Lawyers Share the Most Epic “I Rest My Case” Moments They’ve Ever Witnessed
Like many other professions out there, being a lawyer can sometimes feel like a thankless job. You spend an otherworldly amount of time studying for classes and even more money on your tuition before you can even think about a career practicing law. And even after (or if) you make it out of law school alive, lawyerdom isn’t an instant money maker. You don’t become some prestigious hot-shot attorney overnight.
But sometimes, like any other profession, sometimes the job gets done in a way nobody could’ve imagined. Lawyers, jury members and other professionals called to action when a case goes to trial explain some of these insanely satisfying moments when justice was served.
It wasn’t my case, but in criminal docket court one morning the accused wore a pair of very unique custom made red cowboy boots…stolen from the house he was accused of robbing. Wore them. To court. To plead not guilty. The prosecutor was laughing.
Just to Play It Safe…
I was in an accident a few years ago (other guy’s fault). He got a ticket for an unsafe left turn, and I got a ticket because I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt.
In the section on the ticket, the cop inadvertently wrote: “Did wear a seatbelt while operating motor vehicle”.
When I got to court, The Judge asked how I wanted to plead. I asked the Judge if I could ask a question first, and he said, “sure”. I stated, “The ticket says I did wear my seatbelt while operating a motor vehicle, and if that’s the case, I want to plead Guilty.”
The Judge looks down at the ticket, and looks back at me and says, “Case dismissed! Have a good day”.
In Court, We Wear Suits
When I was in law school, I clerked for a criminal defense legal clinic. We had an assault and battery case where there was only one witness to the crime, which was the victim. I was sitting at the defense table with the actual attorney, another law student that worked on the case with me, and the defendant. We were all in similar looking suits as a matter of unplanned coincidence. The victim was asked to identify the person who committed the assault in court and she pointed to me and not the defendant. Our attorney asked several times if she was really pointing to me and if she was sure, and she said yes. The prosecutor was visibly upset and the trial pretty much ended there as this was a bench trial and not with a jury. It was never discussed or admitted to, but I suspect our attorney purposefully had me there at the trial because I did have a passing resemblance of the defendant.
Try a Bank Next Time
I was on a jury. The defendant attempted to rob a tip jar from a barista, and the barista fought back. He ran, and she tossed the empty jar towards him. The defendant claimed that he was hit on the head and injured by the metal tip jar.
Even though we’d already watched the video, and I already caught this detail, the prosecutor asked to play the video of the robbery again. And then she said, “How could the barista have hit him in the front of the head when she was throwing it from behind? And he’s wearing a HAT.” She was so annoyed she had to point that out, I almost laughed.
The Law Won
Not so much a “rest my case” moment, but a memorable one: there was a deposition of a witness and a room full of attorneys. The witness is asked if he knows or has spoken with any of the attorneys in the room before the deposition. Witness responds he knows Attorney X because sometimes they go to the same parties and do narcotics together. Needless to say, Attorney X had an immediate meltdown. A good transcript to keep.
Every Second Counts
A friend told me this story. He’s not a lawyer but was job shadowing or something and was in court for the day. Anyway, one of the cases was a girl contesting a stop-sign violation. The prosecutor asked how long she was stopped at the stop sign and the girl responds 40-50 seconds. The prosecutor asks her to look at the clock in the courtroom and proceeds to stay silent for the next 30 seconds, which is a really long time. Once the 30 seconds is up, the prosecutor looks back at her and says were you really stopped 40-50 seconds and the girl was basically silent. I’m pretty sure she was found guilty.
From Rags to Riches
Fraud trial. Prosecution gets right to the point pretty much third question in to defendant: “So you earn £45,000 a year, have no properties, no other source of income, no inheritance and as far as I’m aware have not won the lottery yet you have [foreign] bank accounts with £X million and a Ferrari. It must simply be a coincidence that [defrauded entity] has an accounting black hole pretty much equal to those riches.”
The defendant pretty much gave up at that point.
If It’s Not on Facebook, Did It Really Happen?
My mom was a personal injury solicitor, and she was basically trying to prove that the car that hit her client and caused life-changing injuries (brain damage) belonged to X.
X at first pretends not to live where he does, then the car is found abandoned all wiped down. The trail seems to end. Then, my mom has a hunch and checks X’s facebook.
He had a public profile, and his profile picture was him standing next to the car in question. She screenshots them and sends them to the opposing counsel with a slightly more politely worded “your client’s dumb”.
She’s retired now but she considers it to be one of the most satisfying moments of her career.
Needless to say, she won the case and her client got a million pound settlement and is now living in Spain. All for the want of a simple privacy setting and a touch of common sense.
No Objection to a Confession
My dad was an attorney with a general civil practice. He did a lot of wills, trusts, divorces, and such.
He is representing the wife in a divorce. The husband is on the stand. On direct, the husband’s attorney draws out that husband has a history of violence. Passes the witness.
Dad gets the guy on cross-examination and says, “When did you stop beating your wife?”
Opposing counsel: Sputter OBJECTION, YOUR HONOR!-sputter-sputter.
As it turns out, opposing counsel had “opened the door” to past history of violence on direct examination, and you can lead on cross-examination. So it was a totally admissible question.
Husband’s answer: “Oh, about six months ago.”
Dad told me that that was the highlight of forty years of practicing law!
Guilty of Running in the Family
I hired a lawyer to take on my landlord of an apartment building in New Jersey. A hole in my ceiling right by the window was a continuous problem and the landlord half-fixed it every time we asked. Winter came, it was a mess.
Day of court, the landlord shows up, but his lawyer is running late. He finally shows up and turns out the landlord’s son is his lawyer. The judge ended up having the landlord pay us three months and a half rent plus security deposit plus court fees.
It was a little over $4K we got back after all of it. I think it had to do something with the lawyer showing up super late, and the judge discovered that the landlord was his dad.
The Most Satisfying Sports Tour to Ever Not Happen
Earlier, defense counsel says that the defendant’s alibi was going to be that he was at an Australia/Pakistan cricket match on the day in question.
Defense counsel (in the absence of the jury): “We are going to need an adjournment, your honor.”
Judge: “And why is that?”
Defense: “Well, there is a problem with the alibi that the defendant has given and are going to need to take some instructions about that.”
Judge: “And what is the problem, was there no Pakistan/Australia cricket match that day?”
Defense: “Well. Uhhh. There was no tour by the Pakistan team that year, actually.”
Almost a Speedy Trial
Just today I had a client from out of town in court for a suspended drivers license. He was late and blurted out, “Judge, I drove here as fast as I could!” Judge was about to take him in but fortunately, his wife was there and claimed she was the one driving.
Time to Look Smug
One time, I was representing a major bank who was suing a sovereign citizen. He filed a motion-to-dismiss based on the fact that because a corporation can’t breathe and isn’t flesh and blood, it didn’t have the capacity to sue. He further said he had renounced his citizenship and became a federal corporation and wasn’t subject to the laws of Illinois, and attached a countersuit to his motion to dismiss. At the hearing date, I started with “this defendant who self-identifies as a foreign corporation has a motion to dismiss based on the premise that corporations cannot sue. The second part of this gentleman’s paperwork that is the subject of today’s hearing is this gentleman’s—who identifies as a federal corporation— countersuit.” I got a chuckle out of a pretty stoic judge.
“Dad of the Year” Award Winner
Dad tried to sue son for the cost of raising him to the age of 18. The judge called him petty and ungrateful, and if he didn’t like how his son turned out after nearly 20 years in his care, that’s his problem, not his kids.
Also recommended a psych evaluation.
“We’ll Take It From Here.”
My grandpa was a lawyer for a big oil company. One day he realized that a bunch of taxes that they were paying didn’t actually apply to them, so he told the company to stop paying them. It ends up going to federal court. First thing he does in court is move to dismiss, since they don’t have jurisdiction. The judge is pretty surprised “I don’t have jurisdiction? I’m a federal judge, I’m one of the highest courts in the country! “
My grandpa counters by saying that the oil is drilled in Texas, refined into gasoline in Texas, and sold in Texas gas stations. It never crosses a state line, so there is no interstate commerce, so the federal government has no jurisdiction over it. Case dismissed.
A friend is a paralegal in the UK and he told me of this time he went to court over a very niche housing claim.
Now this area of law was so niche that there were no case law or precedents set on it. Both sides had big dog lawyers who look up relevant legal works and theory to find what the proposed theory is.
The first day in court and the opposing side lawyer slams this big book down to the judge and goes, “this is the most prominent writing on this area of law. But I may be somewhat biased considering I wrote it.”
Then just walks away into the sunset.
A Quick Switch and a Little Self-Incrimination
I was on a jury: defendant was spotted driving with an expired license by the cop who had busted him for drunk driving a month or so earlier. Defendant drove off, evading police, and when police caught up, defendant’s buddy was magically driving. Defendant represented himself in the case and brought the buddy into court to corroborate his story that he hadn’t been driving at all. At one point, he asked his buddy, “What did we do that afternoon just before the officer pulled us over?” Buddy asked, “You mean before or after we switched drivers?” After that, the prosecution simply rested their case and we held our laughter until we were firmly in the jury room! Yeah, he was guilty.
The Bravest of Hearts
Not a lawyer but my dad is. Early in his career (he started his own firm) he took a case from a guy that got charged with drunk and disorderly and another crime for mooning a police officer— I forget exactly what the crime is called. Anyways, my dad went to court and all he did was show a scene from Braveheart where the Scots are mooning the English and my dad argued that this guy mooning the cops was an act of free speech, voicing his dissatisfaction with the enforcement of the law. All charges were dropped and the guy got off scot-free.
Skynet: The Accuser
There was some story (with pictures) about a guy who got a ticket in the mail from a red-light camera.
So he sent a letter to the clerk of the court stating the Sixth Amendment, where you can go to court and “face your accuser” with questions, except he pointed out that his “accuser” was not a human, but a camera, and therefore his right to a fair trial was voided. It took some back and forth correspondence and some more of the guy citing more laws pertaining to this, but they did finally drop his case.
Taking the Law Into His Own Hands
My great-great-grandfather was a lawman in his town and was in a court case with someone that had recently been arrested. He was questioning him, but wouldn’t get answers. On top of that, the man arrested was spewing insults at him. After a while, he got sick of him, so he pulled out his revolver and shot the guy’s thumb straight off. The guy started spewing details immediately. The gun is up in my office room now.
Rest That Case
Not a lawyer but I was in court for a speeding ticket. Out of nowhere, my friend walks into the same courtroom; he was there because he did not pay the toll on a bridge in the county we live in. The judge calls him up, he tells the judge there are no toll bridges in the area we live in, judge pounds the gavel on his desk and dismisses the case. Everyone applauds, he turns around and bows seeing me and smiles, then walks out.
It Really Is This Easy Sometimes…?
Not a lawyer, but I read about this.
Two guys were being tried for robbing a gas station. A customer who saw the robbery was now on the witness stand. The prosecutor asked him to describe what he saw. He said that he saw two guys robbing the store and then running out, and one of them bumped into him. Then the prosecutor looked at the two perps and said: “Are those two men in the courtroom today?”
At which point, the two idiots raised their hands.
Saved by the 1988 Nissan
A friend of mine was pulled over and issued a ticket for doing 85 mph in a 70 mph zone.
He went to court and was asked if he could prove that he wasn’t speeding. He calmly pulled out the keys to his mom’s 1988 Nissan Quest out of his pocket, offered them to the judge, and said “Sir, if you can get that 14-year-old minivan to go 85 mph, I’ll pay the ticket”
The judge laughed and dismissed the case.
My friend is now a lawyer.
Cockiness Was His Downfall
I was not involved with this case, but my professor was. The state was trying the defendant for the third time after his prior cases ended in a hung jury.
The defendant was cocky and took the stand in each case. However, he got too cocky at the third trial. When the prosecutor pondered on how much the victim had suffered, the defendant confidently replied, “She didn’t suffer.”
The prosecutor immediately asked, “How could you know that?”
An Admission of Guilt With Raised Hands
Two guys were being tried for robbing a gas station. A customer who saw the robbery went on the witness stand. The prosecutor asked him to describe what he saw. He said that he saw the two guys rob the store and then run out, and one of them bumped into him. Then, the prosecutor asked, “Are those two men in the courtroom today?”
The two idiots raised their hands.
Not Undocumented, Thank You Very Much
I practice immigration law. I had one woman come in and explain that she was from Canada and had been living in the US without permission for decades. Her boyfriend beat her up to the point where she was hospitalized. She pressed charges and the boyfriend basically let her know that his lawyer was going to call her credibility into question since she was an illegal immigrant.
Turns out, her mom was born in the US and met her dad in college, which meant that she could gain dual citizenship through her mom. We got her citizenship certificate expedited and I made her promise not to tell anyone.
Sure enough, at the trial, the defense attorney asked, “Isn’t it true that you are a Canadian citizen who has been working illegally in the US for decades?”
She replied, “No. In fact, here’s my certificate of citizenship. I’m a dual Canadian and US citizen.”
The lawyer looked like a puppet that just had its strings cut off.
Get the Right Guy Next Time
I got a violation put against my name for some land I didn’t own. I took pictures showing that the violation was posted on city-owned land, not my land, and that my name should have never been included. I also explained how the city was breaking a bunch of grass height laws and what not.
The inspector who wrote the violation stood up and called me by a name that wasn’t mine, then showed pictures of a busted up car with a bunch of weeds on it that I had never seen before. The judge raised her eyebrow and asked what location was being depicted in the photos. The location he named ended up not being my own.
He literally had the wrong guy.
The judge removed the fines, and the case was dismissed.
A Rude Way to Close
One time, a woman was suing a man for selling her a mobility scooter that didn’t do the mileage specified. The man assured the judge that the scooter performed to specifications.
They got a “scooter expert” to weigh in and the judge asked him if there was any reason he could think of that would explain the scooter not being able to perform as advertised.
The scooter expert replied, “She’s too fat.”
The Proof Is in the Nub
As a clerk in the district attorney’s office a few years ago, there was a battery case where the victim (who was an addict wandering the streets and picking fights) got into an altercation and had his hand chopped off by the defendant’s machete. The day the victim came in to testify, the clerk asked him to raise his hand to swear in.
When he raised his handless nub, every single juror gasped for air and we knew a conviction was on the way.
He’s Not Your Boyfriend? Your Phone Says Otherwise
My client was accused of not leaving a woman alone when she explicitly told him she wanted no contact with him. He swore that they were dating and that she simply had a tendency to call the police whenever she got mad as a sort of overreaction. She had a photo on her phone of him sitting on her porch to prove that he’d often come around without her consent.
I asked permission from the judge to look through the other pictures on her phone for more context. Lo and behold, she had hundreds of photos of him. Eating dinner with her, sitting on her couch, wearing her undergarments… It was glorious.