Americans Explain Which Things You Should Never Do In The United States
It's always best to learn as much as you can about a place your visiting. Rules are constantly changing through every time zone.
When I visited London I was shocked and elated that I could drink on the streets. Just out of the bottle.
In America you'll be in handcuffs and in the drunk tank before you finish "Cheers!" That's why it's imperative to get acquainted with the American ways before you arrive. America can be strict.
Save the headache.
RedditorPosseaDaBosswanted people to know about the in outs of being on American soil by asking:
In the United States, what should you never do?
God bless America, land that I love. But Lord don't cross her, she can be feisty. America does have a unique connection to rules and more often than not visitors find themselves in a culture shock. Which can be entertaining.
Money BackBribing Season 3 GIF by NETFLIXGiphy
"Don't try to bribe cops when you get pulled over. I had some Argentinian friends immediately pull out their wallets and start pooling their cash when they got pulled over once. Fortunately someone in the car noticed and told them to put it away immediately."
"I thought this was an obvious one, but my German exchange student would very casually walk on/through people's properties, even going so far as to walk up to their houses in the middle of the night. This is a huge no-no unless you need help, just casually walking around on people's properties would make them think you are looking to rob the place."
By the Rules
"Make the assumption that you know the law. Our local laws change drastically from state to state. If you buy weed for example, it may be illegal to drive ten miles west into another state."
"There is no "may" about it. Since marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, transporting any amount of THC, even medicinally marked packaging, is a felony. Transporting any controlled substance across state lines carries a minimum of 5 year sentence and a nice little trafficking badge on your record."
"Get into a fist fight. In some places that isn't a big deal. Here it has significant legal issues. And the other guy might be carrying and you could get shot. Just walk away."
Straight Faceschitts creek comedy GIF by CBCGiphy
"As a Canadian crossing the border to the US, don't act fun or funny with the border patrol. Give them your passports, tell them what you're doing and such. They're harda**es."
In others countries people can just meander through other people's backyards? Like... really? Ok. And yes, do not play games with any kind of law enforcement. They really have to sense of humor. Read on...
Pay Uphomer simpson episode 22 GIFGiphy
"Don't try to cheat the IRS. They will screw your life into oblivion."
"Usually you should never openly drink alcohol in a public space such as the right-of-way, a park, etc. It's illegal here and getting arrested will really harsh your buzz. Not that people don't get around this by using water jugs or other opaque containers, but it might be an unpleasant surprise if you're used to more liberal drinking laws."
Embarrassing Things People Did As Kids That Still Make Them Cringe | George Takei’s Oh Myyy
From the USSR
"Assume personal space distance is the same as your country. Depends on where you come from, but Americans are stereotyped as being used to more personal space than some countries. Our Russian foreign exchange student was kinda weirded out by how far people stand apart at bus stops, etc, and was a little hurt after people scooched away from him on the bus, in class, etc because "Hey we are all friends here so lets be breathing the same air."
Twice the Size
"Don't misunderstand the massive scale of the country. You will not be able to visit Vegas, Disney World, and the Statue of Liberty in a single one week trip without taking several planes. The 48 contiguous United States is nearly twice the size of the EU, by area. It is freaking massive and a lot of it is really far apart. In some states, you can drive for 8+ hours and not leave the state. Like, we have states the size of some other countries."
YOU CAN DO THAT!!Pop Tv No GIF by Schitt's CreekGiphy
"You can't leave your baby unattended while shopping etc. like in some Scandinavian countries, you will get arrested."
It sounds like we may not be the most fun country to be wandering through. Don't get me wrong, I'm an American and I love it here but we need to loosen up a bit. Let's get crazy.
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Reddit user Shafiq09 asked: 'what is the most unsettling unsolved mystery that you're aware of?
There are some great mysteries in this world that will most likely never be solved in our lifetime.
What happens after we die? Who really built Stonehenge? Are there other lifeforms in outer space?
The fact that these not only will, but as of now, CAN never be solved is what fascinates us most.
There are other unsolved mysteries, however, which we view with far more sadness than we do fascination.
Owing to the fact that these mysteries could have, or even still can, be solved but for whatever reason, remain unsolved.
Redditor Shafiq09 was curious to hear the most disturbing and unsettling unsolved mysteries that may never be solved, leading them to ask:
"What is the most unsettling unsolved mystery that you're aware of?"
"This guy broke into a house, killed the single mom, mom's friend, the son, the family dog, and kidnapped the teenage daughter."
"Dismembered the bodies and hid them."
"The girl didn't need to testify in his trial (he pled guilty), but read a letter during his sentencing saying that she knows he had help disposing of the bodies of her family because while she was still tied up in their house, she heard him making phone calls and heard at least one other person show up."
"She heard this person(s) talking, walking around and helping him with the bodies."
"Local pd & prosectutor just wanted a quick & easy trial and conviction, so they swept a lot of details under the rug & the girl's claim in court that this guy had help was very quickly forgotten."- ZormkidFrobozz
9 Mysterious Years...
"The disappearance (and short-lived reappearance) of Johnny Gosch."
"He disappeared one day while delivering newspapers."
"Police did very little to try to solve the crime."
"Nine years later his mother reports that Johnny showed up on her doorstep and explains that he had been held in slavery for the last 9 years."
"Authorities basically say she's making it up and have done no investigating."- in-a-microbus
"Someone keep sh*tting in the holes at the local golf course."
"Been going on for the last twenty years bastard has never been caught."- Odd_Associate8272
Never Came Home
"Old neighbours of ours had their 18-year-old daughter disappear."
"She left work one evening and never made it home."
"No body was ever found either."
"I heard the police have a suspect but not enough evidence to do anything more."- AmigaBob
Long Day At The Beach
"The Beamont children, three young siblings that disappeared in 1966 from Glenelg Beach."- homlessoverland
In The Middle Of The Night...
"Another one is of the Springfield three."
"A woman, her daughter and daughter's friend went missing from their home in the middle of the night with no signs of struggle or major evidence left behind."
"It's been so long since it happened so the chances of this case ever being solved is meager."- epilogueteen
So many Questions...
"One night my husband and I woke up hearing a woman screaming, 'Help me!' "
"He rushed to the window (we’re on the second floor) and saw a car drive past with a woman in a dress hanging on the hood."
"The car sped through the intersection by our place and careened off with her screaming on it."
"We called the police and told them which way it was going and then jumped on our bicycles and rode around the neighborhood to see if she’d fallen off."
"Never found her."
"Never found any news of her."
"I’ve always wondered what happened to her."
"That was over a decade ago."- 2manybirds23
Mysteries of Biology...
"At what point did the brain realize its own consciousness?"
"I find it fascinating."- KinOuttaHer
Paying For Religious Freedom...
"How Scientology still has tax-free status in the USA."- sqoo-5900
And, For That Matter, What Made Them Start?
"Why did the Zodiac Killer and Jack the Ripper stop killing?"
"They were never caught. They could have kept at it."
"So what made them stop?"- AggressiveOkra
"I can't remember exactly what star it was, but there was a star deep in space that astrophysicists saw as relatively unremarkable."
"Just another star they were monitoring."
"Anyway, one day, all was normal, it was in the correct position."
"The next day, they were monitoring all the stars, and this one star had just disappeared."
"No one could figure out why. It could have been that it went supernova, but if it had, they would have seen the residue and the massive explosion, plus all the gaseous residue."
"So it can't have gone bang."
"They also hypothesized that maybe a civilisation had constructed a Dyson sphere (a large construction made to harvest all of a stars potential energy), but if so, it would have been more than likely that we would have seen the star slowly disappear, the light fading as the civilization constructed the Dyson sphere."
"Now, of course, according to the Kardashev scale, there could well be a civilization so advanced that they could have just constructed the entire sphere in a matter of seconds, but we'll never know."
"On that subject, that same civilization could have just absorbed the star instantly to use its power."
"They thought that maybe, other extrasolar objects were just blocking its view somehow, so they continued to monitor its location."
"It never came back."
"Somewhere, out there, a star just miraculously disappeared without a trace."
"And we will never know how or why."
"That's what's so disturbing to me."
"We have such amazing technology to monitor objects millions of light years away, yet we cannot figure out why a star just disappeared without a trace."
"And we may never know."- TheoCross3
No Justice For Their Families
"I have three I'm very invested in."
"One, who murdered Joseph Zarelli (aka the Philadelphia boy formerly known as the 'Boy in the Box')."
"Two, what happened to missing Oklahoma teenagers Ashley Freeman and Lauria Bible and who murdered the rest of the Freeman family."
"And three, who murdered the Short family of Henry County, Virginia."- arcana07
The truth behind these mysteries is out there somewhere.
Whether anyone will find it, however, is also a mystery that may never be solved.
Sometimes, a person can be mature and intelligent and still have some thoughts or theories that are truly stupid. And sometimes, that person says something truly stupid out loud.
It usually makes for a funny memory.
When I was in middle school, a group of my friends were talking about a movie that had just come out and where it was filmed. One boy said it was filmed in New York. A girl's response made all of us cringe:
"That movie wasn't filmed in New York, it was filmed in Manhattan."
When someone told her Manhattan was in New York, she didn't believe it and insisted that was not true! Four years later, she graduated third in our class. Guess she eventually figured it out.
Redditors know people who have said truly dumb things out loud as well, and are eager to share.
It all started when Redditor A_Lice_in_Wonderland asked:
"What is the dumbest thing you've ever heard someone say?"
First Time For Everything
"“Well she never got pregnant before,” after his girlfriend got pregnant and after asking my friend why didn’t he use protection."
"I've never died before so I won't ever."
"Should’ve checked to see if there was a history of pregnancy in the family."
"I was microwaving some food, I hit the 1 so it would automatically cook it for a minute. My friend asked “Why did you put it in for a minute? I usually put mine in for 60 seconds”. I had to explain to him that it’s the same thing. We were in high school."
"I have a similar one. Had to explain to someone that 0:90 on the microwave was the same as 1:30. They kept insisting 1:30 was more, and that I was crazy."
Where Does Our Food Come From?
"That there's no difference between turkey and ham because "they both come from birds."
"I guess pigs really do fly in their world."
"I had a friend in college who asked me very seriously, "so if beef comes from cows, and pork comes from pigs, what animal does chicken come from?""
And When Does It Come Back?
"“How long does it take the meat to grow back on a cow when you shave it off?”"
"Average "Hay Day"-player."
"Making hamburgers is not an outpatient procedure."
This Is The Real World
"A new hire at the cotton mill that had dropped out of school to go to work:"
""How long do we get off for spring break?""
"Oh welcome to real life you poor child."
"This involves a conversation with a guy I used to work with who was trying to lose weight so he was cutting down on pasta."
"Him : I've been doing pretty good, haven't had pasta in 2 weeks."
"Me : That's awesome, what's that you got in your hand there?"
"Him : Mac and Cheese."
"Me : I thought you said you haven't had pasta in 2 weeks?"
"Him : I haven't, this is Mac and cheese."
Not How It Works
"If you drink a coke & then a diet coke, the sugar cancels out."
With Magic, Sure
"I was solving a Rubik's cube and a guy asked me how many sides it has and if I can make them all blue."
"Friend and his girlfriend were over. Watching some TV when an ad for an Anne Frank documentary comes on."
"GF: "oh, wasn't she like Hitler's daughter or something?" The room became very quiet for awhile."
"I guess it's "or something""
"A moment of silence for a dumb friend."
"The question right above this in my feed is: “Why’s a square called a square when it has six sides and eight corners?”"
"The sub was NoStupidQuestions"
"The premise of the sub has been disproven. Time to shut it down."
""Sir, that's called a cube.""
It Never Did
"“What year did this happen?”"
"We were watching The Lord of the Rings."
Not The Lakes
"I was in seventh grade history and the teacher asked a student which ocean Christopher Columbus crossed to get to America. She said she didn’t know and the teacher replied by asking “how many oceans can you name? It’s gonna be one of them.""
"The girl thinks for a moment and says “Lake Champlain… Lake Geo-""
"The teacher cut her off by saying “if it has the word lake in it, it’s probably not an ocean.”"
The Whole Country Does
"Was on the bus headed to class in Honolulu, a Southerner got on and asked the driver"
""Do y'all take American Dollars?""
"The driver pointed at the American flag sticker on the window and with extreme exasperation said"
""You're in America.""
"When I worked at Starbucks it was frequent question from customers to explain the difference between a hot and an iced drink…"
"I work at Starbucks, holy sh*t our customers are a different breed."
"I had one lady ask why her drink had so many small bits of ice in it when she wanted it blended."
"I have had more than one person ask for hot coffees but iced and vise versa."
"I've had people ask if cold brew was/could be made hot."
"The list with Starbucks customers goes on and on..."
"Can I get hot coffee cold? No I don’t want cold coffee! I want hot coffee but cold!"
"I heard a similar story about someone who had driven across border from the U.S. to Canada."
"To paraphrase: "They checked my ID and inspected my entire car! It was like I was entering a foreign country!""
Oh My Lord...
Do you have any similar experiences? Let us know in the comment below.
How can we make money by barely breaking a sweat?
Inquiring minds want to know.
If it's not about a career but just cashing a check, let's make it easy.
Nobody wants to work hard labor for nothing.
If it's for almost nothing, then I should be able to nap while I'm there.
Actually, there's a job that pay pretty well that let's you do exactly that!
Redditor Ubarberet wanted to hear about the jobs where we can collect a check for basically not working, so they asked:
"What job pays you to do literally nothing?"
I will be getting a pen and paper and writing down all of these suggestions.
More money, less work?
Night. Night.Donald Duck Sleeping GIFGiphy
"Professional sleeper. You’re hired by mattress and blanket companies to test their latest products before they go commercial."
"3rd shift security guard. Easiest s**t ever. Just don't get caught sleeping."
"What you're saying is if you want to rob a place, make sure it's during 3rd shift."
"The pros already know this. But scout your location cuz the grave guys aren’t the ones you want catching you."
"Think of it this way; dayshift security is like the crew of a cruise ship (more customer service oriented), graveshift are your old school privateers (pirates). Some have an eye patch, a limp, a penchant for violence, and you don’t want them catching you alone on the open water."
Not a bad gig...
"Knew a guy who worked at a general electronics place. He was a typical retail dude but got promoted to be a 'repairman' in the back. He got no extra training and was just told to do what he could and if he couldn't fix it then refer them elsewhere. He didn't know sh*t about repairs. He would be on his phone most of the day and when someone brought him a broken phone he'd try to turn it on, if it didn't work he handed it back. He spent most of his time on his phone in the back. Not a bad gig.
"I was the white guy for a company in South East Asia. I had no job responsibilities. Just turn up and sit at my desk and Reddit all day. Occasionally I’d put a suit on and go to the owner’s fancy meetings in restaurants, and not say a thing. Or turn up at some building project. I mostly took Xanax and slept on my desk or snuck over to the bar next door."
BoredBored Season 5 GIF by The OfficeGiphy
"My last job. technically I got to send faxes and open the mail, but that was an hour of work tops. It was mostly watching YouTube and being bored out of my mind."
People still send faxes?
I haven't seen a fax machine since the aughts.
AbysmalGIF by Young ThugGiphy
"Firefighter at a rural, but paid, department. Most of my day is napping or binge-watching stuff on my laptop. The pay is abysmal though."
"Security guard for a nonfamous rich person's house."
"Had an unofficial gig doing house sitting for a rich friend of a relative. Was paid decent money to live on the property, and walk around the land a couple of times a day. Dead quiet at night and a pretty big space with no one else, so I can't really say it was relaxing."
"A friend of mine is a 'concierge' in an up-market, small-build apartment block in a leafy suburb. He said the most he usually has to do is take in people's mail/parcel delivery or help older residents if they need to move furniture, etc. (and he said that in itself is quite rare). He mainly sits in a cushy office and listens to music/watches movies."
5 to 30 minutes of pretending...
"Professional white man. In China, I had a side gig to be a white guy at various places. I would just pretend to be working for a company when tours and investors came through. I guess a Chinese company looks more successful if there is a white person. Then there was the sitting on the stage looking important during inevitable presentations."
"No actual work, just 5 to 30 minutes of pretending during a workday. Other than that you do what you want. Just be well-groomed and well-dressed. Sometimes I was told to be on the phone pretending to be making an important deal. Got business cards and everything."
Get that bag, Nana...
"The last time I was at Walmart, there were old people sitting in chairs by the gardening exit, presumably to check receipts or stop shoplifters. But company policy is not to try to stop shoplifters, it is dangerous. So they were all just sitting in their chairs and playing on their phones. I was like, 'Get that bag, Nana. You... deserve to play Candy Crush on the billionaire dime!'"
Spooky SpooksGonna Die Black Metal GIF by KiszkiloszkiGiphy
"Graveyard security. 90% of the job is downtime, 9% is 'Move along, sir' and 1% 'HOLY F**KING S**T!!!'"
I don't care how boring, quiet or easy it is... I am not working ANY Graveyard shifts in a damn graveyard.
No thank you.
Everybody needs a win sometimes, and these hardworking lawyers hit the jackpot. From jaw-dropping courtroom revelations to jury plot twists, they finally got to say “case closed” in these triumphant moments. After all, it’s not every day that you get to pump your fist in front of a judge. Lie back and enjoy the victory.
Done And Busteda room with a desk and chairs in itPhoto by Robert Linder on Unsplash
I had a client who was accused of taking a young woman's car and then crashing it and fleeing the scene. The girl testified at trial that she had given him the keys that night because she had been drinking and she "would never, ever drink and drive." I just sat back and let her speak, because she didn’t know that I’d already won.
Apparently, she was not aware that I had requested and obtained a copy of her driving record, which showed she received a charge for exactly that—drinking and then driving—after the incident in question. I still remember the look on her face when I handed her the driving record and said, "Except for that one time you got caught a month later, right?"
The look on the judge's face was equally memorable.
A Bump In The Road
I was working as a paralegal. We were defending a claim that had run into tens of thousands of pounds against our client. It was a trailer park where a woman had tripped over a speed bump while walking back to her caravan, and damaged her knee. The fall was genuine. The question was whose fault this was. She claimed it was the trailer park’s fault because she hadn't seen the speed bump due to low lighting, poor marking etc.
Going through the various questions to her, our barrister asked how she knew the speed bump was poorly marked, or something similar. Her response was, "Well, I remember thinking how it wasn't well marked when I was walking up to it." Needless to say, it was a short day in court after that point. I mean, if she saw it in the first place…
Me, Myself, And I
During a deposition. It was a case where two former employees decided to start their own company in a VERY niche market, but decided to make their plans on company laptops they unsuccessfully tried to brick. Now, there isn’t anything specifically wrong about wanting to leave one company and start your own. The problem was how they did it.
They were trying to poach existing clients while still employed, which breached their fiduciary duty, particularly of loyalty. I believe we also went after them for intentional interference with contract, as they weren’t trying to solicit new clients for their business, but rather trying to get existing ones to break their contracts with our client.
Using the company laptop to try to do it just made it way easier to catch them…when the company IT guy found all the emails. Yep. These were not the smartest bulbs in the drawer—but at the deposition, they really let it all hang out. One of the defendants was the one being deposed. She said she “answered to a higher power than the company.”
When pressed on what that meant, she said “herself.” That got reused prominently at trial.
I was reviewing the transcript of an interview with a child. The child made incriminating statements against my client. At one point, when discussing the allegations, the child used an odd word, but I didn't think much of it. A few days later, I was watching a video of the child interacting with their grandmother, who hates my client, from about a week before that interview. That’s when it all became so clear.
The grandmother used the exact same odd word in the exact context the child later used it. At that moment, it became clear that the child had been coached. It was the first real "ah ha!" moment of my career.
A Total Trainwreck
I was sued for a car crash. While the plaintiff was on the stand, she began recounting the event, and everyone realized the stomach-dropping truth. It was a completely different crash. Different cars involved, different time of day, everything. Upon cross-examination, she revealed that she had FOUR lawsuits running concurrently and couldn’t keep them all straight.
The jury foreman looked at me and rolled his eyes! Her eventual payout from my insurance was a pittance, less than the initial settlement offer before the whole thing went to trial. Her lawyer was shaking with anger when court adjourned. He was one of those “we don’t get paid unless we get money for you” guys, so he lost a lot of money on that one.
Paper Trailperson writing on white paperPhoto by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash
I worked on a case involving defective processors. In discovery, we got emails from the defendant’s engineers who had worked on the processors. They were in an Asian country, but the emails were in English because they were going to US executives. As we read them over, one email’s contents absolutely sealed our victory.
One of the more senior engineers basically laid out the exact defect we were suing over, explaining what the problem was and why it was their fault, and finishing with: “This is a big problem, we ship JUNK to the customer!” Needless to say, we hit them over the head with that in mediation, and they settled shortly after.
Nickel And Dime
I represented myself in small claims court. My lease had an exit clause that said if I fronted two months’ rent, they would work to lease my place and return any money that was unused. I checked with the office ahead of time, and they ensured me there was a waiting list for the units, so I gave them the two months and moved. This turned out to be a huge mistake.
They never returned a dime. I talked to the new tenant and confirmed they moved in a week later. In court, the judge was commenting on how he didn’t see anything explicitly saying they would return any unused rent, even though that intent was stated to me a few times. Dumbo from the leasing office piped in with “Your honor, in almost every case we can return some money, but in this case we didn’t have a tenant in the two months after he left.”
So she gave the case back to me and I presented the affidavit from the new tenant confirming the move-in date. Judge awarded me double what they owed. Turns out leasing office dumbos 1 and 2 thought they could lie to me and “return” my excess rent money to themselves. Protect yourself, people! Landlords are jerks.
What’s In A Name?
My mom got pulled over in my dad’s truck. The officers wrote the ticket in my dad’s name. Well, my dad was at work an hour and a half away from where it occurred at the time. Judge threw it out pretty quick.
On The Record
It was my third month of practice, and I was in family law at the time. I was representing a mom in a petition for a restraining order against the boyfriend/dad. At issue in the broader case was child visitation, custody, support, etc., but today's hearing was just on the restraining order. We had pretty good facts but it was mostly based on the testimony of the parties.
My client was way more reputable as a witness, so I was feeling confident. 10 minutes before the hearing, my client shows up. I give her a last-minute prep on what to expect and then she says "I'm glad I'm going through with this. I can't deal with it anymore and he's just getting worse. To top it off, he left me a ranting voicemail on Saturday."
"You have your phone with you?" "Yes." We play the voicemail, and the recording shocked even me. It's a full two minutes of ex-boyfriend screaming stuff like, "I should have killed you when we were together," and, "You were always such a witch. I hope you burn in a fire." I didn't have time to ask her why the heck she hadn't said anything to me about the voicemail before the bailiff called our case.
We sit, and the judge asks if either side has additional evidence, and I ask for permission to play the voicemail. Ex-boyfriend, who didn't have an attorney, didn't object, so I played the whole nasty two-minute rant in open court. Judge goes, "We're going to take a brief recess before I issue my ruling. If the parties want to meet and confer in the hall, they are welcome to."
Boyfriend knew he was screwed. We settled the whole darn case then and there. My client got her wish list in terms of custody, supervised visitation, child support, plus the restraining order, to boot.
The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth
I’m a trial lawyer, so I have a ton of these. My favorite was probably a drink and drive case where the officer was in a Buffalo Wild Wing with my client watching a fight on TV. Like, the officer was standing at the bar in full uniform, then when my client walked by him to leave, followed him out. My client was only actually going to his car to grab his phone charger because he was going home with the bartender.
Like, he hadn’t even closed his tab yet. The officer detained him and charged him for opening his car door, then fabricated this story for his report about how the client got in the car, turned it on, and began to pull out of the space to leave the parking lot. He also denied being inside the restaurant—this was all on the stand, under oath, to my face. Well, he had a surprise in store.
I talked to the bartender and got the security tape. It very clearly—like surprisingly good quality—showed the officer standing at the bar, watching my client walk out the front door, then follow him 30 seconds later. The parking lot camera also showed my client barely touched the door handle before the officer stopped him. But the story doesn’t end there.
Eventually, the officer underwent an “internal review” where the board determined he hadn’t done anything wrong. A few months ago, he shot an unarmed man while on patrol. He also trains new officers now and tells young college girls he pulls over to call him “Tommy.” For what it’s worth, bad officers lie under oath ALL THE TIME.
This story is just fun because I got to prove him wrong and save my client from a conviction.
Lies Don’t Payman in gray notched lapel blazerPhoto by FILMon on Unsplash
A friend of mine was an attorney in New York for a while. He was defending a guy who was asleep in the backseat of his car while intoxicated and a NYS Trooper detained him. On the stand, the Trooper testified that he visually saw "the key in the ignition." My friend gave him like three chances to walk it back. "Are you sure, Trooper, that you actually saw the key IN the ignition?" The guy wouldn’t back down.
"Yes, counselor..." And then my buddy dropped the hammer. "You are aware that my client drives a Toyota Prius?" BAM. My buddy moved for immediate dismissal, and the DA didn't argue. Case dismissed. Nothing happened to the Trooper. As to WHY the Trooper did this? Promotions & Overtime. Imagine you're running the entire New York State of officers. You have about 5,000 Troopers—what metric do you use to gauge how effectively they're performing their tasks?
For the most part, Troopers ride alone. So Trooper #1 drives around all day on his shift and issues zero tickets. Trooper #2 manages to issue, say, five tickets a day and makes an arrest four times a month? You're going to assume that Trooper #2 is "doing his job." An "aggressive" officer is one who has a lot of tickets and so forth.
Also, court appearances are almost always on overtime. Officers’ unions are very specific about overtime pay rates and when they apply. If you're an "effective" Trooper and you write lots of tickets, you're going to be in court a LOT at 1.5 your hourly rate, sometimes 2.0 your hourly rate, depending. So it pays them to be like this.
Me And My Big Mouth
We had no evidence that the woman who slammed into my stopped car going 85mph wasn’t sober…until she indignantly admitted it on tape in her deposition. She busted into my deposition and demanded she go first because I was a “lying witch.” She then excitedly told my lawyer that the report was wrong because it said she was coming from the movie theater when she was actually coming from her friend’s bar.
“Did you have anything to drink at your friend's bar?” “Of course.” “How many drinks” “I dunno, they just keep my glass full.” “Did you take any medicine that day?” “Methadone and low blood pressure medicine.” “I see.” The officers had refused to breathalyzer her at the scene because her husband was a fire-fighter who they knew personally.
They told her to go home, sober up, and go to the hospital later. I heard the whole thing but had no proof until she handed it to me. They settled same day.
Justice Is Served
I once had an illegal immigrant client in for not paying his child support, and he was beyond difficult to work with in any capacity. I'm talking, whomever he spoke to from my office, he would demand their phone number, current address, and social security number because he thought he was entitled to it since we're government employees.
He also was just not a fun guy to talk to and was just straight up rude to everyone. So these types of things rarely go to trial and usually, people don't even serve any time as long as they work with us, but not this guy. He was uncooperative the whole pre-trial process and refused to show up to anything unless there was a threat of warrant.
It gets to the day of the trial and he starts giving the judge heck over every little thing, demanding her SIN, address, and phone number, and claiming some weird straw man argument. He cited unrelated contract and business laws (again this is child support), but what finally did it was he called the judge a "stick up the butt witch."
He was promptly found guilty and sentenced to the max time. I literally did nothing but read his payment history, cited how much he was behind, and sat back to watch this guy argue himself into serving six months. It was pretty satisfying seeing him escorted out of the courtroom in handcuffs. Not exactly a strict win for me, but…still a win, to be honest.
V For Vendetta
I’m not a lawyer, but I am a very observant girlfriend. My boyfriend’s car was involved in an accident. He was parked in an area where, during certain hours, you were not permitted to park as it would block semis from being able to maneuver to deliver goods to a steel plant. A girl backed her vehicle into the driver’s side door of his Ford Fusion.
The authorities were called for insurance purposes, and my boyfriend states that it appeared the officer and the girl knew each other, as they were on a first-name basis. He received a parking ticket. It took forever for the insurance companies to sort it out because she didn’t think she was at fault because he was parked illegally.
However, that doesn’t matter to the case. If you hit someone’s car, you’re not going to get off scot-free, so she ended up having to pay for his deductible. And this is where the nightmare began. The local PD, who obviously did know the girl, started straight-up harassing us. My boyfriend received a piece of mail from our magistrate stating he failed to pay a parking ticket.
He was just going to pay it. I looked over the paperwork, though, and found that the vehicle they identified was traded in before the ticket was issued. The ticket indicated a white Toyota Tundra, but the license plate block was not filed out. It was signed, but you could not make out the badge number. We had traded his Toyota Tundra in for a Ford Fusion in December.
The ticket was written in February of the following year. I was furious. So I gather all the evidence for him, and he went before the magistrate. The officer testified that he saw a white Toyota Tundra illegally parked at a certain location that had a parking time restriction and that it was owned by my boyfriend when he ran the tags.
I should note that my boyfriend had had several parking tickets while he owned the Toyota Tundra. That’s our guess on how he got just enough info to write the ticket. My boyfriend presented his evidence and the judge dismissed the case. The judge was heard saying to the officer that he would like to speak to him afterward, and he chastised him for wasting the court’s time. The officer later told my boyfriend that if he had contacted him, they could have “taken care of it” outside of getting the magistrate involved.
Needless to say, we haven’t had an issue since.
I tried to sell my home myself, and the buyers wanted a term period for the land contract before getting their own mortgage. I agreed to one year, had a simple contract drawn up and after we both signed it everything seemed fine. I didn’t know how wrong I was. Within 30 days, they present me with their own land contract that was pages long to "protect their investment."
At about page three, it very clearly stated that, "If for any reason the home burns down, purchaser will receive all insurance proceeds." First, I still had a mortgage, and the proceeds would go to pay that off. Second, that's a pretty targeted thing to say. Not lawyers’ terms of the house being destroyed, and it's surrounded by woods and waterways, just "if it burnt down." But it got worse.
Page four stated that this would remain a land contract until my mortgage was paid in full, so they'd never buy outright. I returned it to them with a letter stating those two things were never happening and I wasn't signing. They stopped paying, so I began eviction. Six months later, the lawyer I hired was an idiot, so I'm sitting down with their lawyer myself.
He brings out the contract they'd tried giving me and began talking about their iron-clad case due to the agreement. I asked him one simple question to absolutely ruin him. I asked him to show me my signature. The look on his face when he realized it wasn't there, oh man. After we talked, it turned out he knew them and wrote the contract—without the burn-the-house down stipulation; It seems they added it.
Not only did I "win," I'm pretty sure they lost a lawyer friend.
Done Dirtya woman in a black suitPhoto by Nussbaum Law on Unsplash
I was a volunteer family advocate. I worked with families who were falsely accused of child mistreatment. Part of that job was going to court with them. One day, I was contacted by a family whose children were in foster care because of parental substance use. Except the family claimed that they didn't use, but that no one would believe them.
They had a court-appointed attorney who did nothing but tell them to stop using. I honestly didn't believe them, since I was pretty jaded at the time. Still, I told them to request their case file so that I could review it myself. I was surprised when they called me back and had the case file. I met with them and went through everything.
I noticed the claims of substance use, and court findings of substance use, but there was one huge thing missing. There were no test results in their paperwork at all. I told them to ask for the results. Long story short, the caseworker wouldn't give them the actual results, and the lab wouldn't either. Well, that’s alarming.
So, I tested them myself at a different lab. They tested clean. Color me shocked. There were four months to go until the next court date. Every time the court-tested them, they went right after to the other lab and did a second test. All clean. I told them to tell the lawyer beforehand that if the courts claimed any dirty tests, to ask in court for the test results.
Their lawyer didn't want to. I was starting to get mad. So, on the day of court, I had a stack of clean test results in my bag. The lawyer wouldn't even look at them, and he was openly hostile to my presence and involvement. Court starts. For what it’s worth, I had been in this judge's courtroom before with other families. It wasn’t my first rodeo.
The child protection services supervisor stands up and says that the parents have had 12 dirty screens in the past six months. At this point, the lawyer actually did ask her for the results. Her answer made my blood boil. She said she didn't have them with her. Like, really? Well, obviously at this point I knew exactly what to do.
I got my own results out of my bag and handed them to the mom, who was next to the lawyer. She tried to get him to take them, but he ignored her. I got so agitated that the judge said, "Mrs. Baez looks like she's about to have a stroke. What's going on?" I stood up and explained that we had clean tests taken immediately after the mandated ones that Child Services claimed were dirty.
I briefly explained that the parents had tried getting copies of their results and had been refused, and refused continually. I said that the parents had consistently denied ever using substances and had clean tests to prove it. The judge ordered Child Services to provide copies of all the test results at a hearing in a week. When it finally happened, I was so vindicated.
At that hearing, the case was closed and the children were released from foster care. The family never got an apology from anyone, but they were too traumatized to pursue it. They packed up and moved away within a month.
A Slippery Slope
The plaintiff was being deposed in the lawsuit she filed alleging gender discrimination and harassment. She was claiming her boss had made some inappropriate innuendos and overtures. The defense attorney asked her if when the alleged statements or events took place, was she shocked? “No.” Was she offended? “No.” Was she damaged in any way? “No.”
“So why exactly are we here?” “Well, honestly, I’d rather not be.” Meanwhile, her attorney stared straight down, scribbling notes and doodling. We ended the deposition there and asked her attorney if this was going away now. We got a call later offering to settle for $1,000 and a letter of apology. My best guess is that she was pressured by a friend or family to talk to an attorney, and the lawyers ran with it without really talking to their client.
The Wrong Place, The Right Time
I was prosecuting a convenience store owner for luring a young girl, who regularly came into the store, back to a part of the store to grope, fondle, and kiss her. However, it was the only section of the store without surveillance camera coverage. They were in the backroom for about two minutes and 17 seconds, per the time stamp on the videos.
Of the many arguments the defense put on, one was that there was no way there was enough time for anything to happen. I knew just how to shut this down. In my rebuttal on closing, I asked the jury to imagine what could happen in the room in that amount of time, and I asked them to all close their eyes while I timed out 2 minutes and 17 seconds on my watch, in silence.
After about 60 seconds, two of the jurors started crying. Knew it was going to be guilty right then.
A Friend In Need
My client was riding his motorcycle on a relatively calm street when this guy exited his garage, without looking, and ran over him. In the deposition, the guy brought a witness who was with him at the time in the passenger seat. The whole time, the witness maintained that my client was driving too fast and that there was no time to brake the car.
I asked him the same question a few times in different ways, making him tell the story again. In the fourth telling, he was already a bit frustrated and let it slip: “—Look, I’ve already told you. We were exiting the garage and, as soon as I sat up from getting my cell phone from the car’s carpet—” “—Wait. So you didn’t even see the crash?”
There was no coming back from that.
A Dog Eat Dog World
I filed the lawsuit in January. We exchanged "discovery" over the next few months, and I filed a motion for summary judgment, meaning I'm asking the court to let me win the case without a jury because the case is so obvious. Right before I file this motion, I figure, let's review the discovery materials and see if there's anything I missed.
And what do you know, the other side made a massive mistake on literally just the fourth out of 100+ questions that I asked. It's a dog bite case, and every single time I asked about the bite, the response says something along the lines of, "We admit to this and that, but we deny that our dog was involved in any dog attack." Just one moment won me the whole case.
Question 4 asks whether they admit that their dog was not leashed on the day it bit my client, and they simply answer, "Admit." Meaning, they admit their dog was not leashed, AND they admit that their dog was the one that bit my client. That was the ONE thing that was genuinely in dispute. They tried to argue at the hearing that it was a mistake and they only meant to admit to the lack of a leash.
Nonetheless, the judge held them to their word, most likely because the other evidence made it clear it could only have been their dog, anyway.
Cuts Like A Knifeman wearing police uniform selective focus photoPhoto by Fred Moon on Unsplash
I knew that officers had beat up my client and framed him. They described a knife in his possession that “caused them to fear for their safety.” Oddly, they never seized it. We won the court case and then filed a civil rights case. While deposing an officer, he described the knife in detail. No more than three minutes later, he slipped up and claimed his partner told him my guy had a knife, but he never saw it himself.
I told him, “That’s not what you just said,” and saw him panic. His lawyer panicked too and asked to see me outside. When we got in the hallway, I withdrew my settlement demand, and the case settled for a substantially larger amount within 45 minutes.
This was a custody case I was prosecuting. The dad went on about how he has changed his life around and worked through the AA program. I asked him what step he was on, and he proudly proclaimed, “Three.” I then asked him what step three is, and he had no idea. I then asked him what step two was. Again, no idea. Parental rights terminated.
What Lies Beneath
At a restraining order trial, it was essentially my client's word versus his, regarding an assault. He did a good job dressing up and acting very appropriate during most of his testimony. But in an instant, his perfect façade fell apart and revealed evil. He was asked a series of open-ended questions, and you could see him getting tenser.
He then said something to the effect of, "That freaking witch coming up on me. What was I supposed to do?” As soon as he said, it a look came over his face and the judge's face, and everyone knew the ruse of the respectable young gentleman had failed. I won.
Nothing But Net Profits
We were in a five-week jury trial on a civil case. Big business dispute. About 15 witnesses later, the plaintiffs call their last witness, their damages expert. The guy talks about his damage analysis, which was about the lost profits my clients allegedly caused this company. The whole time, the guy has a PowerPoint slide up, which shows his damages figures.
But as lawyers know, it’s just an aid for the jury and not actual evidence. The examination comes and goes, and the plaintiff passes the witness to us. I look at my boss. He looks at me. We know something he doesn’t know. The witness literally never read his damages number into the record. There was no admissible evidence, because even though he showed the number on the screen, he never said the number, nor admitted it into evidence.
We didn’t ask the damage expert a single question. Plaintiff rests. We move for a directed verdict, asking the court to rule as a matter of law when there is no evidence, that they had submitted no evidence of any monetary damages. We won. It was more than $10 million. Simply because he didn’t read the number. That was it.
The Letter Of The Law
I was the client in this case. In my divorce trial, my ex-wife has spent about two hours explaining to the court what a jerk I was and all the horrible things I had done to her and my children, claiming that I was unfit to be a parent. Two solid hours...Lie upon lie. Just six months earlier? My wife had snuck into my house—she's the one who moved out—and went on my computer to type me a love letter.
"Oh, you're so wonderful! You're such an amazing father, a great provider, and a great husband! You've done so much for the community. Please don't leave me!!! " That's the gist of it. Well, she didn't print it or sign, it was just a file on my computer left on the screen for me to find. So our challenge, after all her testimony to the contrary, was to get her to admit she wrote this letter. I told my attorney—ask her! She won't be able to lie if she's sworn in.
Plus, I thought she was going to feel incredibly guilty about all these lies. So...he handed her a printout. He had one too. He started reading it, then he asked her to continue the reading. She started to cry. He asked her, “Do you remember writing this letter?” Her face was shriveling. She looked at her attorney and said, "I'm sorry Sandy.” This is what actually did her in.
Then she looked at the courtroom and said "Yes, I wrote this." There was silence for a few moments. Then the judge said, "Attorneys—in my chambers! Now!" My attorney told me later: "The judge understood that when your wife said, 'I'm sorry Sandy,' that meant that her attorney was aware this letter MIGHT be brought up and that she had instructed her client to lie."
The judge was F U R I O U S. Back in the courtroom, my attorney went down the list lie by lie. Did he really do this? Did he really do that? When you say he was doing this, wasn't it really that? Etc. Then he had her read the entire letter again. After that, my divorce went from me being 1/2 inch away from losing all custody to getting full custody. Made for TV or what?
Do You Even Lift, Bro?person holding silver iphone 6Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash
This was a good one. The plaintiff was saying he couldn’t work and had back injuries after a minor car accident. I found a video on Facebook of the plaintiff squatting 300 pounds the month before his deposition. So, I sent the video to his attorney after the deposition, and the case immediately went away. He also adamantly denied being able to work out or doing any lifting during his deposition. It was all a big lie.
My husband was in the middle of a paternity case once defending himself. His ex was trying to take basically full custody of their son and only give him visitation two days a month. Her reasoning was that he wasn’t involved, didn’t go to doctor appointments, didn’t take the kid to school, etc. My husband asked her, “When was the last time you told me about his doctor appointment?”
She thought for a second and said, “Never.” He asked, “Would you have let me take him to school if I had asked?” Again she thought for a second and said, “No.” Needless to say, they got 50/50 time-sharing with joint custody. They were not married when the kid was born, and where we live that means the dad has zero rights.
His ex didn’t want him to be involved because she hates him, so he was forced to take her to court just to be able to take his son to the doctor and to school. If he had simply done those things in the past she would not have let him, and he had no rights. He once kept his son past what she told him he could, and she threatened to call the authorities and report him for kidnapping.
Oops, My Bad
My girlfriend had a very minor nose-to-tail and a rookie officer who happened to drive by booked her on some massive charges and fines. She went to trial, and her lawyer tore apart the officer. In the report he filed, the officer ticked her ethnicity as African—she's white and European. He also put the wrong date, the wrong street name, and didn't get the other witness details.
The prosecution and officer argued that she had signed the witness statement, so while a few things were accidentally filled out wrong, it reflected what happened. Her lawyer asked the officer to show the court her signature on the statement. He looked at it and went white as a sheet. He looked back up and said, “Oh, I must have forgot it.”
The prosecutor and a few officers who went to the trial for some reason all let out audible groans. The judge adjourned for 10 minutes, and the officers still wanted to press on, but the judge threw it out immediately after recess. He also gave the prosecutor an earful for taking such a ridiculous case to trial and acting like it had any chance at all.
We had some huge issues with a landlord—trying to enter without letting us know beforehand, not answering to fix issues, very aggressive when talking with us—when he decided to sell the place. He didn't check with us about the visits and just showed up randomly with potential buyers. We told him to get lost, and he eventually left but called us the same evening to threaten us.
We sent emails to remind him of our rights as tenants and he answered by threatening us some more, IN AN EMAIL. We eventually end up in small claims court, and he fabricates a story about how we are terrible tenants and we try to discourage buyers. We just showed the judge the emails as well as the open complaint to the authorities we filled a few days earlier.
The judge couldn't believe it and gave the landlord a formal warning, plus gave us three free months of rent. In the end, the guy just used a real estate company to sell the place. All went smoothly and we still live there with lovely landlords that aren't completely bonkers.
Think Before You Speak
I watched my lawyer have this moment last time we were in court. My ex mistreated my kid, so I withheld visitation and hired a lawyer. I offered supervised visitation with a plan to integrate regular visitation once he completed anger management and parenting classes as well as had six months clean of all substances. I thought this was reasonable.
When he was on the stand, he mentioned that he had been taking prescription medications for 10 years. This was supposed to illustrate that he’s been on meds for a decade and never had a problem being a “good” dad. My lawyer asked what medications, and he listed off a bunch: medications like methadone, Klonopin, Vicodin, OxyContin etc.
She asked why he began taking those particular medications. His reply dug his grave. He said, “Well, I messed up my back last year riding my quad.” She asked him to repeat himself. He said it again. The look on her face was amazing. She said, “So, you’ve been taking large amounts of medications for 10 years?” He said yes. She said, “10 years of major medications due to an injury that happened two years ago?” Done.
Not Very Sportsmanlikeman in green 5 American football jersey holding ballPhoto by Keith Johnston on Unsplash
When I practiced insurance defense, I was handed a file to take over of a slip and fall. The guy tripped on a hose and tore his ACL. My partner had taken the guy’s deposition already, so I read the transcript. It took me only a few lines in to know we’d won. I'm a Michigan football fan, and I’ve watched every game for 20 years.
This guy testified that he was the starting safety for a certain rival for certain years. Also that he graduated with a double major that doesn't exist at that school. I immediately knew this was false. My partner didn't understand. I dug deeper, and found out he lied about so much stuff unrelated to the fall for no reason.
Eventually, I found high school records from football injuries of head trauma, knee injuries, oh and a slip and fall injury a few months after ours. He also testified he rehabbed an ACL surgery after one month. We immediately settled.
The Proof Is In The Payment
I represented an elderly Indian couple who didn't speak English very well and owned a rental property. They had a tenant at the time who had not paid rent in over six months. They had tried to evict her on their own, but when they got to court, the tenant produced some hand-written notes that they had given her the year prior thanking her for payment.
Sadly, they had failed to date the notes. So of course, the tenant added recent dates herself. The tenant also produced a partial certified check receipt, but most of it was illegible. Anyway, because of their poor English, they had difficulty understanding the questions and giving intelligent answers, so they lost the initial case.
They hired me to help address all of the various lies that the tenant was putting forth. Anyway, we re-filed. I had my clients pull the banking records, so we could show the date that the certified check was actually deposited into their account. The plan was simple: Let the tenant make the same arguments and then present the banking statements showing the deposit date. My clients also found a photocopy of one of their notes that was undated, unlike the copy the tenant presented the last time.
Well, when the judge finally understood that the things the tenant had presented occurred the year before, his cheeks turned bright red and he asked the tenant, "What year did you make this payment?" The tenant started saying something like she couldn't be exactly sure when...and the judge cut her off again in a very loud voice and said, "What year?!"
Needless to say, the clients got their eviction granted. But here’s the best part. When the tenant arrived at court, I watched as she got out of her car, walked to the back, and pulled out a wheelchair. She then proceeded to stay in that wheelchair until the case was over. Once the judge left the courtroom, she folded-up the wheelchair and carried it to her car, mumbling that she "hates lawyers."
That was a very satisfying day.
Walk A Mile In His Shoes
I got robbed in my home. Long story short, he would have gone behind bars anyway, but the kicker is that the shoes he wore to court were the same shoes he took from my house. The judge asked if I wanted them back. I said yes. The judge made him take them off in court and walk back in socks. Donated the shoes, it was more about the principle.
Bare With Me
I had a ton of these when I used to do Family Law. Once, my client's husband was alleging that she had been high and in her birthday suit in public. As I'm crossing him, I get him to admit that she was in fact changing out of her bathing suit at the beach and covered by a towel at all times. But it was his exact words that were so unforgettable.
He says: "Well, she was naked...under the towel." I come back with: "Just like you're naked under your clothes right now?" Even the judge chuckled.
The Invisible Man
I had a client charged with battery. The alleged victim didn’t really support the prosecution’s case, and in any event, was reluctant to testify. They still had another witness though, and she said that my client was hitting the alleged victim, so it wasn’t looking great for me, to be perfectly honest with you. But then it all changed in an instant.
The prosecutor and I were talking before court started, hanging out by the courtroom doors, when the witness walked in. She looked right at my client, who was sitting not five feet from me, then scanned the room and said, “Where is [client name]?” The prosecutor and I looked at each other for a minute, and then he said he needed to check on something.
When I saw him a few minutes later, he told me he was dismissing the case.
Mistaken Identityman in black shirt sitting beside woman in white shirtPhoto by Saúl Bucio on Unsplash
When the petitioner’s attorney called me my brother’s name when I was on the stand. My brother is a jerk and I don’t associate with him anymore. However, he has a lengthy, sordid history and it pops up on traffic stops occasionally. So I was in court over custody of my oldest child, and her mom’s attorney was trying to paint me as a hypocrite for being an addict.
I (truthfully) denied it all on the stand, when the lawyer said, "Now James, I must remind you that you are under oath, and by denying this, you are committing perjury." I stared him in the face and said, "My name is Bill, James is my brother." Even the judge laughed at him, and the only reason we didn't bring it up sooner—we knew he submitted it as evidence but had no idea why—was because I really wanted to know what he was up to with it all.
Let’s Go To The Tape
I got into a car accident after another driver crashed into my car. The driver was such a jerk, talking tough, blaming me, saying that he knew a bunch of lawyers, and here's the kicker—he threatened that he was going to take me to court. I'm a laid back dude in contrast, and I was cordial to him. We went to the station and made our statements to the traffic investigator.
I didn't have a dashcam at the time, but a day later I got a copy of the CCTV footage that was looking directly at the scene of the accident. I showed the investigator the video, and he was absolutely stunned by how wrong the other guy was. At that point, I told the investigator the truth: I was an attorney, and I'd decide if I wanted to take the matter to court.
The following day, I got a call from the guy who hit me. Apparently, he said he also saw the CCTV footage, and he had called to settle things. I was just shocked because this dude who was previously Mr. Alpha Male did a total 180 and was suddenly polite and respectful. Amazing what an impact video has, especially when you’re at fault.
I Regret My Actions
My grandfather was a small-town Georgia lawyer, and he told of a time he was representing an insurance company in a civil suit after a car accident. The plaintiff claimed to have received “whupneck” from the accident, supposedly caused by my grandfather’s client. Pop asked him what exactly he meant by “whupneck.”
The plaintiff, wearing a neck brace, proceeded to answer: “It’s when you can’t move your head like this” and then he shook his head back and forth. The judge promptly dismissed the case.
The Five Finger Discount
I was a witness on this one. It was a shoplifting case. During cross, the examiner asks the accused—based on his testimony during his detainment—“you listed [place he shoplifted] as your employer. Why?” His response: “I make so much from them every year, they might as well pay me.” The public defender just about collapsed.
I’ve got a good one. When I was interning at the court for a judge, I observed a pre-trial hearing for a murder case. The defendant allegedly slew his grandmother because she wouldn’t give him money, then stuffed her in a closet. Horrifying stuff. During the hearing, the defendant’s lawyer, prosecutor, and judge went through some typical procedures.
Then the judge asked the defendant if he had anything to add. The defendant smugly said, “Yes, actually, I don’t think I’m mentally fit to stand trial according to article X.” The judge let him finish, then looked him straight in the eye and said: “The fact that you just told me this shows me you’re perfectly fit to stand trial.” Better luck next time.
This One’s Going In The Burn Bookperson holding black samsung android smartphonePhoto by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash
I was an attorney for an insurance company defending a lawsuit where the plaintiffs were two girls who claimed they were irreparably harmed and their lives would never be the same because severe back injuries kept them from being active. There was just one problem. They forgot to set their Instagram accounts to private.
As it turned out, the accounts were full of pictures of them riding jet skis, dancing, and pictures of them at the gym. The underage drinking pictures were just icing on the cake.
A gas station chain had one of their station’s gas tanks leak and pollute a church playground. They then tried to say they weren't liable because the pollution didn't start seeping up through the ground until years after it happened. Yeah, swing and a miss on that one, boys.
Mother Doesn’t Know Best
It was day two of a child custody modification trial. The opposition and her attorney were and are crazy. Their allegations were so weak that I told my guy, “Screw it. Let’s go for custody ourselves.” I’m cross-examining mom about her proposed custody plan for dad in some detail and I ask her, “Would you accept this for yourself?”
She snaps back, “Absolutely not!” I ask, “Why not?” “Because I’m a MOTHER.” To his credit, my guy kept a straight face the entire trial and never once got angry. Her petition was denied outright. Ours was accepted by the court. If the mom or her lawyer hadn’t been such pains to deal with, my guy probably would have agreed to some small reductions in his custody just to keep the peace.
Instead, the judge gave us nearly everything we asked for.
Don’t Believe Your Eyes
This was actually fairly recent. I was in a deposition of a fact witness to a fatal automobile accident. The defendant’s attorney had called the deposition, and over the course of an hour and a half or so, elicited a lot of testimony that seemed to place my client (the slain man) partially at fault, which would impact the money the family got.
After sitting quietly for an hour and a half, I asked fewer than a dozen questions. The last of which was about the specific location of my client when he had first seen them. Based on the witness’s answer, it was clear that my client couldn’t possibly be at fault. I sent a follow-up letter that same day and the case was settled within the next two weeks.
Power To The People
I’ve been up against plenty of lawyers as a union chief steward. Years ago, we had an arbitration related to healthcare costs. The company spent the better part of a year trying to break us from pursuing the case. The day had come for our arbitration. The lawyer we were up against was actually Paul Newman's nephew, if you’ll believe it.
Anyway, it was my turn to take the stand. His first question to me was presenting the grievance as evidence and asking me what step it said it was on at the top of the page. Our grievance process is a two-step system, progressing to arbitration if it's not settled. So I said, "Second step." Then he smugly asks, "And where is the first step?" To which I replied, "The first step is a verbal discussion. It goes into writing at the second step." He looked hurt, but persevered anyway. He had no clue what I was about to do to him.
A few more questions in, he asked, "If the entire company got base level insurance, instead of a premium option, that would satisfy the contract?" He was hoping I would argue that the base level insurance wasn't sufficient, because he was trying to paint the picture that we were just trying to get premium insurance at a base level price.
I responded with "Yes." He looked dumbfounded. Asked me, "Yes?" I said again "Yes, that would satisfy the language in the contract." He kind of looked at his other papers he was going to submit as evidence, then muttered, "No further questions." I knew at that moment that they had brought no real arguments to the table.
We got our answer from the arbitrator six weeks later, during a contract negotiations meeting. It was insanely satisfying watching them read the email during one of the sessions, and the immediate shift in demeanor from their side of the table. They got real quiet. We were awarded 100% of the arbitration. Full back pay for all employees who were being overcharged, and reduced rate for the premium insurance.
The Ringerboy kissing her daughterPhoto by Limor Zellermayer on Unsplash
I sort of have an opposite story, in that the lawyer knew when he lost one. When I was about four years old, I was ill one day and the only option my parents had to take care of me was for my dad to take me to work with him. My dad was an attorney, so it just so happened that work was the courthouse where he was arguing a case that day.
My dad knew the judge and I was allowed to lay down on a bench during arguments from the two attorneys present, my dad and opposing counsel. I was a pretty well-behaved kid I guess and was quiet, and just sort of laid down on the bench and stayed silent. I have vague memories of the incident, but nothing really defined.
As my dad tells the story, the judge grew “bored” at one point, looked over to me, waved and gave me a smile, and commented on how well behaved I’d been during all of this. Dad said it was at that moment the opposing counsel knew he’d lost the argument and subsequently the case. Dad joked about needing to take me to court more often.
Friends In High Places
I got a hidden shout out from a federal judge in a ruling that I consider to be one of the high points of my career. Here’s what happened. Before a hearing for an emergency injunction, I was watching the hearing before mine. At the end of that hearing, the judge accidentally used a pun, and could not stop laughing. She was literally crying.
I decided at that moment I was going to intentionally use a pun in my hearing. I did—I accused the opposition of engaging in a “shell game” by diverting some federal funds to an egg industry trade group. The judge called me on it, but laughed heartily. My client won. A major newspaper reporting on the case said the judge “winced” at my puns but agreed with my arguments. False!
When the written ruling was issued, the last sentence said that an injunction was issued for protection against “any plans they may be hatching.” Undeniable shout-out.
A Mother’s Love
Not mine, but my mom’s story. She was fighting for custody on behalf of the father, trying to prove that the kids were living in subpar conditions with their addict mother in spite of the ample child support he had provided. It was a tough case because courts are so hesitant to pull kids away from their moms, and they have the upper hand.
Then the mom burst out that she had been feeding the kids cat food as proof that she wouldn’t let them starve. Needless to say, the judge didn’t take that as a good reason for the kids to stay with their mom.
I took my old landlord to court when I was in college. She had taken my security deposit over false allegations: They claimed I "trashed" the place, not knowing that I took pictures and video when I moved in and out. Their "evidence" was a VHS quality recording of going through a perfectly clean apartment in better condition than it was when I moved in. Oh, but it got better.
They opened up the top of the stove and found a single piece of elbow macaroni under it, holding it up triumphantly. That was the crux of their "defense." The judge was not amused, and I got all my money back plus my lawyer fees and the filing fee. She then fought against her own lawyer to avoid paying him like she should have.
Money Back Guaranteed
Years ago, I had to do something at an outlet mall in a bad part of town. It took me about 20 minutes and then I found that my car had been towed. Ubered to the tow yard, and the giant sign says “cash only.” Had to call another Uber, drive to the ATM and back, and pay them $300-some bucks. Got a horrible hand-written receipt that, believe it or not, was itemized.
I went home, Googled, found that they violated the law in three separate ways: They towed illegally, illegally refused to accept credit cards, and had multiple charges that the law called “unreasonable.” So I got my revenge. I took them to small claims court. The judge began by asking the tow yard owner about his relationship with the property owner and how the decision was made to tow my car.
"Oh," the slimy tow truck dude answered, "My cousin works there, if he says tow, I tow. It's a hundred percent fine!” The judge's eyebrows begin to rise. "But," the dude continued, "BUT what I detest the most, your honor, is this JERK claiming I don't take credit cards. I'm a businessman! I take credit cards all the time! He's a low life who does not have any credit cards, that's why he wanted to pay cash!"
I was having a "HOLD IT" overload, and the judge saw me smiling and hopping in my seat and patting my manila folder of receipts. "Do you actually not have any credit or debit cards?" the judge asked me. I pulled out my wallet and showed him, and then I pulled out the clincher. It was a time-stamped photo of the "CASH ONLY" sign I took the day of, and another one I took the morning of the hearing.
The guy mumbled something like, "Okay, you got me there" and then had nothing but, "Huh, I didn't know that" when the judge asked him about the legality of each unreasonable itemized charge. Anyway, each violation pays double the total tow charge, and since there were three, that's how I made $1,800 on a $300 investment.