As much as lawyers generally have control over what's going on in the courtroom, there's always the chance for a wild card. Some kind of breakthrough, unexpected confession, or shocking new piece of evidence that changes everything. These lawyers confessed their most dramatic plot twist moments from court, and they’re guaranteed jaw-droppers.
1. The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth
I’m a trial lawyer, so I have a ton of these. My favorite was probably a drink-and-drive case where the officer was in a Buffalo Wild Wing with my client watching a fight on TV. Like, the officer was standing at the bar in full uniform, then when my client walked by him to leave, followed him out. My client was only actually going to his car to grab his phone charger because he was going home with the bartender.
Like, he hadn’t even closed his tab yet. The officer detained him and charged him for opening his car door, then fabricated this story for his report about how the client got in the car, turned it on, and began to pull out of the space to leave the parking lot. He also denied being inside the restaurant—this was all on the stand, under oath, to my face. Well, he had a surprise in store.
I talked to the bartender and got the security tape. It very clearly—like surprisingly good quality—showed the officer standing at the bar, watching my client walk out the front door, then follow him 30 seconds later. The parking lot camera also showed my client barely touched the door handle before the officer stopped him. But the story doesn’t end there.
Eventually, the officer underwent an “internal review” where the board determined he hadn’t done anything wrong. A few months ago, he shot an unarmed man while on patrol. He also trains new officers now and tells young college girls he pulls over to call him “Tommy”. For what it’s worth, bad officers lie under oath ALL THE TIME.
This story is just fun because I got to prove him wrong and save my client from a conviction.
2. Identity Crisis
This happened during an employment case. We go to the deposition of my client and get everything set up. The first question posed to my client is simple enough: "Please state your name". But instead of answering, my client immediately looks at me and asks, "Can we take a break"? We do, and she pulls me out into the hall. What she says next is jaw-dropping.
She tells me that she's been lying to me about her real identity. Apparently, she's a serial scammer and has changed identities seven times since the 90s. She thought the other attorneys had somehow figured it out, and that's why they’d asked her the name question. Um, excuse me? What???
3. Don’t Stop Believing
My dad is out of state on business driving through some no-name town when he goes through an intersection. Suddenly, a cop pulls him over and tickets him—stating that he ran a stop sign. My dad insisted that there was not any stop sign, but the cop did not listen. Furious, he went back to the intersection and saw that there was indeed a stop sign hidden behind a tree and twisted in the wrong direction!
Even more angry, he went into a convenience store and bought a disposable camera. The clerk laughed because he saw what happened and knew what was up. Luckily, my dad had to be back there in a few weeks for work. The cop assumed that someone with out of state plates would just pay the ticket, and was shocked when my dad turned up in court, calmly presented his evidence to the judge, and strolled out in five minutes scot-free.
4. A Woman Scorned
I was fresh out of law school and took a job to save the world. It was my second court appearance, ever. My client had gotten a protective order against her horrible boyfriend, which included a requirement that he not call her or come within a certain distance of her. He'd been calling her, so we took him back to court to enforce the protective order.
What she had neglected to mention to me was that he had been calling her because she had taken a baseball bat to his car while it was parked outside of his work and left a note taped to the steering wheel that said something to the effect that if she ever saw him out with "that witch” again, it wouldn't just be his car she came after with a baseball bat.
It's been 20 years. I now do commercial law. I will be six feet under before I will ever voluntarily touch another domestic matter.
5. Time To Face The Music
I once observed a memorable case where the plaintiff’s attorney inexplicably decided that it would be a good idea to play Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” as his closing argument. Seriously. Rather than summarizing his case's details, he opted to just awkwardly play the song in a feeble attempt to evoke an emotional response from the jury. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work.
6. The Right Hand Doesn’t Know What The Left Is Doing
I got to read the actual trial record when a guy who claimed total loss of the use of his right arm testified for 45 minutes straight that he had hurt his left arm. He even lifted his allegedly horrifically injured right arm above his head to demonstrate which appendage was messed up. One of his attorneys just packed up his stuff and walked out.
7. Under Threat
It was a trial for a misdemeanor and threats. This can be hard to prove, and my client was adamant he did nothing. It was a simple business relationship that soured, and the alleged victim was terrible. Nonetheless, my client was alleged to have made a threat to her in a hallway, even though I had good evidence otherwise. Then, on the morning of trial, it all unraveled.
The prosecutor gives me some “late discovery”. It’s an audio of my client’s voice. HE LEFT A VOICEMAIL wondering why the victim had security at an event and was asking, “Did someone threaten to shoot her in her freaking head”? We listened to it in the hallway. He still wanted his trial. I did what I could, but yeah that was a quick guilty verdict...
8. Out Of Bounds
My grandfather was a big-time lawyer back in the day for an oil company. One time, the federal government tried to assert its dominance over the company by launching a case against them. But my grandpa was ready for the challenge. He showed up to court and stoutly announced that they had no jurisdiction in this case. Somewhat taken aback, the judge asked him, “I’m a federal circuit court judge, the highest judge around. How can this be out of my jurisdiction”?
Smoothly, my grandfather answered, “The oil in question was drilled in Texas, refined into gasoline in Texas, and sold in Texas gas stations. Since it never crossed state lines, interstate commerce never happened, so the federal government has no jurisdiction”. So there. The judge agreed with him and closed the case. It really angered the guys from Washington!
9. Delayed Reaction
A gas station chain had one of their station’s gas tanks leak and pollute a church playground. They then tried to say they weren't liable because the pollution didn't start seeping up through the ground until years after it happened. Yeah, swing and a miss on that one, boys.
10. We Were On A Break
I was being prosecuted for domestic battery after being accused by my ex-wife. She forgot to mention one crucial thing to her lawyer. When the “incident” happened, it was her attempting to damage my car by smashing big rocks on the hood and windshield because I told her we were done. When that failed, she threw white paint on my car.
Moreover, the reason I was divorcing her was that she was cheating. So she testifies that I beat her and threw paint on my own car in an attempt to frame her. She also claimed I had slammed her leg in a doorframe, but really she tried to kick me and I caught her leg. She pulled back and her leg swung into the doorframe.
So the prosecution had pictures to document her injuries. They were shots from the sides, front, and back. It was all minor stuff since I was trying to wrestle away a darn ice scraper from her. But one detail from the photos did her in. They showed her hands COMPLETELY covered in white paint. This is from when she scooped up the paint with her hands and flung it on my car.
Well, that definitely made her look bad. I also had her lawyer grill me about why the fighting started. My lawyer advised me to not talk about it, so I wasn't sure what to say. I told her attorney that I was advised not to talk about it, but I just said we had an argument that escalated. The lawyer kept pressing and, seeing as this was my first time ever in a court setting, I blurted out that we were arguing over her cheating.
Long story short, I was acquitted and divorced her.
11. Repeat Offender
This was a good while back when I began my career as a public defender. When you get assigned to a case, you get a file that generally consists of the officer report and any witness statements that may have been taken. Because the State has a duty to disclose evidence to the accused's counsel, if they know of the existence of video surveillance, generally the DA would stamp in the report "KS/WP,” or “Known surveillance/will provide.
So I get a routine destruction of property case where my client is accused of destroying a computer monitor. The officer’s account of the case was simply "Surveillance reviewed. Client taken into custody," stamped with the red KS/WP. Client called and sounded much more reasonable then she would turn out to be. She calmly explained it was a wrong place, wrong time issue.
She said she was passing through and tripped to hit the computer at a receptionist's desk. So we schedule an initial meeting for Friday. Friday comes around, and about ten minutes prior to the client’s arrival, a runner from the DA's office delivers the CD with the video. Being a bit busy at the time, I figured I'd watch it with the client when she arrived.
She arrives and again, seems just fine. I mention that we have the surveillance and could go ahead and review it, and she pleasantly agrees. Her and her reasonably well-dressed husband come in, joke a bit about how awkward this all is, and sit down across from me. I turn the monitor around so we can watch what happened. I didn’t know what was coming.
In the five minutes of surveillance provided, the first four minutes were a mundane scene of a receptionist answering phones with a pair of double doors behind her. I fast forward. Then, cue the music. I watched my client kick open a pair of double doors, screaming at whatever was on the other side. She leaves. Then comes back in, screaming again, and re-enters the double doors.
Then I see security guards gently escorting her out, as she is screaming at them. Security stops at the double doors. My client goes over to the reception desk and leans over the counter to...you guessed it...grab the computer monitor, take it over her head, and bring it smashing to the ground. She then gives the finger to security and leaves.
We watch the next 30 seconds in stunned silence, and the tape goes black. Now, I knew enough to watch my client’s reaction during this, and she was a goddarned statue. Didn't move. Stared at the screen with the smile of a psycho. Then she turned to me and said "So, what are you gonna do about this"? I didn't know what to say, and I just kind of stared at her.
"Well, uh, probably work on a plea deal. Hopefully you pay them and get a couple of hour—" "I didn't do it". "Well, yes you did. I just watched it". She stands up and, without breaking eye contact, grabs my computer monitor, lifts it up, and smashes it on the ground. She picks up her purse and walks out. Her husband follows, but turns to me in my doorway and gives me the finger, shaking his head in a "for shame" kind of way. I did not take the case.
12. It’s The Little Things
Defense counsel asked my personal injury client—a tall, 50ish, leather-vest-wearing biker—to describe the worst part of the neck injury he suffered when a car crashed into his motorcycle. My client’s response made my jaw drop. My client calmly replied, “The worst part? That I can’t go down on a woman as well as I used to”.
After a long pause, counsel asked him to repeat the answer. My client did. He wasn’t faking. He seemed genuinely sad. It was the first time I’d heard about that from him. It was heartfelt, unusual, and interesting, on a number of levels.
13. Baring It All
I had a client who claimed her employer discriminated against her after she got into a car crash. She said her disabilities were so bad she couldn't drive or sit at her desk for any amount of time, and her company refused to accommodate her by letting her work remotely. Seemed cut and dry…until the mortifying truth came out.
Needless to say, it was embarrassing when opposing counsel told me my client played in a full-contact lingerie football league and they had telecast videos of her on YouTube playing, running, getting tackled, and dancing in the end zone…on the very date that her doctor (who lost his license) gave her a note saying she was bed-bound.
I then showed her the footage, and she continued to lie despite having a freaking stat sheet for receiving yards when she was supposedly in the hospital. Never been angrier at a client.
14. Owning Up
We had some huge issues with a landlord—trying to enter without letting us know beforehand, not answering to fix issues, very aggressive when talking with us—when he decided to sell the place. He didn't check with us about the visits and just showed up randomly with potential buyers. We told him to get lost, and he eventually left but called us the same evening to threaten us.
We sent emails to remind him of our rights as tenants and he answered by threatening us some more, IN AN EMAIL. We eventually end up in small claims court, and he fabricates a story about how we are terrible tenants and we try to discourage buyers. We just showed the judge the emails as well as the open complaint to the authorities we filled a few days earlier.
The judge couldn't believe it and gave the landlord a formal warning, plus gave us three free months of rent. In the end, the guy just used a real estate company to sell the place. All went smoothly and we still live there with lovely landlords that aren't completely bonkers.
15. No Bueno
Someone my brother once knew went to court for his arraignment. While he was there, he watched as the judge read a man's charges ahead of him. The judge asked the man, “Mr. Gonzalez, how do you plead”? Mr. Gonzalaz answered, "No hablo inglés". The judge paused, then asked him, “Mr. Gonzalez, do you understand a word I’m saying”? Mr. Gonzalez repeated, "No hablo inglés".
Incredulous, the judge inquired, “Mr. Gonzalez, am I to understand that this whole time, no one has bothered to get a translator for you”? Again, Mr. Gonzalez responded, "No hablo inglés". Defeated now, the judge remarked, “Well...I guess, if you can’t understand what you’re charged with, we’ll have to drop all the charges”.
Mr. Gonzalez then hastily answered, "Gracias, señor," and walked out. That's when it dawned on her. Mr. Gonzalez could understand English after all. Realizing the facade, the judge quickly shouted, "Get back in here"! and ordered that he return. Mr. Gonzalez nearly got away with it.
16. Walk A Mile In His Shoes
I got robbed in my home. Long story short, he would have gone behind bars anyway, but the kicker is that the shoes he wore to court were the same shoes he took from my house. The judge asked if I wanted them back. I said yes. The judge made him take them off in court and walk back in socks. Donated the shoes, it was more about the principle.
17. I Regret My Actions
My grandfather was a small-town Georgia lawyer, and he told of a time he was representing an insurance company in a civil suit after a car accident. The plaintiff claimed to have received “whupneck” from the accident, supposedly caused by my grandfather’s client. Pop asked him what exactly he meant by “whupneck”.
The plaintiff, wearing a neck brace, proceeded to answer: “It’s when you can’t move your head like this” and then he shook his head back and forth. The judge promptly dismissed the case.
18. For Love Or Money
I wasn’t the lawyer but I was one of the witnesses. My sister-in-law was five years old when her father passed, and he left her his house. However, her nasty mother was supposed to “take care of it” until she came of age, and through sheer manipulation she handled everything until my sister-in-law was well into her mid 20s.
Fast-forward to age 25, and my sister-in-law finds out there’s a $400,000 mortgage on the house that she had no clue about—she only found out when she got the foreclosure notice. Turns out, her mother and older half brother had conspired to forge her signature and take out a mortgage that they split. It was several levels of shady: The notary was the brother’s wife and the mortgage broker was the wife’s sister.
It was a full-on conspiracy. We’re going back and forth for years, and at one point the mother and brother literally admitted to me that they did it, but that it was “18 years of rent and food for her being paid back” and all that nasty stuff. The lawsuit went on for over a year. So one day, our attorney is in the middle of accusing the mother of forging the signature.
The mother keeps responding in an annoyed, condescending matter. Eventually, the lawyer asks her some other question about the signature and she blurts out, “That’s not my signature, that’s my son’s”! Our attorney, their attorney, the bank’s attorney, the judge, and the entire court all collectively gasped. Case closed.
I’ve got a good one. When I was interning at the court for a judge, I observed a pre-trial hearing for a murder case. The defendant allegedly slew his grandmother because she wouldn’t give him money, then stuffed her in a closet. Horrifying stuff. During the hearing, the defendant’s lawyer, prosecutor, and judge went through some typical procedures.
Then the judge asked the defendant if he had anything to add. The defendant smugly said, “Yes, actually, I don’t think I’m mentally fit to stand trial according to article X”. The judge let him finish, then looked him straight in the eye and said: “The fact that you just told me this shows me you’re perfectly fit to stand trial”. Better luck next time.
20. This One’s Going In The Burn Book
I was an attorney for an insurance company defending a lawsuit where the plaintiffs were two girls who claimed they were irreparably harmed and their lives would never be the same because severe back injuries kept them from being active. There was just one problem. They forgot to set their Instagram accounts to private.
As it turned out, the accounts were full of pictures of them riding jet skis, dancing, and pictures of them at the gym. The underage drinking pictures were just icing on the cake.
21. The Five Finger Discount
I was a witness on this one. It was a shoplifting case. During cross, the examiner asks the accused—based on his testimony during his detainment—“you listed [place he shoplifted] as your employer. Why”? His response: “I make so much from them every year, they might as well pay me”. The public defender just about collapsed.
22. In One Ear, Out The Other
I was an intern for a public defender when I was in school. I was able to practice under a limited license, as long as my supervising attorney was present. This meant I was able to do certain simple things like arraignments to gain experience. One morning, we met with this fellow before his arraignment. He told us that he was guilty and didn't want to fight the charge.
Really, he just wanted to get some help with his substance problem. My supervisor explained that this client would be an excellent candidate for the court program, and the first step to get that process going would be to plead "Not Guilty" that day, so an agreement could be worked up with the prosecutor in the weeks afterward.
I sat and watched as my supervisor explained the whole process to this guy, who seemed to understand completely. He seemed entirely sober at the time, and responded adequately to what the attorney was saying. Finally, my supervisor asked the guy, "Would it be OK if my Intern represented you for this? It's rather simple, all he'll say is "Not Guilty". The guy agreed and I was excited. I would come to regret this for the rest of my life.
Cut to an hour or so later. I am seated next to this guy, I enter the plea, everything is fine. Then the judge asks "Sir, do you have any questions for the court"? The guy, after having been explained the process thoroughly by advising attorney, says, "Can I just confess now"? All I could hear was the residual ringing of my ears left by a soul leaving one's body.
The judge gave me the most pitying look I've ever seen, and said "Sir, I think you need to consult with your counsel". My advising attorney then came up, tapped me on the shoulder, and said he'd handle it. Like a shamed puppy, I scurried back behind the bar. The attorney quickly conferred with the client and the plea went ahead as planned.
Later he told me to get used to that, as functional addicts tend to become experts in making people think they understand what they've been told, when they haven’t at all.
23. Lucky Break
My family friend was representing someone accessed of embezzling 2 million dollars from the company she worked for. The embezzling was discovered through lavish spending, including the accused buying multiple 100K cars for family members while on a salary of 80K. The case is going OK, but there are problems with some of the evidence. And then everything took a jaw-dropping twist.
The defendant decides to hold a press conference and claim she won the money at the casino. Obviously, this kind of thing can be checked (and in this case, proven false pretty much immediately), so the lawyer asks the client to hold another press conference to say she misspoke. If she doesn’t, she’s screwed because they'll be able to tell she is lying about the source of the money.
Moreover, lying shows her knowledge of wrongdoing. So she holds another press conference and says she misspoke. Except then she adds onto her statement and says it wasn't her who won the money at the casino, but her cousin who won the money at the casino...The lawyer had to drop the client at this point. But she wasn’t finished.
To make matters worse, the 25K she paid her lawyer sat in his escrow account for a while because the money wasn’t obtained in a clean way (unsurprisingly). I don't believe he got the total sum in the end and had to go to court against his own ex-client to get something for all his work. Just a hot mess of a case from beginning to end.
24. On The Record
I was a junior associate observing the deposition of a high-powered person in the entertainment industry. The attorney deposing him asked him to read part of a contract into the record, and the witness became combative and refused to do so. After refusing repeated requests to read the document into the record, the astonishing truth came out.
The witness threw the document on the table and, exasperated, and said, “I can’t read”. From then on, the attorney read the documents into the record.
25. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
I had a guy at work who had a brain aneurism and survived it, and developed what can only be described as a split personality. He was warned by HR almost a dozen times for swearing at staff and sending personal texts containing horrible messages, but they couldn't do anything because he could claim work stress caused it, which is most likely true.
Lawyers got involved after a while because it was getting out of hand. People were crying in the office and demanding he get taken away from them, or threatening that they wouldn't come in until he was gone as they didn't feel safe around him. He then sent an email from his own personal address to a colleague's company email address. Its contents did him in.
He started by saying he couldn't believe she betrayed him after all this time and didn't back him up knowing his condition. They'd been good friends for quite a few years and she did support him at work. But then he said he should have slept with her back in the day as she's clearly such a loose woman and he knows where she lives, so maybe he'll pop round one night and make it happen even if she didn't want it.
The lawyers took one look after she handed that email in and went, "Yeah you can fire him now". He was gone within about 48 hours.
26. Know Thyself
This was a custody case I was prosecuting. The dad went on about how he has changed his life around and worked through the AA program. I asked him what step he was on, and he proudly proclaimed, “Three”. I then asked him what step three is, and he had no idea. I then asked him what step two was. Again, no idea. Parental rights terminated.
27. Caught Red-Handed
I was reviewing the transcript of an interview with a child. The child made incriminating statements against my client. At one point, when discussing the allegations, the child used an odd word, but I didn't think much of it. A few days later, I was watching a video of the child interacting with their grandmother, who hates my client, from about a week before that interview. That’s when it all became so clear.
The grandmother used the exact same odd word in the exact context the child later used it. At that moment, it became clear that the child had been coached. It was the first real "ah ha"! moment of my career.
28. Nickel And Dime
I represented myself in small claims court. My lease had an exit clause that said if I fronted two months’ rent, they would work to lease my place and return any money that was unused. I checked with the office ahead of time, and they ensured me there was a waiting list for the units, so I gave them the two months and moved. This turned out to be a huge mistake.
They never returned a dime. I talked to the new tenant and confirmed they moved in a week later. In court, the judge was commenting on how he didn’t see anything explicitly saying they would return any unused rent, even though that intent was stated to me a few times. Dumbo from the leasing office piped in with “Your honor, in almost every case we can return some money, but in this case we didn’t have a tenant in the two months after he left”.
So she gave the case back to me and I presented the affidavit from the new tenant confirming the move-in date. Judge awarded me double what they owed. Turns out leasing office dumbos 1 and 2 thought they could lie to me and “return” my excess rent money to themselves. Protect yourself, people! Landlords are jerks.
29. Tell It To Me Straight
I watched this unfold as the foreperson of a jury. The defendant decided to be his own lawyer. He was accused of pulling over and switching drivers in a car, all while being pursued by officers for driving without a license while on probation. Yeah, it was a lot, and this guy wasn’t very smart. This became crystal clear after one exchange.
The defendant put his buddy on the stand and asked point-blank, "Who was driving the car that day"? Buddy replied, "You mean before or after we switched drivers"? It was all I could do to keep a straight face.
30. Bait And Switch
This guy claimed that his company fired him because of their issues about his race. Obviously a huge no-no, and it actually turned out to be true. They were overtly horrible and anti-Asian…but that wasn’t the real problem. The real problem was, as we found out, the SAME GUY kept coming to work after he'd been let go and threatening his ex-boss with a pistol…in a funeral home.
31. Lies Don’t Pay
A friend of mine was an attorney in New York for a while. He was defending a guy who was asleep in the backseat of his car while intoxicated and a NYS Trooper detained him. On the stand, the Trooper testified that he visually saw "the key in the ignition". My friend gave him like three chances to walk it back. "Are you sure, Trooper, that you actually saw the key IN the ignition"? The guy wouldn’t back down.
"Yes, counselor". And then my buddy dropped the hammer. "You are aware that my client drives a Toyota Prius"? BAM. My buddy moved for immediate dismissal, and the DA didn't argue. Case dismissed. Nothing happened to the Trooper. As to WHY the Trooper did this? Promotions & Overtime. Imagine you're running the entire New York State of officers. You have about 5,000 Troopers—what metric do you use to gauge how effectively they're performing their tasks?
For the most part, Troopers ride alone. So Trooper #1 drives around all day on his shift and issues zero tickets. Trooper #2 manages to issue, say, five tickets a day and makes an arrest four times a month? You're going to assume that Trooper #2 is "doing his job". An "aggressive" officer is one who has a lot of tickets and so forth.
Also, court appearances are almost always on overtime. Officers’ unions are very specific about overtime pay rates and when they apply. If you're an "effective" Trooper and you write lots of tickets, you're going to be in court a LOT at 1.5 your hourly rate, sometimes 2.0 your hourly rate, depending. So it pays them to be like this.
32. Blind Witness
This incident was the cherry on top of a series of absurd events. In a nutshell, the opposing party's son—and presumably the party himself—lied about being blind to make himself seem even more sympathetic as a witness. We had no idea until he took the witness box. Luckily for us, he wasn’t very bright, and he slipped in his façade when he got there.
After making his way to the stand, the opposing counsel asked him to take the oath. Without thinking, he picked up the card and read it aloud in front of everybody. In light of the opposing party’s deceitfulness, the judge dismissed the whole thing in our client's favor shortly after. I was a trainee at the time, but my boss, who was in her late sixties then, said it was the most ridiculous case she'd ever handled.
33. Justice Prevailed
I found it necessary to represent myself on a custody matter because my ex was physically harming our daughter. My daughter came to stay with me, and the day she arrived, she had a bruise on the side of her face. She told me her mother had sucker slapped her and bounced her face off the refrigerator door handle. I reported this to local law enforcement and CAS with no results.
Skip ahead to almost two years of making myself knowledgeable on court procedures and self-representation, and I knew that regardless of the issues, my ex could never resist the need to correct me. It was my ace in the hole—and it went perfectly. When I finally appeared in front of the Superior Court justice with my ex and her lawyer, the justice asked about my ex slapping my daughter. I informed him of the bruise on her face and that my daughter told me her mom slapped her.
My ex then went into a rage, yelling that she would never hit our daughter and that I was making this up to paint her out to be a bad mother. I looked at my ex and said, “Our daughter told me that you slapped her and bounced her face off of the booze cabinet”. Without missing a beat, my ex immediately corrected that it wasn't the booze cabinet; it was the refrigerator.
Her lawyer did a facepalm, and the court justice winked at me as he put it over for a final hearing to award me custody. Sweet justice.
34. A Bad Case Of Nerves
Our client was a home health care worker for the elderly and people who can't leave their homes. One of her clients left his estate to her when he passed, which was about a year after she was hired. The surviving family was so angry about this that they sued her for undue influence, etc. From everything our client said, she just got along with her patient really well and innocently.
She quit working for her company to care for him full time, they went on small trips together, and were together every day. In contrast, the surviving family was only a great niece who lived several states away and hadn’t spoken with the deceased in a decade prior to his passing. So we thought we had a legit case of a man expressing his appreciation for the woman who cared for him in the last two years of his life. We were way off the mark.
Towards the end of the deceased’s life, he began making plans to change his will and leave his property to our client. In several produced emails, she “joked” that they should just get married and avoid the hassle. Cue the accusations that she’s a gold digger, etc. So we stress to her that they’re going to come at her from this angle and she needs to be prepared.
Before her first deposition, we prep our client for days. She is a little out there, and her demeanor in general is rather off-putting, so we went above and beyond in prep. There was nothing we didn’t ask her a hundred different ways and times. First 10 minutes of the deposition, our client is asked about her marital history. She states she’s been married three times, which we knew. And then the real stuff came out.
She then goes on to say that SHE HAS BEEN ENGAGED 11 TIMES BUT ALWAYS BROKE IT OFF BECAUSE THEY DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY TO SUPPORT HER LIFESTYLE. To top it all off, she states that while she’s never been charged with anything she did spend two weeks behind bars for contempt for refusing to obey a judge’s orders and hiding evidence in a previous lawsuit.
She spends the rest of the next two days alternating between arguing that she doesn’t remember basic information like her phone number and insulting opposing counsel and calling him names. Multiple times during breaks and such, we ask her what is going on, tell her to calm down, review everything we went over, to no avail.
Finally I end up in the restroom at the same time with her, and watch her pop a handful of pills for her “anxiety”. Ever watch a $4 million case go up in flames because your client is crazy? It was a rough day and that witch still owes me $10k.
35. No, You May Not
I’m still a law student, and this happened during my first internship at a court. The prosecution was charging a girl alongside other people with drug possession. However, before officers could successfully detain her, she managed to throw her illicit substances away. This meant that no one could prove that she’d bought or owned them because they technically could have belonged to one of the other people in the group.
During her trial, the judge ended up ruling in dubio pro reo because there just wasn’t enough evidence against her. The judge then inquired if she wanted to say anything. Unbelievably, this girl decided to ask then and there if she could get HER substances back. The defense attorney looked like he was about to have a heart attack.
36. Fake It Till You Make It
I just read about the recent disbarment of one of my law school classmates. Apparently, he told his client that they won the case. They did not win the case. In fact, the case was languishing from inaction on the part of the lawyer. Somehow, it got much worse. He then created fake documents saying they won the case, and forged the judge’s signature on the fake documents.
Then he had the audacity to bill the client for the time it took to “win” the case. Imagine the surprise of the client when another lawyer at the firm called her up and said “Remember how you paid your lawyer for a bunch of work and he said you won your case? Yeah, none of that happened”. So yeah, he got disbarred. Weird that it happened to somebody I know.
37. In Case It Wasn’t Clear
I was sitting in court, waiting for my turn. One of the cases ahead of mine was a littering case. During his testimony, an officer said he saw the defendant throw a clear wrapper from a pack of gum out of his car window. Although it’s seldom a good idea, the accused decided to defend himself. He then called his girlfriend to take the stand.
He asks her, “Did I throw a gum wrapper out the window”? His girlfriend replies, “No, you did not,” with this huge grin on her face. The defendant is now also grinning and goes, “What did I throw out the window”? To which she triumphantly answered, “It was the plastic wrapper from your smokes”! The guy rested his case right there.
He literally thought he would get off because the officer couldn’t properly identify the clear plastic he’d just admitted to throwing out the window. He was wrong.
38. Daddy Issues
This was one of those revelations that haunted me the very moment it came out. It was a case where my client, a mother, was trying to get a restraining order against her brother for harming her kid. The entire time, she’d been super dodgy about the kid’s father’s identity. Well, in the middle of open court…she confessed that the brother was her child’s father.
39. Show Me The Money
The senior partner of my firm had told me to handle this particular case. My client told me an old lady he had befriended had lent him some money. Concerned about an upcoming surgery, she had then told him that if anything happened to her, he should consider the money a gift. Her signature was on a document to this effect, dated about a week before the surgery.
Well, she had passed, but from confusing circumstances I didn’t quite understand, and that my client was being really shady about. Now, her estate was suing to get the money back and my client was insisting it was a gift because of their agreement. I subpoenaed her medical records, but they were only given to me on the day of the trial. They illustrated a chilling picture.
She hadn’t had the surgery at all. She had fallen, been rushed to hospital, and passed shortly after. Although the family wasn’t sure about the terms of their agreement, my client sure was, and he had been lying through his teeth and avoiding telling me the truth just to get at a little bit of her money. Some people are just bad people.
40. That’s The Tooth
I represented a client who was suing for jaw and mouth-related injuries. I retained her regular dentist to testify as her expert witness. Two days before our impending trial, my client dropped a detail that ruined everything. She casually mentions that she will be arriving at the courthouse with her dentist because they had become romantically involved. And that wasn’t all.
They’d lived together for the past year. She had more than a year at her disposal to tell me this little bit of wonderful news. I immediately became more agreeable to a last minute pre-trial settlement.
41. On The Record
It was my third month of practice, and I was in family law at the time. I was representing a mom in a petition for a restraining order against the boyfriend/dad. At issue in the broader case was child visitation, custody, support, etc., but today's hearing was just on the restraining order. We had pretty good facts but it was mostly based on the testimony of the parties.
My client was way more reputable as a witness, so I was feeling confident. 10 minutes before the hearing, my client shows up. I give her a last-minute prep on what to expect and then she says "I'm glad I'm going through with this. I can't deal with it anymore and he's just getting worse. To top it off, he left me a ranting voicemail on Saturday".
"You have your phone with you"? "Yes". We play the voicemail, and the recording shocked even me. It's a full two minutes of ex-boyfriend screaming stuff like, "I should have killed you when we were together," and, "You were always such a witch. I hope you burn in a fire". I didn't have time to ask her why the heck she hadn't said anything to me about the voicemail before the bailiff called our case.
We sit, and the judge asks if either side has additional evidence, and I ask for permission to play the voicemail. Ex-boyfriend, who didn't have an attorney, didn't object, so I played the whole nasty two-minute rant in open court. Judge goes, "We're going to take a brief recess before I issue my ruling. If the parties want to meet and confer in the hall, they are welcome to".
Boyfriend knew he was screwed. We settled the whole darn case then and there. My client got her wish list in terms of custody, supervised visitation, child support, plus the restraining order, to boot.
42. Slow Your Roll
I was the victim in a court case after a traffic incident. I was on my motorcycle and had a verbal altercation with a car driver who flicked ashes out his window and right into my face. He then attempted to run me over with his car. There were three witnesses to this, plus a court expert on acceleration. The guy claimed he was doing 60km/hr and I braked suddenly in front of him.
What happened was I was going increasingly faster to get away from him, and he rammed me when I was doing 100km/hr around a corner. All the witnesses backed this up. As soon as his lawyer heard that there were four people saying what happened, he was speechless and asked to speak to his client. It took him a couple more minutes to plead guilty.
43. Them’s The Brakes
It was a traffic accident case, and I only met my client shortly before the trial. He came across well in our meeting and answered my questions reasonably and plausibly. Minutes before we are called into the courtroom he says, “I’ve never had much luck with these court cases”. I ask, “You’ve been in the county court before”? He replies, “Oh no, I mean with the criminal charges”.
In giving evidence, he then proceeds to blurt out his history—unprompted—and also comes up with the following delicious exchange: Counsel: “You accept that as you were on the minor road, you did not have the right of way”? Defendant: “Well, I don’t know, I’m not a ROAD EXPERT. You’d need a road expert to answer a question like that”.
Counsel: “All I’m asking is whether you agree that a car on a minor road does not have the right of way”. Defendant: “Right of way, wrong of way, who can say? That’s what we’re here to find out! For the judge to decide”. I nearly cried. So (a) he failed to disclose to me his remarkable history of driving offences and (b) he failed to disclose his status as total moron.
44. A Friend In Need
My client was riding his motorcycle on a relatively calm street when this guy exited his garage, without looking, and ran over him. In the deposition, the guy brought a witness who was with him at the time in the passenger seat. The whole time, the witness maintained that my client was driving too fast and that there was no time to brake the car.
I asked him the same question a few times in different ways, making him tell the story again. In the fourth telling, he was already a bit frustrated and let it slip: “—Look, I’ve already told you. We were exiting the garage and, as soon as I sat up from getting my cell phone from the car’s carpet—” “—Wait. So you didn’t even see the crash”?
There was no coming back from that.
45. We Have The Receipts
I was in a visitation/child support case with my ex over our three-year-old. We had both moved on and gotten remarried. Our visitation order was for him to pick up our child from my house at 6 pm every other Friday night. He frequently would show up at 9 pm or later, with no call ahead of time to let us know what was going on.
Sometimes, he would even show up the next day when he felt like it and expect us to not only be there but to be waiting on him. This was before cell phones were popular, but both he and I had one, so he had a means of contacting us. After one too many incidences, my husband and I set up our video camera. It was actually an ingenious plan.
We placed it where it would record our TV so they could see the evening news for a timestamp; our home phone to prove we weren't called; and our driveway to prove he never showed when he was supposed to. After six months or so of this, we head to court. He told his lawyer that he was there, on time, every visit, and we just wouldn't allow him to see his son.
The judge asked us to go to a private room with our lawyers to see if we could work things out. Once there, the other lawyer jumps on my lawyer about how her clients were lying and we were scum, etc. She calmly leaned over, picked up the first bag of tapes (out of five) and laid it on the table. She explained that it was full of tapes from the visitations he never showed for, and said that all the bags had the same.
She then asked if he would like for the judge to come in and watch the tapes with us. The lawyer asked us to leave so he could confer with my ex. He "conferred" so loudly the judge had to send someone in to quiet them down. Needless to say, we got everything we asked for.
46. Oops, My Bad
My girlfriend had a very minor nose-to-tail and a rookie officer who happened to drive by booked her on some massive charges and fines. She went to trial, and her lawyer tore apart the officer. In the report he filed, the officer ticked her ethnicity as African—she's white and European. He also put the wrong date, the wrong street name, and didn't get the other witness details.
The prosecution and officer argued that she had signed the witness statement, so while a few things were accidentally filled out wrong, it reflected what happened. Her lawyer asked the officer to show the court her signature on the statement. He looked at it and went white as a sheet. He looked back up and said, “Oh, I must have forgot it”.
The prosecutor and a few officers who went to the trial for some reason all let out audible groans. The judge adjourned for 10 minutes, and the officers still wanted to press on, but the judge threw it out immediately after recess. He also gave the prosecutor an earful for taking such a ridiculous case to trial and acting like it had any chance at all.
47. Ahead Of The Game
Standing outside of the courtroom, and we were first on the docket. The matter was for a divorce order, but it had been a total nightmare up until that point. My client’s husband had been hiding out in another country, so it was a whole rigmarole. But in any case, we’re here now, and I think this is finally going to be smooth sailing. I was so, so wrong.
We’re about to walk in, and my client turns to me and says, "By the way, I think I am already divorced in [other country]. I got some papers a month ago". Our matter is called 30 seconds later. I explain to the judge that I've just been told this at the door—which, in case you don’t know, pretty much makes our divorce proceedings moot.
The judge gives me a look that is half piteous, half "are you freaking kidding me"? then reschedules the matter with instructions to confirm whether the client really was divorced elsewhere. Turns out that they were. My client proceeded to leave a bad review because we couldn't get her a divorce order…despite the fact that she was ALREADY divorced.
48. A Little Off The Top
My client was a decades-long employee with a bank, and she came in to dispute a termination for cause. She confessed that in an act of desperation and at a time where we had good evidence she was under great mental stress and depression, she had “kited” a check—that is, she deposited a check she knew wouldn’t clear, then used those funds to withdraw money or write your own check.
This was the basis for her termination, but it was an arguable case. The client had immediately thereafter ensured there was enough money in the account so that the bank suffered no actual loss, and her job had no access to or connection to money. It was more for the purposes of getting access to funds early at a moment she needed them. Or so we thought.
Partway through discovery, the bank pulled out records and ATM footage that showed our client doing the same thing over a hundred times. Case didn't go so well after that.
49. Do You Even Lift, Bro?
This was a good one. The plaintiff was saying he couldn’t work and had back injuries after a minor car accident. I found a video on Facebook of the plaintiff squatting 300 pounds the month before his deposition. So, I sent the video to his attorney after the deposition, and the case immediately went away. He also adamantly denied being able to work out or doing any lifting during his deposition. It was all a big lie.
50. Botched Effort
A judge I worked for oversaw a trial where a woman claimed that a boob job left her so badly maimed that she couldn’t bear to go out in public. It sounded pretty terrible, frankly. But little did the prosecution know, the defense attorney wasn’t at all concerned by the woman’s allegations because he had a secret ace in the hole.
For the next two hours on cross-examination, the doctor’s defense attorney read aloud all of the woman’s posts since the surgery, alongside blown up pics of her wearing a bikini in Aruba and mini-skirts and low-cut shirts at bars for “ladies night”. On a break, the woman ran out of the courtroom, crying. 20 minutes later, her lawyer came back and told the judge she was dropping the case.
51. The Letter Of The Law
I was the client in this case. In my divorce trial, my ex-wife has spent about two hours explaining to the court what a jerk I was and all the horrible things I had done to her and my children, claiming that I was unfit to be a parent. Two solid hours...Lie upon lie. Just six months earlier? My wife had snuck into my house—she's the one who moved out—and went on my computer to type me a love letter.
"Oh, you're so wonderful! You're such an amazing father, a great provider, and a great husband! You've done so much for the community. Please don't leave me!!! " That's the gist of it. Well, she didn't print it or sign, it was just a file on my computer left on the screen for me to find. So our challenge, after all her testimony to the contrary, was to get her to admit she wrote this letter. I told my attorney—ask her! She won't be able to lie if she's sworn in.
Plus, I thought she was going to feel incredibly guilty about all these lies. So...he handed her a printout. He had one too. He started reading it, then he asked her to continue the reading. She started to cry. He asked her, “Do you remember writing this letter”? Her face was shriveling. She looked at her attorney and said, "I'm sorry Sandy”. This is what actually did her in.
Then she looked at the courtroom and said "Yes, I wrote this". There was silence for a few moments. Then the judge said, "Attorneys—in my chambers! Now"! My attorney told me later: "The judge understood that when your wife said, 'I'm sorry Sandy,' that meant that her attorney was aware this letter MIGHT be brought up and that she had instructed her client to lie".
The judge was F U R I O U S. Back in the courtroom, my attorney went down the list lie by lie. Did he really do this? Did he really do that? When you say he was doing this, wasn't it really that? Etc. Then he had her read the entire letter again. After that, my divorce went from me being 1/2 inch away from losing all custody to getting full custody. Made for TV or what?
52. Done And Busted
I had a client who was accused of taking a young woman's car and then crashing it and fleeing the scene. The girl testified at trial that she had given him the keys that night because she had been drinking and she "would never, ever drink and drive". I just sat back and let her speak, because she didn’t know that I’d already won.
Apparently, she was not aware that I had requested and obtained a copy of her driving record, which showed she received a charge for exactly that—drinking and then driving—after the incident in question. I still remember the look on her face when I handed her the driving record and said, "Except for that one time you got caught a month later, right"?
The look on the judge's face was equally memorable.
53. A Total Trainwreck
I was sued for a car crash. While the plaintiff was on the stand, she began recounting the event, and everyone realized the stomach-dropping truth. It was a completely different crash. Different cars involved, different time of day, everything. Upon cross-examination, she revealed that she had FOUR lawsuits running concurrently and couldn’t keep them all straight.
The jury foreman looked at me and rolled his eyes! Her eventual payout from my insurance was a pittance, less than the initial settlement offer before the whole thing went to trial. Her lawyer was shaking with anger when court adjourned. He was one of those “we don’t get paid unless we get money for you” guys, so he lost a lot of money on that one.
54. A Bump In The Road
I was working as a paralegal. We were defending a claim that had run into tens of thousands of pounds against our client. It was a trailer park where a woman had tripped over a speed bump while walking back to her caravan, and damaged her knee. The fall was genuine. The question was whose fault this was. She claimed it was the trailer park’s fault because she hadn't seen the speed bump due to low lighting, poor marking etc.
Going through the various questions to her, our barrister asked how she knew the speed bump was poorly marked, or something similar. Her response was, "Well, I remember thinking how it wasn't well marked when I was walking up to it". Needless to say, it was a short day in court after that point. I mean, if she saw it in the first place…
55. Money Back Guaranteed
Years ago, I had to do something at an outlet mall in a bad part of town. It took me about 20 minutes and then I found that my car had been towed. Ubered to the tow yard, and the giant sign says “cash only”. Had to call another Uber, drive to the ATM and back, and pay them $300-some bucks. Got a horrible hand-written receipt that, believe it or not, was itemized.
I went home, Googled, found that they violated the law in three separate ways: They towed illegally, illegally refused to accept credit cards, and had multiple charges that the law called “unreasonable”. So I got my revenge. I took them to small claims court. The judge began by asking the tow yard owner about his relationship with the property owner and how the decision was made to tow my car.
"Oh," the slimy tow truck dude answered, "My cousin works there, if he says tow, I tow. It's a hundred percent fine”! The judge's eyebrows begin to rise. "But," the dude continued, "BUT what I detest the most, your honor, is this JERK claiming I don't take credit cards. I'm a businessman! I take credit cards all the time! He's a low life who does not have any credit cards, that's why he wanted to pay cash"!
I was having a "HOLD IT" overload, and the judge saw me smiling and hopping in my seat and patting my manila folder of receipts. "Do you actually not have any credit or debit cards"? the judge asked me. I pulled out my wallet and showed him, and then I pulled out the clincher. It was a time-stamped photo of the "CASH ONLY" sign I took the day of, and another one I took the morning of the hearing.
The guy mumbled something like, "Okay, you got me there" and then had nothing but, "Huh, I didn't know that" when the judge asked him about the legality of each unreasonable itemized charge. Anyway, each offense pays double the total tow charge, and since there were three, that's how I made $1,800 on a $300 investment.
56. Immoral Motorist
I was the victim of a hit-and-run car accident. My leg was pretty mangled. Luckily, officers were able to apprehend the driver of the car. It turned out he was a rich kid who was driving his mum's convertible Porsche. Of course, he claimed that he was innocent and denied all knowledge of hitting me. Regardless, he still went to court to face charges.
At the trial, the prosecutor asked him how long he had been driving. His response was nothing short of brainless. He queried, “Do you mean how long have I been driving lawfully or unlawfully”? Of course, the judge went nuts, asking him why and when he had been driving unlawfully. His defense team just sat down in their chairs and shook their heads. The prosecution won the case.
57. Rigging The System
My brother served on a jury back in the days of MySpace. It was a case where a big rig had hit a woman during foggy weather, and she was suing for a back injury. On the last day of the trial, the opposing counsel brought up her MySpace account to show the jury a picture of her dancing on the hood of a car. Right next to it was a text exchange saying that she shouldn’t go out too much because her lawyer said she had to look injured. Needless to say, she lost that case.
58. The Proof Is In The Payment
I represented an elderly Indian couple who didn't speak English very well and owned a rental property. They had a tenant at the time who had not paid rent in over six months. They had tried to evict her on their own, but when they got to court, the tenant produced some hand-written notes that they had given her the year prior thanking her for payment.
Sadly, they had failed to date the notes. So of course, the tenant added recent dates herself. The tenant also produced a partial certified check receipt, but most of it was illegible. Anyway, because of their poor English, they had difficulty understanding the questions and giving intelligent answers, so they lost the initial case.
They hired me to help address all of the various lies that the tenant was putting forth. Anyway, we re-filed. I had my clients pull the banking records, so we could show the date that the certified check was actually deposited into their account. The plan was simple: Let the tenant make the same arguments and then present the banking statements showing the deposit date. My clients also found a photocopy of one of their notes that was undated, unlike the copy the tenant presented the last time.
Well, when the judge finally understood that the things the tenant had presented occurred the year before, his cheeks turned bright red and he asked the tenant, "What year did you make this payment"? The tenant started saying something like she couldn't be exactly sure when...and the judge cut her off again in a very loud voice and said, "What year"?!
Needless to say, the clients got their eviction granted. But here’s the best part. When the tenant arrived at court, I watched as she got out of her car, walked to the back, and pulled out a wheelchair. She then proceeded to stay in that wheelchair until the case was over. Once the judge left the courtroom, she folded-up the wheelchair and carried it to her car, mumbling that she "hates lawyers".
That was a very satisfying day.
59. Bad Judgement
I am a lawyer now, but this happened when I was in law school, and we had to watch actual court cases in the local district court. A guy stood accused of destroying some stuff his neighbor owned. After a complicated plea by his lawyer about how some evidence was inadmissible, the prosecution could not prove the defendant was guilty.
The judge agreed with the defense, delivered the verdict, and acquitted the guy. What happened next was just bewildering. Much to the exasperation of his lawyer, the defendant then got up, walked toward the judge as if to shake his hand, and said, “Thank you, your honor, I’ll never do it again”. The prosecutor then quasi-jokingly said, “Appeal”.
60. Labor Of Lies
I once dealt with a worker’s compensation case where a client claimed he hurt his back falling off the side of his truck while putting a tarp over the load. The claim appeared legitimate because the hospital admitted him, and the doctors had provided him with medication to manage his pain. So, we pursued the case. But, as we later discovered, there was much more to this guy’s original story.
It turned out the company had a surveillance camera. The injury seemed fishy to the employer, so the company reviewed the recording of the incident. It turned out the idiot had climbed off the side of the truck, then laid down on the ground and started yelling for help. He made the whole thing up. It’s no wonder employers question work comp injuries. This guy ruined it for all of the legitimate claims.
61. Paper Trail
I worked on a case involving defective processors. In discovery, we got emails from the defendant’s engineers who had worked on the processors. They were in an Asian country, but the emails were in English because they were going to US executives. As we read them over, one email’s contents absolutely sealed our victory.
One of the more senior engineers basically laid out the exact defect we were suing over, explaining what the problem was and why it was their fault, and finishing with: “This is a big problem, we ship JUNK to the customer”! Needless to say, we hit them over the head with that in mediation, and they settled shortly after.
62. Caught You
While I was interning at court, this dude attended in support of his friend but wore a shirt in the same color as the defendants in the group trials. The bailiff mistook him for a convict and asked him to sit down. The guy responded, “Heck naw, man. I’m just here to see my friend. I ain’t got no case. He was the one who got caught. I got away”. No. No, he didn’t get away.
63. Me And My Big Mouth
We had no evidence that the woman who slammed into my stopped car going 85mph wasn’t sober…until she indignantly admitted it on tape in her deposition. She busted into my deposition and demanded she go first because I was a “lying witch”. She then excitedly told my lawyer that the report was wrong because it said she was coming from the movie theater when she was actually coming from her friend’s bar.
“Did you have anything to drink at your friend's bar”? “Of course”. “How many drinks” “I dunno, they just keep my glass full”. “Did you take any medicine that day”? “Methadone and low blood pressure medicine”. “I see”. The officers had refused to breathalyzer her at the scene because her husband was a fire-fighter who they knew personally.
They told her to go home, sober up, and go to the hospital later. I heard the whole thing but had no proof until she handed it to me. They settled same day.
64. Speedy Trial
Many drivers already know that most officers have a policy of not pulling people over for going less than five MPH (8 KPH) over the speed limit since that’s within the error of speed detectors. That’s not binding, of course, just best practice. But I saw a guy get up to defend himself on a speeding ticket, which I wholeheartedly support.
Unfortunately, this guy seemed to be under the impression that the “five MPH rule” was an actual law of some kind. He kept saying to the cop, “You admit I was only going five miles per hour over the speed limit”? and the cop kept agreeing with him. He really didn’t realize he was repeatedly admitting guilt. It was bad.
65. Done Dirty
I was a volunteer family advocate. I worked with families who were falsely accused of child mistreatment. Part of that job was going to court with them. One day, I was contacted by a family whose children were in foster care because of parental substance use. Except the family claimed that they didn't use, but that no one would believe them.
They had a court-appointed attorney who did nothing but tell them to stop using. I honestly didn't believe them, since I was pretty jaded at the time. Still, I told them to request their case file so that I could review it myself. I was surprised when they called me back and had the case file. I met with them and went through everything.
I noticed the claims of substance use, and court findings of substance use, but there was one huge thing missing. There were no test results in their paperwork at all. I told them to ask for the results. Long story short, the caseworker wouldn't give them the actual results, and the lab wouldn't either. Well, that’s alarming.
So, I tested them myself at a different lab. They tested clean. Color me shocked. There were four months to go until the next court date. Every time the court-tested them, they went right after to the other lab and did a second test. All clean. I told them to tell the lawyer beforehand that if the courts claimed any dirty tests, to ask in court for the test results.
Their lawyer didn't want to. I was starting to get mad. So, on the day of court, I had a stack of clean test results in my bag. The lawyer wouldn't even look at them, and he was openly hostile to my presence and involvement. Court starts. For what it’s worth, I had been in this judge's courtroom before with other families. It wasn’t my first rodeo.
The child protection services supervisor stands up and says that the parents have had 12 dirty screens in the past six months. At this point, the lawyer actually did ask her for the results. Her answer made my blood boil. She said she didn't have them with her. Like, really? Well, obviously at this point I knew exactly what to do.
I got my own results out of my bag and handed them to the mom, who was next to the lawyer. She tried to get him to take them, but he ignored her. I got so agitated that the judge said, "Mrs. Baez looks like she's about to have a stroke. What's going on"? I stood up and explained that we had clean tests taken immediately after the mandated ones that Child Services claimed were dirty.
I briefly explained that the parents had tried getting copies of their results and had been refused, and refused continually. I said that the parents had consistently denied ever using substances and had clean tests to prove it. The judge ordered Child Services to provide copies of all the test results at a hearing in a week. When it finally happened, I was so vindicated.
At that hearing, the case was closed and the children were released from foster care. The family never got an apology from anyone, but they were too traumatized to pursue it. They packed up and moved away within a month.
66. A Dog Eat Dog World
I filed the lawsuit in January. We exchanged "discovery" over the next few months, and I filed a motion for summary judgment, meaning I'm asking the court to let me win the case without a jury because the case is so obvious. Right before I file this motion, I figure, let's review the discovery materials and see if there's anything I missed.
And what do you know, the other side made a massive mistake on literally just the fourth out of 100+ questions that I asked. It's a dog bite case, and every single time I asked about the bite, the response says something along the lines of, "We admit to this and that, but we deny that our dog was involved in any dog attack". Just one moment won me the whole case.
Question 4 asks whether they admit that their dog was not leashed on the day it bit my client, and they simply answer, "Admit". Meaning, they admit their dog was not leashed, AND they admit that their dog was the one that bit my client. That was the ONE thing that was genuinely in dispute. They tried to argue at the hearing that it was a mistake and they only meant to admit to the lack of a leash.
Nonetheless, the judge held them to their word, most likely because the other evidence made it clear it could only have been their dog, anyway.
67. Photo Finish
I took my old landlord to court when I was in college. She had taken my security deposit over false allegations: They claimed I "trashed" the place, not knowing that I took pictures and video when I moved in and out. Their "evidence" was a VHS quality recording of going through a perfectly clean apartment in better condition than it was when I moved in. Oh, but it got better.
They opened up the top of the stove and found a single piece of elbow macaroni under it, holding it up triumphantly. That was the crux of their "defense". The judge was not amused, and I got all my money back plus my lawyer fees and the filing fee. She then fought against her own lawyer to avoid paying him like she should have.
68. Nothing But A Number
A friend of mine leased a house in his name and moved in with two other friends. Everything is cool, and it's a real party house. After about six months, my friend meets a girl and decides to move in with her. When he moved out, though, he didn't change the lease and the other guys assured him they would pay the rent and look after the house. He soon found out what a huge mistake he’d made.
One by one, they all leave. Then all the new occupants have no ties to my friend, who has the lease. At some point, they stop paying rent and the agent calls and tells them they will be evicted. So they have a huge party and totally trash the place. My friend calls me and asks if I will help him clean up his old place, as the agent has phoned him now.
I agree and meet him at his old house. I had some plaster repair stuff, paint, and things to get a rental through an inspection. Well, we walked through the house and my mouth hung open. The damage was...beyond anything I had expected. I mean, there were no cupboards in the kitchen, and what was left of them was in a huge bonfire pile out in the backyard.
Every door was busted off its hinges. Every room had holes you could walk through in the walls. There was no way to repair this house without gutting and rebuilding the whole inside, not to mention the damage to the yard. We wandered through the house in shock, it was completely screwed and so was my friend. We had to do something.
My friend went and spoke with his dad who has a friend who is a lawyer, who asks for a copy of the lease. We go to the agent and ask for a copy of the lease, and they tell us that the damage bill is about half the value of the house. They photocopy the lease and then give us a copy of the ID, his drive’s license, that he used when signing the lease, which proves the friend leased the place.
We go to lawyer, who looks things over and then looks at the ID. He read it and burst out laughing. He says, "You were only 17 when you signed this, you can't sign a lease document unless you are 18 or older" We go back to agent and point this out. They lose their mind BUT they can't do anything. They even had to give the bond back because they weren’t actually allowed to take it in the first place.
69. V For Vendetta
I’m not a lawyer, but I am a very observant girlfriend. My boyfriend’s car was involved in an accident. He was parked in an area where, during certain hours, you were not permitted to park as it would block semis from being able to maneuver to deliver goods to a steel plant. A girl backed her vehicle into the driver’s side door of his Ford Fusion.
The authorities were called for insurance purposes, and my boyfriend states that it appeared the officer and the girl knew each other, as they were on a first-name basis. He received a parking ticket. It took forever for the insurance companies to sort it out because she didn’t think she was at fault because he was parked illegally.
However, that doesn’t matter to the case. If you hit someone’s car, you’re not going to get off scot-free, so she ended up having to pay for his deductible. And this is where the nightmare began. The local PD, who obviously did know the girl, started straight-up harassing us. My boyfriend received a piece of mail from our magistrate stating he failed to pay a parking ticket.
He was just going to pay it. I looked over the paperwork, though, and found that the vehicle they identified was traded in before the ticket was issued. The ticket indicated a white Toyota Tundra, but the license plate block was not filed out. It was signed, but you could not make out the badge number. We had traded his Toyota Tundra in for a Ford Fusion in December.
The ticket was written in February of the following year. I was furious. So I gather all the evidence for him, and he went before the magistrate. The officer testified that he saw a white Toyota Tundra illegally parked at a certain location that had a parking time restriction and that it was owned by my boyfriend when he ran the tags.
I should note that my boyfriend had had several parking tickets while he owned the Toyota Tundra. That’s our guess on how he got just enough info to write the ticket. My boyfriend presented his evidence and the judge dismissed the case. The judge was heard saying to the officer that he would like to speak to him afterward, and he chastised him for wasting the court’s time. The officer later told my boyfriend that if he had contacted him, they could have “taken care of it” outside of getting the magistrate involved.
Needless to say, we haven’t had an issue since.
70. The Wrong Place, The Right Time
I was prosecuting a convenience store owner for luring a young girl, who regularly came into the store, back to a part of the store to grope, fondle, and kiss her. However, it was the only section of the store without surveillance camera coverage. They were in the backroom for about two minutes and 17 seconds, per the time stamp on the videos.
Of the many arguments the defense put on, one was that there was no way there was enough time for anything to happen. I knew just how to shut this down. In my rebuttal on closing, I asked the jury to imagine what could happen in the room in that amount of time, and I asked them to all close their eyes while I timed out 2 minutes and 17 seconds on my watch, in silence.
After about 60 seconds, two of the jurors started crying. Knew it was going to be guilty right then.
71. Friendly Felon
My dad was the manager of a small hotel in Australia. One of his semi-regular customers was this big Samoan dude who always booked in for a day at a time, had a few visitors, and paid in cash in a one-to-one conversion with American dollars. It was highly unusual, but my dad always said he was a great customer. The guy was very friendly with the staff, and he never gave anyone any problems. They always chatted whenever he checked in.
One day, a couple of detectives came to the hotel and asked to speak to my dad. They showed him a photo of the customer and asked if he was currently staying there. My dad confirmed that he was, and in a matter of minutes, a small contingent of additional officers arrived, stormed the guy’s room, and escorted him away in handcuffs. It turned out the guy was a pretty major drug dealer wanted in a couple of states.
Cut to the court date quite sometime later. My dad took the witness stand, and for whatever reason, the defense claimed that my dad didn’t know the defendant and had never seen him before. My dad insisted that he did know the defendant, but that line persisted from the defense. Frustrated with the defense lawyer, my dad made a bold move.
As my dad left the witness box, he walked past the defendant and said, “Hi Barry,” to which Barry enthusiastically replied, “Hi Jason, how are you”?! It destroyed the defense’s position. While I'm sure this wasn't the only thing that counted against him in the case, it certainly couldn’t have helped. The guy ended up getting quite a few years in prison.
72. My Train Is Coming In
I do personal injury law, and I love telling people about this client. It blows my mind that a person can have so little shame about lying for money. We got a client who said that she was boarding a train and that the edge of the platform was slippery, so she slipped and their foot got wedged between the train and the platform.
She said the train started moving despite her yelling for it to stop, which caused a compound fracture of her fibula and a closed fracture of her ankle. And she was pregnant. She had surgery immediately to repair their leg and spent a few days in the hospital, racking up a $100,000 bill. A month later, we received video footage of the incident from the train station...
Our client missed the closing doors to the train by a solid 30 seconds, got upset, and full on charge-kicked the side of the moving train, the force of which absolutely shattered her lower leg and landed her in the hospital. Now, I get it. It's annoying to miss your train, and I wish my client the best and a full recovery, but Jesus H. Christ, lady.
73. Bare With Me
I had a ton of these when I used to do Family Law. Once, my client's husband was alleging that she had been high and in her birthday suit in public. As I'm crossing him, I get him to admit that she was in fact changing out of her bathing suit at the beach and covered by a towel at all times. But it was his exact words that were so unforgettable.
He says: "Well, she was naked...under the towel". I come back with: "Just like you're naked under your clothes right now"? Even the judge chuckled.
74. A Rock Solid Defense
Years and years ago, my partner represented a plaintiff in a lawsuit to recover "stolen" property. The plaintiff alleged a neighboring farmer came on to his property and took some sizeable decorative limestone markers from his field without his permission. During the trial, the plaintiff was put on the stand and cross-examined. Little did anyone know that the defense attorney already knew an important detail that the plaintiff had failed to tell my partner.
The defense began by asking how large the stones in question were, and the plaintiff said they were hundreds of pounds. Next, the defense asked the plaintiff how he thought the defendant managed to carry them off his property, and the plaintiff matter-of-factly answered, “He pulled up in his truck and loaded them into the bed”.
Finally, at the apex of the trial, the defense attorney inquired, “Why do you think it happened that way”? The plaintiff’s reply? “Well, because I was there. I helped him load them”. My partner said that he almost grabbed all of his papers, threw them in his briefcase, and walked out right then and there. Naturally, the case came to a quick close after that.
75. The Invisible Man
I had a client charged with battery. The alleged victim didn’t really support the prosecution’s case, and in any event, was reluctant to testify. They still had another witness though, and she said that my client was hitting the alleged victim, so it wasn’t looking great for me, to be perfectly honest with you. But then it all changed in an instant.
The prosecutor and I were talking before court started, hanging out by the courtroom doors, when the witness walked in. She looked right at my client, who was sitting not five feet from me, then scanned the room and said, “Where is [client name]”? The prosecutor and I looked at each other for a minute, and then he said he needed to check on something.
When I saw him a few minutes later, he told me he was dismissing the case.
76. Nothing But Net Profits
We were in a five-week jury trial on a civil case. Big business dispute. About 15 witnesses later, the plaintiffs call their last witness, their damages expert. The guy talks about his damage analysis, which was about the lost profits my clients allegedly caused this company. The whole time, the guy has a PowerPoint slide up, which shows his damages figures.
But as lawyers know, it’s just an aid for the jury and not actual evidence. The examination comes and goes, and the plaintiff passes the witness to us. I look at my boss. He looks at me. We know something he doesn’t know. The witness literally never read his damages number into the record. There was no admissible evidence, because even though he showed the number on the screen, he never said the number, nor admitted it into evidence.
We didn’t ask the damage expert a single question. Plaintiff rests. We move for a directed verdict, asking the court to rule as a matter of law when there is no evidence, that they had submitted no evidence of any monetary damages. We won. It was more than $10 million. Simply because he didn’t read the number. That was it.
77. Shady Solicitor
I was still in law school working for a solo practitioner part-time. We had this divorce case where the husband got caught cheating. The couple’s only marital asset was their bank account, which the wife cleaned out to pay for her attorney's fees. There was absolutely no reason for her to spend that much money on an attorney. As a result, the wife’s attorney inflamed her client to fight on every little issue possible to earn the full retainer.
Now, our client was also stupid. He didn't pay the court-ordered temporary child support, and because of that, he had to pay some of her attorney's fees. Eventually, we were all given a court date to resolve any remaining arguments. We prepared to argue that our client would pay the support order but that the wife owed back half the bank account amount.
We get in front of the judge, and the opposition tried to argue that the wife used the money to pay for her new place and moving fees. At that exact moment, we knew we'd won. What they were saying was a complete lie; we had the financial statement showing that nearly the entire amount went towards the wife’s lawyer's retainer. We showed it to the judge, and the proof was in the pudding.
The judge then turned around and faced the attorney. She told the attorney that her signature was on the financial statement, meaning that she was either lying on the statement or lying to the judge. The judge told the attorney to think very carefully about her next words and that, in her own opinion, the wife needed to pay half the money back.
The other attorney went quiet, asked for a recess, and then completely changed her resolution position. We had her back to the wall because she knew that this could amount to a bar complaint if we wanted to make one. After all, she’d made a false statement to the tribunal. We got our client back all his money, and he got to claim his child for the next five years on his taxes.
I honestly felt bad for the wife; she had absolutely no clue how badly her attorney was screwing her over financially and with the case. This, among other things, is why I refuse to practice family law.
78. What Lies Beneath
At a restraining order trial, it was essentially my client's word versus his, regarding an assault. He did a good job dressing up and acting very appropriately during most of his testimony. But in an instant, his perfect façade fell apart and revealed evil. He was asked a series of open-ended questions, and you could see him getting tenser.
He then said something to the effect of, "That freaking witch coming up on me. What was I supposed to do”? As soon as he said, it a look came over his face and the judge's face, and everyone knew the ruse of the respectable young gentleman had failed. I won.
79. Case Dismissed
This caused the judge to lose his mind, and for the whole pre-trail to be tossed and restarted from scratch. I was in the jury pool waiting for the jury to be picked when we had a fire alarm go off. We all went outside, as you do. Well, apparently one of the jurors talked to the defendant accidentally because of the confusion about leaving the building.
We came back the next day and started the whole process over again, when suddenly a sidebar is called. Turns out the defendant mentioned to his lawyer that the guy who was added to the jury at that point was the one he talked to outside during the fire alarm. Judge flips out, both on the fact that the juror talked to the defendant during the mess, and that they didn’t just dismiss us outright that day when the fire alarm happened, since we had not actually started picking anyone due to the fire alarm.
After ranting and raving and watching buckets of saliva leave the judge’s mouth and hit both lawyers, he comes back, calmly apologizes to all of us, and tells us we are dismissed.
80. My Own Worst Enemy
An attorney I sometimes work with told me that her client in a murder case fired her right before closing arguments and did them himself. You are allowed to represent yourself, which was his last-ditch effort as the trial was not looking good for him. He then looked the jury right in the eye and said, “If I did do it, it’s because she was on her period and crazy”. Needless to say, the mostly female jury deliberated for mere minutes before finding this guy guilty of all charges.
81. Lightning Strikes Twice
I’m a public defender. I was doing an assault case with a twist—the victim claimed that the very unique assault incident happened twice, identically, two days in a row. During questioning, she was adamant that things happened this way twice—Yes, she said, it sounds crazy, but it happened, yes she was so scared of him, etc. She sounds pretty believable, and I'm starting to get worried for my client.
My cross examination comes, and I start asking questions to set her up for an impeachment. Finally I ask her, “Are we supposed to believe that these unbelievable, made-up sounding things happened to you not once, but twice”? This is when the case took a huge turn. She then quietly says, “yes,” and something made me push with, “Yes, what”?
“Yes, I made it up”. This admission put me in such a shock that I didn't even know what to say. I asked a few more questions and sat down. The DA futilely attempted to redirect the question as if I had intimidated her. My client walked, but I never again had a victim admit that they were making things up on stand. I still don’t know what changed her mind.
82. Not Sure What We’re Fighting About
My mother-in-law was so crazy that my wife and I had been forced to cut her off almost completely. Every once in a while, my wife would give in and let her mom visit, which always turned out badly. Eventually we broke up and got divorced and I got full custody of the kids. MIL went nuts and decided to sue me for custody. I looked over the law and for any form of visitation or custody you need to have had contact in the last 6 months and she hadn't seen them for over a year.
So, we go to court. I can't afford a lawyer but the law was pretty clear. She goes through three lawyers, each of them quits in turn. So, she finally winds up representing herself. During the last hearing she was talking to the judge and said something to the effect of "I don't want to get custody of them, I just want to be able to visit". The judge then asked her point blank, "This is a custody hearing. Are you telling me you no longer want to get custody"? She said yes and the judge dismissed the case immediately.
83. Conflict Of Interest
The most fun trial ever. It wasn’t my client, because I was the prosecutor, and it was actually the defense witness. There was this very convoluted theft case where the repairman at a construction site was taking vehicles, doing unauthorized repairs, then putting liens on the vehicles when the owners didn’t pay—as they obviously wouldn’t.
When the female lawyer who was part of his company showed up to court, one of my witnesses said, “What’s his girlfriend doing here”? I said, “Excuse me”? And he said, “Yeah, that’s his girlfriend”. Sure enough, on direct examination, she mentioned nothing about being his girlfriend. She was just his civil attorney, according to her.
I absolutely destroyed her on cross and she lost all credibility. I even had a Law & Order moment where I practically screamed, “AND YOU DIDN'T THINK IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR THESE 12 CITIZENS TO KNOW YOU WERE THE DEFENDANT’S GIRLFRIEND IN ORDER FOR THEM TO DECIDE IF YOU WERE TELLING THE TRUTH”?! I got objected to, it was sustained, I said, “Withdrawn,” and sat down.
84. The Bend And Snap
My father is a judge. I remember him talking about a case where a woman sued for a severe back injury that she claimed prevented her from working and taking care of her kids. The lawsuit didn’t go quite as she planned. In the middle of the trial, a pen rolled off the table, and she bent over to try to reach it from her chair, but the pen rolled too far away. So she stood up and bent over again to pick it up before going back to her seat as if nothing out of the ordinary just happened.
My dad couldn't believe his eyes. Noticing his stare, she snapped at him, “What are you staring at”? My dad asked the woman if she was okay, and she responded that she was fine. Realizing the problem, her attorney quickly leaned over and said something to her. The woman then loudly started complaining about her back and how much it hurt, but no one believed her at that point.
85. How Helpful
I wasn’t a lawyer yet, but I clerked for a DAs office throughout law school. Obviously, we didn’t have "clients," but I'll never forget this kidnapping case I worked on. It involved two Asian male defendants who were both the same age and looked relatively similar. During the trial, a lawyer asked the witness on the stand if he could identify the defendant who pushed an uzi into his face.
But it was clear the witness was having trouble differentiating the two defendants. In a true moment of brilliance, one of the defendants RAISED HIS HAND and basically pointed to himself like, "Right here, bud”. I thought his defense attorney was going to have a brain aneurysm. It was hands down the dumbest thing I'd ever seen.
86. Bigger Man On Campus
I work as staff at a firm that specializes in civil litigation, so I often wind up being the kid with the folders and documents helping the boss-man out during trials. We do most of the debt and collections defense in the city, and typically send whichever attorney has a free morning to Friday docket to volunteer with helping clients facing Summary Judgment while unrepresented.
Our senior partner is a pretty well known debt defense expert in the US, and tends to spend time on the high falootin' class action or state Supreme Court and other big, high-paying matters. Still, sometimes he likes to show up to the Friday docket “for sport”. Keeps his brain sharp or whatever. Whenever he goes, people don’t know what hit them.
I remember one time, this collection agency's attorney showed up and started making declarations, disrespecting clerks, and generally making a jerk of himself at the docket in front of the judge. I can recite the exact interaction when Mr. Senior Partner entered the room with a client he'd volunteered for: "Oh, hi [Senior Partner], didn't know you were on this case"!
Mr. Senior Partner: "Yeah. Just thought I'd pop on by and take this case". Joe Shmoe Attorney: "Oh, sure. Let me check something really quick". This opposing attorney, after roll call, with the judge present, in front of the entire docket, walks slowly to the door…then runs. Literally runs out of the courtroom. Bolts. Flees. Scrams.
I don't know which was harder not to laugh at. The shocked expression on the judge's face and his awkward silence, or that this guy went the wrong way and sprinted back past the door like Homer Simpson. He then went straight to his car in the parking lot outside—visible to all from the window—and drove off. I later got to serve him personally with a pretty serious lawsuit, which felt great.
87. Oh, That Old Thing
I was interning at a firm as administrative support. One day, I had to bring over a file. When I saw the names on the paper, my heart skipped a beat. They were the names of the parents of a classmate of mine, and it seemed that they were going through divorce procedures. I spoke to him in private about this to offer him some comfort and just be a good friend.
He told me that everything was already fixed and they were back to living together, they just forgot to inform their lawyers. When my next day at that office came, I asked about that case. Turns out, they had a court date scheduled for later that week. After I told my boss what the son told me, his face went totally blank for a moment.
He decided to make a phone call to his client. Seems they were already living back together for a couple of months and thought it wasn't necessary to inform the lawyer for some reason. They were told if they were privy to this bit of information, it could have saved them quite a bit of money in the process for expenses. The lawyer in question was thankful, though, that at least I had told him before court date came up.
88. The Surprise Admission
I am a lawyer who defends a state from injury claims. There was a claim where there was a dispute as to the value of a state employee's injury. We went to trial to argue the extent of the injury. When the employee takes the stand and is under direct examination by her attorney, she is unable to answer basic questions about her name and address.
Everyone just thought it was nerves, but eventually, the dark truth came out. The employee confesses that she is a convicted felon and she took her sister's identity to obtain the state job. Judge's jaw hits the floor and the employee's attorney just keeps going through his examination like nothing happened. The judge stopped him and had the court reporter read back the testimony.
The employee's attorney was still oblivious to what happened. The judge recommended the employee drop her case and quit her job immediately. The employee's attorney wanted to keep going, the judge then told him that his client will drop her case and quit. Case was dropped and she quit that afternoon.
89. Invasion of Privacy
Not a lawyer, but I took my brother-in-law's landlord to small claims court (He's on SSI and I'm his conservator). We sued her for over $4,000 after she just decided she didn't like him and changed the locks on his apartment door. She also stuffed all of his belongings into trash bags and dragged them out to the curb. This was all done the day after she cashed his rent check.
It all started because she was letting herself into his apartment with no notice and was going through his stuff while he was gone. When I found out about this, I told him to let her know that was NOT okay. He did, and that's why she kicked him out. I'm very organized, and presented the judge with a folder containing photos, receipts, short videos on DVD and the sheriff call logs, as well as a concise timeline of events.
The landlord showed up with her son and countersued for the exact same amount we were suing them for. Claiming that the apartment was trashed, there were holes in the walls and they would have to repair everything before being able to rent again. During the hearing, the judge asked for evidence of the damage to the room.
The son whipped out his cell phone and showed a video panning and walking around the room. The video showed my BIL's apartment obviously still being lived in (his stuff was all still there) and no visible damage, but there were a lot of posters and things hung on the walls. When the judge looked at the video he asked, "Where is the damage"? The son replied, "You can't see it. It's behind all of the posters".
The judge frowned and looked at the video again, and then said, "Did you take this video when he was still living there at this time"? The son replied, "Yes". This was the clincher, the judge then asked, "Did you ask his permission to enter the apartment to take this video"? Silence. We were awarded the full amount.
90. A Little Dusty
I had a woman with an expensive fur coat who claimed that the laundromat ruined it. It was a bit ruined, but the laundromat said that the stains were already there. The judge ordered an expert opinion—and it revealed so much more than we bargained for. The coat had traces of illicit substances all over it. They raided her place where they found her husband’s big stash. She should have just taken the stains.
91. An Underdog Victory
I work as an insurance lawyer. One of my firm's partners, as happens sometimes, handed me a small case for our client, and told me to resolve it. Our insured, a man of around 75, was driving his car in the left lane of a four-lane road. The defendant, a lady who had been involved in a grisly murder as an accomplice about 15 years ago, was in the right lane.
The lady side-swiped our insured's vehicle, causing like $4,000 in damages. At the scene, our client said that he was just driving, and then he was side-swiped. The defendant said, "I don't know what happened, officer". The lawsuit was about six or seven months old when I got it, and the partner who was initially handling the case had spoken with the old man on two occasions and sent him a letter.
When I received the file, trial was a few weeks away, so I printed out the pictures of the vehicle, sent a subpoena to the officer, and tried to call the insured. I got a busy signal, so I put the file away. A few days later, I got a call from the officer who filed the report. Her words started a chain reaction of disaster. She said, "I'm not going to make it to court because I'm off on the court date".
"Alright, well, when are you available"? I asked. She paused, then said, “The report is hearsay. You don't need me anyway". "Ma'am, what I need you for is not hearsay. I'll reset this for a date that you are available for". That wasn't helpful. I called the defense attorney, and we pushed the trial out about a month and half.
I issued a new subpoena on the officer. I tried to call our insured again. I got a busy signal. Out of options and ideas, I pulled up our data software and looked up our client...that’s when I made a disturbing discovery. He’d passed the previous month. I'd never had this happen before, so I called the insurance adjuster handling this claim and told them, "Hey, I hate to tell you this, but our client is no longer alive”.
I then talked to the partner who had handed me the case. Instead of dropping the whole thing, he came up with a diabolical plan. He suggested that we fake it. I'd go to court, call the defendant as my witness, call the officer to discuss the scene, then get pictures of the vehicle into evidence using the insurance adjuster, who could also testify to damages.
The insurance adjuster is willing to try, but about a week later, I get a call from the officer, bailing on being a witness again. I really wanted to call her sergeant and complain, but it wasn't worth the trouble. So, now at trial, it's going to be the insurance adjuster and I. We'll probably lose since I have practically zero evidence against the defendant now.
Suddenly, I get a phone call that changes everything. It’s from the defense attorney. On the spot, they suddenly agree to pay the claim in full. I never told that attorney that my client wasn’t even alive anymore, but some day I kind of want to tell him he paid out a ton of money to a ghost.
92. Friends In High Places
I'm a family lawyer, and I was in court representing the mother of two young kids. The dad was representing himself, as was Grandma, with whom the kids were staying for several months while my client finished a college program. Dad took issue with this arrangement, despite being unable to take care of the kids himself because of a disability.
At our first appearance, the judge suggested something that everyone actually agreed to. I was the only lawyer there, so I was tasked with drafting the order. I sent copies to Dad and Grandma, asking them to let me know if they remembered the agreement differently, or if they are okay with my wording. The wheels started to come off immediately.
When he gets the order, Dad calls me right away. He says that he takes issue with my lack of professionalism (no explanation of what he means by that, but okay) and he doesn't consent to the wording of the order. He doesn't suggest alternate wording, though. And then he took it up a notch. He says that my draft has violated his human rights (again, no idea what he's talking about) and he will be forwarding this to the Human Rights Commission, who will be his lawyers from here on out (uh, they won't).
I decide not to point out that that's not how this works, and just go with a, "Thanks for letting me know". I point out that the Family Court Rules require me to file the order within a certain amount of time, which is rapidly running out. I ask him when I can expect the HRC to contact me (obviously they won't). Dad tells me that they usually take 3-6 months to deal with things.
I tell him "Okay, well I'm just going to write the court a letter explaining this, so the judge is in the loop". I write the letter, explaining briefly what has happened. I say that I'm unfamiliar with the HRC getting involved in Family Court cases (they don't), and particularly in the drafting of orders (ditto). But this was all an ingenious plan.
I point out that I'm hesitant to file the order since Dad has said he was going to consult counsel, so "I await direction from the Court”. This is actually code for: You see the crazy I’m dealing with? Can you help me out here, Your Honor? The Court office calls me the next day and asks me to send them the draft order, so the judge can look at it.
The day after that, I'm in front of that judge on an unrelated case, and she says, "Oh, and I signed that order from the other case. If he doesn't like it, he can appeal". Mic dropped.
93. The Crooked Lawyer
I am not an attorney, but my boyfriend is, and this tale took place a few years ago in NYC...thus, here is The Tale of (throws dust in campfire) of "The Crooked Lawyer". While looking up this guy's information, it became clear that he was a real jerk. A local paper described him as “a con artist,” and he preyed on unsuspecting victims, took out loans in their name, and falsified information.
Then he’d take off with most of his victim's money. Somehow, he’d avoided justice up until this point...until my boyfriend came along! My boyfriend moved to NYC from a state in the South. Freshly out of law school and riddled with student debt, he found a low-paying personal injury firm and settled in. Since money was tight, he found a roommate on Craigslist named Julie.
Julie is a feisty Latina, and my boyfriend is pretty much Wonder Bread, but they hit it off very well. My boyfriend would go to Julie's job after work (she was a bartender) and they developed a very strong friendship.
During this time, Julie meets a server, named Luis. They hit it off and begin dating. My boyfriend clicks with Luis, and they become a trio. Late nights, nodding off on the subway platform, my boyfriend being taken to Latin clubs...they become the best of friends. Something that will play a role in this tale is that both Julie and Luis (and their families) are in the USA undocumented.
So, Julie and Luis are getting serious, but they don't have a lot of money, so they move in with Luis' elderly parents. My boyfriend finds another place to live and they all still keep in touch. During all of this, Luis' dad had suffered an injury at work. He lost part of his finger and had hired a personal injury attorney—AKA the “Crooked Lawyer” of this story.
Apparently, Luis' dad was supposed to receive a $100k settlement, but some time had passed and still no update. Since Luis and his family didn’t speak English, Julie called Luis' father's insurance and asked about the status of the settlement. Their answer chilled her to the bone. The insurance said, "Oh, the settlement's already been paid out"?
That's when Julie called my boyfriend and freaked out. Apparently this "personal injury" attorney had a history of being an ambulance chaser, and sought out undocumented clients. He held that over them and took their settlement money for himself, knowing that no one would pursue him and risk deportation. While there had been reports of this creep, the guy had been getting away with this kind of thing for years.
So, my boyfriend tells Julie to tell the lawyer that she knows what's up. Apparently this guy thought his clients were too stupid to seek retribution. The crooked lawyer then told Julie that he would return the money if she dropped her complaint against him. Still, my boyfriend was livid at this guy taking advantage of people—so he decided to get payback.
He told Julie to record all of her conversations with the lawyer and keep records of any type of contact. During their meetings, the jerk tried to pay Julie into keeping quiet about his scam. She plays along, meets up with him a few times, always recording interactions and "getting money from him". With evidence in place, my boyfriend took everything he had to the NYS Supreme Court.
He told them that he was representing Luis's dad. While on trial, my boyfriend learned that people had filed reports against the other lawyer for years but nobody ever gave a darn until he became involved. It turned out that the guy had taken over $400,000 from clients over the years. It was a long trial, with my boyfriend representing Luis' dad and him having to testify, even though he was terrified that he'd get kicked out of the country.
The crooked lawyer knew my boyfriend had reported him, and he would glare at him from the stand. Long story short, the jerk pleaded guilty to charges of identity theft, among other things. He was also stripped of his ability to practice law and was sentenced to seven years behind bars. And this story has an even better happy ending.
My boyfriend is now the Godfather to Julie and Luis' son. Luis' dad moved back to his native country and bought a beautiful house. All of crooked lawyer’s victims got their money back through the Lawyer's Fund for Client Protection.
94. Darlings And All
I'm a partner in a small New England area firm. I had court this morning with one of my clients who is a very sweet older lady, around 70 years old. We were helping her with an old judgment from her divorce. Long story short, her ex-husband failed to pay something, and we were helping her collect. But the star of the show is something else entirely.
The old lady has a habit of calling everyone “Darling”. E.g. "Do you need my bank statements, darling"? when calling the office. I don't really care what she calls me, she pays and is mega sweet, so we brush it off. But she is also a bit hard of hearing, which is how our case...got interesting. We had the final hearing today, and the judge was keeping things pretty casual and conversational.
He was asking the parties different questions to clarify things before closing the hearing. He asked my client something about her finances, and she didn't hear him. Her words made my face turn red instantly. "I'm sorry, Darling, what was the question"? Oh my God. Help me. There was a moment's pause, and the judge burst out laughing".
I'm sorry, did you call me...Darling"? He leaned back in his chair, beet red, grinning. She also turned a shade of scarlet. "I...I did, Your Honor". He laughed again, shook his head, and the rest of the hearing proceeded. Upon closing the record, he mentioned that it was the first time he had ever been called “Darling” by anyone. I think we did well, though. Darlings and all.
95. The Queen Of Karens
It was a dispute in which I helped a low-income man seek full custody of his children. His ex was representing herself, and refused to communicate with me in any way. Apparently, she thought she knew the law, and said she didn't have to talk to me without a lawyer. No amount of explaining that I was a lawyer, not an officer, got me anywhere.
Come hearing day, she hadn't submitted anything to the court, and decided that she should get whatever she wanted simply by telling the judge to do it. She was, after all, the "mother" and more entitled to the child, benefits, and child support that went along with the child. Despite what she was saying, she spoke sweetly and was very petite so I knew people would automatically want to side with her.
The judge explained that she hadn't submitted any pleadings, and that she wouldn't prevail unless she asked for a continuance, submitted pleadings, and tried her case. That’s when she transformed into a monster. I must have romanticized the memory, because I swear she was flailing her arms around so fast that I couldn't keep track.
Her entire body was twitching, arms flailing, hands flopping, and head back screaming. She demanded to speak to the judge's boss immediately. She repeatedly made offensive comments about the judge. A non-stop river of psychotic-entitled garbage spewed from her mouth. She wasn't doing the insanely high-pitched-unintelligible scream, either.
She was doing a full-on drill sergeant bellow. The yell was loud, clear, forceful, and disconcertingly deep.
I’ve seen some stuff, but this left me opened-mouthed and staring. My client, however, was familiar with this brand of crazy. He stood up to loudly and politely ask the judge if he could say something. I felt like a jerk at this moment for not staying on point, but I was completely caught by surprise. In an instant, my client took the case from ridiculous to absurd.
The judge allowed my client to speak, and my client used both arms to gesture to crazy and yelled, "This is the stuff I'm talkin 'bout right here. You see this crazy. Nah. Just nah". For the second time that hearing, I didn't remain professional and couldn't contain my laughter. I think laughter, or any sound of happiness, must have been a trigger for her, because Crazy then started trying to physically attack my client.
My client ran to the witness box and ducked down inside in an attempt to shield himself from the attack. There should be officers in each domestic courtroom during hearings, but we all know it'll never happen. Crazy was detained, and screamed the entire time she was dragged away that she was going to talk to the judge's boss about her being disrespected.
My client was awarded full custody, and the mother wasn't awarded any parenting time.
96. Doggone It
So this couple has two dogs. My client tells me that she wants both dogs, and she won't have it any other way. She explains to me that the dogs love each other and NEED to be with one another. She is sobbing uncontrollably in my office, which is something I can normally deal with, but not in this case. She was beyond out of her mind crying.
I often use the Socratic method to explain things to people. First, I told her I love dogs (I do) and I totally understood her situation. I told her that it would really suck to break up my two dogs, so I understood her. Then I said, "But I have to ask you something. If you were a judge, and there were two dogs and two people, how would you divide them up"?
She realized what I was saying and she almost screamed, "Nooooo! You don't understand! They love each other and they can't be broken up"! I said, "I totally understand. I'm just asking you what you think YOU would do, if you were the judge...and there were TWO people and TWO dogs. How could the judge easily settle this matter"?
I was just trying to get her down to reality, so I could maybe figure out if she preferred one dog or if there was another way to settle this. Then she says: "Okay, I get it. Dogs are property. Even though they are my children, the law says they are property". That's right. At this point, I thought she had seen the proverbial light. I soon discovered how wrong I was".
Okay, so then how about this: I will sell the dogs and that way, the court can't order me to give up the dogs. The dogs will be gone". Ugh. I said, "Ma'am, it sounds like you are saying that you are going to try to pull the wool over the judge’s eyes". I then continued, "I can't even entertain that notion. You think the judge hasn't seen this kind of stuff before? You think you're the only couple who has two dogs? Do you think this is an original idea? I'm not telling a judge that you sold the dogs".
I got her spouse served with the petition. Then she got her revenge: She fired me right before the trial and went in without an attorney. But she was in for a rude awakening. When she told the judge she sold the dogs, she actually thought he would just say, "Okay, well that's that". Instead, the judge said: "Who did you sell them to"?
Excuse me? "WHO DID YOU SELL THEM TO? I want a name and a telephone number. We can make the call right here, from the courtroom. I'm going to verify your story. I know you love these dogs very much, so I know you didn't give them to a stranger. Tell me who you sold the dogs to NOW". Oh gee whiz. She wasn't expecting that. I guess this judge has been a judge before!
Rather than have the judge call her accomplice, who was hiding the dogs and NOT expecting a judge to call, my ex-client admitted that it was a con. She crumbled under the judge's cross exam. The judge gave BOTH dogs to the respondent in the case. Full justice achieved, plus happy ending: Dogs get to stay together, and they surely would have been broken apart otherwise.
97. Life’s Not Fair
I was in a collision thanks to this 65-year-old lady who was obviously inebriated and high. I was 18 at the time, and lost my opportunity to attend the Citadel in South Carolina due to my lack of physical ability. My boyfriend at the time cracked vertebrae, and a friend of mine lost his legs. The officers knew her husband who was a firefighter, so they didn't breathalyze or do any tests, and didn’t charge her with drinking and driving.
My EMTs said "That lady is so inebriated, she’s going to buy you a ticket to Disney World," which is how I knew that she was impaired at the time of the accident. But I had no proof to bring to the table in the lawsuit because if the officer did not charge or make notes, then you cannot add it later. So we get to MY deposition and she shows up.
She argues with me the entire time over my points, and her lawyer keeps having to tell her that she needs to be quiet. This lady had ruined our lives, so I was becoming less than patient with her calling me a liar when she got off scot-free. She exclaims to my lawyer "Even the officer’s report is wrong"! He asks, "What do you mean it’s wrong"? She was about to make a fatal mistake.
She says, "It has me coming from the wrong place"! My lawyer asks "Where were you coming from"? She tells him, "My friend's bar"! She later admits she doesn’t know how many drinks they had, because "They don't charge me they just keep refilling my glass”. She admitted that she was drinking and driving when she could have gotten off scot-free. Cue her lawyer's facepalm, as this is all on tape. She didn't even pay out of pocket, her insurance company did. She ended up ending someone’s life a year later in another accident.
98. Weird Flex, But Okay
We were in mediation on a case and were close to settling, but we were just far enough apart that it looked like it wasn't going to resolve. The mediator comes in and tells me the Vice President of the company I'd dealt with all this time, who was this like 270-pound burly guy who my associate swears resembled pro wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow, says he will arm wrestle me for the difference.
So essentially if he wins, we take his final number, if I win, he pays ours. The mediator, who is a character, says it's crazy but I should just do it! Then my client jumps in and says he wants to see this too and he doesn't care about the money. Now, I am 6'0 and 185 pounds, so I was going to have a severe weight disadvantage, but I have always been weirdly good at arm wrestling.
So I say, screw it, tell him it's on if he's serious. Mediator leaves, I put on some DMX and start bouncing around a bit to get worked up like a fighter about to enter a ring. Go into the room, we agree we are doing this, shake hands and get set up. The mediator is bouncing off the walls and we have my client and two other attorneys watching.
Mediator says "Go" and I just lock my arm and absorb this guy's initial push, then feel his arm give slightly when he realizes he isn't moving me and then I just go full force and had him down so fast my associate initially thought I lost. We shook hands again and went back to our caucus room, and my client was ecstatic that I not only did that for him, but I won too! The mediator came in still giddy saying it was the craziest thing he's seen in his career as a mediator.
He then said the guy is red-faced and frantically texting because he thinks he didn't have authority to pay that much and did not contemplate actually losing. However, sure enough and true to his word, minutes later we had the signed agreement. Then we went out for some drinks to celebrate, and within a day I became a legend in the office.
99. A Mother’s Love
Not mine, but my mom’s story. She was fighting for custody on behalf of the father, trying to prove that the kids were living in subpar conditions with their addict mother in spite of the ample child support he had provided. It was a tough case because courts are so hesitant to pull kids away from their moms, and they have the upper hand.
Then the mom burst out that she had been feeding the kids cat food as proof that she wouldn’t let them starve. Needless to say, the judge didn’t take that as a good reason for the kids to stay with their mom.
100. Rebutting In
I had a client who, despite being a large man, had been domestically mistreated by his much smaller wife throughout their marriage. After the divorce, she turned her anger on their son. He ran away one day to live with his dad, and we filed to restrict his ex's parenting time and ask for a permanent modification to the custody agreement.
At the permanent hearing, she denied hurting the child or my client in front of the child, said she never threatened anyone ever, and that she never made disparaging remarks about my client in front of their son, either. But there was one big thing she didn’t know and couldn’t tell her attorney. My client had recorded multiple instances of her doing all of these things.
So I called my client back up for rebuttal right after her testimony and played an audio recording of her screaming at my client, threatening to break his face in, and calling him a loser, all while the child could be heard in the background begging her to stop. I looked over at the other attorney and she had her face in her hands. We won.
101. Let’s Go To The Tape
I got into a car accident after another driver crashed into my car. The driver was such a jerk, talking tough, blaming me, saying that he knew a bunch of lawyers, and here's the kicker—he threatened that he was going to take me to court. I'm a laid back dude in contrast, and I was cordial to him. We went to the station and made our statements to the traffic investigator.
I didn't have a dashcam at the time, but a day later I got a copy of the CCTV footage that was looking directly at the scene of the accident. I showed the investigator the video, and he was absolutely stunned by how wrong the other guy was. At that point, I told the investigator the truth: I was an attorney, and I'd decide if I wanted to take the matter to court.
The following day, I got a call from the guy who hit me. Apparently, he said he also saw the CCTV footage, and he had called to settle things. I was just shocked because this dude who was previously Mr. Alpha Male did a total 180 and was suddenly polite and respectful. Amazing what an impact video has, especially when you’re at fault.
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