The justice system can be tricky. Some cases are pretty cut and dry, and some are more complex. Even seasoned attorneys are sometimes surprised by some of the cases that fall into their laps. Throw in a judge and jury, and often even the outcome is not one you would expect. Keep reading to hear some of the most shocking cases that lawyers and other workers in the system have encountered.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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 her taking her own life 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, had taken her own life. What a joke.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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 chests 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.
18. The Far-Reaching Effects Of The Pandemic
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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. 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.
27. 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.
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. 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.
32. 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.
33. 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.
34. 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.
35. 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.
36. 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.
37. 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.
38. 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.
39. 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.
40. 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.
41. 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 it”. 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.
42. 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.
43. 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.
44. 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.
45. 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.
46. 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.
47. 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.
48. 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.
49. 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.
50. 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.