Working within the law can be one of the most difficult workplaces in life. Lawyers, judges, bailiffs, court stenographers... they have been witness to some of the craziest society has to offer. Everybody out there has job stories but, the people who show up before a judge might just take the cake. You have to wonder... "do these people actually want to roam free?" Or are they still high?
Redditor Max_Fenig wanted members of the judicial system to regale us with some stories asking... Lawyers, judges and other courtroom workers of Reddit, what is the most ridiculous thing you have seen in court? Pull it together people!
Own it honey! Flames!
So I've told this one quite a few times but I used to intern for a judge. Most of his cases were drugs, dui, or prostitution. One day a woman is brought up from jail for a hearing. (drug related) She is a regular in the courtroom, and is in one of the drug dependency programs.
paraphrasing the conversation.
Judge: 'Tell me what happened'
Woman: "I was leaving the methadone clinic and this guy asked if I wanted some fire dope'
J: 'He asked what?'
W: 'If I wanted some fire dope'
(lawyer whispers to her)
J: "Some fire dope?"
W: "Yes fire dope'
<from here it turned into something very comparable to the super troopers 'littering and' moment while we all tried to avoid laughing- skipping ahead>
J: 'I take it you used it and that is why you are here'
W: 'I did and it was damn good'
The drugs did it!
I was installing furniture/equipment in a courthouse office. I'm walking into the building with all of my tools waiting in line to be cleared by security. The man in front of me steps up the to metal detectors and grabs one of the baskets you use to empty your pockets. Into the basket the Man places his watch, his necklace, wallet, keys cell phone, weed sack and pistol. He then casually walks through the metal detector and looks back to the officer to get his belongings. The three officers and several people standing around are stunned. After a few seconds the officer with the basket says, "Uhh,.. put your hands behind your back?" The guy didn't fight them, he just refused to believe he had done anything wrong. He was there for a drug offense.
I know this is probably looking for funny stories, but I have one that's a little more serious.
My dad was a lawyer. My senior year our school let students who didn't have to retake the standardized test do service learning for those days. I chose to shadow my dad at a big jury trial he had going on and a friend of mine who'd already graduated tagged along.
It was a beautiful Tuesday morning in September. When my friend and I were driving to my dad's house we heard a news report that someone crashed a plane into the World Trade Center. Bob & Tom were joking about it. We walked into my dad's house just in time to see the second plane hit on live TV. Bob & Tom weren't joking when we got back to the car to go to court.
That day in court was surreal. The lawyers knew what was going on. The judge and prosecutor knew what was going on. The jury had no clue though, and everyone was stuck in the courtroom and on a media blackout since they weren't going to have the TV on in the background during a jury trial.
My friend and I were the only ones there watching the trial as observers. We were the only ones who could go out and listen to the news, and so we were the only way for anyone in that room to have any idea what was going on outside. So we'd bring in updates when they had brief breaks, and people were low key freaking out as they were trapped in this room going ahead with a trial that probably shouldn't have happened that day and the only news was coming from a high school kid walking across the street to listen to updates on NPR in his car.
Security also really tightened up between arriving in the morning and leaving for lunch. We didn't end up spending much time in the court room observing because people were asking for updates. The justice center was like a ghost town with only the guards up front, and they were looking around like they were expecting an attack at any moment.
The guy got convicted. My dad tried to get a retrial or something because of the circumstances, but it never happened.
I'm a legal secretary. I used to assist attorneys who practice Juvenile Dependency. We were funded the county to defend indigent parents whose children were removed by CPS. A mother came to court with a tattoo "F CPS" on her neck.
A client was on the witness stand being questioned.
Attorney: How much marijuana do you use currently?
Client: Well... Not as much as I'd like.
Let's get it on...
During my court reporting internship I met a really nice bailiff. Sometimes attorneys have to approach the judge for a side-bar conversation that's supposed to be unheard by the jury. But because court is boring, attorneys having secret whisper arguments with a judge seems fascinating to a jury. This bailiff would distract them by playing Marvin Gaye on his phone and dancing around like a Motown backup singer. Dude loved his job and went above and beyond his duties.
I read this comment a few weeks ago, where someone was robbed by two guys. The judge asks the victim if those two guys are in the courtroom. Before he could answer, those morons lifted their hands, as in "Here we are."
The Goodest Wife
After her third DUI, my elderly and disabled neighbor was being let off with a suspended license and a hefty fine. Thinking she could do better, she attempted to negotiate (loudly and aggressively) with the judge, using her infinite wisdom of prime time television law shows. She walked out with jail time.
I had a friend in law school who, while in the middle of speaking with the judge, pulled a hamburger out of his pant pocket and just started eating it. Since this was a law school clinic the judge looked at the supervising professor, who just hung his head in response.
Another time I saw a judge sentence a guy to 1 month for an assault. It was a pretty generous sentence and the guy seemed to take it pretty well. But on the way out of the courtroom the defendant yelled "F the judge!", kinda like Kendrick Lamar. The judge just waved his hand to tell the bailiff to get him back. The guy was re-sentenced to 24 months.
Never bring up #2!
Most of my clients are mentally ill. I do mostly civil and criminal mental health related work.
In my jurisdiction, an application by a (civilly) involuntarily detained person for a review of their detention must be heard within 2 weeks of the application. No matter what. So I am often in the position of managing clients who are unwell, including experiencing psychotic episodes etc. Direct examinations can be very... interesting.
My most memorable review board hearing involved my client giving an impromptu demonstration of how they came to be arrested under the mental health act.
There was poop involved.
.... just another day at the office.
Flip a coin...
I saw a woman who wanted to plead "guilty and not guilty." When asked why by the judge, she explained that she did turn left in front of the other car and failed to yield but she didn't mean to hit anyone...so she was "guilty AND not guilty."