Case Closed: People Reveal The Tiny Details That Ruined Entire Court Cases
They say the devil is in the details, and when it comes to courtroom trials, it’s crucial to provide the judges and jurors with the unadulterated facts. But what happens when someone suddenly throws a wrench in the proceedings? Whether it was because specific details were over-shared, under-shared, or entirely exposed at the 11th hour, court participants discuss the ways that lawyers and clients completely blew their cases.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 mins later, her lawyer came back and told the judge she was dropping the case.
6. Hammering Out The Details
My father is an attorney. Officers caught some dude allegedly breaking into private property with others by smashing a wall with a sledgehammer. Some officers rolled up, and he was the only one to get caught. During the trial, one of the officers testified that, “The defendant was the only one caught, but there were two other men who fled on foot and couldn’t be apprehended.”
Upon hearing this, my father’s client’s face lit up in an ‘AHA’ moment, and immediately told the judge, “Not true, there were four of us!” Facepalm. I guess the guy thought that if he could disprove the officer’s testimony that they’d let him go. What he didn’t realize was that he’d just admitted guilt. My father said the judge just kind of sighed and told my father it would be a good idea to keep his client quiet. Safe to say, he was found guilty of vandalism.
7. Not The “Positive” They Expected
I am a lawyer. I was licensed for less than a year when I represented a guy in a custody case. He was adamant that his ex was on drugs, so I requested drug testing. The judge said that both parties had to be tested, which I had warned my client would likely be the judge’s request. The mom tested clean; it was my client who tested positive for drugs. We did not win the case. The same guy also fell asleep during the hearing.
8. 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.
Once while I was attending court, I watched in absolute bemusement as a defendant turned to his lawyer during his trial and blatantly exclaimed, “Yeah, I stole the car, but you said that you would convince him I didn’t do it!” He said this in front of everybody, loud and clear. I still facepalm whenever I think about it.
10. 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 drugs away. This meant that no one could prove that she’d bought or owned the drugs 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 drugs back. The defense attorney looked like he was about to have a heart attack.
11. Someone Should Have Told Him
I once watched as a lawyer verbally ran through the evidence against the guy he was defending, trying to claim there wasn’t enough even to call a trial. Everything was going totally fine until he proclaimed, “I believe a more seasoned judge wouldn’t have let this trial move forward.” The lawyer didn’t know that the judge had already given the okay to move forward with the trial. He’d just insulted the judge. The judge immediately gave him a hard “motion denied.”
12 He Was Three Shades To The Windmill
I worked as a paralegal in a firm specializing in land use litigation and real estate. Another paralegal’s husband got a DWI, and as a favor to her, one of the partners offered to defend her husband in court. This is a small town with a landmark windmill in the center. Well, this paralegal’s husband’s DWI stemmed from him crashing his car into the windmill. It made the local paper’s front page, with reporters at the arraignment—the whole nine yards.
So, the law partner tells the husband that when the judge asks him how many drinks he had before his accident, he should tell her that he had three. The husband then proceeds to stand in front of the judge and say that he only had three…cases. The whole room started laughing, and he ended up serving some time in prison.
13. Message Mix-Up
I once worked at a company that found out a lawyer was trying to arrange a class action lawsuit against us before it ever got off the ground. We found out because this lawyer attempted to email her client but accidentally emailed us instead. She completely destroyed every element of surprise they had for their case; the email contained all the lawsuit details.
14. Weeding Out The Source
I’m an attorney, and I heard about a hearing that involved multiple defendants brought together before the judge. At some point, the judge noticed a strong pot smell in the courtroom and asked if any of the defendants had pot on them. Initially, no one came forward, and the judge proceeded, but the odor grew stronger and stronger.
Finally, the judge demanded the perpetrator to come forward. One of them eventually admitted to having several bags on him. I’m not sure what the charges were before him that day, but I wouldn’t want to have been his attorney. Imagine not only learning that your client decided to bring multiple bags of weed with him to court but then having to watch in horror as he admits it to the judge. Oof.
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. Don’t Help Me
I used to be an officer and spent a lot of time in court. This guy was up for a DWI. He began relating his side of the story by telling the judge he “only had two bottles of vino.” His lawyer was desperately trying to get him to stop talking, but the defendant yelled, “Don’t interrupt me!” Agreeing with the lawyer, the judge intervened and said, “I think you should take a moment to listen to your attorney.”
But the guy couldn’t be stopped. Rather than heeding the judge’s advice, the guy snapped back, “Don’t tell me what to do. I’m not a darn child!” Well, okay then. The judge just smiled, leaned back, and said, “By all means, continue.” Unsurprisingly, it went badly for him.
17. 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!
18. Don’t Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth
This one is a head-shaker. I was present for an accused individual’s sentencing after a common suggestion by both the crown and defense attorneys. Things were going fine until the time came to calculate the total amount of days the defendant would serve according to each infraction. This is where things suddenly took an odd turn.
The defense attorney began to argue that the crown attorney had her numbers wrong and insisted that the sentence was actually supposed to be 75 days LONGER than what was about to be agreed upon. Huh!?! It was a surreal moment. The defendant’s jaw just dropped in disbelief.
19. Nice Try
I was an expert engineer witness at a deposition defending a contractor who also happened to be an engineer himself. The plaintiff claimed the defendant was liable both as an engineer as well as the contractor. The defendant argued that he was indeed the contractor, but that didn’t mean he was the engineer for the project just because he was one.
After six hours of headache-inducing questioning, the plaintiff’s lawyer finally pulled out a letter written and certified by the contractor that clearly stated, “I am the engineer for the project.” He then sat back and basically had a “let’s see what you got to say now” look on his face. Long story short, the defendant lost.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. Smart Judge
I saw a lawyer schedule a preliminary trial on a non-offender court date usually reserved for family or traffic issues. The lawyer insisted that not doing so would violate his client’s right to a speedy trial. Whatever, the judge allowed him to do it. Except, it turned out the judge permitted it because he knew the lawyer would be late. He was always late.
The accused was in custody and needed to be transported about two hours out of town to attend this court case. So, when the inmate arrived at court on the scheduled day, the lawyer was—you guessed it—late. The judge immediately instructed the clerks not to contact the lawyer’s office, and he started looking at his watch.
After about 10 minutes, the judge called it, and we out processed the defendant back to his transport vehicle. Ironically, just as the prisoner was moving off the property, the lawyer pulled into the parking lot. The judge then called for a closed-door session between himself and the lawyer. Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that conversation…
23. Pay Attention in School
While I was in court, a defendant apprehended for warrants asked the judge for bail. He tells the judge that he moved and that no one had served him with the warrants. Now, there’s some question as to his identity. The judge asked the defendant where he was born, and he answered, “Puerto Rico.” The judge quizzed him, “Where in Puerto Rico?” The defendant said, “San Juan.”
Next, the judge inquired, “When were you last in San Juan?” The defendant replied, “A couple of years ago.” Finally, the judge challenged the defendant by asking, “How did you get there?” To which, the defendant confidently answered, “I went on the Amtrak.” The judge smirked and denied his bail. When you flunk geography, it’s for a long time.
24. 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.
This one’s a definite fail. While I was working as a law clerk, a defendant wrote to the judge to explain that the two bongs found on his car’s floorboard did not belong to him; they were actually his girlfriend’s. He claimed that he was too afraid to speak up earlier because she was on Section 8, which forbids drugs.
Mind you, he was on probation at the time the officers pulled him over, and it didn’t matter who owned the bongs because he was still in violation of his probation for possession of drug paraphernalia. In other words, his attempt to get his charges dismissed not only screwed over his girlfriend, but it also confirmed IN WRITING that he absolutely knew the bongs were in his car. Genius.
26. Caught In The Act
My brother’s EMT instructor used to live in Chicago. This instructor had his license suspended for numerous traffic charges, including evading officers. But he forgot about his arraignment date until about an hour prior, so the fool hopped on his motorcycle and drove himself to court. After he arrived and the judge read his charges, the judge asked him how he got to court that day.
The instructor claimed that his brother gave him a ride. The judge responded, “Is that right?” The instructor replied, “Yes, your honor.” The judge then turned to the bailiff and asked, “Do you have that footage from parking deck three?” The court then proceeded to play CCTV footage of the instructor driving up to the courthouse without a license on the same bike they’d caught him on previously when he’d fled from pursuing officers.
Welp, there was no denying it now. Needless to say, his license remained suspended, and the judge told him he couldn’t go anywhere near the bike during that time. There was even a cop guarding it when he left.
27. A Fashion Don’t
I work as a lawyer. One of the most significant ways I’ve seen someone mess up their own case occurred when I showed up to the court to defend my client, only to find that my client had arrived wearing the same dress she had on in the evidence video that showed her damaging her ex’s property. I mean, come on. You really do have to wonder what goes through people’s heads sometimes…
28. Proxy Plaintiff
I know of a case where a landlord didn’t want to sue for eviction under her name because she collected rent in cash and didn’t declare it while her building was in foreclosure. So, she somehow managed to convince her accountant to sue her tenants in his name for her. Apparently, the accountant thought there was such a thing as a client-accountant privilege.
So, the accountant shows up to eviction court with the tenants. Obviously, his name is not attached to the building or the leases in any way. The judge questioned him about it, and the accountant swore he could get the landlord on the phone to vouch that he’s “authorized” to do this in her name. But nope, that’s not how it works, buddy.
You can’t borrow someone else’s name to sue someone if you’re trying to do illicit things under your own name. Realizing the accountant was not the real landlord, the judge dismissed the case with no prejudice.
29. 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.”
30. Always Follow Protocol
I worked for a barrister who turned up to a hearing and discovered that the opposing counsel had secretly contacted the judge’s chambers with a whole bunch of information about the case. That’s a horrendous breach of professional ethics. Barring special circumstances, one of the very, very basic rules of litigation is that you always file stuff with both the judge and the opposing counsel.
But the opposing counsel neglected to share all the details. So, during the hearing, my barrister just shrugged his shoulders at the judge when asked if he knew about the information. The judge then spent the rest of the hearing tearing the opposition apart. Thanks to their own thoughtlessness, they lost an absolutely unloseable case.
31. Maybe Whisper Next Time
I worked as court staff in a hearing that involved a guy accused of robbing a grocery store. The defendant’s lawyer argued that they could not identify the man in the surveillance camera footage as his client. While the court played the footage, the defendant leaned over to his lawyer and loudly asked, “Do you think they can tell that’s me in the video?” Yup, I think they can tell now…
32. Silence Is Golden
I went to court over a ticket. The lady in front of me was there for a DWI-related hit-and-run. The judge had to assign a lawyer for her because she was so shook that she quit her job. When the judge asked the prosecuting attorney for details on the case, this lady legit piped up with, “You mean that car I hit while I was intoxicated?”
She’d just implicated herself. The poor judge just stopped, took his glasses off, and said, “Everything is recorded in this courtroom. I told you not to talk to anyone about your case except the attorney that I assigned for you.” You could tell he was ready to walk out of the room with the level of stupidity this lady showed.
33. Always Read The Fine Print
I observed court once, and I watched a prosecutor proceed against a self-represented individual for breaching a condition in his probation order. During the trial, the prosecutor brought in a probation officer as a witness and proceeded to question him about the offense. It was the only evidence the prosecutor had to go on.
This next detail is where the whole case fell apart. The prosecutor argued that the accused never fulfilled his conditions before his probation ended because he never completed counseling. Even though the self-represented defendant cross-examined the witness poorly, neither the prosecutor nor the probation officer could establish that the defendant really had breached his probation order.
You see, the wording in the probation order said the defendant needed to complete counseling AS DIRECTED. As it turned out, the probation officer never directed the defendant to attend counseling and then breached him for failing to do something he never told him to do. The judge agreed with the defendant’s point, got very angry, and talked down to the prosecutor. The defendant won.
34. He Paid The Price
I don’t practice family law, but I occasionally cover simple family law hearings for my colleagues. One time I went to family law court, and I saw a detained guy brought in for failing to pay child support. This guy vehemently denied the charges against him. But his explanation as to why he wasn’t guilty was ridiculous.
His defense was that he didn’t pay child support because he didn’t have the full amount to meet his payments. A sympathetic plight, yes, but he could have handled the problem so much better. He could have made partial payments, but instead, he just opted to pay nothing because it wasn’t the full amount, and then he admitted it to the judge while denying that he failed to make his payments. Like, bruh.
35. 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.
36. At Least He Was Honest
I served on jury duty once. During the trial, I watched as the judge asked the defendant how he pleaded on each count. On the first count, the defendant expectedly answered, “Not guilty.” But on the second count, he shocked everyone and randomly responded, “Guilty.” His lawyer was like, “What!?” The defendant admitted, “Yeah, I did that one.”
The court went silent, and the jurors tried and failed not to titter. The judge turned to the camera and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll come back to you in a moment.” The monitor went blank. The whole jury pool had to be sent to another case because the defendant had just ruined this one.
I once saw a man in court plead not guilty to possession of illicit drugs. Normally, this plea would have been perfectly acceptable, if not expected. Unfortunately, he decided to follow it up with something along the lines of: “Your honor, I’m not guilty, cause if I had known the fuzz were coming, I wouldn’t have had the drugs on me.” I don’t think the judge agreed with his logic.
38. Lie Of Omission
I participated in an unfair dismissal case. The client claimed his employer dismissed him without reason or following procedure. After we had already started the case, it came out that not only was he given three written warnings beforehand, but his company had also called him in for a disciplinary hearing before his dismissal. Don’t lie to your lawyer.
39. He Told The Truth
I once saw a case of child neglect where the guy fought the child’s adjudication as being “neglected.” He demanded a trial. So, yeah, we had a trial. The district attorney questioned him about his drug use and whether he thought his child deserved a sober parent. Then the DA asked, “Sir, when was the last time you used methamphetamines?” The defendant looked up and responded, “I ain’t gonna lie. I’m high right now!”
40. Just To Clarify
This happened during a trial for possession of marijuana. The defendant’s case initially went pretty well, all things considered. It was only toward the end that things suddenly took a bad turn. The defendant asked, no, demanded that he be allowed to take the stand. The judge agreed to let him, and the defendant approached.
Once there, before his counsel could ask him anything, he turned to the jury and said, “I’ve been trying to tell them I wasn’t going to smoke the weed. I was just trying to sell it!” The courtroom went silent. I am pretty sure the defense counsel practically fainted on the spot, and the prosecution immediately asked for a recess. Soon afterward, the guy was charged and later convicted of possession with intent to distribute.
41. 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.
I was in court as a witness, and the man charged with the offense was a right idiot. The defense attorney was trying his absolute best to defend him when the accused suddenly stood up during the trial and said, “Wait, you forgot the bit where I threw his wheelchair out the third-floor window!” His lawyer’s reaction was explosive.
He unleashed a litany of profanities at the accused as he explained that he had left that part out on purpose. Even more shockingly, his lawyer then began to furiously walk around the room while reading out his client’s various offenses before finally announcing, “My professional experience tells me this man should be put away for the next 80 years, AT LEAST!”
Then he turned and left the room. To be honest, he’s my spirit animal.
43. 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.
44. Booze Snooze
A friend of mine was a pretty well-known DWI lawyer in Westchester county before he passed. He had a client who was found asleep in his car, and the NYSP detained him for DWI. He was over the limit, and at that time, the keys had to be in the ignition for it to be considered a DWI. The car could be off, but the keys had to be in the ignition.
So, my buddy has the arresting trooper up on the stand and asks him three times if he’s swearing under oath that he actually—with his own two little trooper eyes—saw the keys in the ignition of the car my buddy’s client was “driving” at the time of the arrest. “Yes, counselor,” the trooper says. According to my buddy, when a cop testifying in court calls an attorney “counselor,” he means it insultingly. My friend gave him three tries to walk it back before nailing him: “You are aware that my client drives a Prius?” BAM! Case dismissed.
45. He Needed To Cool Off
A friend of mine is a defense attorney. He once told me about a time when he represented a guy with a lengthy record for assault. Basically, this guy took an A/C unit and threw it at his girlfriend. My buddy tells me he was somehow able to get this lunatic a plea deal for one-year probation and no prison time—a lucky break.
The judge is ready to accept the deal when he asks the defendant if he wants to say anything. The defendant responds, “Yeah, I don’t know why they charging me with assault. I never touched her. I just threw an A/C at her. This is BS.” The judge immediately rescinded the plea deal because of the defendant’s attitude and lack of remorse. It later went to trial, and he got a year in the slammer.
46. Drunken Display
My client was in a custody battle, and the opposing party claimed he had a drinking problem. I inquired to him about the opposition’s accusation, but he denied it 1,000%. I had a “real talk” with him and asked him to be honest and not hide stuff from me. Still, he denied the claim, and we go to court. Of course, it didn’t go well.
During the cross-examination, the opposing party produced video evidence of him finishing work, driving to an abandoned parking lot to drink a few tallboys, and then picking up his kid from school—every single access visit. He not only didn’t tell me that, but he also forgot to mention that his ex’s brother owns a private investigator firm. Idiot.
47. 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.
48. 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.
49. 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???
50. 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.