There’s always that big dramatic part in any legal drama where it all comes together.
The big “ah ha!” The big “gotcha!”
But how does that sort of thing play out in real life?
Both lawyers and just folks who had been involved in court cases stepped up to the stand on Reddit to give their testimonies. Here are some of the best.
1. Walk a mile in my shoes
Not a lawyer but got robbed at gunpoint in my home.
Long story short, he would have gone to prison anyway but the kicker is that the shoes he wore to court were the same shoes he stole from my house. Judge asked if I wanted them back. I said yes.
Judge made him take them off in court and walk back in socks. Donated the shoes, it was more about the principle.
2. The lousy landlord
We had some huge issues with a landlord (trying to enter without letting us know beforehand, not answering to fix issues, very aggressive when talking with us) when he decided to sell the place.
He didn’t check with us about the visits and just showed up randomly with potential buyers. We told him to get lost, he eventually left but called us the same evening to threaten us. We sent emails to remind him of our rights as tenants and he answered by threatening us some more, IN AN EMAIL.
We eventually end up in small issues court (not from the US, don’t know the name) and he fabricates a story about how we are terrible tenants and we try to discourage buyers.
We just showed the judge the emails as well as the open complaint to the police we filled a few days earlier, the judge couldn’t believe it and gave him a formal warning, gave us 3 free months of rent.
In the end the guy just used a real estate company to sell the place, all went smoothly and we still live there with lovely landlords that aren’t completely bonkers
3. Step by step
Parent termination case I was prosecuting.
Dad went on how he has changed his life around and worked the AA program. Asked him what step he was on, and he proudly proclaimed 3. Asked him what step three is, he had no idea. Then asked him step two was. Again, no idea.
Parental rights terminated.
4. Pro se, per se
Sued a former employer for $3500 in unpaid wages. It was a slam dunk (had a letter stating what my salary would be vs. paystubs that were less) IMO so I didn’t bother getting a lawyer to save on fees.
Turns out the company thought they could try the same strategy.
I show up to court and the manager of the local office is there with an affidavit from the CEO saying he’s allowed to represent the company in court…the judge asks him “are you an attorney?” …”no, just an employee”
A company can’t have pro se representation. Judge immediately ruled in my favor. Felt f**king fantastic.
Very abbreviated- I was prosecuting a convenience store owner for luring a young girl, who regularly came into the store, back to a part of the store to grope/fondle and kiss her (child enticement). It was the only section of the store without surveillance camera coverage. They were in the back room for about two minutes and seventeen seconds, per the timestamp on the videos.
Of the many arguments the defense put on, one was there was no way there was enough time for anything to happen. In my rebuttal on closing, I asked the jury to imagine what could happen in the room in that amount of time, and I asked them to all close their eyes while I timed out 2 minutes and 17 seconds on my watch, in silence. After about 60 seconds two of the jurors started crying. Knew it was going to be guilty right then.
6. Hard hitters
My mom hit a guy on a bike with her car in a parking lot.
She claimed he hit her (she also wanted to counter sue the cyclist for scaring her) in her deposition she started every sentence with “when I hit him…”
7. Here kitty, kitty
Obligatory, not mine but my Moms story.
She was fighting for custody on behalf of the father, trying to prove that the kids were living in subpar conditions with their drug addict mother in spite of the ample child support provided. It was a tough case because courts are so hesitant to pull kids away from their moms.
Then the mom burst out that she had been feeding the kids cat food as proof that she wouldn’t let them starve. Needless to say, the judge didn’t take that as a good reason for the kids to stay with their Mom.
8. Telling on yourself
At a restraining order trial it was essentially my client’s word versus his, regarding a sexual assault. He did a good job dressing up and acting very appropriate during most of his testimony.
But then he was asked a series of open-ended questions and he said something to the effect that, “She kept coming up on me with that f**king p**sy” (allegedly during a lecture) and as soon as he said it a look came on his face and the judge’s face and everyone knew the ruse of respectable young gentleman had failed. I won.
9. Not a leg to stand on
My client was accused of brutally murdering a dog. Cop testified that there was no testing of the blood, no body ever found, and admitted it could have, in fact, run away.
The eye witness said she could see the killing down the hallway from the dining room.
Cop testified there was no hallway and the dining room was on a different level of the house than the killing supposedly took place.
Then the person who was leading the lynch mob against my client around town for the last year testified that she had been in the apartment between the two visits by the cop to evaluate the scene.
No body, a compromised crime scene, witness who couldn’t see anything, and admission that there was no proof the dog was dead.
Closing argument lasted 3 seconds: “Your honour, I’m asking for an acquittal”.
10. Do you even lift, bro?
When I found a video on Facebook of the plaintiff squatting 300 pounds the month before his deposition. That was a good one. Oh he was saying he couldn’t work and had back injuries after a minor car accident.
Just as a follow up: I sent the video to his attorney afterward the deposition and the case immediately went away. He also adamantly denied being able to workout or doing any lifting during his deposition. It was a big lie.
Also, I agree that this really sucks for the people with legitimate injuries, who people quickly want to just label “litigious”
11. Spread the word
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.
12. The naked truth
I had a ton of these when I used to do Family Law.
Off the top of my head: my client’s husband was alleging she had been high and nude in public. As I’m crossing him I get him to admit that she was in fact changing out of her bathing suit at the beach and covered by a towel at all times.
He says: “well, she was naked…under the towel,” I come back with: “just like you’re naked under your clothes right now?” Even the judge chuckled.
13. The shout out
Not exactly a “knew you would win” moment, but I got a hidden shout out from a federal judge in a ruling that I consider to be one of the high points of my career. Here’s what happened.
Before a hearing for an emergency injunction against USDA, I was watching the hearing before mine (a trademark infringement case). At the end of that hearing, the judge accidentally used a pun, and could not stop laughing. She was literally crying. I decided at that moment I was going to intentionally use a pun in my hearing. I did—I accused USDA of engaging in a “shell game” by illegally diverting some federal funds to an egg industry trade group. The judge called me on it, but laughed heartily.
My client won (the judge threatened to put the Secretary of Agriculture in jail). A major newspaper reporting on the case said the judge “winced” at my puns but agreed with my arguments. False! When the written ruling was issued, the last sentence said that an injunction was issued against USDA’s use of the funds for “any plans they may be hatching”. Undeniable shout out.
14. Time flies
Watched my lawyer have this moment last time we were in court. Short version: my ex abused my kid, I withheld visitation and hired a lawyer. I offered supervised visitation with a plan to integrate regular visitation once he completed anger management and parenting classes as well as had 6 months clean of all substances.
When he was on the stand he mentioned that he had been taking prescription meds for 10 years. (To illustrate that he’s been on meds for a decade and never had a problem being a “good” dad.) Lawyer asked what meds, and he listed off a bunch; meds like methadone, klonopin, Vicodin, OxyContin etc. She asked why he began taking those particular medications. He replied “well I messed up my back last year riding my quad” She asked him to repeat himself. He said it again. The look on her face was amazing. She said “So, you’ve been taking large amounts of meds for 10 years?” He said yes. She said “10 years of major medications due to an injury that happened two years ago?”
Not a lawyer but I played one in small claims court. My lease had an exit clause that said if I fronted two months’ rent, they would work to lease my place and return anything unused. I checked with the office ahead of time, they ensured me there was a waiting list, so I gave them the two months and moved. They never returned a dime. I talked to the new tenant and confirmed they moved in a week later.
In court, the judge was commenting on how he didn’t see anything explicitly saying they would return any unused rent, even though that intent was stated to me a few times. Dumbo from the leasing office piped in with “your honor, in almost every case we can return some money, but in this case we didn’t have a tenant in the two months after he left.”
So she gave the case back to me and I presented the affidavit from the new tenant confirming the move in date. Judge awarded me double what they owed. Turns out leasing office dumbos 1 and 2 thought they could lie to me and “return” my excess rent money to themselves.
This case is CLOSED.
Have you ever had a moment like this in court?
Tell us about it in the comments.