Law & Disorder: These Brutal Cases Made Lawyers Want To Quit On The Spot

May 8, 2020 | Phillip Hamilton

Law & Disorder: These Brutal Cases Made Lawyers Want To Quit On The Spot

Many people dream of being a lawyer. It’s a one-of-a-kind career path that sees you defending the innocent, locking up the bad guys, and making the world a better place. At least, that’s the dream version. In reality being a lawyer is one of the most morally challenging jobs out there. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, meaning even the most reprehensible people need to be defended with honor and respect.

Here are the cases that tested a lawyer’s morality.

Lawyers Moral Compass

1. Surefire POS

I did a bail hearing back in my second year of practice as duty counsel. The guy had trapped his girlfriend in the cab of his pickup, twisted one arm up behind her back to her shoulder, and broke it. As if that wasn't bad enough, then he did the same thing to the other side. I had to represent him while she and her family sat in the front row of the court.

She had both arms in casts and in slings. Thankfully, the person posting his bail melted down on the stand and we had to adjourn. By the time he was up for bail again he'd gotten private counsel. They proceeded to put the same surety up on the stand even after I warned him not to. In front of the same Justice. He got detained.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

2. Full of Hate

I represented a race-hater while working at a medium sized firm. He was a small business owner and he called the only package delivery guy in the area by a slur. The package delivery guy rightly files a case against him. My client basically screwed himself because he ran his business out of his house, and it was a package-based business.

He also owned a ton of arms and he was afraid that they were going to take them away because of the legal suit. At the preliminary hearing I argued that the delivery service in his area was basically a utility with a monopoly. Their fancy lawyers saw that I could’ve gotten treble damages so they dropped the case. I felt slimy, but I was about to feel worse.

The jerk didn’t even pay me. And my spineless partner didn’t want to sue him for fees because I only had six hours for the whole matter.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

3. I’m Not Paying

When I worked on insurance defense, I spent a lovely afternoon bickering over $5000 on behalf of a huge truck company. The "negotiations" happened at the plaintiff's home. He'd been hit by one of my client's semi-trucks on the interstate, and while it managed not to kill him, it tore off an arm and a leg, and shattered almost everything else.

He was almost entirely immobile, confined to a power chair that he could barely operate, and confided to us that if he had function in his remaining hand, he'd end himself. Oh, the $5000? It was based on an estimate to renovate his bathroom so that he could actually use it. He'd been peeing and pooping in a bedpan in the living room.

I felt like a complete monster sitting in front of him and arguing about such an insignificant sum.

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4. Just… Wtf

Lawyer here. I once had to defend a guy that ended his own grandmother’s life and rubbed his own poop all over the corpse. It was bad...

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

5. Just Dumping

My father was a defense attorney who mostly dealt with death penalty cases. On one, a man was charged with ending his wife’s life via carbon monoxide poisoning and disposing of the body. My dad had to argue that while they may be able to prove he disposed of the body, no one could prove the wife didn't end her own life. Therefore, he can only be convicted of the lesser charge of dumping the body.

Her weeping family was in the courtroom the whole time.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

6. Environmental Enemy

A partner sent out a firm-wide email congratulating his team on a great win. It detailed how their win meant that our client, Giant Fossil Fuel Company, wasn't liable for damage to the environment caused by leaks in their pipes. Instead, the taxpayers would be covering the cost. The partner went on to say something to the effect of "this saves our client $x billion a year in environmental cleanup and pipe maintenance."

Even though it wasn't my case, that one has always stuck with me.

Horrible Bosses FactsShutterstock

7. Instant Regret

My sister works for the public defender’s office. One of her first cases right out of law school was defending a man who was suspected of first degree murder. He pled his innocence to her, so she worked tirelessly, with the evidence she had, to prove his innocence. She was successful, and the charges were dropped.

Unfortunately when he was released, his first day out of custody he ended another innocent person’s life. Turns out he had lied to my sister about his involvement in the first murder and because she was able to get him off, one of the first things he did was kill an innocent person. She took it pretty rough and couldn’t help but feel guilty that she had somehow inadvertently caused the passing of someone else.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

8. Oh, I Totally Did It, BTW

My dad is an attorney. He started out in criminal defense and lucked out on one of his first cases. An old friend’s wife’s life was horribly ended while he was away, dismembered with an axe. Her body had been found by a fluke, and there was a tiny bit of circumstantial evidence pointing to the husband. He was an upstanding citizen, the two had never fought, it was a silly case. The lawyer got the husband acquitted, and while they were having celebratory drinks, the husband admitted he’d actually done it.

My dad immediately walked out of the bar and switched to corporate law.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

9. Drawings Don’t Count

One of my professors is a lawyer and mentioned a case where he was defending a man who claimed his anime child smut was protected as free speech.

Empress Theodora FactsShutterstock

10. Winning by Losing

I represented a mom in a custody case. Both parents were fighting for primary custody of the kids. Mom was admittedly a mess and suffering from some mental health issues. Dad took the kids and didn’t bring them back for a few months in violation of the order. So, I got the kids back and handed them off to mom. Here's where it gets bad.

When I met with mom and the kids, I realized the kids were doing way better with dad and should be with him. Tried to reason with mom, she didn’t listen. Ultimately the child protection office got involved and the children was placed with dad. I last saw mom many years ago and she was still not in a super healthy place. So best ending happened and not because of me.

Airport Goodbyes FactsShutterstock

11. Question the Kid

My firm had to defend a former priest in a civil case. He had been convicted of child molestation and one of the families was suing both the church and the priest. We basically had to call into question this kid’s character, make them look like a liar, and make it seem like the priest was the victim because the trial would damage his reputation. Made me feel like an absolute cretin.

Martin Scorsese factsPixabay

12. Mom Problems

I have a case where we suspected the mother had Munchausen by proxy. The child was always fine with the dad, but mom would take the child to the doctor every other day. When they didn’t give the answer mom wanted, she’d get a second, third (etc.) opinion. Mom was oddly close to the nurses and doctors.

Child had some type of cancer where they needed a colostomy bag and mom didn’t clean it. It was infected so bad that the child couldn’t wear it anymore. The kid was getting sicker and dying. Mom (allegedly) pushed her child in the shower and it messed up their head. It’s possible that mom is feeding her drugs too because child puked blood from time to time.

Now the child has seizures once a week from the shower incident. Mom spent $400,000 on medical bills in one year. Mom made a false GoFundMe and only used ~$200 of the thousands she received on medical bills. The page has since been removed, and the case is still open until we can find more experts to testify.

Patients Wouldn't Admit FactsGetty Images

13. What’re You Going to do, Tear it Down?

My friend is a magistrate. He was working on a case where a guy had attacked a uniformed officer. First, the court watched a video of the event with the guy shouting all sorts of curses at the authorities. He then, when asked to answer for his offense, started to pretend to speak another language. His solicitor just said, "Please forgive my client he does speak English, however he is an idiot".

After this blatant lie, the client then started to pretend that he was deaf and dumb. He mimicked what he thought was sign language, pointing at his mouth and shaking his head. His solicitor again said, "Please forgive my client. He is not deaf and dumb, he is just stupid."

My magistrate friend then said to the defendant "Please take a seat Mr. X." The client immediately responds, "Yeah no problem luv." Complete mess of a case. I feel so sorry for the solicitor.

Legal Disasters FactsShutterstock

14. To Trash or Not?

I once represented an innocent company in a lawsuit which, if they lost, would have ended their business. I knew the owners, they were great people, and they absolutely didn't do what they were being sued for. Opposing counsel, and their client, were the scum of the earth (this was a widely shared opinion).

One day, reviewing some documents before producing them, I came across a very, very bad document. I understood what it meant, but I also understood that it could easily be misconstrued, and if misconstrued, would virtually nail my client's coffin shut. I was traveling, so I put the document in my briefcase to take back to the hotel so I could talk with my co-counsel about it.

That night, I didn't call my co-counsel, but I did stand in my hotel room, next to the trash can, for almost a half-hour. I was in agony. If I tore up the document and threw it away, no one would ever know. My good, innocent client wouldn't have to deal with it. Instead, I put the doc back in my briefcase, took it back in the next day, and put it back in the pile of documents to be produced.

The other side found the document and made hay with it. It was painful. We went to trial, and the jury found in favor of my client on every issue. They saw the truth, not the misconstruction. And, best of all, I got to keep my soul.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

15. Sketchy

Ugh. Well, fresh after law school, I worked on a case where the people involved were sketchy in every possible way. My role was very limited - I was just helping with some securities filings. The problem was that nothing quite added up and when I brought the discrepancies over to my boss, she just told me to put the information in anyway. She was very friendly with the client - we saw him at our office all the freaking time, as he'd often just drop by to chat and hang.

Years later, the company folded and their clients, many of whom were quite vulnerable, lost hundreds of millions of dollars. I was not at all surprised. My boss was someone whom I had dreamed of reporting for years (for that and other sketchiness), but she was slippery enough that she always had some level of plausible deniability, and nothing ever came of it.

I think about that old file often. It's not great to feel like you may have helped legitimize a fraudulent operation. My experience there definitely jaded me quite a bit, even compared to other junior lawyers.

Plot Twist FactsShutterstock

16. Screwed Both Ways

Criminal lawyer in Winnipeg, Canada here. The toughest are cases where you cannot actually tell the client what to do. I had one case where the client was alleged to have sprayed someone with bear spray and pointed a taser at the complainant. Citizens are not allowed to own tasers here. The authorities apprehended him a few hours later.

After I interviewed him, I had to specifically NOT ask what he did with the arms. If I told him to throw them away, I am counselling him to commit an offense by destroying evidence. If I told him to keep them, that's also an offense, since it's possession of prohibited device. It is unethical and possibly against the law if you counsel someone to commit a criminal act.

So, I can tell him what the consequences are of each choice, but I can't recommend he do one or the other. Meanwhile, client keeps asking me what to do and all I can say is that you have to make your own decision.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

17. Care or Cash

I remember one of my first moral dilemmas. I had a client with a fairly arguable case against another company. They were very, very motivated to pursue the suit but their facts were pretty tenuous. At the end of the day it was nothing more than a he-said-she-said situation, and quite honestly their witnesses weren't the best. I was put in the position where I could take the case and make a good $20,000, or I could do the right thing and tell my client that he'd be exposing himself to a huge of risk.

I explained that, given the circumstances and what they were alleging, it was anyone's game. I told him that in my personal opinion, it wasn't worth paying $20,000ish to have an indefinite shot at more money. He ultimately agreed with me, but I can see how less scrupulous lawyers may have stirred the pot on that one. "Oh yeah, you've got a case, let's hit them hard, etc."

Criminals Screwed factsShutterstock

18. Evidence in Black and Blue

I'll never forget this case. A woman had been assaulted. State's witness recants on the stand, saying her boyfriend never laid a finger on her and never set her on fire. She came to court with a swollen, burnt, bandaged face and a bunch of missing teeth from when she was, allegedly, thrown into the wall.

They went into chambers. Everyone's just staring at me, although we're all professionals and we all know what's coming. My client has a right to remain silent, and my duty is to my client. Back in open court, the Judge doesn't even give me a chance to make a motion to dismiss the case. He throws it out himself.

My client gets to walk out of court. His maimed girlfriend is held in contempt and given the maximum 30 days.

Sometimes the easiest cases are still the ones that still make you think years later.

Instantly Ended a Case factsShutterstock

19. Putting Politics Aside

I sometimes help nonprofit organizations get charitable status with the IRS. Ordinarily, this is great fun and I love the work. However, I've helped a few organizations that I was morally opposed to.

For example, I once helped a religious organization whose sole mission is opposing gay rights in the US - gay marriage, gay adoption, etc. I fully support gay rights and that was a difficult project for me. Another time I helped an arms control organization, even though I disagree with arms control. For projects like that, where they are permitted by law, I do my job and help the organization because I'm a professional and I don't let my personal opinion interfere with my work...but it doesn't feel good.

Unprofessional Teachers FactsShutterstock

20. The Sympathy Card

My friend is a lawyer and was doing a custody case about three years ago. The father (his client) walks up to him, looks him in the eye, and says, "I've messed up. I've lost my wife, I've lost my kids, and I've lost my happiness. All I've ever been able to do is drink and get angry, but they have been a light to me. If you can help me get them back, it would mean the world to me."

He knew that the guy was guilty of everything so he didn't know what to do. In the end, he decided to just be honest. His strategy in court was to say exactly what the father did. He appealed to the jury's humanity and, surprisingly, won. The couple are actually back together now and the guy has resolved his issues.

Bill O'Reilly factsShutterstock

21. Happily Unsuccessful

MLMs are considered pyramid schemes in my country and are banned to protect consumers. Public prosecution here got wind of an MLM operating and shut it down, closing up the premises and everything. My firm was hired by the MLM to defend their case and argue that they should be allowed to keep operating.

I had to prep all the defenses while absolutely DESPISING MLMs and thinking that they’re run and operated by predatory pieces of garbage. We had several high up employees from the MLM’s head office fly halfway across the world to us for status update meetings (lasting 15-30 minutes or so) that could have literally been done over email or conference call.

Nope, they just had so much money to burn off the backs of vulnerable people who have 0 chance of succeeding in “their business” that a gang of them would fly over every so often to ask “so how’s it going?” I thanked my lucky stars every time the public prosecution rejected one of our arguments and eventually the MLM gave up and cleared out of the country. Never been so happy that I lost a case.

Lawyers Share “I Rest My Case” FactsRawpixel

22. Blame the Little Guy

I once worked on a case where a multinational corporation had caused severe environmental damage to a relatively impoverished country. I was on the corporation's side.

It was interesting on moral grounds because the corporation was 100% not lawfully responsible anymore; and  the country was absolutely corrupt and using massive conflicts of interest to screw over the corporation without giving them a fair trial. So, I had no problem sleeping at night, but you still feel bad just saying "it's your problem now" to the small country.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

23. Better Without ‘Em

A close relative was a judge in a pretty small town in the 80's. There was a case, drug deal gone bad. I guess one guy went to his dealer's trailer. Guy planned to rob dealer, not only take his drugs but his money as well, Dealer picked up on that plan quickly and pulled out a piece. The first guy pulled out his piece as well.

Both lives ended, by stupidity, really. The families ended up suing each other for wrongful passing. Their relatives spent a couple of days going over the law before they arrived in court, each wanting to get rid of the other for money. Relative (while on the bench no less) said something to the effect of "They both did society a favor by removing themselves from our society."

The prosecutor was laughing so hard he had to excuse himself from the room.

Awkward Job Interviews FactsPxHere

24. The Ol’ John Hancock

I'm a lawyer's assistant. My boss asked me to falsify the signature of a recently dead man in order to have a will validated. In my country when a person passes it takes up to four days to have the act registered, and in that time frame my boss legalized a secret will in which one of the sons of the deceased would be substantially benefited. It was of course her client.

Jackie Kennedy FactsShutterstock

25. Selling It All

I used to do a lot of cases where my firm would basically cover our clients' losses on loans. We had one case where the debtor kept saying he really wanted to repay our client according to the agreed repayment plan. The meeting dragged on for an hour and he seemed very eager to tell me about why he was in debt in the first place.

I finally asked him out of curiosity why he had taken out the debt. His answer broke my heart. It turned out his son (who was around my age) had terminal cancer, and he and his wife had sold everything they owned and took out huge loans with their house as security to provide him with the best possible treatment - and eventually hospice. And, as he said it, "now my son is gone but the debt is not".

All I could do was warn him about the planned foreclosure four weeks later, if he did not find a way to repay as promised. Turned out he did find a way to come up with the money, but I still think a lot about that case.

Worst Birthdays EverShutterstock

26. A Hollow Victory

I had one case where an ex-husband and ex-wife were against each other. Both were completely fraudulent. Both were trying to use their young daughter against the other. One was a chronic cheater/opportunist and the other was constantly high or drunk and trying to access his former wife's financials (she was quite well off when they got together). I feel like our client edged out our opposition VERY MINUTELY by being a slightly better person, but it was a hollow victory no matter who won.

Divorce Screwed client factsShutterstock

27. Your Dog, Your Problem

I used to work for a law firm specializing in subrogation cases on behalf of insurance companies. Basically, if you file an insurance claim for something that wasn't your fault, your insurance company will pay you, but then go after the person whose fault it was to recover their money.

This is the story of my lowest point as a lawyer. It involved a customer who made a claim for a car accident. The accident happened because a dog ran out into the street and the car didn't have enough time to stop. Unfortunately, the dog’s life ended in the impact. There was also some damage to the car, which the insurance company paid to the car owner, but it turned out there was an ordinance in the accident location requiring dogs to be on a leash in public areas at all times. Meaning, technically the dog owner was at fault in the accident.

So, my job was to write a demand letter to the owner of the dog who just passed, demanding that he pay for the damage that was caused to the car during the accident THAT ENDED HIS PET’S LIFE. The dog owner never responded, and luckily the insurance company decided it wasn't worth additional legal fees of pursuing it further. It just about destroyed me to write that letter. Luckily, I don't work there anymore and haven't done any subrogation work since.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

28. A Worthless Life

My business law professor told me a story I'll never forget. When he was the attorney that represented my hometown government, he had a case where law officers were chasing a suspect. The suspect opened fire and they returned it. After it was all said and done, they realized that one of the bullets from the officer’s piece had inadvertently ended an innocent bystander’s life.

The family of the bystander sued. Apparently, she was transient and a drug addict and had been in the area to try and score drugs. The family’s attorney was asking for millions in restitution. My professor said he was “scared witless” about having to go before a jury and state that the family of the woman did not deserve such a high amount of restitution because (being a drug addict) the woman’s life really had no monetary value to begin with.

Thankfully the city and the family settled out of court. I can only imagine how bad my professor would have felt if he had actually been compelled to make that argument to the jury. Who wants to say to a jury and to family in the court gallery that someone’s life had literally no value?

Zsa Zsa Gabor factsShutterstock

29. Mid-Case Twist

The most challenging case I ever worked was one where a man was sick with cancer and sued every possible product he encountered. This is very typical in product liability cases; plaintiffs will cast a wide net and then, over the course of discovery, you narrow down to a list of a handful of likely suspects. My client, thankfully, was highly unlikely for reasons I won’t elaborate upon.

The morally challenging moment came when I was chatting with my boss one afternoon about scheduling depositions, discussing how Plaintiff clearly lied about XYZ because of ABC, and joking around about something unrelated when our phones both buzz at the same time. We both got an email: Plaintiff has passed, and his attorney (and family) were going to re-file as a wrongful passing case. There was a beat where we just stood there in silence before my boss gave me instructions for advising the client while he made phone calls to the other parties’ counsel.

That moment hit me hard overtime. Not because I thought my client had anything to do with the disease - I genuinely believe it didn’t. Rather, it was a combination of two things. First, it was the first time someone I actually met (at deposition, in the course of work) passed on mid-case. Second, it was the fact that - by necessity - we only had a moment to take in the Plaintiff’s passing before treating it like a litigation event to deal with.

A few months later, I left that practice area behind for business dispute litigation instead.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

30. Consultation Therapy

During a consultation with me, a potential client kept turning the subject to how the authorities investigated crimes. I foolishly asked why they wanted that information and that opened the flood gates. The person admitted that they'd killed someone. I get off the phone fast.

A week later, I get notified that I'm the on-call lawyer of a minor who was suspected of murder. When I read the file, my jaw dropped. This kid was accused of a crime that was pretty much identical to the one that monster from the phone call had admitted committing. One guy had done the crime, but it looked like another one was being set up to do the time.

I had to get rid of the suspect as a client but couldn't tell anyone why. It still upsets me that I knew the truth but couldn't say anything since the person had admitted it during a consultation.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

31. I’m Sick, I Quit

One of my coworkers was hired by a man in possession of child smut to defend him. The guy ALLEGEDLY used to work for the authorities/FBI/whoever to catch people in possession of this stuff and trace it back to the source to try to catch the people making it. However, when he retired, he decided he wanted to keep doing it as a vigilante (allegedly). I have no idea if he actually turned anything he found into the authorities.

He got caught when he took his computer in for service at a local shop. We all had big bad feelings about this case, to be honest. We all fully believed his story did not add up and thought he was going to prison, but he hired us, so we had to throw something at the wall at least. I don't know how the case ended since I quit the firm before the case went to trial, but I came home sick to my stomach every day while I worked on that defense.

Lost FactsShutterstock

32. Stability, Not Drama

I was working on a domestic violence case, trying to help an innocent parent who had custody of two kids. Got lots of evidence of her ex-husband showing up and screaming at my client, past history of mistreatment, corroborating testimony from family members of my client, and even more. It should have been an easy case. We had no idea what we were in for. 

The night before trial, our client gives us two years of Facebook messages. It turns out the "monster ex-husband" is focused only on getting visitation with the children, repeatedly asks to see them, sets up dates, and then my client misses the hand-off and taunts defendant about how he can't see his kids. She'd hid it all from us. We were furious.

We negotiated a settlement that included specific visitation, and helped our client finally begin divorce proceedings. Our client wanted to use the court to avoid sharing custody out of spite, but what our client and the children needed was stability - not more drama. I thought we were representing an innocent single mom. Turns out she was a wolf in disguise.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

33. Don’t Actually Hit Me

My friend told me about a case where a bunch of 18-year old kids were drinking, got into a fight, and then of course one of them said "hit me." The one who said "hit me" ended up hitting his buddy's head. The way he landed was a freak accident and the boy actually died. My friend is representing the parents of the dead boy, you know, the one who instigated the whole thing.

That Kid In School FactsShutterstock

34. A Stick with Two Bad Ends

I worked on a case in law school about a native American nation that was disenrolling its members because of corruption and wanting to have more money for the rest of the community members. They kicked over 100 people out of a community of a few thousand, and those people lost their housing and health insurance because of it.

BUT the solution was to involve the US federal government and ask them to force the nation to re-enroll those folks. So, on the one hand, people are literally dying from losing their health insurance, and on the other you're asking a colonial power to interfere in the sovereign right of an Indigenous nation to determine its membership. It felt really bad no matter how I sliced it.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

35. More Than a Punk

I knew a guy who went to law school to make the world a better place. A few years after he graduated, he told me about one of his early cases as a Public Defender. I'll never forget his words. His client was a 'clean cut, good looking kid' from a lower middle-class family up on a minor vandalism charge. He brought the kid a clean dress shirt and tie for his initial court appearance. When the kid took off his T-shirt to change into it, my buddy saw a tattoo of a certain symbol that suggested the kid was a Nazi.

According to my friend, after helping get the kid community service, he had to go into the men's room and vomit.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

36. A Way Out

My client was accused of culpable homicide for the passing of her five-year-old son. Over a period of two years her and her boyfriend would beat the poor child for the silliest of things, most notably for always being hungry. After the first year or so he developed epilepsy. They would take him to the hospital, offer lies about how he got hurt, and then disappear after treatment, so it went undetected. He was sitting on the couch watching cartoons, had a seizure and slumped over. He had a severe head injury and inter-cranial bleeding. The mom took him from where he passed into her bedroom where she dressed him in winter clothing (despite it being a sweltering hot November summer day) and then left him lying face down on the floor for 2 hours before calling an ambulance.

The autopsy report revealed the kid was malnourished. He was covered in bruises and had burns on his back and privates. I'll never forget consulting with her, crying her crocodile tears and complaining about her horrific life and drug dependency. She denied burning the little boy and said that he did it to himself.

Lucky for me, my instructing attorney made the very unethical mistake of forwarding the prosecution a forged plea agreement (signing my name which I obviously had no idea about) and it gave me the out I needed. I withdrew from the case. She was found guilty of culpable homicide in that she was negligent, rather than murder because it could not be proven whether she was in fact the abuser who gave the "finishing blow." She was sentenced to 8 years' imprisonment.

Teacher Confiscated FactsShutterstock

37. Hush Hush

My first job was investigating an incredibly sketchy company. This one manager had basically figured out  creative ways to grease people and funnel money to folks who should not have been getting it. We had to CONSTANTLY tell people they needed to change their behavior. That giving a Chalet ski trip to a Saudi government official is actually bribery, doesn't matter if they could afford that on their own.

In the end, though, I am legally obligated to keep their secrets, no matter what they've done. That's...not really why I went to law school.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

38. It’s a Card Game, Sir

As a public defender I defended a grown man accused of stealing magic cards from Walmart. There was an hour-long security video meticulously showing, from dozens of angles, that he was picking up sets of cards, unwrapping them and discarding the wrappers around the store. He insisted that he was innocent and we actually went to a jury trial instead of securing a plea deal.

It took the jury 8 minutes to convict him and the judge laid into my client telling him that he was the worst thief he had ever seen. But here's the best part. At one point in the trial I had to spend 45 minutes explaining to the judge what magic cards are. He couldn't understand why anyone need more than one deck.

Criminals Screwed factsShutterstock

39. That Poor Donkey

I had a case that I now call "The Case of the Donkey Screwer." A friend had to try and defend a bloke who got caught three times being intimate with a donkey on a local farm. The guy kept getting caught because he had to take a step ladder with him to reach the animal, and every time it happened the farmer spotted the ladder bouncing up and down behind the fence.

The barrister in this case had defended the IRA in the past and his words were "bloody long step away from the IRA but the same amount of money", the defendant didn't have a case and was completely open about his, uh, preferences in open court, no shame whatsoever.

Brigitte Bardot FactsMax Pixel

40. The Closet Stays Closed

I'm an immigration lawyer, so the worst I see are people trying to pass off sham marriages for green cards, or bogus asylum cases. Years ago, I was a junior attorney at a firm and handed a case with a dicey marriage. This couple was majorly mismatched. I met the husband. He was South American, tanned, soap opera star handsome, totally fit, dressed in expensive clothes and dripping with gold jewelry.

Then after I put together the paperwork, the wife came in to sign it. She's about 15 years older than him, short, dumpy, homely. Dressed in old, frumpy clothes. She tells me that "in his culture" couples don't kiss, and don't make love unless they want to have children, and he's not ready to be a father yet.

Because of his work, he mostly stays in a co-worker's spare bedroom on the other side of the city. She gives me photos of them together as proof of their marriage. A bunch are from his most recent birthday. It's in a club. She's the only woman in the photos. All the other guys are shirtless. Most have glitter on their bodies. I ask a fellow attorney who is gay what he thinks. He recognizes the club as a gay bar that he's been to. We still filed it, without the club photos, and he got his regular green card.

Legal Disasters FactsShutterstock

41. I’m Not Even Your Lawyer

I worked at legal aid for a while. Every day was "outrageous" but here's the story of how I got a restraining order on my first ever "client."

The very first person I ever spoke to in a legal capacity was a woman who wanted to sue her contractor for $250,000 for an unfinished job and emotional distress. First, being upset at an incomplete job isn't emotional distress. Second, the contract was only for about $100,000 and upon further questioning I learned that this contractor had actually completed all terms of the contract. This woman eventually admitted she was suing him because he was "rude and always late."

I informed her that we would not take this case. Additionally, I warned her that a failure to pay the contract would most likely result in the contractor suing her. She found this idea ludicrous and began to yell at me in my office - first person on my first day - about how she had a right as an American that I act as her lawyer. So, I handle that, we are not helping her in this case.

Two days later, I get the most messed up call. It's from the Contractor's attorney stating that this woman has cited me as her attorney and threatened a hailstorm of suits upon the contractor from me. It took all of 5 minutes for the other Attorney to realize what was going on. Heck, they even made sure to remind me of the steps I should take to protect myself from any related suits this lady might bring upon me.

About a month later, the woman comes in again, furious because the contractor sued her and was able to get a lien on the property. She said this was my fault because I didn't help her. I manage to talk her down. She then immediately gets fired up again because "they are trying to scam her into giving them all her documents." Turns out, trial on the matter was coming up in about a week, and they had requested photographs of allegedly unfinished work, damages, etc... as well as the original contract and payment receipts.

Basically, all stuff that is very typical and reasonable to request and that she is obligated to provide. She (and nearly every client I worked with in this capacity) thought that evidence was supposed to be a "surprise" at trial and that sharing this information would hurt her case. Of course, it would hurt her case because she is a liar.

Anyways, I end the meeting by repeating that I am not her lawyer and even make her sign a paper signifying that she understands this. She leaves. Months pass, I'm no longer at Legal Aid. Lady finds me at my school. I get a call from the freaking dean asking me to swing by. Says he just met with a disgruntled client of mine who says I cost her her home, marriage, and children (apparently things went downhill fast).

She claimed she would do everything in her power to make sure I never did anything again. Anyyyways, dean is a nice guy and helped me with my restraining order paperwork.

Instantly Ended a Case factsShutterstock

42. Yeah, I Can’t Support That

A few years ago, a partner in a law firm I worked for at the time asked me to do some pro bono work for a Non-profit. Sure, I was glad to help. Upon further research I realized it was an organization that promoted conversion therapy. The founder lost his license on his county of origin and wanted to come to my country to keep this business going.

I told this to the partner, and he said "well, it is at the end, psychological aid." I refused to do it and he gave the assignment to someone else who also refused. He ended up doing it himself but apparently told the client not to use the name of the firm in anything.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

43. Family Law Blues

Family law attorney here. I just had a custody case go back to court over freaking eyeglasses. My client didn't like the glasses her ex bought the kid. So stupid. I want to go back to criminal defense. Gang homicide cases had nicer people than family law.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

44. Blame the Elevator

I was instructed to say that a mother had been negligent in allowing her child to play with an elevator that my clients had failed to maintain. The elevator started moving with open doors and decapitated her daughter right in front of her eyes. I don't work for insurance companies much these days.

Strangest Interactions factsPixabay

45. An Elderly Spat

Lawyer in a small town here. I mostly do estate planning, probate, old people stuff, etc. I have a client who sued his ex-wife for not selling the house after the divorce like she was supposed to. Judge held her in contempt, and asked what he wanted my client to do, and he had her thrown in prison. But here's the craziest part: They are both nearly 80 years old.

Lawyers Moral Compass FactsShutterstock

46. The Hot Water Incident

I work as a legal secretary and the one thing that annoys me is people who come to us because they want to sue a company for the money for a tiny reason. For instance, this one lady is suing a hot water bottle company because hers exploded in a pretty fishy "accident" and burned her legs. After that she lost her job and gained weight and is suing for damages and losses and "mental health issues" because of that accident. That was clearly not because of the hot water bottle accident. Her case is going for years now and I'm sick of her file on my desk.

Montgomery Clift factsShutterstock

47. Long Time for Grass

I had two guys trafficking 110 lbs of marijuana across the country. That's punishable by 8 years mandatory. Recognizing the legalization of weed, its view by the public, and my own personal view that marijuana is not a problem, I offered both a reduced non mandatory 3-year deal. The driver took the deal. The passenger did not! I convicted him no problem, even though he had an expensive attorney. He was a freaking moron because he ended up with a LONG time considering what he did.

Patients Faking FactsShutterstock

48. Just Doesn’t Get It

When I was about to start college back in the 90s, I took a receptionist job in a legal defense firm. I would answer the phones until 1pm and then tag along with one of the lawyers and watch them do their jobs in court. Everyone was very nice and did me a huge favor because the experience taught me that being a lawyer wasn't for me. One particular case always stands out. It was so horrible. 

There was shooting and a crowd gathered around the body. A detective was asking people if they'd seen anything. Our defendant said 'yes!' when he hadn't seen much, but he just wanted to help. He was a simple-minded person, but never formally diagnosed with anything. When I met him, it was clear that he was a sweet person who really liked people but was dealing with a low IQ and some reasoning issues.

The detective separated our defendant from the crowd and started questioning him. After a few minutes it was clear that the defendant was just giving answers that he thought the detective would want to hear. He really wanted to make the detective happy. Instead of just dismissing the guy, the detective apprehended him for giving false information.

He had a few minor thefts on his record (again he had issues), so he was looking at serious prison time because he talked to the authorities. He had no diagnosis or health records to back up any claim of mental deficiencies and anything resembling that would cost money he didn't have. He lived with a relative who was equally broke.

His lawyer was contemplating a guilty plea because he'd lied directly to a law officer and admitted it. I left before the case got resolved, but it's the one I still think about. This guy was harmless and was likely going to spend time in prison, where the outcome would likely have been very bad for him. The thing that stuck with me was how unnecessary it all was. It was suffering for literally no purpose. Putting him in prison was not going to magically give that guy better cognitive skills other than making him distrust people.

Genius Criminals FactsShutterstock

49. The One That Got Away

I had a case where a guy shot and ended the life of a security guard who slapped him across the face for selling drugs near a store. I knew the guy had done it.

It was close to midnight, the crime scene had poor lighting, and the shooter wore a hoodie. Only eyewitness that showed up for the trial had told the authorities at the time of the offense that the suspect was black. The defendant wasn’t Caucasian but wasn’t black either. That, IMO, was the argument that won the jury over. Defendant found not guilty.

He thanks me while in tears. His mother and grandmother bring me cake and a thank you note afterwards. Less than a year later I’m watching the news and they’re reporting an offense where a crew held up three families’ hostage while robbing their apartments. They beat up the janitor very bad. They tied the families up and locked them in one of the apartment’s bathroom while threatening to throw a grenade inside if any of them decided to wise up.

For a brief second one of the thieves looks right into an elevator camera before spray-painting it. Close-up on the guys face. I think you can imagine whose face I was looking at.

Eliot Ness FactsPiqsels

Sources: Reddit,

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