Don't lie to your lawyers, people. It's just not a good idea.
For most people, the only experience they'll have with the inside of a court room is binge watching one of the many, many, many Law & Orders. So it's easy for the average person to not realize just how important the tiniest detail can be for the outcome of a case.
Reddit user the-legendary-taco asked:
So judging by what we see here, sometimes cases do actually hinge on seemingly insignificant details - but more than that, they hinge on your lawyer not being totally blindsided by something in court... and on people not doing anything stupid.
Turns out that second part is way harder than you'd think. The comments devolved pretty quickly from "they left out this detail" to "OMG YOU WONT BELIEVE THIS THING THEY DID."
Enjoy the laughs!
He neglected to mention that he filmed his offences for his YouTube channel. The cops didn't even know. A witness brought it up on day three of a trial. It was a nice quick change of plea that afternoon.
A friend of mine is a lawyer and he said that a client once turned up to court in the actual same outfit he was wearing in the burglary.
When the CCTV footage come up in Evidence, the client looked down to himself and was like "oooooh sh*t"
Lol. A friend of mine's client showed up to their court session with no shirt on at all. Luckily she had her husband's dry cleaning in the car and he was able to wear one of his. She truly wondered how he thought showing up half nude was going to convince the judge he was an upstanding member of society.
Right Here, BudGiphy
Not a lawyer yet, but I clerked for a DA's office throughout law school. Obviously we don't have "clients," but I'll never forget this kidnapping case I worked on.
It involved two Asian male defendants who were both the same age and looked relatively similar. Witness is on the stand and is asked to identify where the defendant who pushed an uzi into his face is seated. It's clear the witnesses is having trouble differentiating the defendants.
In a true moment of brilliance, one defendant RAISES HIS F*CKING HAND and basically points to himself like "right here bud." Hands down the dumbest sh*t I'd ever seen. I thought his defense attorney was going to have a brain aneurysm.
Client in family law matter lied to me about using meth. Then used meth with the child in the room and the ex got footage of it on the nanny-cam and then made excuses about why they couldn't do a drug test, then blamed me when they lost custody... despite the fact that they didn't show up to appointments or return my calls so I couldn't prepare any court material.
I dumped the client after that and left family law.
The Child's Name
Not my case (which is a gift from above, really) —
Civil trial before a jury for injuries and prop damage from a MVA, and punitive damages because defendant was intoxicated at the time of the accident (let's call defendant... DUI).
... Almost doesn't need to be said but, before DUI ever stepped foot in court, they would've been prepped repeatedly (first for the deposition and then for trial testimony) with the "standard" questions — were there any prior incidents, arrests/convictions, anything that can be used to impeach any of DUI's testimony, yada yada - over HOURS. Denies everything and is as clean as a clean whistle.
Thus, at trial, defense counsel (DC) puts DUI on the stand to give them an opportunity to tell the jury of their contrition for this one-time error in judgment, describe the difficult time DUI was going through at the time, and otherwise show themselves to the jury as an upstanding member of society in order to reduce punitive damages. It goes well.
Then Plaintiff's counsel (PA) gets to cross — I'm going to paraphrase what allegedly happened next, which is purely hearsay.
PA — Earlier, you testified that this was a one-time mistake and you've learned your lesson... is that correct?
DUI - Yes.
PA — Isn't it true that you've already been convicted of DUI in another state?
DUI sits silent as DC immediately objects but it's properly overruled and DUI must answer. Since what happens next is impeachment, I'll skip the objections but suffice to say they were being fired off as rapidly as a machine gun, and just as rapidly overruled.
DUI - Yes.
PA - and isn't it true that, in your prior DUI, a child died?
you can imagine what's happening in the courtroom and, most importantly, amongst the jury
And you think it's over: stick a fork in DUI - it's done... But then, PA goes for the jugular, "Do you remember the name of that little child that you killed while you were driving while intoxicated?"
(IMO, this question is one for the ages - more powerful than the old "when did you stop beating your wife" - because no matter how you answer...)
... And that is why you never, ever lie to your attorney.
On Company Time
Employment law matter. Client claimed to have been unfairly dismissed over bogus performance management.
The real reason: he organized via Craigslist to have someone collect a box of his semen from a children's playground. There were explicit messages from him asking what they did with it, and whether they rubbed it all over themselves. The employer provided us the messages; he was doing this on company time.
I'm a public defender in an area with lots of meth use. Meth makes most people talk. A lot.
So I can't tell you how many clients forget to mention that they got to the jail still high and called their mom/girlfriend/buddy on the recorded jail phone and not only confessed to the crime, but also brainstormed whatever alibi or version of events I'm relying on to defend them.
Case as a paralegal.
Negligence case, client argued that a lack of street lights and a cyclist he couldn't see was responsible for him hitting a wire pole.
Upon discovery, the first respondent's report indicated that they found the driver in the driver's seat, pants down, with porn playing on the phone.
Wasn't difficult to figure out who was negligent at that point.
The A/C Unit
Friend of mine is a defense attorney. He was representing a guy with a lengthy record for assault. Basically, this guy took an A/C unit and threw it at his girlfriend.
My buddy tells me he was able to get a plea deal for 1 year probation no jail time. The judge is all ready to accept the deal when he asks the defendant if he had anything he would like to say. The defendant responds," Yea I don't know why they charging me with assault I never touched her. I just threw and A/C at her. This is bullsht."
Judge rescinded plea deal because of defendants attitude/lack of remorse, went to trial and got a year in jail.
Takes One To Know One
Lawyer in the UK. I acted for a member of a famous pedophile-hunting group. My client was charged with various offences relating to his vigilantism, most seriously, causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
He wanted me to fight the case on a public interest defense point that is not available to him in statute or at common law -contrary to my advice. I followed his instructions as I'm bound to do.
"If the state won't punish pedophiles properly then it's left to men like my client to take the law into their own hands!" - a horsesh!t argument for a whole host of reasons.
His laptop was seized by police and submitted for forensic examination. He had a staggeringly huge database of child pornography on it.
He himself was a massive pedo.
Choose Your Weapon
Opposing counsel: Isn't it true you hit Victim in the face with a brick?
Client: No. Marcus hit him with the brick. I hit him in the back with a piece of wood.
The Mask Slipped
He'd sent a photo of his wife's beaten face to his wife with a message saying something along the lines of this "Do you want this to happen again?"
He came across very well in court up to that point but his mask slipped when that came out.
Minor traffic cases can be the worst for this, believe it or not, because they are short and simple and often times the client isn't there, so if you get blindsided by something critical there's often no chance to consult with them to turn things around.
I had a simple speeding case, 70mph in a 55. No big deal, if she does a driving improvement course they court will usually dismiss or reduce those, since her driving record wasn't bad.
When I showed up for her, I found out that she had been driving 70 up an unplowed snow lane, to get around all the others cars traveling in the lane that had been plowed because they were driving too slow. I didn't know it was even possible to drive 70 on fresh snow. The officer stated he'd already cut her a break by not writing the ticket for reckless driving, and the judge politely agreed he didn't feel comfortable reducing it under those circumstances. When I called her up after court to confirm, she did, claimed she'd just forgotten to mention it. Now maybe I've lived too much of my life in the South, but that just boggles my mind as a detail you'd forget when hiring a lawyer for that incident. I would have told her in advance that hiring us was a waste of money, not to mention the hassle of taking an 8 hour class, and she should probably just go ahead and pay this one. I legitimately do that all the time during consults; give my honest assessment if the case is even worth doing, and so by omitting that detail she harmed herself for no reason. At least she took it well and didn't get defensive.
Credit card theft/fraud case. When I was a young lawyer back in the late 80's I was trying this guy on a cc case and the witness was the department store clerk. Before video surveillance the state relied heavily on witness identification. As she described the "customer" that was purchasing the very unique clothing her store sold I asked her how could she be so sure it was my client. She looked at my client who was wearing the most obnoxiously yellow shirt imaginable and said "because not only does he completely match the description I just gave you but he's wearing the exact same shirt I sold him." The jury convicted him and I learned that day to better prepare my clients for trial.
So the case was, that Woman A had hit Woman B in the head with a heavy beer pint at a bar, and Woman B got pretty serious injuries. The defense claimed that Woman A had not hit anyone with the pint, but instead had just thrown the pint into a random direction, and it happened to hit B in the head, thus it was an accident and not a battery. Well, the prosecution had a CCTV tape from the bar, and it was shown at the trial..
And the tape CLEARLY showed in HD as A walked behind B, and smashed the pint to her head so hard that the pint shattered on impact..
I looked at the defense lawyer and his jaw literally almost hit the table. The prosecutor also noticed this and asked something along: "Thrown, eh?" And the defense lawyer said that due to technical difficulties he couldn't get the CCTV tape open on his computer when he was reviewing the evidence. Woman A was found guilty.
So yeah, I was completely dumbfounded.
Too Stupid For People's Court
I used to work at a big health insurance company, which started up a company softball league. I started up a team for my division - Major Accounts.
Lots of people wanted to play, so we had a big co-ed roster. I asked everyone to pony up $25 for a jersey and towards soft drinks, which I'd buy, chill and bring to each game.
Because there was so many people on the team, I had to alternate who played defense each inning. One guy didn't like it, and got mad that he couldn't play center field every inning. So he decided on the next time he went in to let a couple of easy fly balls hit to him go past him on purpose for a home run. This guy was a clerical level employee playing with VPs and SVPs - not a smart career move.
So I benched him for the rest of the game / as in I didn't let him play defense. Two days later he serves me with papers, that he's quit the team and is suing me for $25. I say this is dumb, you should just play and enjoy having fun after work with the people you work with...
A week later I get a call from The People's Court. They're interested in putting this on TV but want to know more. I tell them the story and they say this is too stupid even for them. So they pass.
Court day arrives, and the guy makes his case. I take the stand. The judge first says "why haven't you settled this?" I say there's nothing to settle. He asks me a a couple more questions and then asks "so you kicked him off the team?" And I say, no - he quit. I asked him to stay on the team." The judge says "I've heard enough, ruling for defendant."
The weeks later the company CFO comes up to me and asks when is it going to be on The People's Court? I had to say it's not going to be, because they thought it was too stupid.
Next round of layoffs, that guy is at the top of the list. I'd guess he's still a loser.
Prosecuting a guy who is claiming "Back injuries". He posted pictures of himself holding strippers on Facebook the day after his "injury".
A commissioner referred a guy to me because I speak the guy's language and do that kind of law. It was a protection order case. Guy was asking for a protection order against his girlfriend that had tried to stab him. I met the guy talked to him.
He seemed sketchy but he had decent answers to all my questions. I decided to represent him. Submitted declarations and exhibits.
His girlfriend responded that she was the victim and claimed police arrested wrong person. I met with him again and went over the accusations. I asked him... have you ever hit your girlfriend? He answered no. We went to court. I made my argument. I felt confident.
But commissioner requested "permission" to question my client.
Question 1: "Have you ever hit your girlfriend?" My client answers no. Never.
Question 2: "Have you ever tried to hit girlfriend?"
Answer: "Yes, many times. I even tried to straddle her in a chair but she moved ducked squirmed and eventually escaped."
Grandpa Tries To Pull A ScamGiphy
My grandfather was the client in this very situation. He left my grandma after 20 years of marriage to be with his high school sweetheart. He and my grandmother had lived in the home my great-grandmother (grandmother's mother) gave to my grandmother. Grandfather had later been added to the deed when they did a home improvement loan because he was the earner and grandma was a housewife.
My grandfather told his divorce lawyer that the house had been HIS mother's home that he inherited and my grandmother had moved in our whole family to make it uninhabitable for him. He then changed the story to say that he and my grandmother were gifted the home jointly. He also went on and on with wild stories that my grandmother was a mafia boss, despite the fact that we are not in Vegas, not of a nationality known for organized crime, and not rich.
The lawyer accepted all of this as fact with zero proof and even went so far as to harass my grandmother's lawyer about how she was knowingly representing a criminal. There were even papers filed to sue my great-grandmother for mortgage fraud and all sorts of other bogus suits, again, filed solely on my grandfather's word.
After mediation, wherein my grandfather wanted to to sell the home and split the money after paying his legal fees, keep both cars, pay no alimony, etc., we go to court. My grandmother's lawyer hands over one thing - the home improvement loan application wherein he listed my grandmother as the sole owner of the property and listed my great-grandmother as the previous owner. The judge was livid and my grandmother walked away with far more than her lawyer thought was possible.
Lawyer here. And it wasn't my client, but the other side. But he managed to completely torch himself.
I was representing a client in a child support modification. Her ex husband was seeking a reduction in child support based on reduced income. In California, when the County is involved in child support collection and enforcement, the parties and their attorneys meet with the County's attorney to see if the matter can be settled with a guideline order. That initial meeting is where it went off the rails for this guy.
Having not received most of ex husband's pleadings for this matter, I asked the County attorney for a copy, and she provided them. In reviewing them, I noted he was residing in a townhouse in a part of Southern California that is not exactly inexpensive, and yet was claiming that his rent was only $200 per month.
I asked him how he is paying only $200 per month rent on a townhouse, and he said he is subletting and collecting $3,000 per month from other tenants. I tell the County attorney that it sounds like rental income to me, she agrees, and the guideline calculation ends up almost tripling the child support he was already paying (and trying to reduce.)
At this point, he asks if he can dismiss his motion. No, says County attorney - we are all here, case goes forward.
Go before the Judge. The Judge sees the papers, hears the testimony about his rental arrangement, decides to be nice and give the guy some credit for rental management expenses, but otherwise attributes to him a bunch of rental income and orders nearly tripled child support.
Defense attorney. Friends case. Prosecution for participation in a criminal gang/RICO. Week long jury trial.
On Tuesday, Gang Expert is testifying on the gang colors as being XXXX. And that they often wore a certain team XXXX jersey. No family/friends were watching this testimony.
Days pass. They were set for closings at 9 on Friday. His family and friends all come to support him at closing arguments, but they came swagged out in the colors and jerseys the gang expert just testified represented the gang.
My buddy calls me on Bluetooth from the parking lot:
"You gotta be f*cking kidding me. I pull in, twenty mother f*ckers standing outside the doors. All wearing their colors, and xxxx jerseys. The jurors are all walking past them. Hold on, prosecutor is calling me"
"Yeah, she is calling me laughing her ass off from her car. Can't make this sh!t up. I mean do I really need to tell people this kind of sh!t? Like your boy/son/baby daddy is charged with participating in a gang; let's all refrain from wearing that gangs colors and sh*t to trial."
Kid got a few decades.