Lawyers see people at their absolute worst—and occasionally, at their most ridiculous. From angry clients to scandalous mid-trial confessions, every day is a roller coaster. These lawyers came together to share their stories of courtroom mayhem, so buckle up, because they're truly mind-blowing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I was representing a defendant being tried for a probation issue, for trespassing and possession. My testimony was going to be focused on the officers who detained him and failed to follow proper procedures—they entered his house without a warrant, and they lied to the phone company about having a warrant to track his phone.
I was feeling tired, but I didn’t think much of it at first. This was a huge mistake, and the beginning of the most dramatic court case of my life. I’m a diabetic, and I didn’t realize I was about to have an episode. We go through the court case, and I'm behaving badly in court and being reprimanded by the judge repeatedly. I eventually start slurring my words and having single sided weaknesses.
The judge recognized something was wrong and put court at recess. The court officers thought I was having a stroke. They called an ambulance, but by the time it arrived, I was already unconscious. As soon as they saw me, they gave me an injectable hormone that forces my blood sugar to go up. 10 minutes and several snacks later, I manage to return to the courtroom and win the case.
The Spanish Supreme Court recently ruled that certain clauses in mortgages from banks were null and void. This mean that we had tons of claims for compensation coming in. One day, there were 10 hearings against the same bank and every plaintiff was assisted by the same lawyer, my colleague. So we had 10 hearings in a row with the same judge and same lawyers, only pausing to let one plaintiff out of the courtroom and the next one in.
It was easy to notice that the bank lawyers didn't have much experience in civil procedure: they tried to introduce evidence they weren't allowed to, or stuff like that. Even worse, after the judge decided against the bank in every one of the points, the lawyers would introduce the points again in the next hearing with same results.
After the fifth or sixth time, this exchange happened: Judge: I already decided over this five times, attorney. Why do you insist on wasting my time? Bank lawyer: Mutters something about guarantees, proper trial, and a right to be heard. Judge: Everyone in this courtroom knows by now there is no basis for your defense. I expect a professional attitude in my court and that the lawyers come prepared to the hearings.
That’s when the bank lawyer started crying, then he made an unhinged confession. “With all due respect, I was hired only for today’s hearings. I didn't get to see any of the case files, and only received instructions to read from. Honestly, I don't even get paid enough for this”. After that, the judge called a recess so the lawyer could calm down.
When we reconvened, the bank lawyer briefly read from her instructions and the judge rejected the allegations one by one like before.
In my country, for child custody cases, the court will often pay for the child to have their own attorney or advocate who isn't working in the interest of either parent. I was representing the child in this case. The custody was over a five-year-old girl. The father was an unemployed alcoholic ex-con with a severe prior record.
The mom had a significant psychiatric history and a minor record, plus a reasonably stable stepdad. The mom and the stepdad had won in the past for obvious reasons. The child had complex medical and psychiatric needs, which were being adequately met, but the father had a history of taking the child’s psychiatric medication and denying her medical care during urgent situations.
Pre-trial, we often interview the parents to get an idea of whether they're fit to care for a child. I already knew the dad was unfit and the mom was not perfect but more fit, but I wanted to interview the dad to build my case. The lawyers frequently tell the parents to deny the interview, but sometimes they don't listen to the lawyers. He didn't listen very well and accepted our interview. That was his first mistake.
Before I got in the front door, I noticed an odor of drinks on him and numerous open and empty bottles in and around his living room. He made statements about the mom and physicians controlling the child with prescribed medications. He seemed manic, was living in unsanitary squalor, and it was clear that he had some undiagnosed psychiatric issues, too.
His girlfriend was his age, and she was obviously off her rocker. Interviewing her, she appeared to be in the middle of a psychiatric episode and was very cruel to me. Next I go out to the kiddo, and during the interview the kiddo spills off an obviously coached tangent on mommy drinking and acting funny. Me: "Who told you to say all that"? Kiddo: "Daddy".
The kid was clearly coached. After I get her to tell me the truth, I made a discovery that sent a shiver down my spine. The kid confessed that the dad’s girlfriend was hurting her physically and emotionally. I immediately haul my butt down to court and file to transfer emergency custody order over to the mom ASAP, plus a protective order against the dad’s girlfriend.
Trial comes up, and both of their attorneys bicker over who's more horrible. My testimony is requested and I drop a half an hour’s worth of revelations on the dad and the girlfriend. They eventually curse at me then leave the courtroom. Eventually, sole custody was awarded to the mom and the child was ordered to receive therapy for trauma.
After interviewing the kid, the authorities find sufficient evidence for an order to detain the girlfriend. In THAT subsequent trial, which only happened a week after the custody one, the girlfriend was sentenced to one year in intensive psychiatric care and 10 years behind bars before any release. I thought the case was over, but I was so wrong. Fast forward to a few weeks later.
I was preparing for another emergency late case at 8 pm, when the dad bursts through the doors of my firm's office. He starts screaming for me, and I meet him at the front window. The front window is bulletproof, the door is locked, and the access is pretty tightly restricted. He's punching the window, kicking it, threatening to hurt me, etc.
We lock him in and call the authorities and the officers come in. Now he gets detained on that charge, finally putting an end to the messiest case I have ever worked on.
I'm a clerk in a civil court. My job includes dealing with lawyers and parties who walk up to our counter. Sometimes, it's better for some parties not to show up here, though. This is a story about one of those times, which happened at my previous workplace. In walks a bulky gentleman, who looked like he could destroy a person with a single punch".
I wanna know what's da deal with my suit, yo," he barks, while basically throwing his ID at me. Since he didn't give me a lawsuit number, I would have to input his SSN number in my system to get a list of the suits he was a party in, and then see which one belongs to my court, if any. My system is already very slow, but that day it was particularly slow.
I was waiting for the list to show up and he starts to tap his hand at the counter and then screams "HURRY UP, BRO, I GOT PLACES TO BE". His demeanor ticks me off, but I keep my face straight. Finally, the list shows up. There are two lawsuits to his SSN: A family suit for alimony—and something much darker. A suit for... Third degree murder.
Oh, and it comes with a pending bench warrant. Now, were it a lesser charge AND were he not discourteous, I would probably just warn him that he has a warrant and tell him to surrender himself to the authorities. I'm not a bailiff, so it's not my job to detain anyone. I could, however, nudge the court officer in the right direction, know what I mean? So I launch my ingenious plan".
Sir, there's a problem with your suit and I need to make a phone call so someone with the right skill set can help you". He scoffs and berates me for being an incompetent public worker and talks about how I'm wasting his time. Well, don't worry, sir, soon enough you'll have plenty of time. I call the court authorities and tell them about the guy at my counter.
Not five minutes later, three officers show up with his bench warrant in hand. They go through the procedures and he doesn't fight or try to run, but yells the same thing many times, while walking with them: "I AIN'T HURT NO ONE, YO! IT WAS AN ACCIDENT, I SWEAR"! OK, sir. How about you go ahead and tell that to the jury.
This one's a messy one. I'm a family law lawyer, and I was representing the kids in this one. Four kids. Three different dads; the mom was getting divorced from her husband. Mom had custody of all four. All the petitions against each other were complicated. One of the dads wanted the other dads’ kids too, the mom wanted sole custody of all the kids, the divorce guy wanted his kid and another. It was VERY confusing to figure out who and what everyone wanted already. But it got worse.
It turns out that mom was on probation AND on the national violent offenders list, had an ankle bracelet and everything. Despite all of that, she still got temporary custody of the kids. Her ankle bracelet forbids her from going out of the county, and the judge in the custody case forbid her from leaving the province as well.
Well, the mom and children didn't show up to appearance #3. Myself and all three petitioners motioned for the respondent’s ankle bracelet to be tracked. The judge made the phone call, and it was pinged outside of the county, just inside the province. Court is put at recess, and the roads department go try to get her. What they found stunned them.
They discovered her ankle bracelet off the side of the highway at an exit ramp to the next province. National guard get called, and they track her phone to her parents’ house in the next province. Once they track her down, they detain her. The children are brought back by child protection services, and the judge awards temporary custody of each child to each respective dad.
After all of that, there was one more twist. At the next court appearance, the dads start complaining about the mom sending them threats from behind bars. Then, because this couldn't end without one last catastrophe, one of the dads decides to set the mom’s old house on fire. He gets taken into custody, then his kid gets put with another one of the dads. That case was a RIDE from start to finish.
I’m a judge who presides over an emergency family court. My saddest case wasn't just one suit, but several separate petitions for emergency custody. A bunch of family members wanted to override a long-term custody plan that was previously ruled in favor of the mother. When I read all the files, they almost broke my heart.
I reviewed the petitions from dad, maternal grandmother, and family friend, which all talked about one of the children being in the emergency department with a chemical burn from an oven cleaner. They also all had substantial reasons for why the other parties shouldn't get custody. My plan was to call everybody in and dismiss the claim, because based on the petitions, it sounded like the injury was an accident.
I bring everyone in and explain why I'm dismissing the claims and denying the petitions, basically saying a simple accident isn't a basis for an emergency custody order to overrule a standing court order. That’s when they confessed the dark truth. All three parties clarified this wasn't an accident, nor was it one injury.
Apparently the mom was intentionally spraying dots of oven cleaner over the entire body of her child. She was doing this to present the kid to the ER, with the subsequent burns, claiming it was a horrible rash. She must have had some kind of mental issue because she did it so many times that her doctor figured out that something very wrong was at work. Learning about all that raises the stakes of this case so much more than I had first thought.
I call social services to ensure they had an investigator out, which they did. But we still had one more disaster to go. Around this time, mom arrives and storms into the courtroom, yelling and crying that she wouldn't harm her child. I lost my cool with her just a little bit, and she admitted that “just a bit of oven cleaner” got on the kid, but she didn't create the rash.
The mother was incredibly disruptive and made a threat to the father, so I had the authorities detain her in contempt of court until the next night. This ticked off the dad, who also started yelling at me for having his wife detained, so I had him held in contempt for the next night as well. The other family members left. You think this is the end of it? Nope.
This is now a week later. The social services investigator is present in the early hours of the morning, filing an emergency protective custody order for that child and all five siblings, ranging from three yeas old to 17. After an audit of medical records, we discovered that the oven cleaner was just the tip of the iceberg. This lady had been harming her kids and passing it off as illnesses for years.
These included using what was suspected to be chemicals to cause rashes, nurses having a concern over the mom possibly accessing a child's IV and injecting something, etc. Also, the mom was a nurse but her license was on a 15-year suspension. We ended up ordering emergency joint custody between social services and a third cousin of the children.
I'm not sure what the final outcome was, but that's my first for-sure case of Munchausen’s by proxy.
My aunt is an officer, and has been for the past 27 years. She's seen a lot of messed up stuff, but this case takes the cake. About 20 years ago, she was called to court as a witness in a case. The case was delayed for some reason, so she was waiting in the hallway when suddenly her radio piped up with something like "additional officer assistance requested at the courthouse".
She responded that she was already there and asked what was going on. "Suspect turned violent after being told defecation in front of the judge was not allowed" was the slightly surreal reply from dispatch. So she found the courtroom where this went down, and as she walked in, her jaw dropped. She found a suspect and two other officers involved in what can only be described as a poop wrestling match.
There was poop all over, and the suspect used that as a sort of nasty lube to slither out of all sticky situations in order to stay free. charged in, grabbed the guy's arm and tried to cuff him. He resisted. Soon she was also covered in excrement...but eventually she, with help from the other officers, managed to cuff him and get his trousers up.
It turned out that the guy was in court because he was a serial public defecator. The judge had asked him "Sir, why do you keep doing that"? and the defendant had replied that it was just "so liberating," dropped his trousers, and squatted on the floor to squeeze out a Cleveland steamer. The case my aunt was there for was delayed even further while the judge allowed her to go shower and change.
The defecator got some time behind bars and fines. So lawyers, if your client does something stupid, just remember that at least they didn't poop on the floor while standing trial for pooping on the floor...
I have a funny story from when I was a law student observing court matters. That day, I was witnessing hearings for bail release. This guy came on his own, with a warrant on him for theft. So probably, his lawyer told him to willingly turn himself in, so the judge would be more compassionate, especially about the bail. It did not go the way he planned.
Judge: Young man, that warrant was issued last year, but it's only now that you wake up and come to court? Lawyer: Mr. Judge, my client has enormous difficulties communicating because he does not have a cell phone. Judge: Ok, but you can always try to reach him. Lawyer: Yes, but unfortunately, without a cell phone, I couldn't reach him to give him proper advice.
Judge: Let me hear from the defendant himself. Sir, what were you doing all this time, knowing that you had a warrant on your name ? Defendant: Mr. Judge, everything is a communication problem. My previous lawyer tried to warn me that a warrant was issued. But again, I didn't have a cell phone at the time, so no communication was possible.
The judge then takes off his glasses, looks at the defendant with a glacial look, and utters a phrase that changes everything. Judge: Young man, the warrant was issued because you are accused of stealing cell phones. I burst into laughter, the court laughed, and my teacher laughed when he read my report on that.
I’m a defense attorney, and I work a small town misdemeanor docket. One day, I had an intake meeting with this gentleman, who is as nice as can be, and who was charged with an extremely low level public nuisance offense.
However, there were aspects of the interview that did not ring particularly true. Like when he claimed to be the President of the US, who needed to be relieved of the burden of this court case so that he could return to treaty negotiations in Washington DC. I nod, and we have a pleasant conversation as I note the need to approach the bench at the upcoming court date and request time to arrange a psychological evaluation.
We go to court. Part of the routine process in this court is for the defendant, upon being called, to step up to the podium with counsel and state their name and birth date for the record. So, my client gets up, provides his name, and gets halfway through his birth date before he stops and shakes his head. What he said next may be the greatest line I've ever heard in a court room".
I'm sorry your honor, I forgot, you blew my CIA cover. My actual birth date is (insert random date here)". The judge, to her credit, took this wholly in stride. Also, I'll note, there was no anger or accusation in client's tone. He was, in his mind, just reciting facts. The judge, without me needing to walk up to request time, goes ahead and gives me a date far enough out for the evaluation.
As I head out, the prosecutor grabs me, and asked if that was legit or if I thought the client was acting crazy for effect. I inform him that I believe it is legitimate, and, in a bit of a surprise move, he just shakes his head, and says, "This isn't worth it for a public nuisance charge. Just get me an agreed order dismissing". Easiest dismissal ever. I cleared the President/CIA Operative, and he returned to keeping America safe. Either that, or he is an evil genius.
I preside over an emergency family court on the night shift. We handle a lot of the emergency custody issues, protective orders, etc. Although evidence is definitely required, this is an emergency court. The threshold is pretty low for me to take a protective action—I handle immediate safety, the other appropriate courts untangle the rest.
Around 11 pm, one of our former frequent fliers (yep...that's just as sad as it sounds) is brings her three kids that she's had since I've last seen her, a three-year old and five-year old twins. She's filing for emergency protective custody of her children and an order of protection against her husband. She and the children both stated that they were mistreated.
However, I recognized the story, as in the past she used the darn near same template to file complaints of mistreatment against every ex she's ever broken up with. Anyway, with this one she wants a protective order for her and her kids against the husband, she wants emergency custody, and she specifically wants provisions allowing her to move out of the area.
I talk with the children in private. That’s when all her lies unravel. They tell me with exceptionally little hesitation that the mom coached them, they love their dad, and their mom is "crazy" (their own words). The kids also stated that mom hits them a lot. I was able figure out via one of the five-year-olds that the parents were "being unmarried"— again, his own words.
So now I have a lady going through a divorce in my court filing (almost certainly false) emergency orders. I confront the mom about the divorce and her previous patterns of filing the same claim against different exes, and she did not like that. She started yelling at me, saying I'm a part of a victim-blaming system, how I'm just as bad as her husband, etc.
She was crying (lots of noise, but no tears) and most unnervingly, the children seemed unfazed. All of a sudden, she's coming out and saying that the husband tried to run her over with a van, that he's done other violent things, etc. Kids seemed like “what the heck”? It turned out, the wife was desperately trying to get us to produce those orders so she could delay the initial suit for divorce and leave the country.
That's not what happened. We called the husband/father to court, and were surprised to find that actually seemed quite level-headed and calm. We granted him half an emergency custody order of the children, on the basis of protection from psychological mistreatment and neglect. We also filed an emergency eviction, forcing her to move out of their shared house.
I reported the whole saga to social services, and those kids got a happy ending. But man, I needed a stiff drink after wrapping up that case.
Ex-public defender assistant here. Two friends of mine were building a summer house and got scammed out of approximately five thousand dollars by their material supplier. Of course, the guy was using a fake name and ID, so it took a while for the authorities to identify his real name. After we managed to find his true identity, we started to do a background check, looking for past convictions.
We came upon a shocking realization. I had already met the jerk. Three years ago, while I was still working at the public defender’s office, a case of his got assigned to me. I managed to save his sorry butt after he was accused of, guess what, scamming someone out of a few bucks. This truly sounds like a cosmic prank, and all I have to say is Karma's a witch.
I'm a court marshal. Something one of my responsibilities is to serve court orders. Order service is a very complicated gig here, with many finicky rules. So, I've been chasing around a homeless guy for about two months to try to serve a protective order so that he stops harassing a client. If I can't physically give it to the homeless guy, the order doesn't fully count, meaning the person who needs protection is still at risk. Long story short: It's really important that I get this paperwork to this guy.
But to serve a protective order of this specific type, I need to do a ton of extra stuff. I have to introduce myself in front of the recipient with no obstacles (no doors in the way, etc). I need to show them the order, hand them the order, explain that they're being served with a protective order, and say that it's effective immediately.
I've been in contact with a family member of his to keep me updated on his location so I can hopefully give him the order, but this guy is impossible to catch. I've had him run after I knock on several different houses trying to find him. He's sped off after I tried to serve him at his car. He's jumped and run out of a third-story window of an apartment. I even tried to serve him in the hospital emergency department and he still managed to run away.
But finally, I found him sleeping in his car. I knew this was my big shot, so I was smart about it this time. I brought a wheel clamp and clamped it onto his car before knocking. The guy tries to speed off, but doesn't realize he's stuck. Watching him mess up his car and admit defeat? Priceless. Handing over an order never felt so good.
This is a story from an attorney who rented an office from my first firm. I did not know him at the time of this story, but this was his favorite hearing ever, so much so that he spent money to order the official transcript just so he could show people the level of crazy he had to deal with. And guys, this case was truly next level insanity.
The attorney here was a defense attorney. In this particular case, his client was a little old lady who had gotten caught trespassing. She'd gone to a business she had been banned from before. She'd been caught on security cameras and had resisted getting cuffed when the authorities came and escorted her out.
After hearing about all this, the attorney thought the old lady must have some kind of mental illness, but she'd passed a competency exam. Then he had a pre-trial hearing with this lady and realized that even though she'd technically passed the exam, this lady was nowhere near sane. So he came up with an absolutely ingenious plan: He told her crazy side of the story.
So, when the head of security took the stand, the attorney used him as a way to show how nutty his client was. He asked, "Is it true that people have been coming into your establishment wearing masks of my client's face"? Witness: (confusedly) No... Attorney: "Is it true that you and/or your employees have edited films to feature my client's face"?
Witness: No. Attorney: "Is it true that you and/or your employees broke into my client's house and took the dress she was wearing when she had a liaison with Bill Clinton"? Witness: No... Client: (standing up and shouting) It was a nightgown! Judge: May I speak to the attorneys up here? (when they arrive) There's no way she's competent to stand trial.
I'm a courtroom assistant. We do both security and practical assistance like moving displays, escorting juries, and some ceremonial stuff as well. One day, I was at the sentencing of an evil, evil man with several huge offenses. He stalked, kidnapped, hurt, and knocked off a locally famous and growing pop artist. And as though that wasn't bad enough, the poor girl was pregnant at the time.
So this Evil Man, as he will be referred to from here on out, was on special precautions as he made threats against his own life, so he was in spiffy paper clothes. At this point in the day, we were well into victim impact statements; the victim had a large family and there were something like 35 individuals addressing the court. We're something like 28 statements into it, and next up was the grandfather.
These are always really emotional. Families are always really upset for good reason, but this 80+ old guy is the worst I can remember. He was crying, breathing heavily, and shaking for the entire sentencing. He was called to make his statement, starts walking up, about past the council table. He then turns and tackles the attorneys and Evil Man.
He didn't get much in on the Evil Man, maybe a kick and two punches, before 15 of us pile up on him. He was taken into custody, and it quickly became apparent that Evil Man got what was coming. Evil Man is screaming and gagging for about 20 seconds, then he starts convulsing. He came back in about two minutes choking/gagging, really bad.
We put him on his side and get an ambulance on the way, the rest of the gallery was evacuated and the court went into recess. By time the ambulance arrives, he's not breathing, only twitching, and has no pulse. They do CPR, take him out to the hospital, where he passed that day. Coroners report said his brainstem was damaged, his skull was broken, and his brain herniated through a break in his skull.
The granddad was interviewed by national officers who have jurisdiction of courts. He said that he'd been planning that for days, he felt no remorse, said if he had time he would have done the attorneys in, too. It also came out that the granddad was in the mob back in the day, and had 40 years behind bars prior to this for drowning someone in petrol and lighting their body on fire.
He was suspected but not confirmed to be involved in several other high profile attacks. He was charged with a slew of offenses, but found not guilty of everything except contempt of court, to which he was originally sentenced to four years but it was reduced to terminal probation with home confinement due to his health.
I had a client once who wanted to get her car seats reimbursed. No problem, I told her. I sent the photos we had on file along with the Amazon price listings she sent us to the insurance company. The company emails me back a few days later stating that they need actual receipts or some kind of proof of purchase before they do anything.
I call the client, and she says she doesn't have any receipts because she bought them over a year ago and didn't hang on to the receipts. That's fine, I told her, any proof of payment would do. I asked if she could maybe find a bank statement showing how much she paid for the seats, or maybe call the company she bought them from and see if they could look into their records and provide her with something.
She just says, "Well they can't do that. I paid in cash". It's important to know now that the car seats were several hundred dollars each, and the total was about a thousand, so I was more than slightly shocked. "Do you mean you paid with a debit card instead of credit"? "No, I paid in cash. Like paper". So I call the insurance company again and explain the situation.
They very kindly agree to provide reimbursement for the amount given on the Amazon listing, provided that the client sends photos of the car seats with the straps cut through to prove that they can't be used anymore. I call the client back, and she LOSES it. How dare we ask for more photos from her! Is it not enough that she gave us photos of the car seats on her driveway in the first place?
Many of her relatives have been in car accidents, and they all got their car seats reimbursed, no questions asked. What kind of attorney's office are we if we can't even get this small thing reimbursed for her? I explain again that literally all she needs to do is take a scissor to the straps and send us the photos, and really, the insurance company is being very generous with this agreement.
She tells me that she can't do that because she tossed the car seats ages ago and hangs up on me. But she wasn’t done. A few days later, she calls back and asks me what the status of the reimbursement is. I tell her that, per our previous conversation, the insurance would not reimburse her without proof of payment or proof of the car seats no longer being usable, and since she paid in cash, lost the receipts, and junked the car seats, there was nothing I could do.
She then tells me that she didn't actually junk the car seats, she gave them to a lady in her neighborhood. A hoarder, apparently, who collects car seats. Great, I tell her. Go find the lady and ask if you can take back your car seats or borrow them long enough to cut the straps and take a picture. She goes on and on in circles about why this is impossible, why I'm being unreasonable, why our whole firm is being outrageously incompetent, etc etc etc. Finally, she asks me this whammy of a question".
You have photos of car seats from other cases, don't you? Why don't you just use one of those photos"? Ma'am. MA'AM. The insurance company already knows what model your car seats are because I already sent them photos and listings. I do not have photos on file of car seats that match yours. And even if I did, I wouldn't send them to the IC because newsflash! That is insurance fraud!
I don't care if your relatives' attorneys did that for them! We are not them! I will not be helping you with this! I refuse to be involved in so stupid a plot! One of the attorneys catches me mid-explanation and says, "Tell her that's a freaking felony”. I duly relay the message as I am ordered. She goes into a deeper rage and demands to speak to an attorney.
So I transfer her. She ended up dropping the case eventually, thank god.
I'm a judge. One day, I oversaw a custody battle where the dad was trying to get joint custody. It's granted, and he's about to have his first weekend with the kids. Mom is not having it in the slightest. So Mom does the unthinkable. She has the father knocked off. In the aftermath, Grandma (Dad's mom) attempts to get guardianship of the kids.
It's discovered that Mom conspired to have Grandma offed, too. Mom is brought before the judge for her hearing. She is sobbing. "BUT I'M THEIR MOTHER"!!!!! Judge isn't having it. "You're their mother. So"? The woman stops crying almost immediately, proving she faked her "tears" from before. She's still currently behind bars.
My job is helping people use the rights they are allowed while behind bars. One day, a client called, stating that they were going to turn themselves in for violating a protective order. That was enough for me to get sent out. I try to figure out what's going on, and learn that the client's ex-girlfriend took out a retroactive protective order and he's admitting to breaking it.
That's a huge “Oh god” moment for me, because you need to do something seriously messed up with significant proof to get retroactive protective order. Anyway, I advise him of his rights when interacting with officers as clearly as I can. Then I make sure he understands and urge him not to void his rights. Well, he voided his rights apparently without hesitation, and he spilled the beans to the officer about everything.
The story was even crazier than I ever expected. It turned out that there was no active valid protective order at the time of the alleged offense. Instead, the ex-girlfriend applied for a retroactive protective order, got denied, then had her friend serve him a fake retroactive order. When he breached the order that doesn't exist, she applied for a new regular protective order, was approved.
But there was one problem: the order wasn't active yet because it hadn't been served. Despite this, the ex-girlfriend didn't hesitate to void it by sending him harassing text messages! She ended up going in on production of false documents, distribution of false documents, breach of protective order, and electronic harassment.
I had a genius client today who called in and was very rude to my assistant. Old twit claims that he called twice in the morning and nobody answered his calls. Turns out, this geezer had called the office at 7:45 am and again at 8:25 am. Our posted hours are 9-5, plus our voicemail system states our hours. PLUS what office is open at 7:45 in the morning?!
When he finally did manage to speak to a lawyer, all he did was get really mad that we recommended that he get a new will done because all the people named in his existing will are deceased. There's no helping some people.
This happened several years ago. My father was a superior court judge, and about 60 years old at the time. He was driving on a city street when a young kid blew through a stop sign and ran into him. Dad was on a through street with no stop sign, so it's pretty obvious that the kid was at fault. Nobody was hurt, thankfully, but the kid was very upset about it and jumped out of his car, cussing a blue streak".
You crazy old man, you shouldn't be on the road. I'm going to sue you! I'll have you taken in for a hit-and-run, you can't you look where you're going," along with a series of other colorful words. My dad looks at him, cool as a cucumber, and totally destroys the kid. He says he isn't going anywhere, so hit-and-run wouldn't apply.
Kid keeps on cussing, stomping around, and generally being a real jerk. Fairly soon, an officer shows up. Young kid goes off on the officer about getting this crazy old man off the road, yadda yadda. Dad gives the cop his license, registration, insurance, and business card. Officer turns to him and says, "Your honor, can you tell me what happened"?
Young kid suddenly stops yelling, and looks like he's seen a ghost. Turns to the officer and says, "This guy's a judge??? My dad turns to the kid and says, "That's correct. If you would like to bring your parents by the courthouse some time, I'd be happy to perform the ceremony at no charge". I thought the officer was going to lose it on the spot. Kid got a ticket and was found at fault for the accident.
One Christmas Eve, a woman comes in with her two sons and files an emergency petition for sole custody. They had just arrived to spend the holidays with her and informed her about how abusive their dad was to them. So she fills out the paperwork, staff is going over it, and a probation officer comes to tell me that the next time I see this woman, I need to tell her to stay put because she has to go through a substance screening.
I find the woman and awkwardly delivered the news. It went better than expected. She took it all in stride and agreed. And after that interaction, I thought to myself that for someone who is spending Christmas Eve at court, petitioning for sole custody because the father of her children is mistreating said children...she was really chipper. Yeah, I'd soon learn why.
She tested positive for a whole whack of feel-good substances. Regardless, she was brought before the judge. Dad was called up so he could appear telephonically. Oh ho, the judge was unhappy with both of them. Turns out, dad had full custody, and mom was only supposed to have supervised visitation with the kids. Why? Because this lady COULD NOT parent.
The poor kids sometimes didn't have enough to eat. And she would leave them unsupervised for hours at a time while she went to do...whatever it was that she did. The judge was reading all this stuff from the previous cases onto the record in a really flat, matter-of-fact tone. "[Mom] complains that she doesn't receive enough in child support for the children. [Mom] still has enough money to afford substances”.
The judge asked the dad why he sent the kids to the mother they're not supposed to be alone with. Dad said he didn't want her to not be part of their lives. Judge scolded him regardless. Good intentions, bad execution. And this wasn't the first time she cried wolf about dad. And to top it all off, throughout the hearing, this woman is switching between sobbing loudly, laughing like a maniac, and stone cold sarcasm. Her petition to be the kids' only care-taker was denied.
So, I was a law clerk at a small firm in a northern state for two years during law school. The firm had been around for several decades, and it had a name like "Davidson, Roberts, McIntyre, and Johnson". Well, Davidson had started the firm. Roberts had joined within a few years. Roberts had passed about 20 years before I became a clerk, and Davidson had passed a few years before I became a clerk.
The firm name hadn't changed, though. When I became a clerk, McIntyre was the senior partner, and there were four other partners in at the firm, plus an associate. One of the partners was Davidson's son, we'll call him Joe. One day, I was called to the front desk to cover the phones because our receptionist was out. I was sitting at the front desk, and an older man walked up to me".
I need to speak to an attorney". "Alright. What kind of case is it"? "Well, I don't know. Can I just speak to attorney Davidson"? "Joe Davidson"? "I just want to speak to the Davidson on the sign out front". "Oh. Well, he's dead". The man cocked his head, and said, "Well, can speak to attorney Roberts"? "Sir, he's gone, as well".
The old man just stared at me. I called around and found someone to come talk to the man finally. I don't know if we took him on as a client though. It was a really strange interaction.
Years ago, my wife and I ran a tiny landlord/tenant law practice. Technically, it was a two-person partnership law practice, but my participation was limited to reviewing contracts and going to court once in a while if she had two cases at the same time. Because of this, it was basically a one-woman show, so if my wife had to go to court, the office was empty. Not usually a big deal, as this was the type of practice that was mostly done by cell phone and laptop.
Or, I should say that it wasn't a big deal until one insane day. So, there was one tenant client who had a dispute with her deposit and damages. Long story short, not only would her landlord not give the deposit back, but he claimed there were extra damages that she had to pay too. Our case was weak as our client didn't have proof that the damages in the apartment existed before she arrived or that they were caused by external forces.
Now, in my state, if the landlord does not provide a detailed list of damages or return the deposit within 30 days, the landlord has automatically failed his or her role and now owes double the deposit. Guess who didn't comply with the statute? The now double deposit amount exceeded what the landlord was demanding, so we were willing to settle for the difference. Nope. Landlord refuses to take that deal, so mediation fails and we have to go to the judge.
Now, before I continue, this landlord was an arrogant jerk who didn't know the law. He was a computer engineer who thought the rental was just a second investment property. We tried to explain the law when offering the deal, but no dice. He clearly thought that a firm that didn't even have regular office hours was too far beneath him. That was his first mistake.
The way landlord-tenant court works in my state is that you have two rounds of meditation before you see a judge. Most cases settle before you get to the judge, so if it gets that far, the judge is looking to see who is being unreasonable. The judge rules for the landlord, though he disagrees with some of the cost estimates and awards him a bit less money.
He also reminds the landlord that he owes double the deposit, so he needs to give the tenant the difference from the award but less than the double deposit amount—in other words, more than what we would have had to pay if he just accepted our offer. The landlord doesn't agree with the judge’s findings and appeals, so larger court fees for him right off the bat.
When my wife gets the paperwork, she notices his fatal error. He screwed up the appeal. Since she wasn't his lawyer, though, she didn't have to tell him he'd made a mistake. She didn't even have to respond to the court since the appeal wasn't properly submitted. Instead, she quietly put a lien on the property for the judgment, added a fee for the extra paper work involving the fee, and went on her merry way.
For the next few years, we didn't hear a peep about the appeal. But then, one day, we get an email from the landlord asking us to remove the lien as he is selling the property. Gladly, we say. All he has to do is pay the judgement and fees. Landlord refuses and hires his own lawyer to fight us. This time, we got revenge. We have the strong case.
We simply e-mail the attorney the paper work and show how everything was proper on our end. Just like that, we proved that it's not our fault this jerk-landlord tried to play at being a lawyer. Long story short, our client gets her money, we get our fee, and that awful landlord gets a nice big bill from the attorney that he hired for his completely stupid case.
I'm a client intake specialist for a firm that handles claims for employees who have been discriminated against at their workplace. Last week, I had a call from a potential new client who said that her employer caused her son's auto accident. When I asked her for more information, she asked me if I could meet her somewhere to discuss the details.
My internal red flags were waving at full staff, so I explained to her that I could not meet her. I told her I could take down all of the details and give her claim to the attorney, so he could review it and see if he could help her. She said she would call me back the next morning, since she didn't know if her calls were being recorded or if there were cameras in the room she was in. I did not hear back from her.
Fast forward to this morning, when I received a call from the same lady. She said she wanted to sue her employer because they hired a man to cause her son's car accident using...witchcraft. At this point, I'm thinking that this lady has really gone off the deep end. Oh, but she's not done yet. She explains that she has filed a report and wants to sue this man and her employer.
She goes on to say that she overheard a co-worker tell this witchcraft-practicing man to make sure all of her son's airbags come out because they want him to work for them in the near future. I politely, but firmly, had to tell this lady that our firm would not be able to assist her. She asked why, and I so desperately wanted to tell her that it's because she's clearly nuts.
I did a will for a client. Signed the will, gave him the bill. He whipped out a check and paid it happily. He immediately went home and sent an email to my boss getting really angry about the bill and only wanting to pay for the half hour he had spent in our office signing the will—not any of the time I spent drafting and preparing the will. My boss’s response was priceless.
My boss had him bring back his will. Handed him a check for the full amount he had paid, and then fed his will through the shredder in front of him. Full refund.
Several years ago, I was interning for a friend of mine at the firm he worked at. I had the pleasure of being the note taker at a first meeting with a new client. It was an 18-year-old kid who got pulled over by highway patrol for excessive speeding at about 3 am. So, my buddy explains everything to him, and then gets to the "be on your best behavior part".
The kid doesn't get it. My friend goes, "Pretty much, don't do anything that could get you in trouble. Don't stay out late at night, don't smoke, and honestly, just don't speed. The kid responds with, "But I like to go fast". My friend is completely dumbfounded. Like, this kid got pulled over on the freeway doing about 90 mph, at 3 in the morning.
He explained it to him about three times, how if you get a ticket for something, and you challenge it, and take it to court, if you get a ticket for it again while waiting for your court date, you will lose your case. But this kid kept saying, "But I like to go fast". I highly doubt that "Ricky Bobby" learned his lesson this go around, at least.
So this is about five years ago. I worked as a chef at a bakery, and it was my job to make everything but the baked goods. Every morning, the baker and I would walk in at 4 am and knock out all the food needed for the day. This would leave me ready to go home around 10 AM or so. On my way home, I'd drop off half the online orders we received, while my co-worker would deliver the other half.
On this particular day, I had a delivery for a large law office with a generic-sounding name. I had never delivered to them before, but they were a regular of sorts. Every financial quarter, they would hold a huge meeting. This meeting would require roughly $700 of bagels and bagel accessories. This spread included eight dozen bagels, all ten of our flavors of cream cheese, pastries, brownies, and enough coffee to power a college dorm though finals week.
My passenger seat, entire back seat, and entire trunk are filled with food. Now, the firm is located on the ninth floor of a commercial sky scraper deep in downtown. Parking was non-existent. There were meters outside the building, but I knew I would need close to 10 trips to deliver all this food, and didn't have a lot of change on me.
So I decided that I'd try to use building's own parking garage. As I pull on in, the security guard, let's call him Sam, stops me and says that the parking garage is for employees only. I happily show him my delivery invoice, explain why I'm there, and offer him a bagel, as I never leave the store without at least two on hand.
Sam refuses the bagel and says I can park in one of the guest spots on the bottom floor. The fee is $5 for every 30 minutes, minimum $10. Work will reimburse me, so this sounds great to me. I thank Sam and head to the bottom floor of the garage...where I see a total of six guest parking spaces. Just six. All of them are taken.
I head back up to talk to Sam, when I see an open parking spot reserved for the law office. There are cars in every spot, with many spots reserved for employees by name. The last spot is empty, and is reserved for "Guest of [Law Office's Name]". Perfect. I pull on in. I grab the most important part of the delivery (the coffee) and head to the stairwell.
I get into the elevator and hit the button for floor nine. The elevator asks for my employee ID card. Well...crud. So, I try the lobby. That works. From there, it’s nine flights of stairs until I am outside the firm. After introducing myself, I am shown to the room where the meeting will take place. A table is set aside for me. I set down the coffee and head for trip number two.
That is when I see an unsettling sight. Sam is talking to the receptionist. He runs over and starts shouting at me. "I am putting a flag on your freaking car. I told you to park in the guest section on the bottom floor"! I don't get a word in before he launches into a speech about security and how I could be hurting his building or people.
That is when a very well dressed man walks over. It so happens to be one of the partners at the law office. He asks what is the problem, and soon the two are arguing. Partner: He is delivering food for my meeting. He is allowed to use my parking spots. Sam: Those parking spots belong to the building. You are leasing them like you lease this floor. I am the one who says who can park there. He isn't an employee so he isn't parking!
Partner: Then I am making him an employee! Sam: You can't do that! Partner: ... ... ... You know what. You are right. I thought it was over, but I was so, so wrong. Then the partner calls over another partner, who walks over with an amused look on his face. Partner: (introducing the other man) This man is Mr. Smith. He's the head of our HR department. Mr. Smith, hire this boy.
So Mr. Smith pulls out a piece of paper and scribbles that I am “Now a member" of the law office, and signs it, then asks me to sign as well. I do so. The partner reaches over to the receptionist, who is already grabbing some things. Partner: Here is your employee badge, your -PARKING PERMIT- and your elevator key card. Now please, do the job I have -HIRED- you to do, and deliver my bagels.
Sam looks on in utter fury as I ride the elevator down to my car. Seven sweet, sweet elevator rides later, all the food is delivered. Bob and Harry meet me at the table. Bob: Well, you have made great strides in this company and I am proud of your work, but I feel it is time for us to part ways. Here is your final check. Bob then hands me a crisp $50 bill.
Mr. Smith: And your severance package. Now please be sure to return your badge and card on the way out. The partner hands me a $20 and sends me on my way. The receptionist is sure to validate the parking ticket that Sam gave me, and I head on out. On the way out, Sam grins at me and asks for my ticket. I place it in the machine in his station.
It sees the validation I got, and lets me out for free. Sam glares at me as I drive off into the late morning sun. Lesson of the day: Never argue with lawyers.
I had a client who called to tell me that the police report completely messed up her name, and she was afraid it was going to affect her case. I checked, and the report was indeed messed up. Like not just a minor misspelling, but it looked like an entirely different name. I told her not to worry, she just had to bring the report and her ID to the station, and they'd fix it for her.
Client asks why we can't do it for her. I tell her that departments are quite strict about that sort of thing, and I'd do it for her if I could, but they absolutely require the actual involved party to come in themselves to get that fixed. She complains that her car accident happened too far away from where she lived and she doesn't want to go all the way back there.
Thankfully, the agency that took the report was the State Highway Patrol, and in the state I worked, you could go to any SHP office regardless of where your accident actually happened and they could help you just the same. I do some Googling and the following exchange happens. Me: Good news! I found an SHP office that's literally right around the corner from your address. It's like a ten-minute walk MAX, faster if you want to drive.
Client: That's too far. Me: I'm sorry what. C: That's too far, I'm not going all the way there to get my report fixed. Me: It's literally around the corner and down a block. This is the absolute closest SHP office. There is not a single one that is any closer than that. C: Well it's too far. Why can't you guys go do it for me? You're my attorney's office, this is what I pay you for. At this point, I'm losing my patience, but I put on my nice voice and continue.
Me: As I've explained, I am literally not allowed to do it for you. SHP won't do it if it's not the actual person themselves. C: Can't I just call or email them? Me: No, they need to see your actual physical person along with your ID, so you need to show up. I promise, it's right on [names intersection here], it's no more than 10 minutes away if you WALK.
I'm slowly losing my mind here, and I thought the conversation had gotten about as brain-numbing as it could be—until the client dropped this next line. C: Well that's 10 minutes out of my day that I'll have wasted, and I'm not a youth anymore, I can't be traveling such distances whenever I want. I told her that if she really didn't want to get the report fixed, she didn't have to, but it could totally cause problems later in her case.
But if she INSISTED, then fine, don't. She told me she'd think about it. The client, by the way, who claimed she was "not a youth anymore," was a fully able-bodied 20-year-old. It's people like her who give the rest of us millennials a bad name and honestly I hate it.
I’m picking a jury in front of a judge who, coincidentally, happens to be in the Reserves. During selection, the judge asks "Is there any reason that anyone can't serve the full length of this trial"? Young lady in fatigues sticks her hand up. "My lieutenant is giving me a lot of grief about missing work to do jury duty". Judge doesn't skip a beat and delivers the greatest line I've ever heard in my career".
Really? Give him my number and tell him that General Hizzonner would like to discuss his attitude". The grin on that young lady's face was something to see.
This happened to my co-worker, Al, who represented a guy who had clear mental health issues. The client had a long history, took a bucket-load of medications, was semi-homeless, etc. So while talking to Al, my co-worker decides to contact this guy named Bob that Al keeps calling "his lawyer"...even though Al is supposed to be his lawyer. Confused, Al looks up Bob—and he realizes the case just got more complicated.
Yes, Bob is a prominent attorney, but in a totally unrelated field. Now, it's obvious that Bob isn't the client's lawyer in the sense that he has him on retainer. Still, Bob's been an attorney for 25 years, so Al figures that Bob probably represented the client at some point—maybe he started as a public defender, or took an occasional pro-bono case, or whatever.
So Al gives Bob a call to see if he can remember anything about the client that might help, and at least ask why the client is so insistent that Bob is "his attorney," when the client has clearly been represented by at least a dozen lawyers at this point in his career. The conversation goes as follows: Al: “So, I'm representing Mr. Client and he says that you're ‘his lawyer.’ How do you know him”?
Bob: “Well, I know him, and I don't. You see, I've never represented him, or even met him. A few years ago, he called my office and asked to speak to me. He had apparently seen a story about a case I was handling in the local paper. I wasn't in, so the secretary put him through to my answering machine, where he left a lengthy, rambling message”.
My co-worker is rapt at attention now. Bob continues, “At the beginning of the message, he was extremely agitated, but as it went on, he seemed to calm himself down and sounded much better. A little while later, he left another message, which followed the same pattern. It really seemed to help him just vent into the answering machine”. Al’s getting the point now, but Bob finishes off the ridiculous story.
“So I told my secretary whenever he called in the future, to just tell him that I wasn't in and let him keep leaving messages. He's been doing it for years now”.
I’m an assistant to a lawyer. I just recently opened files for my lawyer, and this means new clients calling in to schedule their first appointments. This usually happens the next week after I sent out the first letters. They usually call in bulks. I mostly have a good memory so if your name is unique, I will definitely remember you. Now, this client’s name is unique in a way that is difficult to pronounce.
It’s even harder as I’m not from this country, so I still have a slight accent...and I have a lisp too. Yay. The client is also apparently not from here and has an accent. The two of us are not the dream team. Normally, I'd make my lawyer handle this kind of thing, but she was in court during this exchange, so it was all down to me.
ME: Hello. Her: Hi, my name is [insert complicated name] and my son is [even more complicated name]. Is it possible for me to talk to his lawyer regarding his case? ME: (me trying to type the name onto the system but not coming up with any) Sorry about this, but can you please spell your last name? I can’t seem to find your son’s name on file.
Insert us spending five excruciating minutes trying to figure out the spelling. ME: Okay! So can your son come in at this date and time to see the lawyer? Her: My son is actually not here in the city right now, he lives abroad. Is it possible for me to deal with this case without him coming down there? ME: Your son lives in abroad? Sadly, we cannot help your son if he doesn’t live here—
Her: OH NO! Haha, I meant my son is on a vacation for two weeks. He’s going to be back soon. Can I just see the lawyer instead of him? ME: So he is coming back then? That’s fine. The lawyer is scheduling appointments in six weeks anyway. Sadly, you cannot see the lawyer in his place. Her: But my son might be away for two months. I’m not sure if he’ll be back here. It’s fine. I know all about his case. I can see the lawyer for him and we can settle this without him.
This is where I started to get suspicious.
ME: Oh. I thought you said he’ll be back here in two weeks? And again, the lawyer needs to see your son. We need him to sign documents, things you won’t be able to sign. Can you give me a date of when your son is returning and we can schedule the appointment then? Her: But I’m his mom. I know all about his case!
ME: But we still need your son to come in, as he is the one getting a divorce. Please pass on my phone number to your son. Okay? Her: Okay. Fine. I’ll have him call you today. Son called later in the day. No, son is not on "vacation". Yep, son is fully living in another country. No, we cannot represent him. I don’t understand why mom kept lying to me.
A good client of mine asked me to help a friend of theirs, who is having some trouble with debt. The debtor is getting demand letters because they haven't been paying back their $12k student loan. They're a medical professional in a lucrative field, so I figure that they can just...y'know...pay back their loan. But on the phone, they're panicking so I assume something else must be going on.
Me: "So, what's the issue"? Debtor: “I got this student loan with auto-debit. I closed the bank account and moved. They're calling me up again". Me: "Did you offer to start paying them again"? Debtor: "Do I have to"? Me: "Well, have you paid it off"? Debtor: "That's another thing. I've been paying on it for three years and it's not paid off? That can't be right”.
I do some quick excel work and realize that Debtor's payments are lower than the interest on the debt. This takes the conversation to the Crazytown exit on the Just Don't Get It turnpike. Me: "You've been paying less than the interest payments, so they're adding to the principal". Debtor: "That's not fair. Isn't there a way to get out of this? Like sue them"? Me: "I'll bet that there's a 'cost of litigation' clause in the contract where any court or attorney's fees they spend in getting you to pay are paid by you".
Debtor: "Can I get them to pay your fees"? Me: "No. You'd pay their fees, my fees and the loan. That's why I recommend that you settle for the current principal". Debtor: "But I didn't get anything out of it”. Me: "You're a practicing medical professional. I imagine that pays better than the alternatives”. Debtor: "I still think I paid too much. I shouldn't have to pay interest".
Me: "Yeah, I know that feeling. But you signed a document that says you would pay it. Since it's a student loan and you're earning decent money, you don't have much in the way of negotiating strength". Debtor: "But it seems that all my patients get Medicaid. Why don't I get anything for free"? Me: “You're getting free advice".
Debtor: "But you're not helping" This is when I lost my patience and dropped the mic. Before hanging up, I said "Sorry about that. I'll refer you to someone who specializes in this. They'll want to be paid up front".
If you've ever driven through a small town where the speed limit dropped precipitously from 55 to 35 for no apparent reason, you know that lots of places support themselves through fines and court fees. This extends far beyond speeding tickets, though. It's a dirty secret that most municipal and justice courts exist to make money for the town, not actually dispense justice.
I used to work as a public defender in a county that squeezed every dime it could out of people coming through the court system. Many of my indigent clients owed hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the courts. I had one client who owed $25,000 to the courts. That was my record for a while, until I had a guy who owed $40,000.
One day, I was swapping stories with my fellow public defenders and I this topic came up. I didn't think for a second that my $40,000 guy would be the record, but I was still shocked when one of my colleagues told me that he once had a client who owed $190,000! This prompted the following amusing exchange. Other colleague: $190,000? Geez, that's more than my student loan debt. And at least I have an education to show for it!
Me: Well, in a way, so does he...
We were buying our first home, and a small firm specializing in real estate transactions was handling our closing. My wife and I, and our realtor, were seated on one side of a large table; the seller and his realtor were on the other, while an attorney sat at the head of the table, handing out papers to sign, and then collecting them again while explaining each step of the process.
It was all very amicable, generally well organized, no issues whatsoever. No issues, that is, until he collected a freshly-signed document from us with one hand, his attention on that one to make sure we had crossed all the I’s and dotted all the T’s as appropriate...while almost absentmindedly handing us the next one without really looking at it.
The next form was a single sheet, which I committed to memory. Quoting in its entirety: "By my signature below, I hereby certify that I have received a copy of this notice". With lines for printed name, signature, and date at the bottom. That's it. Nothing else on the page at all. I said "Um....I don't understand".. Puzzled, the attorney asked for it back so he could see what I didn't understand.
He looked at it for the longest time...looked at the back (blank) and then at the front some more...and said "Well...on one hand, I've never seen this form before, ever, and I have NO IDEA why it is in your package. On the other hand...you DID in fact receive a copy of it, so... why not"? The man had a point. We signed it. :)
A respondent called my direct line; we represent his wife. Now, the wife is pretty crazy. I don’t want to get into why and how, but believe me that as soon as I hear her name on the phone receiver, I cringe and know that this won’t end very well. She demands things we can’t do unless we perform magic. But somehow this guy is even worse.
He is a piece of work. One of our staff-members served him with papers and he had such a huge freak out that the poor girl literally ran out of the office. This guy's pretty big, while the staffer is a tiny woman. Needless to say, we sent the sheriff out to bring this guy back into court, only for him to pretend he didn't have ID and that the sheriff must think he's someone else. By the time the sheriff realized he'd been fooled, the guy was already long gone.
Since we couldn't get an address for him, we found him on social media and served him with paperwork through there. Now that was a year ago. We were finalizing their matter but we needed his financial information, so we subpoenaed his employer for his information with a court date. However, the employer called and told us how much of a piece of trash he is and just sent us his information without any more prompting or court date needed.
The payroll hates his guts and that’s amazing, because what are the odds he has interactions with payroll. Unfortunately, by that time, the information is useless because the kid from the wife was taken by child protective services. Like I said, the wife is a piece of work too. She won’t be getting the kid back anytime soon, so we can’t proceed on their matter anyway.
We’ll have to put everything on hold. Basically, court is cancelled and no support from him will be taken. Well, the guy called this morning and was nice at first, but as soon as pleasantries were out of the way, the truth came out. Him: Now, I know you subpoenaed my employer! Now my employment is at risk! Me: (having no idea how to answer this) Is there anything I can help you with?
Him: You’re ruining my marriage! I don’t want a DNA test! Me: We’re not asking for a DNA test, sir... Him: My lawyer told me I don’t have anything to say to you! I can’t believe you’re helping my wife! She is a horrible person! As a mother, how can you sympathize with that! Me: (With no boyfriend or plans to have children, raised my eyebrow) Can you give me your lawyer’s name to talk to him instead?
Him: My lawyer said I don’t have to talk to you! And I’m not giving you my lawyer’s name! He said I don’t need to! Me: (I am very confused at this point on why he called) Is there anything I can help you with today, sir? Him: You’re ruining my marriage and my work is at stake. I won’t talk to you! (Hangs up) Weirdest conversation ever.
I’m an assistant in a family firm. This happened a few moments ago and I still don’t know how to react. I’m honestly baffled. So here's the story: I had a family emergency yesterday so I had to leave work an hour earlier. As I was leaving, I heard my work phone ring, but I had to leave ASAP so I left it. I thought for sure this person would leave a voicemail or contact reception if it was an emergency.
Imagine my surprise (and joy) that I came in the next day and I didn’t have any voicemail! Fast forward a few hours in: My phone rings. Client: *Screaming* Me: Confused Me: Hello? C: WHY DID YOU NOT CALL ME BACK I HAVE BEEN CALLING SINCE YESTERDAY Me: Sorry, can I get your name? Did you leave me a voicemail? C: MY NAME IS SCREAMING CLIENT AND NO. I DON’T LEAVE VOICEMAILS BECAUSE YOU WOULD NEVER CALL ME BACK ANYWAY
Me: So you didn’t leave me a voicemail but you expected me to call you back...? (I’m super stumped at this point) C: YEAH BECAUSE YOU GUYS DON’T CALL ME Me: ...okay. Well how am I supposed to know you need me to call you if you don’t leave a voicemail? SC: WELL, YOU SHOULD’VE KNOWN The next part was just us finally discussing the reason she’s calling, and then I put her on hold to get the lawyer to talk to her about her screaming and to please PLEASE leave a voicemail instead of assuming I have the powers to know when she called.
The process of obtaining a restraining order is pretty straightforward. However, the people involved are sometimes very...interesting. I thought I'd already met the strangest people that humanity had to offer...until this one woman walked through my door. She came in one day to file for a restraining order.
Before starting anything, the clerk has to ask who they are filing against, to make sure they're eligible to apply. So she says, "Who are you filing against"? The woman bellows, at the top of her lungs, "He's a psychopath"! Cool. That doesn't answer my question. She explains that she wants to file against her ex boyfriend, and, as is common with a lot of people who interact with court staff, she begins to share the whole story.
He's attacked her multiple times, she has multiple health issues and the stress he puts her under could be fatal, he jacked a car and brought it to her house (?), among other things. She then starts focusing on the physical damage she's endured. She has some healing scars and such that were new-ish—not fresh, but not too old.
All of a sudden, she blurts "Do you wanna see what he did to the inside of my mouth"? I probably had a full on deer-in-the-headlights look on my face. I'm holding the paperwork she needs to fill out and just wondering how I should respond to such a question. I opt to avoid answering and just meekishly ask her to start filling out the paperwork.
She heads outside the room to begin About 10 or 15 minutes later, I hear screaming from the hall outside the office. The ex arrived, also looking to file for a restraining order. Neither were happy to see each other and proceeded to start a screaming match that attracted the attention of some officers, who separated the pair.
The woman was brought back into the office and the man was kept in the hall. A pair of officers attempted to calm her down. Not because she was scared or anything, but because she was angry. She insisted on not filing for a restraining order unless he did, too. The officers explained to her that the process didn't work that way.
She had to make a decision of whether to apply or not, independent of his decision. In the end, she elected not to apply and left. Once the dust had settled, he came in for the paperwork to start the process for his own restraining order. Now, this guy was not all there. Red in the face, strange speech, eyes sagging shut, you get the idea.
But I still gave him the paperwork and he filled it out. One of the probation officers got a look at him and informed me that he wouldn't be going the usual route for a restraining order. Instead of having his hearing in front of officers, he was going to be in front of a judge. Oh, and he would have to go through a substance screening.
I don't know if he caught onto the fact that something was up or what, but he elected to stop the process and left. So the screaming match amounted to nothing.
I’m an assistant to lawyers, and I work in a branch of government that deals with providing assistance to those who cannot afford representation. I work in a family firm, so we mostly handle stuff like divorces and separations. One day, we open a client's file and send him a letter, saying we need to meet to discuss his case. We do not hear from him for weeks.
I send a second letter, but no dice. I checked his file for any phone numbers or emails. No phone number, but there is an email. Bingo! I send his last letter, a threat that if he does not reply we’ll be closing his file and he won't be able to use our services. Nice. If we get a reply, then yay! If no reply is received by the deadline we set, then even more yay, time to close his file.
One Friday afternoon, when I’m 30 minutes away from freedom, my phone rings. With just enough time to wrap up a call, I answer it. Big mistake. It had to be the most frustrating call I have received to this date. Me: Hello. Her: WHY ARE YOU CLOSING MY SON’S FILE HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO HIM HE HAS NO MONEY WHY ARE YOU NOT HELPING HIM HE CAN’T EVEN PAY FOR THE APPLICATION FEE YOU ARE ALL HORRIBLE PEOPLE—
ME: Sorry about that, but may I ask which client you’re calling about? Her: MY SON’S FILE AS I AM HIS MOM. ME: Great. And your son’s name is? Her: MY SON ME: (at this point I knew she was going to be a pain) I cannot help you if I do not know which file this is on. May I please get your son’s name? Her: (gives me son’s name) AND I AM HIS MOM
ME: Thank you, Son’s Mom. Let me just grab his file for a second. I’m going to put you on hold, is that fine? Once I have her on hold, I went ahead, grabbed the file, opened it, and went back to her. ME: Okay. So I have your son’s file. You said to not close it— Her: WHY ARE YOU CLOSING MY SON’S FILE HE HAS NO MONEY (repeats everything she screamed at the start of the call)
ME: We sent the letter because your son has not replied to any of our letters. I just need to schedule him an appointment to see his lawyer. Do you have a phone number I can contact him at? We do not have any on file. Her: MY SON HAS NO PHONE AND HE ONLY DROPS BY THE CITY TO PICK UP HIS MAIL ONCE A MONTH HIS SISTER IS SICK SO HE CANNOT PICK UP THIS MONTH WE LIVE OUTSIDE THE CITY
ME: Oh! In that case, can you give me your son’s address outside the city? We only have the city address on file—Her: MY SON HAS NO PHONE HE HAS NO MONEY HE HAS NOT BEEN WORKING IN YEARS WHY DOES THAT WITCH WANT MONEY FROM HIM HE HAS NO MONEY. At this point, it’s been 30 minutes and I am just so tired of her repeated complains and not answering my questions.
ME: Well okay. Your son just needs to see his lawyer and the lawyer will fix everything for him. Just have him come at this time and date and the lawyer will see him okay? Just let him know. Her: WELL I DON’T KNOW IF SON CAN COME THEN BUT I WILL TRY TO LET HIM KNOW BECAUSE WE HAVE NO MONEY TO PAY HER SHE IS RICH AND HE HAS NO WORK AND
ME: Your son just needs to come see the lawyer and the lawyer will sort out everything! Her: Okay. Bye...it’s been 32 minutes since the call started. To this day, I still don’t understand why she was the one calling our department. Her son must have called when HER to complain about US closing the file when he could’ve just called US directly. Some people!
So, I had an insurance file where a company had rented a few floors of a building, and the lease required them to maintain the utilities. They moved out before the lease expired, turned off the electricity, did not turn off the water, and didn't tell anyone. Well, no electricity meant no heat so disaster struck hard and fast. The pipes burst in the unoccupied building.
Virtually overnight, they got $45,000 in damages. Before the file is handed to me, the insurance adjuster reached out to the CEO of this company, who agreed to pay in instalments. Sounds good, right? Wrong. He agreed to pay, but never signed a release or made a payment. So I get the file and type a release that obligates them to make $1,500 per month payments until the entire $45,000 is paid off.
If they default, they’ll pay attorney fees, pre-judgement interest, post-judgment interest, and court costs. This file also admits liability for the damages. It is signed and returned without objection. I get a single payment. I wait a month. Nothing. I send a letter threatening suit. They want to make a late payment. I refuse, but I allow them to a sign a second release with the same terms and begin paying. Again, I get a single payment.
At this point, I'm fed up. I wait about two weeks after the payment is due. Now, I don't have to prove negligence or breach of lease. They've admitted to that. I have a contract, so file a lawsuit on the contract and request $45,000 minus the two payments plus attorney fees, pre-judgment interest, and costs. I also include claims for negligence and breach of lease based on their admissions in the contract.
It was close to an $80,000 or so case. I get a call maybe three days after service of the lawsuit. "Why did you sue us"? "You didn't make the payment". "But we sent the check". "I don't have the check". Apparently, some employee at a branch office had received the check but had just stuck in a drawer somewhere. "Can you dismiss the lawsuit"?
"No, but I can settle for $50,000 cash. If you don't pay up, a motion for summary judgment will get me an $80,000 judgment". "Okay. I'll have a check to you tomorrow". A courier showed up the next day with a $50,000 check, which I hand delivered to my client. It took a good four months to resolve the claim, but I basically just let the company screw itself over.
Unfortunately, the clerk who misplaced the check was fired for her $50,000 mistake.
One day, I'm in General Sessions Court. There's lots of debt collections matters on the docket—for which most defendants don't even show up—and several matters where people are defending themselves. One case gets called, and the defendant isn't there, but the plaintiff is. So the judge gets the plaintiff up to discuss her damages. Here's the important part: This judge intelligently requires the plaintiffs to do so under oath as a strategy to stop frivolous suits.
So the lady who walked up to the podium gets sworn in then launches into her story. She goes, "I took my car to this guy to get it painted, and he just ruined it". Judge asks, "Well, how much are you asking for? It says here '$5,000.' Is that how much you are asking for"? Lady goes, "Yep. That's the estimate I got to get it fixed".
Judge: "How much did you pay this guy who damaged your car"? Lady: "$800.00, but I was 'sposed to pay him another $500.00 when he's done". Judge: "So you paid him, $800.00"? Lady: "Yes. I have pictures". The judge takes the pictures, looks at them, and says, "Wow. This guy really did destroy your car. Is this one of those PT Cruisers"?
Lady: "Yep, it is"! Judge: "And is the picture of the car after you got it fixed"? Lady: "It sure is". Judge: "You know, I like that Dale Earnhardt number 3 on the side of it. That's a good number". Lady: "It is! I got a big ole number 3 tattooed on my back, too"! Judge: "Well...how much did you pay for the car"? Lady: "$1,500".
Judge: "Well, it certainly would cost $5,000 to paint this car, but I can't give you $5,000 if the car is only worth $1,500". Lady: "I didn't mean $5,000". Judge: "You said you wanted $5,000. It's on the civil warrant". Lady:"I didn't write that". Judge: "Who wrote that then"? Lady: "The people in the office that done gave it to me".
Judge: "The Clerk doesn't fill out warrants". Lady: "Well, I guess I did it then". Judge: "Alright, well, how much did it cost to get this repaired to condition in this picture with Dale Earnhardt number 3"? Lady: "About $400 for paint and such". Judge: "Alright. I'll give you $1,200: $800 for what you paid to the man who ruined your car and $400 for supplies".
Lady: “You know, he did mess up the interior a little too".Judge: "Alright. $1,300". Lady: "And he drove an entire tank of gas through it and put a lot of miles on it". Judge: "Alright. $1,400". Lady: "And I had to do the work myself". Judge: "$1,500, and that's my final offer". Lady: "I'll take it"! The Judge entered a judgment in favor of the plaintiff for $1,500.
Whenever anyone gets in trouble for spending money that isn't theirs, they always use the dough to go to Disneyland or Disney World. For example: one client was his mother's Power of Attorney. Took his mother on a trip to Disneyland with him, his wife and his three kids...and he used his mother's money to pay for all of it. Every single cent.
If he had only used it for his mother's expenses, it would have been sketchy but at least it could be justified, however tenuously. All six tickets, hotels, flights, food, drinks, though? Not even a little justifiable. And here's the kicker. This whole time, the mother was in a wheelchair and barely coherent with dementia.
This is just one example, but I swear it's every time. Someone misusing a Power of Attorney—Disneyland. Someone misusing a corporate credit card—Disneyland. Someone faking expense reports—Disneyland. Someone taking someone else's identity—buys tickets to Disneyland. Pilfered estate funds—Disneyland. The list goes on.
What is it about Disneyland that entices people so much?
I am not a lawyer; I am a Foreclosure Mediation Specialist working for a large mortgage servicer in the United States. In my company and department, there are two mediation reps: Myself, and a fairly useless lump of DNA at one of our other offices across the country. I operate with almost complete autonomy and report directly to my manager.
Not to toot my own horn, but I am good at what I do and I work hard. I have, however, convinced my boss that this work is a lot more difficult than anyone knows, so I basically spend my days listening to heavy metal, answering emails, taking phone calls with our attorneys and the courts, and trying to put out fires when someone screws up.
However, once upon a time, when I was just a wee foreclosure processor, I made a mistake. I was working foreclosure files and did not notice that our loss mitigation team had erroneously issued a denial letter a few days before our foreclosure sale. The letter included an appeal period later than our sale date, giving the borrower extra time to appeal their denial.
I was understandably upset, and so was the borrower who filed suit against us. Being very concerned for my job, I kept tabs on the file as it processed through our litigation team. Some weeks after the foreclosure sale was rescinded, the borrower filed for bankruptcy through a third party (major red flag) while continuing with their litigation against us.
Being the concerned drone that I was, I reviewed the bankruptcy filing and re-reviewed the loss mitigation applications that had been submitted, and I found something curious. The borrower had (allegedly) transferred partial interest in the property to a third party by way of a quit claim deed prior to the original foreclosure sale, and the third party had filed bankruptcy as a stalling tactic.
This fraudulent behavior was actually a common practice at the time, but soon, something far, far worse caught my eye. I saw that the borrower was actually deceased...and had been since before the quit claim deed was signed. And yet there was a signature stating he'd signed the quit claim deed, presumably from beyond the grave, notarized and everything.
I took everything to my boss and we went over everything together, and she was stunned. After discussing the matter with our attorneys to confirm what we were seeing, we forwarded everything to our litigation team handling the case. My boss was just tickled that the borrower's family was trying to sue us while we had definitive proof they were engaged in a fraudulent bankruptcy. Their lawsuit was quickly dismissed by the court.
I was an Assistant DA in a college town in Texas. A fellow prosecutor (in plain clothes) overheard this exchange between a defendant and his attorney in the courthouse hallway. "Why don't they dismiss this case? The paper says 'State of Texas v. ______,' but I didn't punch the state of Texas. I punched my wife". Oh, buddy…
So, this story takes place at the second firm I worked for. I worked primarily on family law. This particular case was a divorce case. It should have been fairly easy, as the couple had only been married for about five years. Our client was in his early 30s; his wife was between five and 10 years older. They had no children; the only division would be property.
Our client was a perfect client. He was an officer in the Air Force. He always told the truth. He gave us relevant documents as soon as reasonably possible. He was nice to chat to. He paid his bills on time. His wife, on the other hand, was a hot mess. He was divorcing her because of two incidents. The first was when he was stationed overseas and they were Skyping.
She was in her cups and started stripping. That wouldn't have been a big deal, except for the fact that he was in the barracks with a number of other airmen, some of whom were visible on the screen to her. The second incident, and the straw that broke the camel's back, was Thanksgiving. Our client and his wife invited his superior over for a Thanksgiving party. This is where everything went off the rails.
While preparing to host this swanky dinner party, the wife starts drinking (noticing a theme here?) and neglects the dinner, over and undercooking various parts of it. And what was she doing while ignoring the turkey? Why, making out with one of the guests in front of her husband, of course! After that, our client left her and his ex moved back to her home state. And here's the kicker: This isn't even why he showed up at our office. Her true crazy only came out after they split.
After moving back home, she called our client one night, threatening to take her own life if he went through with the divorce. Our client did the smart thing: he called the authorities and told them his ex was claiming she would hurt herself. She was put under a 72-hour psychiatric hold. Because of this, we learned that the woman had Bipolar Disorder. I'm not sure if she was diagnosed before this episode or not.
We're basically rolling our eyes at this case since it should just be a 50/50 split of assets. The most complicated thing should have been the house, but given that she had left the state, it should have been simple to hand it over to our client. Instead, the wife kept dragging things out. In the meantime, she was represented by an attorney.
Now, I understand that sometimes you have crazy clients. Sometimes, your client doesn't show his or her true crazy until you're well into the case. However, this lawyer was also crazy. My first interaction with him was jaw-dropping. He called us after we served the wife to announce his representation. The receptionist transfers the call to me, and before I can finish a sentence, he cuts me off.
He tells me "I'm the attorney. I don't have email. I don't have a fax machine. My only employee is my wife. The only way to reach me is to call me or send me mail. Let me talk to your boss". I'm a bit taken aback, but this isn't the first time I've dealt with an attorney who feels he is above dealing with a woman. Plus, we've been waiting to hear from this guy so I let him talk to my boss.
I later learned he talked to my boss (a male attorney) the same way, so my initial impression was off. He didn't just hate women. He thought he was better than everyone! Anyway, we eventually go through several months of negotiations, which at one point involves the wife bringing in her sister (who has been divorced several times and is thus an expert) to "review offers". It was hilarious, but it was also insane and at the end of the day, we weren't here for laughs. We were here to win our client's case.
So our client wants the house and is willing to compensate his ex for the difference. His wife, however, comes out with a crazy demand. She wants half his pension and his insurance for it. This might be reasonable if they'd been married for decades, but this was less than five years. She would get more out of the 50/50 split than she put in, which kind of defeats the point.
One day, I get a call from her attorney. He is nice and almost apologetic. He tells me, "I think my client has been lying to me". I somehow refrained from saying, "Really? Your client has literally been institutionalized during the course of this proceeding, and you're just now realizing that her view of reality might be skewed"!?
I instead made some kind of sympathetic sound, and he said that he wants to settle the case fairly and amicably, which is all our client wanted all along. The case settles more or less equitably, though our client paid way more in attorney's fees than he should have. Now, every time I have a difficult or crazy client, I remind myself of this case.
So, I do a lot of insurance work, and I try cases of all kinds, large and small. I had a small case, over about $2,600, from where a contractor drove into a retaining wall at this lady's house and damaged it. He wouldn't fix it, and, after like eight months, the homeowner allowed her insurance company—my client—to have it fixed and then sent the bill to the contractor.
Surprise surprise, the contractor wouldn't pay. There was lots of squabbling between my client and the contractor's insurance company, who offered less than $500 on a $2,600 bill. We had a trial to settle it. I brought our claims adjuster and the homeowner. The defense attorney brought the contractor and an adjuster from the contractor's insurance company.
Everything goes fine with questioning the homeowner, who was a sweet, middle-aged woman. She, like most people, knows nothing about the finer points of masonry. Then, we get to my claims adjuster. He says, "Well, we paid $2,600 to have this fixed, but I'm not an expert on masonry". However, he also discussed how estimates on masonry were made.
I close my proof. Next, the contractor gets up on the stand. They go over what exactly happened with the retaining wall. Then, he testifies that he "knows for a fact" that the $2,600 invoice includes overhead and profit and accuses my client of "running a scam". The judge strikes the answer. I look down at the estimate for repair and grin from ear to ear.
It says, in bold print, "This amount does not include overhead or profit". I look at the invoice. It's the same amount as the estimate. This guy is lying through his teeth—and I’m going to catch him. On cross examination, I show the contractor the invoice. "Sir, this is a $2,600 invoice for repair, correct". "Yes". Then I show him the estimate".
Sir, this is a $2,600 estimate for the same repairs, correct"? "Yes". "They're the same amount, correct"? "Yes". "Does the estimate say it does not include profit or overhead"? "Uh"... "Does it"? "Yes". "Didn't you just testify that you knew for a fact that the estimate included overhead"? "I don't know". "What don't you know"?
At this point, the contractor is furious and beats his hand on the stand. "It doesn't include overhead and profit, does it"? "I guess not". "But you said it did, right"? I pass the witness. But I wasn’t done yet. Next, the defense attorney calls the contractor's insurance company's adjuster. He testifies about how much he thought it should cost, like $500.00.
I cross-examine him. "How did you make this estimate"? "I put the numbers into a computer program". "How do you know what numbers to put in"? "Uh"... "Are you a contractor"? "No". "Are you an expert in masonry"? "No". "Have you ever worked in construction"? "No". "And the computer programs spits out what you put in"? "Yes".
"And you can just put in whatever numbers you want"? "Yes". "And it makes an estimate based on the numbers you pick"? "Yes". "But you don't know anything about masonry"? "No". The adjuster just testified that he made up the estimate. Defense closes proof. And the judge takes the matter under advisement. So let’s recap all this glory.
The contractor lied and was discredited, and the adjuster for the contractor admitted he just made everything up. We got $1,000 out of the trial. Less than half of what we sought but double what the defendant argued it should be. It was a win in my book.
I worked in family law in California for like two years before deciding I would be much, much happier if I changed career paths. In California, the obligation to pay spousal support (alimony) ends when the recipient begins cohabitation with a new romantic partner. This one guy came into our offices one day. To be fair, he was positively getting screwed by sending half his monthly payments in as alimony.
He told us he was aware of the rule about cohabitation and wanted me to argue his “point” in court. What was his point? You see, his ex was a narcissist. She was in love with, and had begun cohabitation, with herself. Her presence in her apartment should count the same as if there were a romantic partner there. He was bordering on begging me to take his money. I refused.
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