There’s a reason everybody loves shows like Judge Judy: There’s nothing like a good courtroom drama. But unlike our favorite Law & Order spin-offs, real courtrooms don’t usually have a lot of fireworks—until now, that is. These Redditors gave testimony on the juiciest courtroom scenes they ever witnessed.
1. Life's A Beach
Lawyer here. My client (female) shows up for court to be sentenced to probation on a minor charge. When I saw her, I wanted to scream. She’s wearing what looks like a one-piece bright yellow bathing suit, with flip flops and a yellow fishnet wrap over the bathing suit. I held my breath when the case was called. Judge does the sentencing, and then…
Judge: And next time don’t show up for court looking like you’re going to the beach!
Client (deadpan, as if confused): But I am going to the beach.
2. Definitely Not An Expert Witness
A friend of mine works for the state’s lab (mostly working assault and DNA tests) and she’s frequently called as an expert witness to many trials in her jurisdiction. Once, she said she was called to be a witness for an aggravated assault case between a man and a girl. They are explaining some anatomical stuff, when the stupidest thing happens.
The judge—the JUDGE—makes them stop and go over the female anatomy because he had "never heard" of one of the parts. Yikes.
3. All In The Family
I'm a secretary for a firm, and I used to assist attorneys who practice Juvenile Dependency. We were funded by the county to defend indigent parents whose children were removed by CPS. Anyway, one day a mother came to court with a tattoo that said something like "Screw CPS" on her neck, only it was a lot ruder than that, if you catch my drift.
Meanwhile, the father was on the witness stand being questioned. Attorney: How many substances do you use currently? Him: Well...Not as much as I'd like. [Face palm].
4. Driving Me Crazy
It’s never a dull moment in court. I had a co-worker whose client declared, to a judge, that she didn’t see an issue with her husband driving after having been drinking, with their kids in the car. Her reason was mind-blowing. She said it was because when he was sober, his driving was terrifying, but when he’d had a couple of drinks, his driving was better than her own.
To which the judge ordered her to take a substance test and last I heard she was positive for a whole lot of things ending in "etamine".
5. Sometimes Losing Is Winning
I'm a family law attorney, so I see lot of people at their worst. But one case was absolutely disgusting. I originally started out taking some pro bono cases, where the court specifically linked attorneys up with people with disabilities who could not afford attorneys. Generally, these people were very nice, and I enjoyed working with them to get the help they needed.
But this one woman...She was a complete piece of garbage. I didn't generally get much information prior to meeting with these clients, and so I went into most initial meetings blind. When I walked into the room, I was initially confused, because the woman didn't look like she applied to the program. She had a Michael Kors purse, an Apple watch, and a Burberry trench coat.
Keep in mind that one of the major factors for getting my help was intransigence. I figured out the awful truth later. I got some information after that she continually used a significantly minor disability to get free aid to, in essence, harass her ex-husband. We began talking, and she told me about how her ex harmed her children. I listened to her story and it actually made a lot of sense.
Her son, who was nearly 18, actually left her ex's home to come live with her, and her daughter had made a 9-1-1 call, which I read the transcript of. But that wasn’t all. When I looked at the file, I was a little confused again to see that this woman had lost all visitation rights to both her kids. This was a big deal, because it almost never happens.
Even addled parents generally get supervised visitation. She had nothing. When I asked what happened, she told me that the judge was corrupt. I knew the judge well so I told her that I didn't believe that was the case. She then proceeded to regale me with information about how the judge was in a secret lesbian relationship with her ex's now wife.
Once that was out, it was all she ever talked about. She had pieces written online about it. She actively told me time after time that she could prove it. She talked about it more than she talked about her kids. Fast forward to a couple of weeks before the hearing and I get a stack of printed text messages from the opposing attorney with hundreds, if not thousands, of texts between her and the daughter she was to have absolutely no contact with by court order. The texts went from bad to worse.
The daughter was in 8th grade or so, and it was clear the mom was manipulating the daughter to skip school and have secret rendezvous, where the mother would buy her expensive clothing. So that was definitely a major strike against her, and was most likely enough to deny any request she was seeking from me. But there was so much more.
Things like insults and constant coaching to leave her ex's care. The worst though was a text chain where the daughter actually called her stepmom a name that clearly indicated her mom had been feeding her the secret lesbian relationship ideas. The daughter also had said that the dad was drinking, and the mom replied something vague about how the stepmom wasn't getting any that night then.
The daughter asked what she meant, and the mom, to her 8th grade daughter, just fully explained the bedroom act. We lost well before the hearing happened. At the hearing, the judge (different from the one the mom hated) did what every reasonable judge would do, and denied the request. At which point, the mother stood up and started yelling in front of a full courtroom that everyone there was in on the "lesbo bonanza".
She was held in contempt and ordered to pay a fee for every day the other child wasn't returned to the father's care. She said that she didn't care and she would just pay the fee. At this point, the judge said, "Well if that's the case, I will annotate the file to inform court administrator that you should be able to pay for your own attorney going forward".
I lost the hearing, but darn did that loss feel good.
6. The Nagging Nelson
My client wouldn’t stop whispering stuff to me during his trial. Now, it’s common for clients to do that from time to time, but this imbecile liked the sound of his own voice and would not shut up. It was usually him telling me to bring up stuff that had already been covered. He would do this while the judge was talking directly at me.
It was extremely distracting and there was nothing I could do about it. I tried reasoning with him, I tried berating him, I once threatened to stab him with my pen, and I tried getting my boss who was a friend of his to talk to him, but he just liked telling me what to do. For example, the judge mentioned at one point a sum of $3,500 for concrete.
It went thusly:
Me: *writes on pad $3,500 concrete*
Him: "Don’t forget about the concrete"
Him: "Are you going to talk about the concrete?"
Him: "Tell him about the concrete"
Me: *taps the note I made about it*
Him: "You need to talk about the concrete"
Me: *underlines it*
Him: "Bring up the concrete"
Me: *underlines it aggressively*
Him: "Don’t forget the concrete"
Me: "Be quiet"
Him: "But the concrete"
Me: "Shut up and let me do my job!"
This was all whispered in the middle of the trial. What an idiot. Whenever I tried talking about it during breaks, he’d giggle. Eventually I just snapped. I said "You are the stupidest person I’ve ever met! I’m here to help you and you’re giggling while actively making it difficult for me". He just giggled more.
In end, the judge denied part of his claim so the client got about $20,000 less than he should have. He was crying after he heard that. That’s when I got my revenge. I told him that I thought the judge erred and I could probably get his $20,000 on appeal, but I wouldn’t do it because he’s such a jerk.
7. Getting Her Money’s Worth
So I've told this one quite a few times, but I used to intern for a judge. Most of his cases have to do with vice. One day a woman is brought up from the clinker for a hearing—substance related. She is a regular in the courtroom and is in one of the substance dependency programs. I'm paraphrasing the conversation here:
Judge: "Tell me what happened".
Woman: "I was leaving the methadone clinic and this guy asked if I wanted some fire dope".
Judge: "He asked what"?
Woman: "If I wanted some fire dope".
(Her lawyer whispers to her).
Judge: "Some fire dope"?
Woman: "Yes fire dope".
Judge: (after a pause) "I take it you used it and that is why you are here".
Woman: "I did and it was fire".
8. Not Your Average Day At Work
My dad was a lawyer. My senior year, our school let students who didn't have to retake the standardized test do service learning for those days. I chose to shadow my dad at a big jury trial he had going on and a friend of mine who'd already graduated tagged along. It was a beautiful Tuesday morning in September. And then the nightmare started.
When my friend and I were driving to my dad's house, we heard a news report that someone crashed a plane into the World Trade Center. We walked into my dad's house just in time to see the second plane hit on live TV. That day in court was surreal. The lawyers knew what was going on. The judge and prosecutor knew what was going on.
The jury had no clue though, and everyone was stuck in the courtroom and on a media blackout since they weren't going to have the TV on in the background during a jury trial. My friend and I were the only ones there watching the trial as observers. We were the only ones who could go out and listen to the news, and so we were the only way for anyone in that room to have any idea what was going on outside. So we'd bring in updates when they had brief breaks.
People were low-key freaking out as they were trapped in this room going ahead with a trial that probably shouldn't have happened that day and the only news was coming from a high school kid walking across the street to listen to updates on NPR in his car. Security also really tightened up between arriving in the morning and leaving for lunch.
We didn't end up spending much time in the courtroom observing because people were asking for updates. The justice center was like a ghost town with only the guards up front, and they were looking around like they were expecting an attack at any moment. The guy got convicted. My dad tried to get a retrial or something because of the circumstances, but it never happened.
9. Honesty Isn’t The Best Policy
I was installing furniture/equipment in a courthouse office. I’m walking into the building with all my tools and waiting in line to be cleared by security. The man in front of me steps up to the metal detectors and grabs one of the baskets you use to empty your pockets. Into the basket the man places his watch, his necklace, wallet, keys cell phone...weed sack, and pistol.
He then casually walks through the metal detector and looks back to the officer to get his belongings. The three officers and several people standing around are stunned. After a few seconds, the officer with the basket says, "Uhh…put your hands behind your back?" The guy didn’t fight them, he just refused to believe he had done anything wrong.
He was there for a substance offense.
10. I See A Pattern Here
I had a client accused of some...rather aggressive behavior, is the nicest way to put it. During their deposition, this client frequently, and despite my many attempts to calm them, resorted to this exact same aggressive behavior that they were accused of. The client did not get the settlement they wanted. Many subsequent tantrums were thrown.
11. Quit While You’re Ahead
After her third charge for driving after she’d been drinking, my elderly and disabled neighbor was being let off with a suspended license and a hefty fine. Thinking she could do better, she attempted to negotiate (loudly and aggressively) with the judge, using her infinite wisdom of prime-time television law shows. It backfired on her hugely. She walked out with jail time.
12. You Can’t Choose Your Bosses
We represent someone who has to be a billionaire. He’s in his like mid-80s. We had a settlement conference, and this dude exclaimed to the judge that he was "too freaking old and too freaking rich" to put up with it. With the amount of money this dude pays us, my partner isn’t backing down and basically doubles up what the client said.
The judge threatens to throw the partner—I’m only a low-level associate—behind bars at this point. People calm down, and the partner tells every new associate that story within an hour. No shame at all. That same partner once also sharted his pants on the way to a hearing once after having four protein bars for breakfast, and was very proud of his subsequent commando court appearance.
13. Bad Day At Work
I was a juror. There was a horrible "expert" witness testifying for the defense on a trial. Everything he said was objected to and sustained. The prosecutor started to question him…and then it all fell apart. He couldn't answer a single question. Oh, but it got worse. He must have somehow triggered Siri on his phone and it said, "It's ok if you don't understand".
14. Not As Smart As He Thinks He Is
I once had a client whose wife accused him of hitting her. He swore to me up and down for months that he had never laid a finger on her, and that she was making stuff up to try to gain custody of their kids. Neither party had any evidence, so it was a he said/she said situation, which was not likely to end with her getting a restraining order or full custody of the kids. When my client testified at court, I was stunned.
He immediately admitted on cross-exam that he had punched his wife in the face once. It was clear the other attorney was stunned as well, and before he could ask a follow-up question, my client pulled out a stack of papers and started yelling that he had proof that his wife was a cheater and a liar, which he clearly believed justified him hitting her.
The papers were purportedly copies of e-mails between the wife and a male co-worker. I found out soon after that he had spent more than $10,000 on private investigators trying to get proof his wife was having an affair. Obviously, a restraining order was immediately granted against my client. But there was another twist to the story.
I had already explained many times before to the client that ours is a no-fault state, so his wife's alleged infidelity had no bearing whatsoever on a restraining order, divorce, or child custody case. Still, he had convinced himself that this was going to be a big moment in court that was going to result in him getting everything he wanted. Ironically, it did the exact opposite.
15. Doing Your Dirty Duty
Most of my clients are mentally ill. I do mostly civil mental health related work. In my jurisdiction, an application by a (civilly) involuntarily detained person for a review of their detention must be heard within two weeks of the application. No matter what. So I am often in the position of managing clients who are unwell, including experiencing psychotic episodes, etc.
Direct examinations can be very...interesting. My most memorable review board hearing involved my client giving an impromptu demonstration of how they came to be put under the mental health act. There was poop involved. Just another day at the office.
16. Telling It Like It Is
I was a rural prosecutor, and I had a drinking and driving trial. Seemed cut and dried—nothing wrong with the BAC test, the People's evidence was sufficient in every way. The Defendant was represented by a Public Defender. When I finished my half of the trial, the PD stood up and said they had only one witness, the Defendant. He got sworn in.
The PD said, "Why don't you tell the jury your side of the story?" then sat down. The jury didn't know what that meant, but the judge and I did. The Defendant was insisting on testifying despite his lawyer's advice. The PD wasn't going to assist him in hanging himself. All the guy had to say was, "I wasn't tipsy when the cop stopped me. I can drink a lot and not get tipsy".
That was it. Time to cross-examine. I was kind of taken aback. Our medical expert witnesses had already testified that there was no way a person with a BAC over 0.08 could safely operate a motor vehicle. I thought about just skipping cross. Naw. The jury would be curious. So I abandoned my cross-examination technique, and turned into Mr Nice Guy.
I queried him on where he had been earlier that night. Out. Okay, any drinking there? Oh heck yes, pints and shooters (or something like that). Then he and his buddies had piled into the car and headed for Naturita, Colorado, maybe a two-hour drive. "Any drinking in the car?" I asked. Oh yeah, plenty. He was driving, so he held back, maybe only three or four drinks".
Any shots accompany that?" Yeah, maybe four. I decided that there was no reason not to let him explain himself, after all of that. "How is it that you weren't out of it?" The Defendant explained to the jury that he had heard all the expert testimony, but even with a BAC of 0.20, he was sober and could safely operate a motor vehicle.
That's just the way he was. That's why he was driving. Everyone else in the car was out of it. Okay then. I think I'm done. I thanked him for his testimony, congratulated him on his honestly (never done that before or since) and sat down. But I was about to destroy him. In summation, I mentioned that the case was NOT about what the Defendant honestly thinks about his abilities.
It was a test of evidence. On one side you have a BAC and medical expert testimony on BAC as it relates to the Defendant's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. You can believe that the Defendant is an honest man—I do—but you don't have to believe his conclusions about how tipsy he was. It took the jury about 10 minutes to convict.
The PD just left in disgust. I talked to the Defendant, told him again that I appreciated his honesty. He said he knew he was likely to be convicted, but he wanted to tell his side of it, regardless of the outcome. I dunno. He inconvenienced the jury and the court, but you know, he had a right to do that. I don't want to live in a nation whose code obliges you plead not guilty in the face of overwhelming evidence.
I think a citizen ought to be able to have his or her say, before the state lays hands upon them. So no, it wasn't a breakdown on the stand. Just a man doing something he was entitled to do—tell his side. That wasn't a failure on his part. I think it was a success. I'm a citizen too, and I want that right, if I ever come to trial. But, um, he did do time.
17. Getting Off Easy
A family friend drove with her three kids in the car, high on who knows what. The worst ended up happening. She flipped the car and broke one kid's pelvis and another's arm in the process. The oldest did NOT want to go back to live with her, for obviously very good reason.
One of the family members, who is an attorney in another state, called the judge and said she is not remorseful, she will do it again, she doesn't care, please throw the book at her. Nope, she got probation.
18. No Biggie, Right?
I represented a girl in an aggravated assault case. I got her a really good deal where the lead charge was dropped and she’d plead guilty to lesser charges and do six months on house arrest with electronic monitoring, and the ankle monitor also had to have a sensor.
One month into her sentence, I get a call from her landlord saying she was behind bars for a probation offense. Her ankle monitor detected her away from her house and that she had drinks in her system two separate times, and it alerted her probation officer.
I talk to her at the holding cell and ask her what happened. Her story made my head spin. She acted like she had no idea why she was there. Her mom had just gotten out of the hospital from surgery and needed someone to watch her, so she emailed her PO and asked if she could go to her mom’s, and then just went.
A few hours later the PO responded and said she couldn’t go, so she went home. Also she had a drink with dinner on two separate occasions so it’s not like she went out drinking or anything. She said none of it was any big deal. I was stunned by how nonchalant she was about it. I read her the riot act. THERE IS ONE RULE WHEN YOU'RE ON HOUSE ARREST: DON’T LEAVE YOUR HOUSE.
YOU LEFT YOUR HOUSE! THERE IS ONE RULE WHEN YOU’RE ON A MONITOR. DON’T DRINK. YOU DRANK TWICE! Her PO was recommending she be taken off house arrest and serve six months. I told her the judge would probably accept that recommendation and there wasn’t much I could do about it because her violations were major.
We go to court for her re-sentencing hearing and I BEG the judge to give her something less. I highlight all my client’s positive qualities as reasons to grant leniency, along with the fact that she admitted her violations and was very forthcoming with her PO about it. The PO then piped up: "When I asked her about the violations, she said she didn’t know wine was alcohol". Huge lie, of course.
The judge was considering giving her a minimal sentence until he heard that. Completely blew apart my argument that she was open and honest.
19. Knowledge Is Power
I was in court to contest a $250 ticket, which was issued in error when a cop ticketed everyone in one lot for parking on private property. Mine was the only car that was actually allowed to be there. The guy who went up before me had been ticketed for parking in front of a handicap-only meter, which has a red top in DC.
He had brought pictures to show that there were no signs near to where he parked to indicate that red top meters are exclusively for handicap use. He lived in Maryland, he said, and was not aware of that DC law. Since there were no signs, he argued that he couldn't have known. From what the judge was saying it seemed like he was about to excuse the ticket. Then the guy completely ruined it.
The guy, I can only guess thinking that this would somehow help him, threw in that he was an officer, and as such he was a very upstanding citizen who would never break the law knowingly. The judge immediately ordered him to pay the full ticket amount, and advised that since he was a DC cop, he should probably make sure to familiarize himself with the laws he was supposed to enforce.
20. Fight For Your Rights
Back when I first started as a lawyer, I was in court with my father-in-law (also an attorney), and he was arguing with the judge. He took issue with something the judge said by saying "that sounds like something a Yale man would say". The judge asked, "How did you know I went to Yale?" "I saw your ring when you were picking your nose".
Yeah, it’s good to practice with a bunch of old country lawyers. Actually just today I got in a heated argument in court with opposing counsel, and we both had pretty raised voices, and her client started to cry. So opposing counsel said, "No, it’s okay, this is just how we argue, we still love each other" and came over and gave me a hug. The judge didn’t say a word.
21. When They Go Low We Go Higher
Not a lawyer, but I was waiting in court to give my buddy a ride home after his sentencing. The guy who went up before him got sentenced to 60 days in county lockup. The idiot then goes "Whatever, I can do 60 days standing on my head". So the judge says "Alright, then you can have another 60 for sitting on your butt, 120 days".
22. If The Glove Doesn't Fit...
I went to school with a guy who always carried brass knuckles, which is against the law where I live. Eventually, he got pulled over for not wearing a seatbelt and was caught with the knuckle brass sitting next to the radio. The officers confiscated it and he had to appear in court for possession of a weapon. He then went on to completely deny everything he was accused of.
He said the officers lied, that he was being framed, etc. His plan was revealed to be completely idiotic. To prove that the brass knuckles didn't belong to him, he (in court) pulled out another one and put it on, claiming that this one is barely fitting him and it was way bigger than the one they found in his car, so it couldn’t be his.
Needless to say he got convicted for both of them and had to pay a huge fine, plus 80 hours of community work.
23. Let The Man Go
I second-chaired for a client during a jury trial. The client really, really needed to go to the bathroom, and the judge said no. The worst ended up happening. He peed his pants during it. Court officers had to replace the chair and likely had to clean it, too. And of course, everyone in the system automatically blamed the defendant for it.
It's "funny" how little it takes for a so-called civilized system to stop treating people like human beings. Wanting to rush through an already-rushed process, for example. Or having a person be "presumed innocent," which clearly means they're a horrible lying sociopath who is faking having to pee just to be a petty piece of garbage.
In a better system, that judge would've had to have cleaned that chair.
24. Not Very Professional
This defense attorney was tased and tackled by federal marshals after the acquittal of his client. He had been insufferable for the entire trial and threw a fit when the marshals tried to bring his client into custody. Although his client had been acquitted in that trial, he was awaiting trial for a separate offense in another state.
Thus, the guy was supposed to be taken into custody and transferred. His attorney shouted at the judge and tried to block the marshals from accessing his client and ended up getting tased in the process. His conduct during the trial was outrageous. So much so that the chief judge sought to block the guy from federal practice in the state.
25. Yeah, Maybe Not The Best Candidate
My dad is doing a bunch of expert witness and case reviews for the College of Physicians. He accredits hospitals around the world and he’s won numerous awards, top of his field. He was an expert witness against a woman suing another doctor, while that woman’s expert witness was someone who had not practiced medicine in three years.
This was after no one in the hospital would work with the "expert" because they were dangerously incompetent. The "expert" was also working as a full-time real estate agent since leaving the hospital three years ago.
26. Spoiled Rotten
I’m a court reporter. I had a basketball player’s ex who wanted the judge to increase her child support and support and section 7 expenses because she felt he could be earning more than the $50 million he already was. He had already given her a million-dollar house, cars, she got a huge settlement, and he was paying her $26,000 a month for school.
The judge denied her request, she acted like a pouty brat and stormed out.
27. Not A Mastermind
My weirdest case had to do with an undressed man taking off with a city bus and getting charged for grand theft auto. As GTA requires some element of intent to profit, this was transparently ridiculous and got taken off the charge.
28. Don’t Be The Hero
I was an intern working for an attorney in family law. There was an annoyingly nasty divorce. While everyone is leaving the courtroom the opposing party leaves first and we hold back for a bit before leaving. Standard operating procedure. We go down the stairs and around the corner towards the exit—and what do you know, it's the disgruntled former husband.
He now has a barrage of colorful insults and he has cranked the volume knob to about 12/10. Enter me: about 6 feet tall, 175 lbs, clearly working for an attorney, and in notably better shape than him. Confident he wouldn't try anything as there are officers everywhere and one approaching to investigate the disturbance, I feel emboldened.
I step between my client and the opposing party and begin to say, "Hey, calm down man now is not the time or—" this jerk punched me in the gut, and I was not expecting that. I double over immediately. He gets tackled by the nearest officer, cuffed, and dragged away presumably to the clinker next door. My partner is clearly trying to contain her laughter and our client is on one knee asking if I'm okay.
Meanwhile, I'm dying of embarrassment and trying not to vomit up my breakfast.
29. We Don’t Talk About That
I was an observer for the plaintiff in a $200 million intellectual property case. It's the second trial in Federal Court, the first verdict was tossed on procedure. The case concerned cellphone chip manufacturing processes. It was quite complicated and technical, but it was a jury trial. It also had been litigated in Europe as well as Japan, South Korea, and China.
The judge gave stern and EXPLICIT instructions to the attorneys that there could be NO mention of these other cases, NONE. So at one point a couple of days in, the defense guy brings up the European case IN FRONT OF THE JURY. I might add the firms involved were the number one and number two law firms in Los Angeles, so some of the biggest and most prestigious in the nation.
The judge excuses the jury, admonishes the guy, and reaffirms there is NO MENTION of the other cases. The jury returns, the guy BRINGS IT UP AGAIN. The judge sends the jury out, angrily tells the guy, NO MENTION OF THE OTHER CASES! Warns him. The jury returns, HE DOES IT AGAIN! The judge dismisses the jury again, and tells the Federal Marshals to open their handcuffs, and if the guy does it again, to cuff him.
The judge angrily asks if all the defense lawyers are going to ignore his instructions. They stammer and say nooooooo. The judge is visibly STEAMED. The jury returns with all eyes on the stupid defense lawyer. The Marshals ready, standing in the courtroom with cuffs out. The guy is so flustered he's all red, visibly shaking. Can't continue, adjourned for the day.
A lawyer simply DOES NOT BEHAVE THIS WAY in front of a federal judge, just DOESN'T do it. It was crazy. We won the case.
30. Doing The Most
During my court reporting internship, I met a really nice bailiff. Sometimes attorneys have to approach the judge for a side-bar conversation that’s supposed to be unheard by the jury. And attorneys having secret whisper arguments with a judge seems fascinating to a jury, and they desperately try to listen in. So this bailiff came up with a plan.
This bailiff would distract them by playing Marvin Gaye on his phone and dancing around like a Motown backup singer. Dude loved his job and went above and beyond his duties.
31. An Honest Mistake
I was covering a trial for the local radio station, and the man was being tried for murder. There was a bizarre twist, though. The victim had faked his own end two years earlier and had been hiding in the woods since. So essentially, the victim was a person already thought to be deceased.
Still, the highlight of the trial was when the attorney asked the defendant how the victim ended up being stabbed.
Defendant: "He fell on my weapon".
Attorney: "How do you fall on a weapon 17 times?"
32. Not As Seen On TV
I was a witness for the prosecution in a case where the defense attorney was probably doing his first jury trial. He kept doing crazy TV lawyer stuff. Multiple times when he asked me a question, he yelled "Are you aware you're under oath?" He did the same thing when my wife testified. They had to clear the courtroom at least four times for the judge to yell at him.
The defendant actually did it, but his lawyer was so incompetent he just didn't have a chance in any case. I talked to him years later. He was getting an outside lawyer to appeal the conviction. It was a court martial, so good luck with that.
33. So Close Yet So Far
I watched a guy sitting in court fall asleep, start snoring, then suddenly burst out this lion’s roar yell/growl. The judge called him up and asked if he was on anything. "No your honor, just tired from working overnight". It was 3:00 pm at that point. His probation officer decided to test him.
Being the only male in the courtroom, I was elected as the one to take him to the bathroom and witness him go in a cup. He tested positive for 2-3 things. He was sanctioned for lying to the judge and had to restart his program from the beginning. He was pretty close to being on the last step.
34. Telling On Yourself
I was doing a pupillage and was sat in the court for someone accused of assault and stealing. The defendant was accused of stealing an old lady’s jewelry and beating her up to get it. Of course, that’s awful, but it wasn’t the craziest part. The stupid thing about it (and this was a key piece of evidence) is that the defendant wrote in her diary: "I’m going to mess this old lady up, I don’t care".
Who thinks to even write that?!
35. Too Much Information
I don’t work in a court, but in high school, I did a job shadow with a clerk. We got to sit in on a few trials, one of which was a custody hearing. From what I got during it, this couple was always in and out of court, with the father trying to prove that the mother was no good for their daughter and the girl needed to live with him.
What struck me most, and has stayed with me almost 20 years, was the following.
Man: She hasn’t even taught her to wipe her butt yet! She’s five! I brought the pair of underwear she wore to my house last time and it is covered in skid marks!
Judge: Sir, please get that out of my courtroom.
36. Mommy Knows Best
I was in court because my car was broken into. We found out it was my neighbor who did it, and since we were both in high school at the time it went to juvenile court. He took my cell phone, face plate for my CD player, and all my CDs. His mom found out and turned him into the authorities, and I got some of my stuff back minus the phone and some CDs.
At trial his mom told the judge he gave the cell phone to someone else so shouldn’t be responsible for paying for it. The judge’s mouth wouldn’t close at the woman’s stupidity.
37. It’s Getting Hot In Here
I went on a trip to the court houses one day. The case I sat in lasted from the start of the day until the end. The guy had fatally beaten the victim. When CCTV footage was shown, the guy was wearing two pairs of tracksuit trousers. He hid the weapons between the pairs, down his leg. When asked why he was wearing two pairs, he replied, "I always wear two pairs, it’s cold and it keeps me warm".
Except this was the middle of summer when it was like 100 degrees every day.
38. I Do What I Want
I’m a lawyer. The most ridiculous thing I see in court is what people wear for the most part. The most remarkable occurrence happened recently. I was in court and sovereign citizens purporting to be Native Americans (they were not) were wearing dream catchers as necklaces and claimed that the UN allowed them to practice law.
The judge told the guy to shut up, sit down, and that he was reporting the guy to the local bar for illegally practicing law. The guy then threatened to have the judge disbarred. He also threatened the DA in the room, which wasn’t a good idea.
39. Failure To Launch
One of the parents on my caseload had their parental rights terminated on their other kids. If you had your parental rights terminated in my state, each kid you have after goes straight into foster care until the courts can figure out if you're capable of taking care of that child. The parent was a habitual user, but claimed that they were clean.
This parent actually made their visits and was showing signs of getting clean. The parent had to do a substance assessment at court, and the judge who's notorious for being strict asked the parent point blank, "Are you going to pass or fail?" The parent said they were going to pass. So the judge told the parent to report to the testing area to take a test.
They were supposed to only return if the parent failed. Well, that case was over and the next hearing was about to start. I stuck around to talk to one of the lawyers and up comes the parent off the elevator. As in, the parent returned. I was like, "Did you need something...?" I was hoping the parent didn't fail. But nope, the parent said they failed.
I rushed into the courtroom before the next hearing and told the DA. The DA rushed to the back and told the judge. The judge came out in a fury and yelled, "Everyone clear the courtroom". He looked at the parent. "Where's your lawyer?" The parent shrugged, so the judge pointed to a random court-appointed attorney and said, "You! You fill in". Then he goes to town on them.
"What the heck is your problem? Don't you want your kid back? Congratulations, you just moved back in visitation privileges!" And he proceeded to yell at the parent until they cried. Once the parent started crying the judge was like, "You know, I'm glad you're crying because now you can feel the pain your kids feel. Good riddance, leave my courtroom now".
40. Guilty, Your Honor
My stepfather is an investigator for the Coast Guard in America. In our story, a man was being convicted of piloting a freighter while under the influence of some, er, white powder. The trial had barely started, and he had been keeping his hands in his pockets for most of the time.
Until, standing up before everyone, he removes his hand to scratch his nose, and white powder goes spilling across the courtroom floor. Needless to say, he lost the case.
41. A Slip Up In The Story
"He's been cheating on me! I found underwear that wasn't mine in his car". "Hold on! There was no underwear!" "Yes, there was! And it was plus-sized. As you can see, I'm not a plus-sized lady". "First of all, they weren't plus-sized and second—" Judge: "Wait. I thought you said there was no underwear" "Oh......umm.... It flew in from the window?"
Divorce court is hilarious.
42. Learn To Read
I was on the stand, testifying in my own defense. Then the jerk defense attorney calls attention to one of my tattoos, which he thought said something malevolent about the victim, because he couldn't read German. I had to explain things to the jury.
43. There Goes Grandma Again
My Grandma threatened, while inside the courtroom, to sue her lawyer for misrepresentation, then stormed out after not getting the result she wanted. She is a bit kooky.
44. Thanks For That
I read this a few weeks ago, where someone was robbed by two guys. The judge asks the victim if those two guys are in the courtroom. Before he could answer, those morons lifted their hands, as in "Here we are".
45. But I Don’t WANNA
There was the lady who fake fainted during a hearing when the attorneys were at sidebar. Like, she held onto the chair as she got on her knees and threw herself on the ground like a two-year-old having a tantrum. The judge and attorneys glanced her way and continued speaking.
46. You Almost Had Me
I had a friend in law school who, while in the middle of speaking with the judge, pulled a hamburger out of his pant pocket and just started eating it. Since this was a law school clinic, the judge looked at the supervising professor, who just hung his head in response. Another time I saw a judge sentence a guy to one month for an assault.
It was a pretty generous sentence and the guy seemed to take it pretty well. But the defendant messed it all up. On the way out of the courtroom he yelled "Screw the judge!" The judge just waved his hand to tell the bailiff to get him back. The guy was re-sentenced to 24 months.
47. Don’t Lie To Your Lawyer
It was a restraining order case where both people were suing for restraining orders. My client was a man and his neighbor was an elderly woman. My client had video of his neighbor running up and punching him in the face multiple times, for no apparent reason. I submitted the video as evidence and had sent a copy to the neighbor along with the other evidence I was lodging with the court.
The neighbor ended up hiring a high-priced attorney prior to the restraining order hearing. Meanwhile, I was a new attorney working for peanuts. When the date of the hearing came, opposing counsel was extremely smug and made an opening argument accusing my client of threatening and harassing his poor, elderly client and making up lies about her.
By the time he started arguing that my client should be made to pay his client's attorney fees, the judge cut him off, and with a very confused look on his face, asked, "but what is your position regarding the video evidence?" The attorney was clearly confused and said that he was unaware of any video evidence. The truth immediately became clear.
His client had neglected to share our evidence with her attorney, who was hired after she had been served with it, and she had sworn up and down to him that my client was the aggressor. The judge called for a brief recess to allow opposing counsel to view the video, and when court was resumed, the attorney was so deflated it looked as if someone had kicked his dog.
The attorney mumbled a couple of feeble questions to his client, then basically gave up. It was one of the easiest, most enjoyable wins I've had.
48. Act Your Age
I heard this from a co-worker who was sometimes in the courtroom. I can't remember what the original offense to was to bring the defendant to court, but the guy was really immature and a complete jerk. If there was a moment where the judge wasn't looking, he'd turn to his family in the gallery and smirk at them, and he was just being a complete pain and belligerent all through the trial.
He even flipped the judge off at one point. But it hit a huge crisis. The judge said something he really didn't like, so he turned around, dropped his pants in the middle of the trial and spread his butt cheeks apart. The judge got a full view of, well, everything. He and his family all had the audacity to gasp and heckle when contempt of court got added to his charges.
49. I Contain Multitudes
I saw a woman who wanted to plead "guilty and not guilty". When asked why by the judge, she explained that she did turn left in front of the other car and failed to yield, but she didn't mean to hit anyone...so she was "guilty AND not guilty".
50. Shooting Himself In The Foot
I have seen dozens of parties completely destroy any chance they had of winning a case with one stupid statement or action. Fortunately, most of them have been the opposing parties and not my clients, but not all. The best was a Domestic Restraining Order hearing I witnessed while I was waiting for my client's hearing to be called.
A wife had filed a restraining order against her husband, and the wife had retained an attorney while the husband elected to represent himself. The wife testified first, and despite her attorney's best efforts, none of her testimony alleged that her husband had actually committed any real physical harm. Basically, she had filed the restraining order because he called her a name while they were having a heated argument.
After he had finished asking her questions, the wife's attorney was clearly dejected, and it was obvious to everyone in the courtroom that the restraining order was about to be dismissed. The judge's body language made it clear that she didn't believe there was anything to warrant a restraining order, but she asked the husband if he had any questions for the wife.
Meaning, he was being given the opportunity to cross-examine her. But karma came for him. The husband took this to mean could ask any question whatsoever that he wanted, so he immediately asked her if she had had an affair with some other guy. The wife answered no before her attorney was able to object, and this sent the husband into a rage.
He screamed insults and lunged toward the witness stand like he was going to attack her. Fortunately the bailiff tackled him before he could get there, and he was led away in handcuffs. Needless to say, the restraining order was granted. But if the husband had just shut the heck up and not asked a single question, the court would absolutely have ruled in his favor.