re right. Green plant matter it is.” Man, I got lucky.
88. Shades Of Red
My sister told the judge that the light she ran “wasn’t that red.” Then, later when the judge announced that he was going to suspend her license, she protested, saying, “But my dad already took it away!” Facepalm.
89. When Jesus Took The Wheel
I once defended a guy on a DWI who jumped into the backseat after he got pulled over and claimed someone else was driving. The kicker? He was the only one in the car.
90. Weeding Out The Facts
I had a guy come into my prison with a theft charge. He tried to explain that it was a misunderstanding because he just took a girl’s money and kept the weed he was supposed to buy her for himself—so, at most, he was just a lousy boyfriend. Yet he still managed to make his situation worse: He threw in, “Did she tell you we’re ‘doing it?’”
She was underage.
91. It’s Okay, I Drive In Metric
In traffic court, a guy said he had been speeding “accidentally” because the speedometer in the exotic foreign car he borrowed was marked in kilometers, not miles. The (failed-at-math?) judge actually bought this defense, even though driving at 85 MPH would have been displayed as 136 KMPH.
92. I Swear The Water’s Safe
A couple of years back, there was a case where a well-known manufacturer of latex paints was found to be destroying a local wetland with runoff. The state authority in charge of wetlands preservation took them to court. In a grandstanding effort to demonstrate to the judge that the chemical being discharged near the water could not possibly be toxic to the wildlife, a representative for the company brought a powdered form of the chemical into court.
They mixed it with a glass of water there and then, intending to drink it dramatically in front of the court. It backfired so, so badly. The glass, which was plastic, melted right there on the table. The case was settled out of court the same day.
93. Who Is This Woman?
We had a client who claimed to be the daughter of a man, but his other daughter claimed that wasn’t true. The man’s estate went to probate court, and they both had rival petitions going to the administrator. In the state of California, you get money to be an administrator, along with your share of the estate. She was a nut.
My boss regretted taking her on. As it went on, she got crazier and crazier. She tried to exhume the body. She broke into the man’s house to “gather evidence” and sent us on a wild goose chase to family members in Arkansas who would vouch for her. A month later, we got a call from our client. Law enforcement was outside her house. She was barricaded in and was holding a gun to her husband.
She wouldn’t come out and kept calling our office to talk to her attorney, who wasn’t in on that day. I was talking to her and watching law enforcement on the news at the same time. She ended up firing on her husband, not taking his life but leaving him in a vegetable state, before going behind bars. Never found out if she was the real daughter or not.
94. Case Of The Missing Kitty
I was pretty new to a practice and was meeting with a lot of clients. The firm I worked for had a lot of walk-ins, and I was processing potential clients. When I called in the next person, a woman in her mid-30s walked in carrying a red and white cooler. She popped in down on my desk and then spent about five minutes trying to sit down in the chair.
My first thought was that she must have some kind of personal injury. The first words out of her mouth shocked me. After she sat down, she said, “I need to sue my doctor because my vagina just fell out.” My eyes immediately locked onto the cooler. I asked, “Is…that it?” She responded, “Yes. I brought it in with me just in case you needed to see it. Do you want to see it?”
She began to open the cooler. I was definitely curious, but I stopped her and convinced her that a hospital was her best option at the moment. It turned out that she had reconstruction surgery, and the surgical mesh had dropped out. I was a corporate attorney, so this was not my area of expertise. I sent her to someone with more experience.
95. Driven To Honesty
I attended court to watch my lawyer friend in action as she defended a young lady charged with a DWI. Her client got the bright idea to testify that she wasn’t really guilty because she wasn’t intoxicated while driving; she was actually high on drugs at the time. My friend put her head down and started hitting her head against the desk. Guilty.
96. Make That Two Restraining Orders
I was recently in court where the judge asked the guy I was getting a restraining order against, “Why do you think showing up to this young lady’s home unannounced, after she has made it clear to you she is not romantically interested in you, was an acceptable thing to do?” The guy’s response was genuinely unhinged: “I just wanted to lick the inside of her dog’s mouth.”
There’s lots of backstory to this, but let’s just say I had a very creepy stalker.
97. Howling With Laughter
I’m a lawyer, but when I was in college doing my bachelor’s degree, the curriculum included spending a couple of days observing trials. There’s one crazy guy I will NEVER forget. At the start of one of these trials, a dude with the greasiest mullet entered the room. He was thin and tall, with disproportionately sized limbs and tattoos all over. I swear the only thing missing was a bottle in his hand and a chicken under his arm.
Now, this guy chose not to have a lawyer represent him, as he’s a regular and spends short periods of time incarcerated or doing community service pretty much every month, anyway. He’s a real problem case (drugs, booze, etc.) but still comes across as sympathetic, and he has a really entertaining way of telling a story while keeping a straight face and not realizing how funny he is.
He knows he’s getting fined and will be serving a couple of hours of cutting weeds as a form of community service to keep our Dutch streets nice and tidy, but he still tried to win the sympathies of the judge to decrease his sentence. After they brought the guy in for dealing a couple of weeks before, this man’s dog was sent to a dog shelter when they found it malnourished. It was really sad and the reason this guy was standing trial.
So, what happened? Well, the guy got high as a kite and as loaded as an Irishman on St. Patrick’s Day, and while completely out of his mind, he decided to get his dog back from the shelter because he really missed “his girl.” The judge asked him if it was correct that he broke the lock and some of the camera equipment on the site of the dog shelter, and the guy confirmed that he did.
You could really tell from his passionate account of the progression of the evening that he did all this out of pure love, as his dog, according to him, was the only thing that pulled him through all of the rough patches with his girlfriend and his substance problem. So, the judge ordered the camera footage to be shown to confirm that the guy was the suspect. That video silenced the whole court.
On it, he was seen stumbling about and wrenching one of the dog enclosures open and hugging a German Shepherd. At this point, everyone was touched by seeing this guy being so emotional on the camera footage with the dog, hugging it, petting it, and playing with it, and you can see the judge really get into it, as well.
Anyway, so this guy continued with his story and told us about how he took the dog to his car and went home, never feeling happier in his life. But then he ended his account with the driest delivery of, “Needless to say, I was really surprised when I woke up the next day, and there was a German Shepherd in my room instead of a Staffordshire Terrier.”
It turned out that the dude took the wrong dog. Everyone just broke out in laughter. He didn’t get what was funny. The judge sentenced him to 50 hours of community service and €3,000 for the repairs to the broken doors and camera equipment.
98. Beyond Help
A guy was in court for a DWI, and he insisted on taking the stand even though his lawyer advised him not to. It turned out he wanted the judge to know that the cop who’d apprehended him was “just some rude kid trying to be a bigshot.” Then the defendant argued that he wasn’t even really intoxicated that night because he’d only had two bottles of booze with dinner. When his poor lawyer interrupted him to try to get him to stop talking, he told his lawyer to “shut up.”
The judge quickly advised him to listen to his lawyer, but this guy was just getting started. He snapped at the judge, “I’m not a dang child, don’t interrupt me.” Oof. The judge just smiled, sat back, and said, “Please, proceed.” We all knew it was over for the guy. Sure enough, he got maxed on the charge. Later, the judge advised him that, in the future, if he’s going to bother paying for a lawyer, he should probably consider listening to him.
99. Karma Got Him
I was in on an assault trial this past summer. The defendant was a guy who’d brutally attacked a woman in a park before taking off with her bike and ATM card. A few minutes later, he was recorded withdrawing $80 from her account. Fortunately, the guy was apprehended within hours of the attack. But, of course, he denied the charges.
During his trial, he actually testified that the encounter was consensual and that the victim had enjoyed it so much that she gave him the bike and ATM card to show her appreciation. The defendant even dared to claim that someone else must have come along and beaten her after he left. I’m glad karma ruined this psycho. What he didn’t realize was that he’d already compromised himself before he ever even gave his testimony.
You see, before the trial, the defendant practiced his planned testimony with another inmate, to whom he’d stupidly bragged about the entire assault in great detail. Deliciously, that inmate promptly threw him under the bus and testified against him. The inmate freely admitted that he hoped the defendant would wind up in the same prison he did so that he could hand out some “rec yard justice.”
Running dope and weapons was one thing, but the inmate couldn’t tolerate what that guy had done. It didn’t take long for a guilty verdict and life sentence.
100. X-Ray Vision
There was a case where a client had radiation burns from an X-ray machine. In the avalanche of documents received from the defendant during discovery, there was an internal memo. This one piece of paper cracked the whole case. The memo described a serious problem with the machines and continued, “This is an issue we can’t ignore. Unfortunately, it’s not in the budget.”
When the case went to trial, we told the jury, “Show them they need to put this in the budget next time.” The jury complied, handing down one of the largest verdicts California had ever seen.
101. Good Call
This never made it to court. I asked my divorce lawyer what was the worst thing a client had asked him to argue. I was expecting a “I want the salad spinner!” sort of story. He had a client, a professor in his 70s who was divorcing his wife, also a professor in her 70s. They were both Jewish. His wife had a tattoo on her arm.
It was a number, put there by the Nazis when they put her in a concentration camp in WWII as a child. Husband was born in the US, was not German. The German government was in the process of settling a case with the survivors. She had some amount of money, a six-figure sum, due to her. The husband wanted his lawyer to argue that he should get half the settlement money.
The lawyer told him that there was a special circle in hell for lawyers who ask for stuff like that and that he was not planning on ending up there.
102. Did Not See That Coming…
I used to work with an engineer who liked to tell a story about the time he gave a deposition on a patent case. He answered a bunch of questions about a discussion that had occurred in a specific meeting five years prior. At the end, the lawyer asked when that conversation had occurred. My coworker gave the exact time and date of the conversation.
The lawyer then asked how he could possibly be so sure about the exact time of a meeting that occurred years in the past. My coworker’s response was “I remember because right after that meeting I went back to my desk and suffered a heart attack.” There were apparently no further questions.
103. A Little Dusty
I had a woman with an expensive fur coat who claimed that the laundromat ruined it. It was a bit ruined, but the laundromat said that the stains were already there. The judge ordered an expert opinion—and it revealed so much more than we bargained for. The coat had traces of drugs all over it. They raided her place where they found her husband’s big stash of drugs. She should have just taken the stains.
104. A Good Foundation
So, I do a lot of insurance work, and I try cases of all kinds, large and small. I had a small case, over about $2,600, from where a contractor drove into a retaining wall at this lady’s house and damaged it. He wouldn’t fix it, and, after like eight months, the homeowner allowed her insurance company—my client—to have it fixed and then sent the bill to the contractor.
Surprise surprise, the contractor wouldn’t pay. There was lots of squabbling between my client and the contractor’s insurance company, who offered less than $500 on a $2,600 bill. We had a trial to settle it. I brought our claims adjuster and the homeowner. The defense attorney brought the contractor and an adjuster from the contractor’s insurance company.
Everything goes fine with questioning the homeowner, who was a sweet, middle-aged woman. She, like most people, knows nothing about the finer points of masonry. Then, we get to my claims adjuster. He says, “Well, we paid $2,600 to have this fixed, but I’m not an expert on masonry.” However, he also discussed how estimates on masonry were made.
I close my proof. Next, the contractor gets up on the stand. They go over what exactly happened with the retaining wall. Then, he testifies that he “knows for a fact” that the $2,600 invoice includes overhead and profit and accuses my client of “running a scam.” The judge strikes the answer. I look down at the estimate for repair and grin from ear to ear.
It says, in bold print, “This amount does not include overhead or profit.” I look at the invoice. It’s the same amount as the estimate. This guy is lying through his teeth—and I’m going to catch him. On cross examination, I show the contractor the invoice. “Sir, this is a $2,600 invoice for repair, correct.” “Yes.” Then I show him the estimate.
“Sir, this is a $2,600 estimate for the same repairs, correct?” “Yes.” “They’re the same amount, correct?” “Yes.” “Does the estimate say it does not include profit or overhead?” “Uh…” “Does it?” “Yes.” “Didn’t you just testify that you knew for a fact that the estimate included overhead?” “I don’t know.” “What don’t you know?”
At this point, the contractor is furious and beats his hand on the stand. “It doesn’t include overhead and profit, does it?” “I guess not.” “But you said it did, right?” I pass the witness. But I wasn’t done yet. Next, the defense attorney calls the contractor’s insurance company’s adjuster. He testifies about how much he thought it should cost, like $500.00.
I cross-examine him. “How did you make this estimate?” “I put the numbers into a computer program.” “How do you know what numbers to put in?” “Uh…” “Are you a contractor?” “No.” “Are you an expert in masonry?” “No.” “Have you ever worked in construction?” “No.” “And the computer programs spits out what you put in?” “Yes.”
“And you can just put in whatever numbers you want?” “Yes.” “And it makes an estimate based on the numbers you pick?” “Yes.” “But you don’t know anything about masonry?” “No.” The adjuster just testified that he made up the estimate. Defense closes proof. And the judge takes the matter under advisement. So let’s recap all this glory.
The contractor lied and was discredited, and the adjuster for the contractor admitted he just made everything up. We got $1,000 out of the trial. Less than half of what we sought but double what the defendant argued it should be. It was a win in my book.
105. An Iron Clad Defense
I was an Assistant DA in a college town in Texas. A fellow prosecutor (in plain clothes) overheard this exchange between a defendant and his attorney in the courthouse hallway. “Why don’t they dismiss this case? The paper says ‘State of Texas v. ______,’ but I didn’t punch the state of Texas. I punched my co-worker.” Oh, buddy…
106. Rebutting In
I had a client who, despite being a large man, had been domestically mistreated by his much smaller wife throughout their marriage. After the divorce, she turned her anger on their son. He ran away one day to live with his dad, and we filed to restrict his ex’s parenting time and ask for a permanent modification to the custody agreement.
At the permanent hearing, she denied hurting the child or my client in front of the child, said she never threatened anyone ever, and that she never made disparaging remarks about my client in front of their son, either. But there was one big thing she didn’t know and couldn’t tell her attorney. My client had recorded multiple instances of her doing all of these things.
So I called my client back up for rebuttal right after her testimony and played an audio recording of her screaming at my client, threatening to break his face in, and calling him a loser, all while the child could be heard in the background begging her to stop. I looked over at the other attorney and she had her face in her hands. We won.