Lawyers From Around The World Share Their Craziest Moments In Court
The legal system is an interesting field to work in. Lawyers encounter a lot of cases on a day-to-day basis and, unlike other professions, there’s no real way to ever know how something is going to pan out. While not all legal work is exciting (there’s a lot of paperwork to go through), there are some areas of law that can be more engaging and entertaining than others. And some of the biggest, craziest moments happen in the court room. Of course, being a lawyer isn’t always how it’s portrayed in the movies. But that doesn’t mean it’s a mundane job, either. Just take it from these people, who shared the craziest moments they’ve ever had in court.
No Leg To Stand On
Sat in on a personal injury case where the plaintiff broke their leg in an accident and had a doctor on the stand as an expert. The woman’s lawyer begins questioning the doctor about their experience with leg injuries (he was a well known orthopedic surgeon in the area).
She asks if he’s ever treated a tibula fracture (the leg bones are tibia and fibula) to which he only answers “no”; then she starts grilling him with questions about the tibula.
After about 6-7 questions she asks, “How did you get a medical liscense and have been able to practice medicine this long if you’ve never treated a tibula fracture?” and begins a small rant about going after his credentials and those that gave it to him, to which he simply responds “There is no bone named the tibula.”
The lawyer became beet red and everyone in the room tried their best to keep from laughing, including the judge.
No Sense In The Matter
I was representing a plaintiff in a hit and run case. Plaintiff is testifying and is, despite me preparing them for several hours the previous day, an absolutely terrible witness for her own case. Like, she couldn’t even identify the street she was crossing when she was hit by the car. It was a major highway and we had gone through the sequence of events countless times the day before the hearing.
The “uh oh” moment came during cross examination. Defense counsel pulls out a picture of my client dressed up and ready to hit the club which was posted to Facebook the day after the alleged accident. I, thinking quickly, object because the timestamp refers to when it was posted, not when it was taken. Defense counsel shows the picture to my client and asks her when the picture was taken. Sure enough, they say it was taken the day after the accident when she was supposedly in unbearable pain.
No Freedom In This Truth
My boss had to defend a small-time delinquent as duty solicitor. Before going to court he asked my boss what he should do; she explained to him that if he was cooperative and truthful his sentence would be milder.
After hearing the case the judge asked him if he wanted to add something. He got up and explained to the judge: “My counsel told me to be truthful, so I wanted to tell you that I not only did the robbery I’m being heard for but also several others in the region.”
He continued to admit to several robberies that had been unsolved and everyone, even the state attorney, was facepalming.
Wearing The Evidence
Literally, the first thing I ever did was just a law student intern. Our guy had a legitimate defense on a substance possession case. Substances found in a jacket, the guy wasn’t wearing a jacket, they were going to have a very difficult time proving the jacket belonged to my guy.
Had a long meeting with the client. Explained everything. The client was excited.
Day of the preliminary hearing, the guy shows up and sits down directly in front of the officer who arrested him…while wearing the jacket in question, the exact same jacket we were going to say they couldn’t prove belonged to him.
A Real Kicker
My former law partner. She was in court representing a client, I think in a hearing for a restraining order against her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Our client was telling the judge that when they met to exchange the children for visitation, the ex had kicked her. He immediately angrily shouted: “She can’t prove it, I didn’t leave a mark!” Thanks, buddy!
Shooting For Freedom
When I was in college, I was a bailiff. The guy is on trial for murder. The first witness testified that she saw the defendant shoot the victim. The second witness states the same. Police officer testimony is that he arrived at the scene and the defendant was there holding the weapon. Coroner testimony is that the first bullet hit the victim in the arm, the second bullet hit the victim in the torso and the third bullet hit the victim in the heart which was the fatal shot.
Defendant yells out, “See, that proves that I didn’t kill him; I only shot the guy twice!”
Presenting Proper Paperwork
I was at a hearing arguing that my client was wrongfully terminated because the employer failed to abide by the proper procedures. During the hearing, a witness for the employer tried to offer documents that were fraudulently altered in order to make it look like the proper procedure was followed. I noticed the alteration. Opposing counsel quickly got that witness out of the room, and after a quick adjournment, my client got a large settlement.
Not a lawyer, but a defendant. As a teenager, I got busted with a couple of buddies throwing eggs at cars. We were only actually in the courtroom for our sentencing, there was no trial. The judge called each of us up individually to ask us if we had anything to say. One of my friends tells the judge that he is a good kid who doesn’t normally do things like this (lie, we used to do it all the time), and that “I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” I wish there was a video of my other friend and I sitting in the benches watching this happen. We simultaneously dropped our heads into our hands because we couldn’t believe that idiot just said that. The judge was not pleased, and she took the opportunity to remind him that going to a store, buying eggs, going to another location across town, and then throwing those eggs at cars was not just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A Truthful Judge
Opposing counsel was a nightmare: everything late, his work was extremely subpar, and so forth. Accused me of lying multiple times when he had dropped the ball.
During another hearing in which he did another dumb move, the judge said, “I’m glad you are the last case on the call, and all of the other attorneys have left the room, so they aren’t here to hear me say that you are a terrible attorney.”
All About Intent
I was watching a hearing when the defendant said, “I mean I did stab her…But it was a gentle stabbing.”
The Time To Bite Your Tongue
I was the idiot that almost destroyed myself. I had two charges in two different courts. I accepted the first plea, which almost always carries probation, but my plea didn’t have that condition.
When it came time to accept the second plea, the prosecutor didn’t include probation because she assumed my first charge put me on probation. She said as much to the judge and me, being a big dummy, almost corrected her. My lawyer grabbed my shoulder and, I kid you not, told me to “Shut the heck up, she doesn’t know.”
Closed-Case On Custody
I’m not a lawyer but a court case I was involved with went this way.
My ex-mother-in-law was a crazy witch. Me and my wife at the time had cut her off almost completely. Every once in a while she would give in and let her mom visit, which always turned out badly.
Eventually, we got divorced and I got full custody. My ex-mother-in-law went crazy and decided to sue me for custody. I looked over the law and for any form of visitation or custody you need to have had contact in the last 6 months and she hadn’t seen them for over a year.
So we go to court. I can’t afford a lawyer but the law was pretty clear. She goes through three lawyers; each of them quit in turn. So she finally winds up representing herself.
During the last hearing, she was talking to the judge and said something to the effect of “I don’t want to get custody of them, I just want to be able to visit.” The judge then asked her point blank, “This is a custody hearing. Are you telling me you no longer want to get custody?” She said yes and the judge dismissed the case immediately.
Circus Show In Court
I’m a staff attorney for a judge. Had a domestics hearing over some issue (final divorce hearing, custody, I don’t remember). The mother’s attorney is a prolific butt in the community. Puts on a big dog and pony show because clients like to pay for the billboard, legal eagle stuff. Pretty bad reputation in our legal community.
Father’s attorney (who is pretty young, compared to the mother’s much older attorney) stands up and is attempting to examine his witness. Mom’s attorney stands up and objects to literally every sentence the father’s attorney starts. Judge just kind of sits hoping it will calm down, tells mom’s attorney to sit down. He continues, and just before the judge finds him in contempt, father’s attorney turns and says, “You may think because you’re older than me, you can treat me with disrespect. You can whoop and holler all you want but you won’t do it at my expense. If you want to put on a show, go join the circus, [attorney’s name].”
Canned From Questions
Never ask a question to which you don’t know the answer. Prosecutor suggested to my client that the canned goods he had burgled were to be used to trade for substances. Me, thinking the idea ludicrous, asked my client whether he had ever traded food for substances. To which he replied that he once exchanged a frozen chicken for some. Needless to say, I didn’t win that one.
I’m not an attorney, but a reporter whose beat is the county courthouse, so I’ve had plenty of these moments happen in front of me.
A guy was convicted of attempting to attack several police officers.
At his sentencing, the prosecutor revealed the defendant got a prison tattoo while he was awaiting sentencing of a tombstone with the names of all the cops he attempted to hurt. But the defendant still had the audacity to beg for a lenient sentence.
He got a few hundred years in jail.
A Hairy Situation
I was just interning in court during law school but I’m a lawyer now. Fight in a club, someone had broken someone else’s jaw and had 6 friends with him that insisted he had been identified wrongly because he never had a beard and the victim said he had a beard. They used a very specific phrasing to the tune of “my friend doesn’t have facial hair because he is a professional in the food industry and it would go against the regulations.” After three of the witnesses had repeated the same exact phrasing, the judge stopped one to ask if he knew what a couple of the terms in that line meant, and the witness couldn’t explain it.
Defense lawyer got busted for instructing the witnesses. She’d also gotten the defendant to reject a plea deal that exchanged prison time for a fine and community service.
Lawyer here! I had a pre-trial conference at 9 AM at a court about 2 hours away. So I wake my butt up super early to drive in horrible weather to the conference. I get there and we’re waiting for the other (in town) attorney. All the while I’m grumbling to myself about how I’m from out of town and I can still make it on time. Finally, the court calls the other attorney’s office and gets a receptionist who tells us through tears that the their attorney passed away the night before. Needless to say, I was just happy to still be alive and we rescheduled for a few months later.
State Of Consent
My buddy is going through a nasty divorce and I went with him to the initial hearing for support.
Turns out his wife lied ALL OVER her deposition about everything from how much money he’s making, to be a violent drinker.
She then tried to admit a secret recording she made of an argument that she baited him into having.
His lawyer asks where the recording took place, which was in California, a two-party consent state.
Making his statement before the sentencing, the defendant, who m hurt a stepdaughter, her friend, and a niece, pulled a blade from God knows where and stabbed himself twice before getting wrestled to the ground. How he got it through the metal detector, no one knows. He lived through that but passed away two months later in prison of natural causes.
Winning With A Written Brief
Step-parent adoption I was handling in law school. I was appearing before the court on a motion–literally just submitting a written brief and summing up my argument so the judge could think about it in chambers for a few weeks–when the judge stopped me halfway through my explanation of the motion, said “I’m ready to sign the final order,” and executed it right there on the bench. The client happened to come along for this one and broke down (happy) crying before we left the courtroom. I felt ten feet tall.
Probably the funniest one I ever came across happened to a colleague. We were prosecutors then. 18-year-old defendant applying for bail. He needed a residential address and got his dad to show up at court to confirm that the family home was available to him. Defense lawyer gets dad to confirm that son can stay at family home. Dad says yes. My fellow prosecutor gets up and asks dad — do you really want him home? Dad goes off the deep end. “Jesus. The grief he’s brought me and his mother. Out all hours. Taking substances. Hiding stolen property in the garage. All night parties. I’m on medication and the wife’s had a nervous breakdown.” Dad goes off on a rant for five solid minutes. As the defendant gets taken back to the cells, he calls out “Thanks, Dad. I owe you one.”
Pleading The Fifth
I was on a jury once for a murder trial. Got selected and the trial started almost immediately.
The man was on charge with attacking his neighbor. They made their opening statements, there was even a bloody note. It wasn’t terribly long but they clearly put a lot of effort into their strategies and were ready for battle.
The first witness was called, it was the son of the man on trial. I forget the first question but it didn’t matter, he immediately broke down crying and invoked his 5th amendment right.
Everyone freaks out. Judge and lawyers were like what just happened. The jury had no clue what was going on but we were quickly ushered out immediately after that.
A few minutes later it was explained to us what happened. The judge declared a mistrial. The prosecutor must have suspected that the father was taking the fall for the son, who actually hurt the neighbor. Rather than risk losing, there was a mistrial while they sorted out who to actually charge and try.
Sitting in court, doing some plea paperwork with a defense attorney for a go home plea agreement (where a person is released from custody and doesn’t have to do jail time). We hear this “Ksssssssstt- shhooooo” to our left and we look to see his guy sitting in the galley all by himself, sitting in the cloud of the biggest vapor I have ever seen. He then has the audacity to tell the judge it “went off in his hand.”
Do not pass go, do not go free that day.
Abuse From The Accused
I’m only in law school at the moment, but I saw this happen when I was watching a summary (non-jury) trial in my hometown about 3 years ago. It was a domestic abuse case, with the partner of the accused being examined. The prosecutor asked her to identify the person who she accused of attacking her and she refused or said something along the lines of she didn’t remember. She was clearly scared of the guy, but it seemed like she was trying to protect him on the stand for whatever reason.
Well, that was ruined after the second time she tried to protect him and refuse to identify, as the accused shouted out, “I’m right here, you stupid idiot.”
Not “uh oh” bad, but “Oh, I can’t believe she said that.” First jury trial, pretty serious charges. I’m cross-examining the alleged victim, and in answering my question she says, “Oh yeah, I lie all the time!” Needless to say, I won that trial.
Threatened Over Tattoos
My ex forgot why she was in court.
Two years after we dated, a crazy ex got a restraining order on me as revenge for saying her tattoos sucked. She said I’d assaulted her and threatened to hurt her. We go to court, she tells her side, judge picks at a couple holes in her story, then asks her (per the law on restraining orders) how she feels I am a threat to her safety, security, and privacy: “Nobody should be able to say that about my [tattoos].” The stupid idiot just finished saying I was a crazed predator, and then completely forgot.
Flying Into Trouble
Sat in the public gallery at a bail hearing for a man accused of heinous crimes against a very, very young female relative. The judge started laying out the conditions of bail and one of them was to surrender his passport. The man turned to his attorney and said, loudly, words to the effect of, “But you said I could fly back to my home country…”
The judge stopped himself and revoked the man’s bail.
A Tiring Case
My client fell asleep during his custody trial. Between that and him testing positive for substances on the day of trial after he made a big deal accusing his ex of using substances (she tested clean), I was so happy to be done with that case.
Helping The Enemy
Story from a friend of mine – he was defending a guy in court, don’t remember what he was charged with.
The main witness for the prosecution was on the stand and was asked if she could identify the defendant. She was scanning the courtroom & seemed confused – my friend was already silently celebrating because if she couldn’t identify him, he could probably get all charges dropped.
As he was mentally adding this case to the ‘win’ file, he happened to glance over at his client, who had just helpfully raised his hand to make it easier for her to identify him.
Even the judge facepalmed on that one.
Getting A Shoe In The Door
While getting on the elevator banks at the courthouse, another lawyer tried to hold the door with his foot and his shoe popped off and went up with the elevator. In this courthouse, there are probably 20 elevators, so there was no way he was going to find that shoe in time for his court call. He freaked out for about 10 seconds and then said “I guess I am going to court with one shoe on,” and got on a different elevator. Hilarious.
A lawyer I used to know was in court on a work injury case. The judge asked his client, “Just what is the nature of your injury?” His client replied “I can’t raise my arm this high anymore,” while she raised her arm up to show just how high she couldn’t raise it.
Cutting To The Chase
I was representing my client during a sentencing for some petty burglary. The judge asked him if he had anything to say before he imposed sentence. My client started “Your honor I just want to apologize…” I’m thinking he’s going to apologize for the burglary like they always do, but he continued “…this morning I tried to bring a weapon into the courtroom.” And it was there out on record before I could stop him. There was no way for me to strike it from the record and my client is stupid. I still kick myself for that.
Bringing Up The Black Out
My girlfriend works in social services and often goes to court. A client of hers got a DUI and said to the judge that she doesn’t even know if she killed someone doing it because she blacked out. My girlfriend covered her mouth and internally screamed noooo…
Ashes To Ashes
A famous high profile case in my community had an incredible moment.
A high profile guy’s house was raided, and they found a few shreds of evidence in the ashtray and other scraps in the toilet.
In court, he was asked if he ever burned evidence; he said no. When asked if he ever flushed evidence, this older man without the best memory of 2 minutes ago responded; “No, if I wanted to get rid of evidence, I would burn it in my ashtray.”
Guess who won the case.
My cousin was in court to determine how much time in jail he was going to get. The prosecution wanted 1 year, the judge suggested 2 years with a year of probation.
My cousin, being the genius that he is, piped up from the bench and said, “Well if you’re gonna give me two, you might as well give me three.”
Klepto In Court
My mom is a public defender. She was once defending this kid who is very well known in our small town (he had stolen something, can’t remember). When they were walking out of the court, one of the other lawyers noticed that her phone was missing. They later found out that this kid took the phone while he was walking out of the court. When asked about it, he said that he didn’t know about the phone, and even accused my mother (the lawyer) of taking it.
A Positive Outcome
Had a client in a family matter arguing custody of a child. My client insists that defendant/father would test positive for substances. I warn her that the court would also ask her to submit to a physical exam. She says “no problem.” Tests come back negative for dad but positive for mom. Dad gets temporary custody while mom gets mandatory rehab. Be careful what you wish for.
Real-Life Looney Tune
Pre-court and the lawyer in question was my uncle who was defending a man accused of abusing children. He pitched up to court wearing one of those Warner Brothers character ties (Tweety Bird or something) that were popular Father’s Day presents in the 90’s. One of the clerks was dispatched to buy a new tie before anyone saw him.
Crash Course In Law
My client was involved in a hit and run. He damaged a parking car and flew. The next day he went to the police and reported that somebody damaged HIS car. He did not tell me this and thought the judge was stupid enough not to see this.
Hounding For Smokes
Back when I was a prosecutor, the bailiff would bring in the incarcerated defendants, chained together, and seat them in the jury box until each one’s case was called. About halfway through the docket, one of these guys, while passing directly in front of my counsel table, dropped to his hands and knees and began howling like a basset hound.
Since he was only a couple of feet from me, I froze. The judge sighed heavily and ordered 10 days to be served. Turns out he had been dared by his cellmates to do it, and they had promised him a carton of cigarettes.
I was a prosecutor. Watched an inmate in court headbutt a framed picture that belonged to the judge. It shattered the glass and the judge came unglued. We charged the guy with property damage.
Worked as an intern for a small firm, in a small North Carolina town. While waiting in court for our case, an older, not well-to-do man was listening to the judge and his attorney discuss his case. He proceeds to pull his pants down, moon the judge, and yell “Kiss my butt!” He was arrested and we came to find out later that he was severely inebriated (he was given a breathalyzer). He was such an user, no one could tell prior to his outburst.
A Speedy Defense
I defended myself against a reckless driving charge by peppering the arresting officer with a bunch of standard questions about how he was able to calculate my speed and the reliability of his radar.
When I asked him how fast he was traveling at the time he stated “No idea” and the case was instantly dismissed since that is a requirement for determining the speed of another vehicle.
Cut Throat Defense
When I was on jury duty, the defense lawyer certainly had this moment. The defendant was accused of brandishing a weapon against a store owner. After a week-long trial, in an apparent twist, the defendant decided to take the stand. While he was being cross-examined, he was asked what his intentions were when he pulled out the knife. He said “I was fixing to hurt him,” and everyone in the courtroom either gasped or laughed uncomfortably. The look of “Uh Oh” on the public defender’s face… Although the case was mostly a waste of time and we ended up finding him not guilty anyway.
A Dog’s Day
I was a character witness for my childhood dog in a civil trial between our neighbors and my parents. Opposing counsel was questioning me, I wasn’t even out of elementary school at the time, and he asked if our dog was aggressive. She was a rottweiler and very loving and incredibly protective of me and my siblings. His final question to me is one I will never forget. He asked, “Did your father tell you what to say before you came into court today?” I responded “Yes.” Then he asked, “What did he tell you to say?” I said “The truth.” Now I was too young to remember the courtroom reaction, but according to my father the judge audibly guffawed and the opposing counsel lost all the wind out of his sails.