Being a lawyer means coming prepared, with countless hours and days of research and notes ready to present to a jury of your clients' peers. Sometimes, though, the universe opens up and says, "Don't worry, fam, we got this," before dropping a big, easy win in your lap. It feels good on those rare occasions when the win for your case is gifted like the following stories.
Reddit user, u/prince-surprised-pat, wanted to hear how you knew you had the win when they asked:
We Got Visual Receipts
I'm a trial lawyer. I have a ton of these.
My favorite was probably a DUI where the cop was in a [Buffalo Wild Wings] with my client watching a fight. Like, the cop was standing at the bar in full uniform, then when my client walked by him to leave, followed him out.
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). Cop arrested him and charged him with DUI for opening his car door, then fabricated this story for his report about how client got in car, turned it on, and began to pull out of the space to leave the parking lot. He also denied being inside the BWW - on the stand, under oath, to my face.
Surprise! I talked to the bartender at BWW and got the security tape. It very clearly (like surprisingly good quality, don't try to steal from a BWW btw) showed cop standing at the bar, watching my client walk out the front door, then follow him 30 seconds later. Parking lot cam also showed client barely touched the door handle before cop stopped him.
The Apple vs. Google War Continues
The first time I ever went to trial, I was defending a woman from some traffic citations in municipal court. I had already worked the officer over, and I allowed my client to take the stand.
On cross, the prosecutor was being very aggressive. At some point, he tried to pull up a map on his phone to dispute the scenario I had spelled out.
He asked my client if she were familiar with Google maps. She said she was not. He couldn't believe it. She said she uses Apple maps or some such.
It ended up with him standing over her swinging his phone in her face and shouting about how everyone knows how to use Google Maps. Dude was straight up shouting!
I slowly counted to 3 in my head and said, "Obhection. Badgering the witness." The judge was just watching her mouth open. The prosecutor looked at me. We both knew it was over. Dismissed.
The only time I've gotten applause from an audience in court.
Leading Them To Their Own Doom
The Defendant of a child molestation case took the stand to testify in his own defense. After 20 minutes of leading him through a line of questioning, we reached the corner where he could not escape.
He admitted: 1) he believed it is normal for a 28-year-old to want to have a relationship with an 11-year-old; and 2) he wouldn't want someone else to do what he did, if he had an 11-year-old daughter.
He was found guilty and is now a registered sex offender.
When The Judge Steps In
"My client has been keeping her son away from the father because the father has a new child. She is concerned that her son will act violently towards the new child and she could be held liable."
Judge: "That's not even a defense!"
Follow The Breadcrumbs
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. The grandmother used the exact same odd word in the exact context the child later used it. At that moment, it became clear that child had been coached. It was the first real "ah ha!" moment of my career.
Maybe Don't Use Your Previous Company's Product To Take Down The Company
It wasn't at trial, but during a deposition on 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. 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.
Represented apartment owner in a suit that claimed he'd failed to keep a downspout from getting a stairway wet. Felt so good to tell court and jury our meteorologist expert would prove it hadn't rained for many months until the day After the slip and fall happened.
Just A Case Of Mistaken Sobering?
I had a client come in who had been arrested for soliciting a sex worker. The police just walked up, knocked on his window and handed him a ticket.
His defense was that he had no idea it was a pick up place. Turns out he had been driving drunk and just pulled in to sober up some. He decided on reflection to just pay the ticket rather than explain what was really happening in court.
I Don't Have A Problem, But Drugs Have A Problem.
Q: "do you think you have a drug problem?"
A: "I don't have a drug problem. I do my drugs fine."
There are truly so many moments like this.
When The Jury Asks To Move Their Cars, You Know It's Done
Mine was a wrongful death suit with anguished, emotional testimony from both sides. We were right on the law, but very concerned the jury might go along with their emotions. I thought that the longer the jury had it, the worse it probably was for my client.
The case went to the jury around 4:45 pm. Ten minutes later, the jury sent the judge a note asking whether they needed to go move their cars out of the parking garage as they were pretty sure they could wrap this up. Ten minutes later, we got a 12-0 decision in favor of my client.
Check The Date
I trapped a defendant pretty badly one time. He testified in a deposition he had a green arrow for his left turn and that my client ran the red. Unfortunately for him, the additional turn lane arrow was installed 2 months after the wreck. Case settled for policy limits a week later
It was my third month of practice. I was in family law at the time. Representing mom in a petition for a restraining order against boyfriend/dad.
At issue in the broader case was child visitation, custody, support etc. but today's hearing was just on the RO. We had pretty good facts but it was mostly based on 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 any more and he's just getting worse. To top it off, he left me a drunken, ranting voicemail on Saturday."
"You have your phone with you?"
We play the voicemail and it's a full two minutes of ex-boyfriend screaming sh-t like "I should have f-cking killed you when we were together." "You were always such a b-tch." "I hope you burn to death in a fire."
I didn't have time to ask her why the f-ck she hadn't said anything to me about the voicemail before the bailiff called our case. We sit, 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 f-cked. We settled the whole damn case then and there. My client got her wish list in terms of custody, supervised visitation, child support, plus the restraining order, to boot.
I had a client who was accused of taking a young woman's car and then crashing it/fleeing the scene. The girl testified at trial that she had given him the keys that night because she was drunk and "would never, ever drink and drive". Apparently she was not aware that I had requested and obtained a copy of her driving record which showed she received a DUI a month after the incident.
I still remember the look on her face when I handed her driving record to her and said "Except for that one time you got caught a month later, right?"
The look on the judge's face was equally memorable.
Oh, You Just ADMITTED It. Thank You.
I worked on a case involving defective processors. In discovery we got emails from the defendant's engineers that had worked on the processors. They were in an Asian country but the emails were in English because they were going to US executives. 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 big problem, we ship CRAP to customer!"
Needless to say we hit them over the head with that in mediation, and they settled shortly after.
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