Courts of law were not made for friendly interactions.
Being taken to court is awful. It's scary, it's taxing, it's expensive. And you're basically playing a giant game where only one person really knows all the rules and depending which side of the table you're on, you're being forced to play defense.
Good luck to you if you ever land in that situation.
Here were some of the answers.
Trigger warnings: drugs, sexual assault, addiction, violence.
A witness for the plaintiff in a civil suit, who was a co-worker of the plaintiff testified very strongly against the company and in favor of the plaintiff. I questioned her about bias toward the plaintiff, if they knew each other well, were friends, etc. She said, no just friendly co-workers, "work friends" at best. I pinned her to it.
When I got a chance to cross-examine the plaintiff, she had no choice but to burn her witnesses credibility, because no only were they very close friends, but they had become sisters in law just a few years before. (no, they did not have the same last name or anything, but I had done my homework).
I still don't get why people want to fight small bias, by destroying their credibility, but ... it happens more than you'd think.
Law And Order
I had this one moment that is my favorite to share so excuse me if it is floating around reddit already.
I was litigating a custody dispute on behalf of the mother in an incredibly conservative jurisdiction. One of the most common ways to get custody was to allege sex or porn addiction because the threshold for it was basically non existent.
For this hearing however, we lucked out with the judge, who I knew from other cases. Opposing counsel tried to "gotcha!" Me into settling before the hearing by showing me surprise sexts between mom and her new boyfriend. This is, of course, not law and order and you can't introduce surprise evidence. So we go through with the hearing, I object to the sexts, but say I would allow them to be ready into the record, in their entirety.
So the uptight very conservative local attorney gets to spend the next twenty five minutes or so reading sexts in open court occasionally asking if she could gloss over parts but no, I didn't feel it would be appropriate. I'll never forget hearing her struggle with the word nipple. It's not even a dirty word!
But this was like the third hearing we had to amend custody because this guy felt his ex wife having a boyfriend meant she was a sex addict. They alleged the sexts happened while the kid was in Mom's custody. But they based that on the timestamp of the screenshots. The timestamp on the texts was clearly at a time when the kid was not even around and mom was safe to get freaky over the phone.
The judge had heard enough of this and awarded attorneys fees and put in the order, consistent with the vexatious litigant statute, that if dad would continue to be liable for her attorneys fees if he kept pushing this.
It was the only joy I got from practicing family law.
Things Of The Past
Too many criminal client situations to count of them screwing themselves over. One of the very few family law cases I handled as a young attorney sticks out to me though.
Young woman and Young man have Child. Young woman seeks divorce from young man because he enjoys the "thug life", he had recently been arrested and charged for possession w/ int to distribute meth (felony) and in possession of a firearm (unlawful carry). Young man doesn't like her leaving him. He hires a local big name top divorce atty (granted, very rural area). Gets temp divorce order entered saying she can not have overnight guests of the opposite sex (common in rural conservative areas, think it's mostly a thing of the past in more urban places).
Young woman starts seeing someone new. Young man is very upset about this. Has his fancy lawyer ask for a hearing accusing her of violating court order and seeking full custody, on top of atty fees. Young woman, on advice from a mutual friend, hires me for this hearing. I sit down with opposing counsel, and she basically tries to strong arm me w/ her experience and lays out egregious terms...mother must not only give up primary custody, but must have visitation with a supervisor and pay child support and atty fees. She knows I'm a new baby atty in town (fairly certain I had been licensed for less than a year). I balk and she says she'll see us in court.
I go into hearing with a copy of his probation arrangement on his Possession w/ Intent to sell & unlawful carry. He hasn't told his atty about this, and she is unaware. She calls him up establishes how my client had her new bf over on x,y,z nights. Judge is VERY conservative, not pleased.
Then, opposing counsel passes the witness. I ask him if he has a job. No. What do you do for money? Things here and there. Oh? Ms. opposing counsel is awfully expensive...Do you sell meth?","...What?", "Have you ever sold drugs to make ends meet?", "Uhhh no." Introduce a copy of his guilty plea and straight probation sentencing. Judge is now staring daggers at him. I lean over to my client sitting next to me, and whisper, "if you took a drug test today, be honest, would you be completely clean?" "Yes."
I ask the Young man, "When was the last time you did meth", atty objects, but Judge overrules...I know this judge will drug test people on the spot as he is also the misdemeanor drug court judge. "It's been years, I'm clean.", "So, if you were tested, you'd be clean?" "Yes." Opposing counsel asks the same of my client, we agree. Judge has them both tested. He tests positive for meth. My client is clean.
Judge denies his motion, and asks me to send in new temp orders where young man is required to maintain employment and start paying child support and places him on supervised visits.
Icing on the cake, opposing counsel actually calls me and leaves me a voicemail congratulating me on, and I quote, "handing her behind to her for the first time in a long time."
Not my case, but my dad's. He was the equivalent of a Public Defender decades ago. There was this guy that would get caught for being drunk in public, public lewdness, etc. EVERY weekend. He seemed to draw the same judges and was pretty well known to everyone in the courthouse as an absolute lost cause. One of the "regular" judges had him appear in his court again. The judge is ready to give him a prison sentence because he was driving a car this time, but the guy starts crying that he finally got a job out of town and was trying to turn his life around. Judge tells him as long as he never makes a mistake "in my town again" he would just drop the charges.
Well sure as hell the guy shows up the following Monday. Same judge. Driving drunk AGAIN. My dad now has his case. The judge tells him he gave him his final chance, to which the guy sobs and replies "I was leaving town, your Honor. But my friends decided to throw me a going-away party." The judge was not amused. My dad had to do everything he could to not laugh.
Remorse To The Ground
This is my boss's story
They had a drunk-driver-kills-a-car-worth-of-people case at the time when they were a general practitioner. My boss was representing the family that got hit (one where the two kids and the wife had died, but the father had not) and wanted the college guy's drunk-driving skin to be mounted on a wall.
This was back before Facebook was commonly used in Court proceedings and before tons of people realized that it is too great for any attorney worth their weight in salt to pass up.
So, the kid (drunk driving college kid) had managed to get the judge's sympathy during the first part of the hearing by saying he was sorry, haunted, never going to drink again, this was going to ruin his life, etc. The judge seemed to really be eating it up.
Then comes my boss and immediately burns this kid's remorse to the ground by showing numerous Facebook statuses and photos of them binge drinking, partying, and even joking about driving drunk from the date of the accident up until a night ago. The kid looked like he was being forced to swallow hot coals and the judge was absolutely livid.
Needless to say, the kid had to do way more than just apologize and be remorseful after that.
Someone I knew had a pro deo case where she had to defend a person who had been charged with a criminal offense (don't know what, confidential and whatnot).
Even though the police and DA could pretty much pinpoint the crime to her client, there was no evidence to tie him to the crime, circumstancial at best.
She had instructed him to shut up and let her do the talking during the trial, as from experience the client sometimes does not know how to answer a question properly. She pleads and can show that the court has nothing on her client, she feels that for once, a pro deo case is going her way.
After her plea, the judge thanks her for her plea and turns to her client. He asks if the client had something to add to the plea. Client looks at her, back at the judge, tears well up in his eyes and he blurts out: "I'm so sorry, I'll never do it again!"
She threw her notes and everything else she had in her hands at the client (now convict) apparently. She basically got screwed by her own client, who screwed himself even worse.
I'm currently representing a sweet old lady on a case. I'll be sparse in the details in case anyone figures out who I am.
Long story short, this lady's neighbour convinces her that her house is basically unsellable, that her house requires all sorts of repairs, the repairs to the house would bankrupt her, and that she should just sell the house. To him.
He shows up at her house the next day with documents to sign. She has no idea what's going on. Doesn't read anything (actually has an eye condition) and signs everything.
When she finally sees a lawyer to close the deal, he says wtf you can't do this. You see, the price of the transaction was about 36% of what the house is actually worth and there weren't any repairs that needed to be done that would justify the price. Not kidding, it was stuff like fixing a faucet in the bathroom.
Also she didn't understand that she would have nowhere to live afterwards. Old lady thought she could just stay in the house until she died.
To make matters worse, she's living off a modest pension and the other side is suing for the house. They're essentially trying to get her to cave because her legal fees are getting exorbitant.
I hate people.
No Time Like No Time At All
A friend kept meticulous records of how much time his estranged wife spent with their daughter. He used pink highlighter for Mom and blue highlighter for himself.
Mom sailed into arbitration demanding full custody and handsome child support and the house. Dad pulled out three years's worth of year long calendars. Mom had spent less than a full month with the child in three years.
Mom was not happy with the outcome.
A wife filed for a restraining order because she wanted the house during divorce. Husband has good job, like 200k per year. Employer finds out about restraining order, husband is fired. He was very specialized employee so only job he can find close to to house, ex-wife, and daughter is 50k.
House gets foreclosed. Child support at less than $500 per month. Wife has to get job as waitress. Four cars get repossessed.