Okay, so there’s no denying that court can be a huge pain in the butt, but if you happen to commit an offense, you need to be ready to face the consequences. Unfortunately, as these Redditor stories demonstrate, people frequently show up to court woefully unprepared. In fact, these are, without a doubt, some of the most bizarre, amusing, and ineffective defenses to ever grace a courtroom…and against all odds, some of them actually worked.
1. Not So Fast, Buddy
I was in traffic court, and the first guy to go before the judge got pulled over for driving at some crazy speed, like 225 KM (140 MPH). To my surprise, the judge essentially told the guy that he would drop the ticket fee and the points on his record if the guy would admit to the court that his speeding was a mistake and that he wouldn’t ever do it again.
The guy managed to give the stupidest reply ever: “Well, I drive that fast all the time. So, I’m really good at it, and I don’t think it was dangerous at all because of how good of a driver I am.” All the guy had to do was say he was sorry and he would have walked out totally free. Instead, he got a $2,500 fine and two points on his record.
2. Stop: Slammer Time
I saw this go down in court while waiting for my traffic ticket. The judge said to the defendant, “So, you were seen pulling a stop sign out of the ground and throwing it in the river,” and the accused answered, “Yes, sir.” The judge then asked him, “Were you intoxicated?” The accused replied, “No, sir.” The judge then insisted to the defendant, “The ticket says you were intoxicated,” to which the accused again answered, “No, sir.”
Suddenly, the judge got an idea. He said, “Okay, let’s say I believe you. I will throw out this drunken disorderly charge,” and the accused replied, “Thank you, sir.” But the judge wasn’t finished talking yet: “But, I will have to charge you with the destruction of government property and endangering the public. That comes with at least a year in prison. So, I’ll ask one more time: Were you intoxicated?” Oh, snap.
The accused changed defense tactics super fast: “Yes, sir. Very intoxicated, sir.”
3. A Not So Smooth Move
I’m a law student, and this is my former professor’s story. A defendant got busted for possession of narcotics; they were in the pocket of his leather jacket. He argued the search was unlawful because, with his buttery smooth leather jacket, there was no way the officer could have felt any baggies in his pocket during a pat-down. Therefore, the officer should never have reached into his pocket to find something in the first place.
The judge then asked if the jacket in question was the same one the defendant was currently wearing in court—it was. Curious, the judge asked to feel the jacket pockets for himself, so the defendant handed his jacket over to the bailiff. The judge couldn’t believe what he found. There were more baggies in the guy’s pocket.
Needless to say, it didn’t go over very well for the defendant.
4. You Can Fix A Ticket, But You Can’t Fix Stupid
This happened while I was working as a medical assistant. One of our diabetic patients got a speeding ticket while his blood glucose was low, and he seemed to be under the impression that this would be an iron-clad excuse to get him out of it. So, he called our office one day, and I answered, “Dr. X’s office. [My name] speaking. How may I help you?” The patient said, “Hello. I need the doctor to write a letter for me.”
I responded, “I can definitely help with that (we do this frequently, usually for a jury duty excuse or a note stating they need to bring their medications with them when they travel, etc.). What is the letter for?” The patient answered, “I got a speeding ticket last weekend, and I’m going to contest it. I need a letter from the doctor stating that I have diabetes and that it impairs my ability to drive, so it wasn’t my fault I was speeding.”
I sat there in stunned silence. Finally, I responded, “…Let me run through this with you, just so I’m clear what you’re asking for.” “Okay,” the patient replied. I reiterated, “You want a letter stating you have diabetes?” The patient responded, “Yes.” I then confirmed, “And you want it to say your diabetes impairs your ability to drive?” Again, the patient replied, “Yes.” I then asked him, “And you believe telling the judge that your diabetes impairs your ability to drive will get him to throw out the ticket?” Once again, the patient answered, “Yes.” Whew, boy.
So I said, “…I don’t think that’s a good idea, sir.” Indignant, the patient responded, “What? Why!?” I then explained, “Even if they agree with your argument and toss out the ticket, which I doubt they will, if you tell them that you have a medical condition that impairs your driving ability, I’m pretty sure they’ll take your license away.” But the patient disagreed: “No, no. See, I’m only impaired when my blood sugar is low.” Me: “Right, but…”
This went on for a few minutes before I eventually told him that I’d ask the doctor to see what he thought. Unsurprisingly, the doctor agreed with me and said the patient would lose his license if he did that. So, we didn’t write the letter in the end, but the patient still brought this argument to traffic court, regardless.
The patient is now driven to all his appointments by his family members.
5. She Got Smoked
A friend of mine once got a ticket for leaving her car standing in the marked-off no parking zone in front of a grocery store, which she thought was outrageous because she was just running in to get a pack of smokes. Then she saw how much the ticket was for, something like $120, which she thought was just ridiculous because, dang it, she was just running in for a pack of smokes. I mean, come on, how is that worth $120?
Her plan was to go to court to contest the ticket and point out to the judge how ridiculous that amount was. She intended to offer to compromise at, say, $40 because, for Pete’s sake, she was just running in for a pack of smokes, so let’s be reasonable here. Yes, her plan was to haggle with the judge over how much the ticket should be worth. But it was even more stupid than that.
So she went to court and sat there for most of the day, waiting for her case to be called. Eventually, she got bored and went outside to grab a smoke and hang out. But while she was out, her case got called. She missed the whole thing. She didn’t get to try the whole, “Come on, $120? For that? I’ll give you $40, and even that’s outrageous,” defense on the judge.
Not only did she get hit for the full value of the ticket, but she also had to pay court costs.
6. Okay, Let’s Get Real
I was a juror for a case against a woman charged with selling a stolen revolver to a pawnbroker and possession of a revolver by a convicted felon. She took the stand and admitted to finding the revolver at a friend’s house and taking it to the pawnbroker. Her attorney’s entire closing argument was that the state failed to prove that it was a revolver, and the charges should be dropped.
Never mind the fact that the defendant admitted to it being a revolver, the guy that owned it said it was his revolver, and we had the dang revolver right there in front of us. Still, the defense said it was not a revolver because the state had not fired it to prove it was a revolver. Oye. There was no way that defense would work, right?
But, of course, as soon as we got back to the room to deliberate, one of the other jurors said he was not convinced it was a real revolver. I wanted to scream. Seriously, we had the revolver in a clear plastic box in the jury room with us. We even had a bailiff come in at one point to take it out and pull the slide back since we were not allowed to handle it ourselves.
The juror was still unconvinced. That was a really long day.
7. I’m A Guilty Flight Risk, Your Honor
Although I was in the public gallery for this while studying law, I was not the lawyer. This happened in the Leeds Crown Court back in the early 90s. A 75-year-old foreign (yes, this IS important) man was facing a preliminary hearing relating to charges that he had inappropriately touched a 13-year-old relative. His barrister made a successful plea for bail based upon this man’s being an established pillar of the immigrant community.
The judge asked the old man if he had anything to say before he was given bail until his next hearing in a month. Inexplicably, the man then chose to defend his actions by saying, “She was wearing very, very tight shorts, and I should not be held responsible because no real man could resist seeing something like that.”
The judge quickly reminded him this was a preliminary hearing, not a trial, so he should wait until the trial to argue his case—especially when making statements that are far from exculpatory and are better suited to mitigation. What the man said next shocked everybody: “I cannot reappear in a month because I am flying back to my home country tomorrow, and I will not be coming back.” WHAT?
The barrister appeared to be just as surprised as the rest of us. The judge immediately ordered the defendant’s passport seized, and he got remanded into custody until his trial.
8. Was This A Dumb Defense, Or A Genius Defense?
My grandpa was a public defender, and this was a defense he used for one of his clients, who was accused of attempting to break into a car. Here’s how it happened: Man #1 was sitting in his house. He looked out the window and saw Man #2 next to a car parked in the street. Man #2 was out there fiddling with the car door for like 10 minutes, and Man #1 realized Man#2 was trying to break into the car, so he called for help. Man #2 ran away, which caused Man #3 to get picked up nearby because he matched the description of Man #2.
So, my grandpa met with Man#3 (his client) and told him what he was accused of doing. His client then asked, “Wait, what kind of car was it?” When my grandpa told him, the client got a devious grin on his face: “I can prove that it wasn’t me.” Grandpa: “How?” Client: “You said the guy was out there for 10 minutes? I can break into that car in less than 20 seconds.” Grandpa: “Prove it.”
So, he found one of whatever kind of car it was, and the client proceeded to pick the lock in 12 seconds. My grandpa then brought the judge outside, and the client did it again for the judge. After making the client do it one more time to be absolutely certain, the judge then dismissed the case.
9. Trial And Error
Several years ago, I was doing a civil trial (personal injury), defending a woman who (allegedly) hit a bus matron with her car. We had offered to concede liability and just try damages. In other words, the jury wouldn’t hear the circumstances of how the injury happened, just that we agreed my client caused the injury. The jury would therefore only be deciding the amount for the damages, and we had evidence that the plaintiff was significantly exaggerating her injuries.
But the plaintiff’s attorney refused to agree to our concession, thinking that if the jury heard the circumstances, they’d want to give even more money to punish my client. So, we went to trial on liability. The plaintiff called one witness, her client, who testified that an older woman in a green car hit her. Suddenly, I had a brilliant idea. They rested…and I moved for a dismissal for failure to prove a case.
There was literally no evidence connecting my client to this incident—just an older woman in a green car. The plaintiff never bothered to call my client to the stand. The attorney told the judge that the bus driver had written down my client’s license plate and given it to law enforcement. They never bothered trying to find the bus driver.
So, the attorney asked if she could just put the accident report in, and I objected that it was hearsay. Then, the attorney actually said, “Please just let me put this in, I haven’t had work in a while, and I got retained by a firm to try this case. I really need to win this.” Of course, I didn’t agree, and the judge dismissed the case.
I felt a little bad for her, but that was maybe the worst presentation of a case I ever saw. I spoke with the jury afterward, and they all said they hated the plaintiff, didn’t believe a word she said, and likely would have found in my favor anyway. The moral of the story: BE PREPARED IN COURT.
10. He Was Hooked On Phonics
I was a law clerk working with the prosecutor’s office. This guy was caught on the highest quality security camera video I’d ever seen. He knifed a store clerk like 15 times (she survived), and not five minutes later, he was tackled a block away from the scene by a man who had followed him after seeing him flee. He was only 25 feet away from the knife, and the blood-covered jacket he’d been wearing still had the store receipt with his name on it in the pocket.
It was the literal definition of a slam dunk case. Moreover, after his attorney’s house was broken into and all his files were stolen, the guy chose to proceed to trial without his lawyer instead of just having the case postponed. Anyway, this guy’s main argument was that it couldn’t have been him because, in the officer’s statement, they misspelled his highly unique last name by adding a “T” in the middle (e.g., Johnson became Johnston).
He spelled his name out at every opportunity with much emphasis. He also argued it couldn’t be him because the man in the video tied a t-shirt around his head so that the distinctive tattoos there would be hidden…But, of course, he would never cover over his own tattoos like that because he was proud of them, and they represented his heritage as a Korean man.
Needless to say, the jury took less than a half-hour to return a guilty verdict.
11. From Bars To A Ball And Chain
I’m a lawyer, and the most ridiculous argument I’ve ever heard was the one that I actually made! One of my clients got busted cooking crank. This was a very clear-cut case; they actually caught him in the middle of a cook. There was no way that he was getting out of this one. Even worse, he was cooking at home, and his children were there. Yep, the DA loaded him up with felonies, there was no bail, and he was being held in the county prison.
My client knew he was screwed. Before he got caught, he’d been planning to get married in a few weeks, so he asked me if he could get released for 24 hours so he could still get married. I told him I’d ask but that there’s no way in freaking heck they’d let him out. First, I asked the DA if they would allow it. Nope: They laughed. So, I filed a motion with the court. Now, I knew the judge loved to rule on drug offenses, but I also knew that he was a crusty old conservative “family values” kind of guy. I knew just what I had to do.
There was no law involved, but I put together an argument about the sanctity of marriage and how the state should encourage marriage at all times—that sort of thing. We held a hearing, and I made my argument. The DA was totally opposed and called it ridiculous. Surprisingly, the judge granted it. The judge actually decided to allow my client 24 hours to get married. He had to surrender at the county prison at 8 AM the next day, along with some other conditions, but still…he was allowed out.
Everyone was stunned; nobody could believe it. The day of the wedding came, and my client was released. He got married, and then he went straight back to prison. Everything went exactly like how it was supposed to—which was also pretty shocking.
12. For God And Country
This happened in a drug treatment court, where some guy chose to defend his actions with the following speech: “It was Independence Day, your honor. A day to celebrate the freedoms that our forefathers fought and gave their lives for. A day to celebrate what this country is. So yes, judge, I DID do some crack. For freedom.”
The judge just chuckled and just said, “Don’t be stupid.” Then, unbelievably, the next five defendants tried the exact same thing, and the judge kept throwing the book at them progressively harder. The key takeaway here is this: Get to court early so that your BS excuse can go first.
13. Ask A Stupid Question…
I was the bailiff on a kidnapping case where the defendant acted as his own attorney. During jury selection, he had the option to wear civilian clothing but chose to remain in his prison attire, complete with handcuffs and waist restraints. When it came time for him to cross-examine the victim, she was understandably very upset. She was crying and refused to look at him.
The defendant’s first question went like this, “You seem upset. Does it make you nervous to be questioned by the person who attacked you?” You could hear a pin drop in that courtroom. He was found guilty and sentenced to 46 years to life in prison.
14. Bad Driver
I’m a public defender. I had a client accused of hit-and-run damage to unattended property: To wit, a stop sign. My client had parked his car in front of a gas pump and walked into a quickie mart. The car then rolled away from the pump without him, rolled over the curb, and then over a stop sign and into a ditch. Seeing this, my client then ran out of the store, got into his car, and promptly sped off.
This was all captured on video by a conveniently-timed passing city bus. Oh, and to make matters worse, his driver’s license was also suspended. My guy wanted me to argue that it wasn’t hit and run because, technically, he wasn’t driving the car when the thing got hit. He had exactly half a point. I had to tell him that his argument solved, at most, only half of the problem because it sure as heck was him driving for the ‘run’ part of the hit and run.
He took the plea deal.
15. Mea Culpa
I’m an actual lawyer, but this story comes from my time as a law student. As a 1L, they send you off to observe a day in a courtroom to see what it’s really like. Nobody tells you how much talking goes on in courtrooms when motion hearings are going on rather than an outright trial. There’s a noted buzz throughout the room; it’s usually attorneys speaking to their clients about how the process goes.
I happened upon a domestic harm hearing. When the poor victim took the stand, that buzzing stopped. You could hear a pin drop as she was sworn in and began testifying. Her attorney set the stage for the morning and then asked her, “And then what happened?” The victim looked right at the judge and said, “I made him hit me, your honor.” There was an audible gasp.
The judge, probably overstepping his bounds a little here, intervened in the questioning to say to her, “Ma’am, forgive me, but I feel like this is an important point you need to know, dear: You can’t make anyone hit you, and you didn’t make him hit you.” The woman, rather than being consoled, instead looked completely baffled.
She waited for a few beats and then finally said to the judge, “I’m pretty sure I did. I mean, I jumped on his back and hit him over the head with a frying pan, after all, your honor.” The entire courtroom burst into laughter, and the judge conceded that she had, in fact, made him hit her.
16. It’s Payback Time
I took a guy to small claims court. His defense was, “I didn’t have the product, so I couldn’t ship it to him, obviously.” The judge was like, “But you took his money?” The guy replied, “Yeah, so I could buy the product and ship it to him.” The judge then asked, “Did you do that?” The guy answered, “Not yet.” Finally, the judge asked him, “Do you have his money?” The guy’s dumb reply did him in: “No, I had had an emergency and had to spend it.”
That was that. I won.
17. An Air-Tight Case
I took a guy to small claims court because his employee/stepson not only installed the wrong sized air-handler, but he installed it backward. The guy’s only defense was that his stepson was useless and that he, personally, did not install it. I won because it was ultimately his employee that did the work incorrectly. Afterward, when the guy asked if he could come to get the air-handler, I told him no because he should have done that in the first place.
In the end, it turned out that I probably could have sued him for even more money because after giving us the verdict, the judge directed me to where I could go to file for suing out of small claims court, as well as the paperwork I’d need to do it.
18. Small Man At Large
When I was in law school, I worked with a group that helped get restraining orders for people in abusive relationships. Family court in Queens was very much a cattle call situation, and it was easy to watch hearing after hearing, which I always found fun. On one particular day, there was a case involving two gay men. One guy was a HUGE man: Fat and definitely over 6’ 4”. He claimed he was being mistreated by his tiny partner.
At first, the magistrate was very incredulous and was likely thinking what we were all thinking, given the massive size disparity between the two. But when the tiny guy got up to speak, he immediately started scolding his larger partner for saying the things he was saying. At some point, he even threw a pen at the bigger man.
When the bigger guy began to cry, the little guy started taunting him. The courtroom quickly made a 180-degree turn: We believed the poor big guy then.
19. May He Rot In Prison
An officer once recounted to me a story concerning a call about a guy “getting it on” with a girl in his van. Law enforcement responded to the call, where they soon made a shocking discovery: The man was twenty, and the girl was twelve. When they took the guy into custody, he tried to defend his reprehensible act with, “But she told me she was 14.” Um, what!? Seriously, what is wrong with people?
20. Just Keep Your Mouth Shut
My cousin sat on a jury for a domestic case where a woman was put in the hospital by her boyfriend. She’d been in a coma for 18 months and couldn’t even appear in court. Apparently, her boyfriend pushed her through a door and down the stairs. The guy’s defense lawyer was trying to get him off with a lighter sentence.
But then the defendant decided to open his mouth. He actually tried using the defense of “If she would have just listened to me about not touching my revolver, I wouldn’t have gotten so mad! I didn’t think the push was strong enough to put her through the door. I didn’t mean to put her in a coma; it just happens.”
The boyfriend ended up incarcerated for three years and is no longer allowed to possess revolvers. He was deemed mentally incapable of handling such things.
21. Wrong Terminology
I’m not a lawyer, but I work in a personal injury firm and have worked in a couple of other firms in the past. Absolutely everyone will blow their dang case the second they’re allowed to speak for themselves. Sometimes, this happens even if they’re right. My boss once told me a story about a client of his who completely misunderstood the term “pre-existing” and almost blew her entire case.
Apparently, his client kept insisting that her injuries—which she’d sustained in an auto accident—were all “pre-existing conditions” in her deposition. Dumbfounded, it was only after my boss finally asked her to define “pre-existing” that they all found out that the last half hour of the deposition was unusable.
22. That’s NOT What Kids Are For
I once gave testimony as a health professional in a child custody case. It was so disturbing, I’ve never forgotten it. The mother wanted to revoke the father’s joint physical custody of their eight-year-old girl. The issue was that the father kept asking the girl to wipe his butt and do other “care” stuff for him. The father’s case was that, because he was obese, fatigued, suffering from frequent diarrhea, he was too taxed to take care of his own hygiene without assistance.
The guy insisted it was acceptable for her to do this as long as she wore gloves to avoid contracting Hepatitis C from him. He also argued that it taught her a lesson about compassion and caring for those unable to do so themselves and that it helped them to bond. Truly incredible.
23. A Covert Collaboration
Mine is a worst/best defense sort of scenario. A few years ago, I was doing jury duty for the crown court in the Old Bailey. It was to judge this case against a Sri Lankan gang in London. Essentially, someone had gotten attacked with a machete in a car park and left for dead. There were six suspects in this trial, two of which had left the country. What was very clear was that all six of these people were in complete cahoots.
Every one of the four came to trial and blamed one other, so no one got blamed twice, but every one of them got the blame placed on them. Most of the evidence either pointed to one of the guys in the trial or to one of the guys that had left the country. We had to vote “not guilty” because there was so much reasonable doubt against all of them that none of them could be prosecuted.
24. Who Was This Guy Kidding?
This occurred while I was in court to change my last name. I was 14, and I wanted to change my last name to match my stepdad’s last name. But in order to do so, my biological father had to be present for the appointment and sign off on it. Okay, fine. Everything went smoothly until the judge stated to me, “Okay, if everyone will sign here, your name will be changed,” and my bio-dad suddenly responded with, “I’m not signing.”
When the judge asked him why, my dad’s answer was bonkers. He said, “What if she gets pregnant out of wedlock? I want the baby to have my last name.” Um, what!? I was only 14 years old at the time! I had never even kissed a boy, and I hadn’t even spoken to my dad in at least five years. Fortunately, the judge told him that was an irrelevant point and convinced him to sign the papers.
I was glad to leave that part of my life behind me that day.
25. They Should Have Said They Were Undercover
I once was the defendant in traffic court. I showed up in a suit and tie and was waiting for my attorney. The judge was already there, and the first part of the day was about just making sure all the defendants showed up. Then, the city attorney offered the defendants a discount to plead guilty (i.e., first-time offenders have to sign up for a class on safe driving; other than that, it’s a 30% discount off the top—ALWAYS FIGHT YOUR TICKETS, PEOPLE!).
Anyway, I wasn’t going to accept a plea deal because I had an airtight case. Even my lawyer agreed—she was nice and actually listened to me and did the groundwork. So, she and I refused the initial offer. She then told me to wait outside while the city attorney tried (again) to get me (and others) to take the plea deal.
But the thing about traffic court is that the officer who wrote the ticket has to show up. My attorney was concerned because the guy who ticketed me typically shows up. We went back into court, and a group of guys came in, all wearing ripped jeans, t-shirts, and dirty work boots (in stark contrast to the suit and tie I was wearing).
One of them looks familiar, but I can’t place him, and I figure it’s just some more people waiting for tickets. Then it hit me: They were the officers for the various cases. The judge was not amused. Their defense for their “condition” was that the court was “too early.” I and about 10 other people all had our tickets dismissed. I even have the signed letter from the judge framed. We didn’t have to say a thing.
I felt bad for the poor city attorney, though. He looked like he wanted to melt into the floor when the judge asked to speak to him. Like seriously, I honestly feel he felt he was walking to his execution.
26. Worth A Try
I was waiting in court for a traffic ticket when a woman’s case came up. She was able to prove that the time on her traffic ticket (9 PM) was incorrect since the officer (who was on the stand) admitted he worked the early shift that day. He had meant 9 AM. She argued that if he made one mistake on the ticket, there could be others. The judge agreed and dismissed the ticket.
So then, this good old homeboy contested his ticket next. The officer stood up and recited the usual facts (time of day, location, weather conditions, radar, etc.). At the end of it, the homeboy just nodded. The judge, as patient as ever, asked if the homeboy wanted to challenge any part of the officer’s statement.
“No, no,” said the homeboy. “No, that was really good.” The judge then asked, “So, if you are admitting guilt, why did we just do this?” “Well, I figured that if that woman got off on a mistake, maybe my officer would make a mistake too,” explained the homeboy. “Did he?” asked the judge. “Nope,” said the homeboy. “It happened just like he said.”
Everyone in the courtroom laughed, and the homeboy got a small fine.
27. An Idiot’s Proof
A guy was in court for taking the lives of two relatively young girls while driving intoxicated. The defendant’s lawyer claimed that the young girls should be at fault because “this man was intoxicated and the girls were sober; they should have had the reaction time to get out of the way.” I mean, wow.
Not only was it a pretty stupid defense, but, in terms of the worst defense, nothing beats that. It was absolutely appalling.
28. A Hostile Work Environment
When I attended my sister’s sentencing for a minor offense, I listened to this court-appointed attorney talk about another case. It involved an 18-year-old girl who was in trouble for hitting her 50-year-old coworker’s car and then not telling anyone until the coworker noticed. The coworker was yelling and carrying on about how this obviously pretty concerned 18-year-old girl wouldn’t even acknowledge her at work anymore and how she found the younger girl both cocky and disrespectful.
The girl’s court-appointed attorney basically just explained, “She told me she was afraid of you and wanted to stay out of your way while this was being worked out.” Then, in a perfect demonstration of the attorney’s point, the older woman just screamed, “THAT’S RIDICULOUS.” As far as defending yourself goes, that wasn’t a great way to do it.
29. Don’t Anger The She-Hulks
I’m a lawyer, and I once attended a hearing that involved a man trying to get an ex parte order against his girlfriend, which is relatively rare. It happens, but the vast majority involve women getting them against men. In any event, before his particular hearing could start, we were all treated to a first-hand glimpse of why the guy needed it.
A woman came into the courtroom flanked by two other women. All three of them were straight out of central casting for what you’d imagine NYC gang women to look like. They walked in and saw the woman’s partner sitting in the courtroom (though his hearing wasn’t up yet). The girlfriend immediately lost her mind.
She started threatening everyone in the room—especially the magistrate. It was crazy. After the magistrate ordered the women to leave, the bailiffs struggled to remove them, and they eventually ended up needing to call in for extra help to take them out. Finally, about 30 minutes later, when the dude’s hearing was up, the magistrate almost instantly granted the restraining order.
He even said that he’d put a note in for the full hearing about that woman’s conduct. That woman seriously didn’t do herself any favors that day.
30. Oh. Okay, Then…
I went to court for a traffic infringement in the state of Florida, and I was sat in a room full of people who were also there to contest their tickets. While I was there, a lady who looked like she was a waitress got up to make her case in front of the judge. Standing right in front of the officer that ticketed her, she point-blank told the judge that her ticket was “from a know-it-all cop.” The judge then questioned the officer, who explained, “Your honor, the defendant’s car was going 75 in 35 and ran several stoplights.”
Hearing this, the judge then proceeded to ask the woman why she thought those charges were unreasonable. Her answer was parody level. “I was drinking last night and woke up late. I couldn’t lose another job, so I needed to be on time.” In addition to paying for her tickets, she ended up paying an extra $500 for wasting the judge’s time.
The worst defense I ever saw in court occurred when my ex-wife tried to take my son away from me. Just a year before, I’d won full custody over him due to the conditions of mistreatment he’d suffered under her household. While she didn’t conduct any of the mistreatment herself, she knew of it and did nothing, thereby choosing her then-partner over our son’s welfare.
However, after that year was up, she was still allowed visitation rights. So, she decided to take my son for the summer and then refused to give him back under this delusion that my custody was only good for a year. Now, I’d previously gone easy on her in court, but only because in the middle of our first court battle, she gave up because she didn’t want all the terrible things about her to get out publicly.
But this time, in my attempt to save my son from what should have been treated as a kidnapping case, I pulled no punches. I spoke openly about how she was unfit as a mother and an unstable person, as well as her history of suicidal and self-destructive behaviors, such as self-mutilation (which my son picked up on and thankfully through therapy no longer partakes in).
I also spoke about how she used to threaten to take our son’s life when we were together and about how she never put him first, even when he was being mistreated, which was what led to my getting custody of him in the first place (she originally had full custody of our son). Anyhow, when the judge asked her about these behaviors, she just screamed out in the middle of the courtroom, “I don’t want to hurt anybody. I just want to take my own life!”
The entire courtroom went into shock and fell silent for a moment. Her lawyer just kind of slumped down, and that certainly was the nail in the coffin for her case. I didn’t even have a lawyer at the time, and I thought I was so screwed despite being the obviously more stable parent. When the judge ruled in my favor, he cited my ex-wife’s erratic behavior in court as one of the reasons.
If anyone is wondering how my son is doing, he is doing great. He went from living with her and constantly missing school, getting poor grades, and being frightened and mistreated all the time to a loving household where he is now a perfect A-student who hasn’t missed a single day of school in over two years.
He’s happy and is a wonderful kid who I admire because I really don’t know if I could have done as well as he has if our roles were reversed.
32. Asking For Trouble
I was a paralegal for a district attorney’s office for several years. I’ve seen a lot of very dumb offenders in court. Most of the time, I volunteer to go take notes because I can get a good laugh once in a while. This happened during in-custody arraignments on a Saturday morning, so it was mostly boozehounds that did something stupid while partying on a Friday night; young guys and gals in jumpsuits looking scared.
The judge that morning had a pretty easy-going nature and would ask each defendant a few questions, usually along the lines of, “What’s your name? It says here you committed [blank offense]…Tell me what you do for a living and how you’re going to better yourself, so you don’t commit [offense] anymore, and I’ll let you go home [until later arraignment date].”
ALL of the answers were scared responses from these kids, like, “I live at home with my mom… I’m a banker, so I get a paycheck. I promise I’ll never drink again, so I won’t commit [offense] anymore!” Then they’d get dismissed or set up for their next court date, but they got to go home regardless…Except for this one guy. This guy blew up his whole case.
To give you a mental picture here, imagine a 30ish-year-old male with no hair, a big long blonde beard, and facial tattoos so you could barely tell that he was white. He walked up to the podium, and before even being asked any questions from the judge, he said, “My name is [Jerk], I live [at his address], and I make no promises I’m not going to commit this offense again.” Umm…
So, his first statement was basically a confession—way to go. The judge blinked a couple of times, then said, “…Okay. And what do you do for a living, [Jerk]? How do you make money?” [Jerk] responds, “Well judge, no offense or nothin’, but that’s none of your f***in’ business, so don’t ask.”
The judge just gave a big smile back at him and said, “Great! You’re in contempt for swearing at me, soo…See you tomorrow! Maybe you’ll have some better answers for me then.” Then the guards just wrapped [Jerk] right back up and took him back to holding. It was wonderful.
33. Clearly, You’re Just Reading Too Much Into It
In a recent trial, we were reading to the other side’s witness (male, married, heterosexual) a document in which he said, “I’m a genie [(he misspelled ‘genius’)]. I’ve managed to double penetrate [John] and get him to agree to this stupid proposal.” We asked him, “You were happy because you had deceived [John] into agreeing to this proposal, and you know you had ‘had one over’ him and sold him a bad deal, correct?”
The guy replied, “No. What I actually meant in that email was that I had sold [John] a very good proposal, one that I would accept myself, and I was so ecstatic that I wanted to sleep with him to celebrate.” Aside from the fact that this response was clear perjury, I loved it because it allowed me to turn around and give a long, long stare at his wife, who was sitting at the back of the courtroom. She became so red I wondered whether she might explode.
The man was boasting about having deceived our client in his emails, but he came up with a number of fantastic explanations as to why we all misunderstood his messages. For example, in other emails, he called our clients idiots and fools and said that he could probably get them to erect statues to worship him, which he later explained away by saying he was a big fan of Michelangelo’s “David” and always wanted a statue of himself.
The judge ended up throwing out his testimony as deceitful and untrustworthy and referred him to the CPS for contempt of court (perjury under oath). This was in the UK.
34. That Poor Pupper
I’m an animal control officer, and I was seeking permanent possession of this guy’s dog after he intoxicatedly bit, choked, and tormented it (he’d already been charged with animal cruelty, which is a separate case date). This guy was what we call a seasonal transient, meaning he was homeless but only stayed in the city during the summer.
In court, he represented himself. His defense ranged from admitting he had made a mistake while intoxicated to accusing the witnesses of being biased against homeless people during the cross-examinations. His story also fluctuated about his behavior towards his dog, ranging from “she’s dog aggressive, and I was disciplining her” (despite no other dogs ever having been present) to a vague “she wasn’t listening to me.”
My “favorite” parts of his defense were the following: 1) He tried to argue that because we had no photos of physical damage, no mistreatment had occurred. Unfortunately for him, our state cruelty laws don’t require an animal to be injured to be considered mistreated.
2) He had pulled her up by her ears so that her front feet didn’t touch the ground and bit her multiple times on the ears and face. In court, he defended this by claiming that it was a valid training technique used by “Alaskans” and many breeders. His proof was a handwritten name and number of a “breeder friend of his” on a square of paper.
He lost. His dog, an absolute sweetheart with huge bat ears (and not an ounce of dog aggression that the shelter could find after multiple behavior tests and assessments), was adopted by an older retired couple looking for a good pet to keep them company at home.
35. Blowing Smoke
As a public defender, you’re thrown into a lot of terrible cases with little hope of winning and with very little time to win them. My approach was to make any argument within the ethical rules that govern attorneys, which led me to one hilarious court appearance involving a client of mine who was charged with possession of marijuana.
It was a misdemeanor first offense that carried no incarceration time in my state. My client and his friend had been toking in a park, and a citizen reported it. By the time the officer arrived, my client and his friend were sitting in a parked car. My client admitted to the officer that he had been toking. Obviously, I thought that my client had no defense here.
The other guy also admitted to toking and gave the officer the weed and pipe from his backpack. The entirety of the evidence was the admission and the physical evidence. So, I argued at trial (bench trial, no jury), with zero expectation of winning, that the state had failed to prove my client ever possessed the marijuana.
I asserted, “Your honor, for all we know, the other guy at all times had possession of the marijuana. For all we know, he held the pipe to my client’s lips and lit it for him.” A discussion amongst myself, the judge, and the prosecutor ensued: Can you smoke marijuana and not be in possession of it? I got the decision a few months later: Not guilty.
36. You Dope
In my law graduation, I was working as a trainee for the college as a lawyer assistant, and I honestly saw the following scene where the judge asked the accused, “Where were you on Tuesday at 11:00 PM?” The accused responded, “I was working in the street selling pot.” The judge asked again, “You were doing what?” The accused repeated, “Selling pot.”
The look on his lawyer’s face…
37. Demented Dad
As part of my university course, I had to sit in on a court case and create a court report. I turned up on a random day and asked to enter the courtroom for my course, and they allowed it. As it turned out, I was in a hearing about a man who was inappropriately engaging in carnal behavior with his stepdaughter and her friends.
A key piece of evidence was a photo of his daughter tied to a bed and stripped. It was very obviously her; her full face was in view, and she also had a very recognizable and undeniable birthmark on her jaw. The man’s defense was that he couldn’t have taken the picture because he didn’t recognize the girl in the photo.
The judge dang near laughed at him right there in the courtroom.
38. Was Her Face As Red As The Traffic Light?
I remember going with my mom to court for some petty traffic ticket. It was a mass of people all waiting to talk to the judge about their tickets, and, halfway in, one lady walked up with a ticket for not stopping at a red light. She first said that the light was yellow, then said, “Okay, it was red.” Then she said the law didn’t apply because she was on a bike, not a car.
The judge laughed, and some of the other people in there, including my mom, laughed under their breath, too. She left with a bright red face, and she had to pay the ticket in full.
39. Pure Genius
I knew a guy who once argued that the officers who responded to the domestic he had perpetrated had no right to charge him with drug possession. Why? Because according to him, the stuff was so pure, no one could have seen them. Right.
40. It’s Oregano, I Swear
I was recently reminded of a situation that nearly made me laugh in court. I got caught with 35 grams of weed after some officers came into the place where I lived. Except, they never had it tested for confirmation. So, when the prosecutor kept bringing up “cannabis” during my trial, my lawyer pointed out they never actually tested the “green plant matter in question.” Sure enough, the judge was like, “Yep, you’re right. Green plant matter it is.” Man, I got lucky.
41. Shades Of Red
My sister told the judge that the light she ran “wasn’t that red.” Then, later when the judge announced that he was going to suspend her license, she protested, saying, “But my dad already took it away!” Facepalm.
42. When Jesus Took The Wheel
I once defended a guy on a DWI who jumped into the backseat after he got pulled over and claimed someone else was driving. The kicker? He was the only one in the car.
43. Weeding Out The Facts
I had a guy come into my prison with a theft charge. He tried to explain that it was a misunderstanding because he just took a girl’s money and kept the weed he was supposed to buy her for himself—so, at most, he was just a lousy boyfriend. Yet he still managed to make his situation worse: He threw in, “Did she tell you we’re ‘doing it?’”
She was underage.
44. It’s Okay, I Drive In Metric
In traffic court, a guy said he had been speeding “accidentally” because the speedometer in the exotic foreign car he borrowed was marked in kilometers, not miles. The (failed-at-math?) judge actually bought this defense, even though driving at 85 MPH would have been displayed as 136 KMPH.
45. A Nasty Piece Of Work
I once witnessed a domestic harm case. The couple was in their late 70s or early 80s, and the husband was the accused. When asked if he did indeed hurt his wife, the husband’s response was absurd. He started complaining that some 40-odd years ago, the wife pretended to be ill, and (horror of horrors) he had to do the laundry all by himself. It was as if he expected the judge to just go, “Oh, okay. I guess that’s cool then.” Crazy.
46. Driven To Honesty
I attended court to watch my lawyer friend in action as she defended a young lady charged with a DWI. Her client got the bright idea to testify that she wasn’t really guilty because she wasn’t intoxicated while driving; she was actually high at the time. My friend put her head down and started hitting her head against the desk. Guilty.
47. Make That Two Restraining Orders
I was recently in court where the judge asked the guy I was getting a restraining order against, “Why do you think showing up to this young lady’s home unannounced, after she has made it clear to you she is not romantically interested in you, was an acceptable thing to do?” The guy’s response was genuinely unhinged: “I just wanted to lick the inside of her dog’s mouth.”
There’s lots of backstory to this, but let’s just say I had a very creepy stalker.
48. Howling With Laughter
I’m a lawyer, but when I was in college doing my bachelor’s degree, the curriculum included spending a couple of days observing trials. There’s one crazy guy I will NEVER forget. At the start of one of these trials, a dude with the greasiest mullet entered the room. He was thin and tall, with disproportionately sized limbs and tattoos all over. I swear the only thing missing was a bottle in his hand and a chicken under his arm.
Now, this guy chose not to have a lawyer represent him, as he’s a regular and spends short periods of time incarcerated or doing community service pretty much every month, anyway. He’s a real problem case, but still comes across as sympathetic, and he has a really entertaining way of telling a story while keeping a straight face and not realizing how funny he is.
He knows he’s getting fined and will be serving a couple of hours of cutting weeds as a form of community service to keep our Dutch streets nice and tidy, but he still tried to win the sympathies of the judge to decrease his sentence. After they brought the guy in for dealing a couple of weeks before, this man’s dog was sent to a dog shelter when they found it malnourished. It was really sad and the reason this guy was standing trial.
So, what happened? Well, the guy got high as a kite and as loaded as an Irishman on St. Patrick’s Day, and while completely out of his mind, he decided to get his dog back from the shelter because he really missed “his girl.” The judge asked him if it was correct that he broke the lock and some of the camera equipment on the site of the dog shelter, and the guy confirmed that he did.
You could really tell from his passionate account of the progression of the evening that he did all this out of pure love, as his dog, according to him, was the only thing that pulled him through all of the rough patches with his girlfriend and his substance problem. So, the judge ordered the camera footage to be shown to confirm that the guy was the suspect. That video silenced the whole court.
On it, he was seen stumbling about and wrenching one of the dog enclosures open and hugging a German Shepherd. At this point, everyone was touched by seeing this guy being so emotional on the camera footage with the dog, hugging it, petting it, and playing with it, and you can see the judge really get into it, as well.
Anyway, so this guy continued with his story and told us about how he took the dog to his car and went home, never feeling happier in his life. But then he ended his account with the driest delivery of, “Needless to say, I was really surprised when I woke up the next day, and there was a German Shepherd in my room instead of a Staffordshire Terrier.”
It turned out that the dude took the wrong dog. Everyone just broke out in laughter. He didn’t get what was funny. The judge sentenced him to 50 hours of community service and €3,000 for the repairs to the broken doors and camera equipment.
49. Beyond Help
A guy was in court for a DWI, and he insisted on taking the stand even though his lawyer advised him not to. It turned out he wanted the judge to know that the cop who’d apprehended him was “just some rude kid trying to be a bigshot.” Then the defendant argued that he wasn’t even really intoxicated that night because he’d only had two bottles of booze with dinner. When his poor lawyer interrupted him to try to get him to stop talking, he told his lawyer to “shut up.”
The judge quickly advised him to listen to his lawyer, but this guy was just getting started. He snapped at the judge, “I’m not a dang child, don’t interrupt me.” Oof. The judge just smiled, sat back, and said, “Please, proceed.” We all knew it was over for the guy. Sure enough, he got maxed on the charge. Later, the judge advised him that, in the future, if he’s going to bother paying for a lawyer, he should probably consider listening to him.
50. Karma Got Him
I was in on an assault trial this past summer. The defendant was a guy who’d brutally attacked a woman in a park before taking off with her bike and ATM card. A few minutes later, he was recorded withdrawing $80 from her account. Fortunately, the guy was apprehended within hours of the attack. But, of course, he denied the charges.
During his trial, he actually testified that the encounter was consensual and that the victim had enjoyed it so much that she gave him the bike and ATM card to show her appreciation. The defendant even dared to claim that someone else must have come along and beaten her after he left. I’m glad karma ruined this psycho. What he didn’t realize was that he’d already compromised himself before he ever even gave his testimony.
You see, before the trial, the defendant practiced his planned testimony with another inmate, to whom he’d stupidly bragged about the entire assault in great detail. Deliciously, that inmate promptly threw him under the bus and testified against him. The inmate freely admitted that he hoped the defendant would wind up in the same prison he did so that he could hand out some “rec yard justice.”
Running dope and weapons was one thing, but the inmate couldn’t tolerate what that guy had done. It didn’t take long for a guilty verdict and life sentence.