There’s good and bad about every profession, and if you’re a lawyer, I’d guess that the hours – along with not getting to always choose your clients – must be two of the worse parts of the job.
After you read about what these lawyers say is their most shocking case ever, you’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not the great pay is really worth it.
1. A joke, indeed.
Look up “Ellen Greenberg Death Philadelphia.” I’ve seen robberies, assaults, child rapes, you name it. But nothing scares me like the failures of the system like this.
Basically this woman was stabbed twenty times, including ten times in the back of the neck and into the skull, into her brain. When the body was found the knife was in her chest. Which means she was stabbed in the brain prior to being stabbed in the chest.
The police convinced the medical examiner to determine the case a suicide because the door was latched from the inside when the body was found.
But here’s the kicker. The only person who told the police that the door was latched when they found the body (when the police arrived the door was open and the body was already “discovered”), was the FIANCE. You know, the person who in any other investigation anywhere would be the prime suspect.
So basically the cops took the word of the person who should be the prime suspect to determine that this woman who was stabbed twenty times, including from behind into her brain, committed suicide.
What a joke. It’s like seeing news stories about journalists critical of Putin committing suicide by shooting themselves twice in the back of the head and throwing themselves out the window.
2. Just incidental.
There were cases in the UK during the Falklands war in the 80s where the government claimed bullet wounds and lost limbs due to minefields were “incidental” injuries and not related to the fighting.
Like people just randomly generate holes in their chests and limbs fly off during birthday parties etc.
The government’s own records showed they were “buying time” in order that the claimants would hopefully die of their injuries and the cases could be shut down.
3. Unjust and sad.
I’m an interpreter not an attorney, but I had a school case to interpret regarding bullying. The school decided to have a court case decision made in house. It was 12 kids and their parents on a stage in the cafeteria.
The school officials were there and a school advocate who acted as judge. Apparently the seniors would trap the freshmen in a designated bathroom after lunch and jump them. Four seniors and eight freshman who were beat up individually, there were supposed to be nine but one was in the hospital.
They showed surveillance of how the seniors picked the freshmen to beat up and there were 2 teachers aware of this, in one of the videos one of the teachers helped the seniors by pointing out who the freshmen were. This was a hazing technique that was going on in this school for years but this case was to make an example of those involved.
The teachers involved were only mentioned when the bullys admitted receiving assistance in pointing out who to beat up, the teachers never got in trouble. Only one bully was expelled and all the freshmen were suspended.
It was unjust and sad. This case went on for 3 days and each case lasted 3 to 5 hours after school.
4. The cost of a life.
Slayer statute, interpleader case in federal court. Client murdered her husband to collect insurance proceeds. Found out that she promised to pay 2 dudes to bind his hands and feet with duct tape, execute him, and burn him in an alley, for $20k each, to be payed out of the insurance funds.
5. Good luck clerk.
I was an intern at the time for the public defender’s office and witnessed a pretty good one.
Two guys walk into a liquor store, one of them is packing a revolver. They shove around the old store clerk and get him to open up the registers. After looting all the cash, the robbers walk out of the store to their car. The store clerk (who I think was also the owner) then goes to get his gun and makes chase. He manages to pop off a few shots at the robbers as they wheel away with great haste.
Now, there were two cops in the same shopping center (they were responding to a stabbing at a nearby AA meeting) and they hear the gun shots and see a car speeding away. As they turn the corner they see the old man with firearm in hand pointing down the road after the car. They yell an order to, “Freeze! Put down your weapon!” or something to that effect. The old man makes the mistake of turning before putting down the gun, so the cops then open fire.
The clerk is shot three times by the cops, but fortunately not fatally. Two to the torso and one that takes off his trigger finger (good shot I guess?) The robbers later crash a few blocks down the road, as the clerk was also a pretty good shot and managed to hit the getaway driver in the leg, causing him to pass out at the wheel due to blood loss.
A labor case in which, in the middle of the hearing, the judge (60 year old male) started to flirt with my client (23 years old female) in a direct, straightforward way.
It was SO shocking that was one of the onlycases I got speechless in a trial. Those hearings are closed here in Brazil so no jury, no recording, nothing.
7. I hate people sometimes.
Not a lawyer but I work for the DA in my area. Part of my job is digitizing old evidence.
Animal abuse is never fun.
Baby autopsies for shaken baby cases are pretty gruesome.
The worst was definitely the 15 year old rape victim who was left to rot in a field for 3-4 months before they found her. I had to make sure all those crime scene and autopsy photos are scanned in properly too. Can’t have them too blurry or miss one.
Close second is the father that beat his teen daughter half to death with an extension cord who had the family rally around him and pony up the bail immediately after arraignment. They didn’t give a s*%t about the girl.
8. Proof of neglect.
I got plenty because I work in child protection, but in appeals so I don’t see the worst of the worst. Important for this is that in my jurisdiction a lot of the lawyers who defend parents are contract attorneys who get paid very little and don’t always follow best practices. A lot of what we see are arguments based off the transcript without reference to the trial exhibits (I recently learned that this is common practice in criminal appeals, but in severance the exhibits are usually pretty crucial).
Got an opening brief in saying that mom didn’t actually neglect the kids, pretty standard OB stuff. Mom got pulled over for expired tags. Kids are in the car. Cops end up searching (I forget the reason, not important), find meth and a pipe. Still pretty standard.
During the stop and arrest, cops pull the kids out of the car and find that 2-year-old daughter has a rather old diaper on. When they go to change her, they find what the examining doctor later called the worst case of diaper rash he’d ever seen.
But there were pictures. I can’t say it was anything less than jungle rot. On a toddler’s genitals. No person who saw that could say the child wasn’t neglected.
Needless to say, I cited to those pictures very liberally in my answering brief. Severance was affirmed.
9. A sad story.
I was defending a guy who was charged with theft of property and breaking and entering. The DA offered a plea deal of 18 months in prison. He said he couldn’t be away from his family for 18 month.
Guy had some priors and trial could cost him to be gone away a lot longer but he insisted on taking it to trial. We strike a jury and he comes to the first day if trial. Surprisingly the DA was still offering the 18 months right before trial started. The evidence against him was overwhelming. I told him so, but he wanted to take it to trial.
We get through the first day and on the second day he doesn’t show up. The judge said to finish the trial without him, to which I argued against but we still had it. The jury found him guilty and the swore out a warrant for him. Later on that day I I found out he hunt himself overnight. He just couldn’t stand to be away from his family for 18 months.
That messed me up for a little while.
Yes hanged himself.
10. He can handle it.
Client paid a multi-million dollar settlement with a hand-written personal check. He was pissed and refused to do a wire transfer like a normal person. I think the other side had to scramble to find a bank to deposit the check. Banking regulations limit how much money a bank can hold on deposit.
You just can’t take a check that large to any local bank. The check eventually cleared, so I guess they figured it out. Good times…. That case will be on my resume for sure.
11. Nope. Don’t like that.
Neighbor is a retired prosecuting attorney. Told me about a sex trafficking case involving girls in their early-mid teens. Their pimp bought them a puppy that they got attached to and all took care of together.
Whenever they fell out of line, the pimp would send videos of himself abusing the puppy and threaten to kill it if they didn’t obey.
12. Uncomfortable to say the least.
We had a school excursion to our country’s seat of government and we also visited the court. You know, general how does our government and law stuff works. Well, the group was split over two court cases. One group had a somewhat wacky one involving a minor accident (I think). Small stuff. You know what we got? Two daughters suing their father for sexual misconduct and rape when they were minors.
We got to hear his side of him describing certain acts in such a way that they may or may not be sexual and such. It was, well, uncomfortable to say the least.
We actually got asked to leave, and this is highly unusual. I’m sure this is true in the US as well, but cases not involving minors are open to the general public and since the women were adults now the case was public (and was how we got in). So, we actually got requested to leave, because, well, having to testify about such a difficult event while one or two strangers sit in is one thing. Having over 50 16-17 year olds gawk at you, though, is likely going to hit a little differently.
So, yeah, we left, and trust me when I say no one had any objection to it. No one wanted us there, including us. The wait on the other group was long and boring, but man, I much much much rather be bored than having to listen to another minute of that case or something similar.
13. That poor woman.
Not a lawyer, but a translator. I once translated this text about a case, basically this mother’s kid set her house on fire whilst she left the USA to china to cremate her husband who died of terminal cancer.
The kid literally burned everything. All her life savings. Then the daughter went on to tell lies to all her family members in china saying how the mother is just accusing her. Was rough translating especially because the mother left to the USA in the 1990s.
Worked her a$$ off. Only to let her husband suffer years of cancer and her daughter to burn her house down.
14. Oh my god.
Not a lawyer but my Aunt was.
She was the state prosecutor for a case where a guy had gotten into an argument with another guy at a recreational baseball game.
After the game was over one guy left and went home. The other guy stayed at the baseball field with his son.
About like 30min to an hour later they are still at the baseball field and the other guy is back. He has a baseball bat and walks straight towards the dad at the pitching mound and starts hitting him over the head with the bat until hes unrecognizable. Kid frozen in terror while this guy murders his dad. He then walk over to the kid and does the same thing to him.
My Aunt was amazing at her job and got the guy sentenced to life in prison.
She lost her battle to cancer a few months ago. I loved listening to her stories. She was the best Aunt a guy could ask for.
15. Not a small-time arrest.
I’m an immigration lawyer. I do mostly VAWA and asylum, but I handle other stuff on occasion.
I had a prospective client come in a few weeks ago. He’s interested in pursuing a relatively straightforward application. He tells me that he might have a criminal history that could affect his immigration. It’s only one arrest though, he says. It happened in 19XX. And it’s not serious.
“OK,” I say. It happens. Nobody’s perfect, and a single arrest is generally not a deal-breaker.
So, as I’m talking with him, I decide to Google his pretty unique name. A news article comes up, from his country, in his language. It’s dated the same year he said… 19XX. Hm.
I ask him: “what kind of crime did you say it was?”
“Oh,” he says, “I think it was drug related.” I figure, alright, marijuana arrest or something: nothing we can’t overcome.
I click through to the article. The photo on the article sure looks like a lot like the prospective client. Turns out, prospective client’s arrest was not for marijuana at all. It was for cocaine. And not a little cocaine. This guy was caught attempting to smuggle XX pallets of cocaine. I must have looked a little bug-eyed, because the guy gave me a sort of sheepish look and a shrug.
I tell the prospective client, maybe we should start by filing a few FOIA requests (Freedom of Information Act Requests) to see what comes up, and we’ll go from there. He agrees, and that’s that.
I’ll double check my suspicions against the government record, and let the client know what can, or cannot, be done.
Suffice it to say, getting caught smuggling multiple pallets of cocaine is not a small-time arrest. But, you never know what is or isn’t true, and you should always do your due diligence.
16. Not in the budget.
I used to work as a legal secretary for a personal injury lawyer.
He told me about a case where his client had radiation burns from an x-ray machine. In the avalanche of documents he received from the defendant during discovery, he found an internal memo.
The memo described a serious problem with the machines and continued: “This is an issue we can’t ignore… unfortunately, it’s not in the budget”.
When the case went to trial, he told the jury, “Show them they need to put this in the budget next time.” The jury complied, handing down one of the largest verdicts California had ever seen.
17. It can always get worse.
Client of mine is an extremely nice guy: he was a green card (permanent residence) applicant, and worked on a fishing boat in Alaska.
When he’s out on the boats though, fishing for crab or whatever, there’s no way for anybody to communicate with him and he’s out there for months at a time. Phone calls and letters aren’t reaching anybody out in the middle of the Bering Strait.
One such a time when he was out there, he apparently got stabbed all the way through the chest with a huge hook thing in a freak accident. Nobody state-side knew, of course. Client was taken (somehow) to the hospital, and survived, but I didn’t hear from him for literal months.
Well, the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) happens to issue this guy an interview notice. He’s nowhere to be found. The USCIS mark him absent for his interview. I try to reach out to him, but cannot find him.
The USCIS then denies this poor guy’s case.
But, it gets worse: he calls me about a month later. He tells me all about the hook on the ship, but also tells me that after he got home from the hospital, his wife was upset that he didn’t earn her any money due to his injury, and then basically beat the hell out of him with a baseball bat, took all of his money and things, and left him for dead.
So, he’s back in the hospital.
This guy was like, the single most mild-mannered, nicest guy ever. I ended up putting in huge amounts of unpaid work for months to turn this guy’s application around: we switched up his green card application and filed a self-petition through the Violence Against Women Act.
That was its own fiasco, but not nearly as interesting a story. We ended up getting his green card approved in what felt like a miracle, and he’s now back in Alaska, happily fishing and living his best life.
He still calls me once in a while, just to say hello and thank you. Such a nice guy.
Immigration work is brutal, exhausting, and soul-sapping. But, sometimes, you do something really good, for somebody who really deserves it. And that makes it all worthwhile.
18. Grief is so powerful.
I’m not a lawyer but I worked in a foreclosure mediation/diversion court as a counselor.
Usually it was people with bad luck, unemployment or addiction that lead them there. Heavy stuff but became run of the mill.
One guy I will never forget. He comes in and at first it looks like a standard unemployment deal. There are programs with mortgage companies to deal with. He was a dock worker, made pretty good money, but hadn’t worked for 6 months and was about to lose the house.
I ask for his story and he tells me it all started 20 years ago. His older son was in the army in Korea at a base on deployment and his younger son was at a high school party in their town. Apparently he gets into it with another kid over a girl, and the kid grabs a barbecue fork and stabs the son in the neck. His youngest bleeds out before an ambulance arrives. The older son is devastated because he wasn’t there to protect his brother.
The father and mother end up divorcing over the grief. But older son returns, makes a life. Has a couple young kids and it all seems good. But six months prior he just walks into his garage and shoots himself in the head. Leaves a note that he can’t live with not having been there for his baby brother even after all these years.
So my client goes into a depressive state, stops working, stops paying bills. Just can’t deal with the grief and destruction of his family that that one event emanated. What pulled him out of almost killing himself was that the guy who killed the younger son came up for parole. He went and spoke against him getting out and then realized he had to live for his grandkids.
I still think about that dude regularly, grief is so powerful it pulsates out and destroys if you don’t have the right support.
19. What on earth?
NAL, my brother and multiple other kids were part of a case where a lady showed up to a children’s football practice and sprinted after several of them screaming that she was going to kick their a$$es and started screaming at my brother “YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME?!” while chasing after him.
These kids were as young as 8 years old. The extra crazy part was in court when her lawyer asked a witness at the stand, one of the coaches that we’ll call “Tim Jones”, “Sir, what is your relationship with Tim Jones?” Tim responded, slightly confused, “I **am** Tim Jones.”
20. Not just a mistake.
A family law matter. I was a newly-minted attorney who couldn’t find work in the early 2010s and took anything that came to me.
Custody battle. I represented mom. Dad lived with his father (grandfather) who had been convicted TWICE of violently raping other grandchildren.
Easy case, right? No.
Because mom absolutely forbade me from bringing grandfather’s convictions before the judge. Said he made “some mistakes” and while she wanted full custody, of course, she felt bad that grandfather’s “past mistakes” might be used against him in the future, forever.
I brought it up to the judge anyway. She fired me on the spot, during oral arguments.
She ended up suing me. It was a mess. Would do it again.
21. As strange as it gets.
Back in the day I investigated and later in my career prosecuted lots of arsons so I worked a lot of fire cases. One time the crews roll up on a garage fire. They are met by the home’s resident holding a blood-soaked towel to his crotch.
The medics get him stable and transported. He later tells us the voice told him to eat a whole box of saltine crackers without drinking any water and he was like ok, and did that. Then the voice told him to eat the newspaper and he was like check. Then the voice said to cut off his testicles with a can opener and he was like yep. Then the voice said set the van on fire in the garage and he was like you got it.
He did all those things in that order, and there were the scene photos of the testicles right there on the garage floor.
We got him into mental health court and he did pretty well.
22. As he should have.
She told me “Well, we are defending a doctor who made a mistake. One of his patients was suffering from an eye condition that required a unique recovery.
After surgery, the patient had to lie face down for the entirety of their day to prevent further eye damage. It had something to do with eye pressure and a gas buildup near the back of the eye.
As it turns out, the patient wanted to fly on a plane and would intend to keep their eyes down through the whole flight. The doctor we’re defending didn’t tell the patient that they couldn’t fly during the recovery.”
The next part definitely sucked.
When the patient took off on the plane, everything was OK. During descent, which people with ear problems can attest, the rapid change in pressure messed up this patients condition.
They went completely blind in both eyes due to the descent of the plane. The doctor lost.
23. I have no idea what’s wrong with people.
I was clerking at the time. Little kid fight club. Bunch of mom’s put their kids in a circle and made them fight each other gladiator style. Real dark stuff.
Video included two 10yo girls beating the crap out of each other. Bets were taken but not on all fights. Some were just for entertainment. No fathers involved.
24. Do you need to see it?
TL;DR: lady wanted to show me her vagina, it just happened to not be attached to her body.
I already told one shocking story in this thread, but I got another that is a different kind of shocking.
I was pretty new to the practice and was meeting with a lot of clients. The firm I worked for had a lot of walk-ins and I was processing the potential clients.
I called in the next person and a mid-30s women walked in carrying a red and white cooler. She pops in down on my desk and the spends about 5 mins trying to sit down in the chair. My first thought was “must be some kind of personal injury.”
First words out of her mouth after she sits, “I need to sue my doctor because my vagina just fell out.”
My eyes immediately lock onto the cooler.
“Yes. I brought in with my just in case you needed to see it. Do you want to see it?” She begins to open the cooler.
Not gonna lie..I was curious but I stopped her and convinced her that a hospital was her best option at the moment.
Turns out she had vaginal reconstruction and the mesh came out in one big blob. Now, this is not my area of expertise. I am a corporate attorney. So I sent her to someone with more expensive.
25. Of course she knew.
I normally defend construction defect and personal injury matters, nothing too crazy. Early in my career we got a case involving a husband and wife who ran a foster home and one kid was alleging the husband had molested them. I was assigned to defend only the wife under their homeowners insurance policy.
The allegations against the husband were bad, but the wife had no idea what was going on. Here was this poor woman, who was also a former foster child, trying to give back and help other foster children in the system, and now she finds out her husband is a child molester. It was heartbreaking and we just wanted to get her out of the case.
Then we get more documents and learn this isn’t the first child to make allegations. The dad had been doing this for years and she knew it.
Maybe she was involved, maybe she just ignored it, either way the whole thing turned gross. I instantly wanted nothing to do with it.
A few weeks later, my boss (the coolest guy ever) comes in and says he gave the case back to the insurance carrier, thank god. That was the only case I’ve ever felt morally opposed to handling.
26. That’s not what lawyers are for.
I had a client one time who called me for everything. I was handling a mold case in her house but she was always asking questions. It was not a big deal, but it got a little tedious.
One day she calls me to tell me that there is smoke coming from the wall behind her stove and it smells like burning plastic. I tell her this isn’t a legal problem, but that she should really hang up right now and call 911 and ask for the fire department. She asks if I’m sure. I assure her that yes, this is the thing to do right now.
Turns out, wiring had caught fire and her apartment was burning, and all was saved by the FD. But, I just remember being flabbergasted that someone saw smoke in their house and thought “I gotta call my lawyer!”
27. Dark and mysterious.
Did an alleged Arson case for an insurance company once. The insured had to provide a list of all items he had lost including over 1000 book titles. Every book was the biography of a serial killer, we figured it was probably every book ever written about a serial killer.
Insured gave off serious dark and mysterious vibes
Who knows the truth
28. A family matter.
A mother sold the family farm out from under the son who was supposed to inherit it. Someone shot her (nonfatally).
There were so many suspects that almost every lawyer in the county was assigned to defend one of them. Forensics eventually narrowed it down to two suspects, but each so adamantly pointed at the other as the shooter that it was going to be hard to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt of either one’s guilt.
They both pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and served two years.
29. You don’t want to be here.
I am an attorney but the case that stuck with me most was one I sat in on during undergrad. I was a criminal justice major, and frequently had to go watch trials for class assignments.
I was in the military at the time so I had to cram these hours in randomly – if we had a light day, or I could take a long lunch, I would go to the closest courthouse and check what was available. One day I went down to the federal courthouse in Baltimore and checked the list – one criminal case, nothing else going.
I head upstairs and quietly walk in. Despite that, clearly everyone checks me out, which is odd – usually no one pays attention to the gallery. At the first break, a guy comes over and asks me who I am and why I’m there – hes office of special investigations with the air for e so I show him my id and explain I have to watch criminal trials. He gives me a weird look but doesn’t push.
As I’m sitting there, I slowly realize I SHOULD NOT BE HERE.
Air Force couple has a son, gets divorced. She takes son with her to her duty station in Japan, and remarries a civilian employee there. Dad is deployed, and then moves station, and keeps bugging her about when he can see the son; at some point she just stops responding.
A few months later, after dad has filed a report with her command requesting they make her communicate with him, dad gets a call from an OSI agent who he knows, asking him for his sons full name and DOB. Dad gives it to him, and agent says “look I didn’t tell you this but you need to call OSI on her base.”
Mom had gone to the field and 8 year old son had been bugging the step dad while he was gaming. Step dad got pissed off at beat the kid with the first thing to hand – a piece of bannister from the stair he was working in. Mom came back from the field two days later and found the son unconscious, still on the floor.
Because step dads last home of record was in Maryland, he was tried in federal court in Baltimore. I sat through the ER doc who treated the son, who talked about seeing the internal crush injuries and the coroner who talked about how hard you would have to hit a 8 year old on the front to cause bruising on his back.
I also sat through the dad talking about finding out his son was gone. After that day, I always went to misdemeanor court for my hours.
I’m not sure, y’all. I don’t think I would be able to hack it.
If you’re a lawyer, answer this question for us in the comments!