There’s usually a huge dramatic scene in any legal drama where it all comes together.
The big “a ha!” moment.
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. Answer the call
My client was riding his motorcycle on a relatively calm street when this guy exited his garage, without looking, and run over him.
In deposition, the guy brought a witness that was with him on the passenger seat. The whole time, the witness maintained that my client was driving too fast and that there was no time to brake the car. I asked him the same question a few times in different ways, making him tell the story again.
In the fourth telling, he, already a bit frustrated, let it slip: “- Look, I’ve already told you. We were exiting the garage and, as soon as I lifted up from getting my cellphone on the car’s carpet-” “- Wait. So you didn’t even see the crash?” There was no coming back from that.
2. Safety first
When I practiced insurance defense. Was handed a file to take over of a slip and fall. Guy tripped on a hose, tore his acl. The partner had taken the guys depo already so I read the transcript.
I’m a Michigan football fan, watched every game for 20 years. This guy testified he was the starting safety for a certain rival for certain years. Also that he graduated with a double major that doesn’t exist at that school.
I immediately knew this was false. Partner didn’t understand. Dug deeper, lied about so much stuff unrelated to the fall for no reason. Eventually found high school records from football injuries of head trauma, knee injuries, oh and a slip and fall injury a few months after ours. He also testified he rehabbed an ACL surgery after 1 month.
Motion for fraud on the Court filed, immediately settled.
3. Y’all need therapy
Not a lawyer, but I’m currently in a custody battle.
Mother is saying I can’t be trusted because I’ve been refusing to take our child to the therapist.
The therapist testified I couldn’t bring our child in because therapy must have both parents’ consent, and mother has retracted consent.
4. We ship c**p to customers.
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.
5. Stunningly wrong
Not during trial. Happened to me personally.
I got into a car accident, another driver crashed into my car. The driver was such an a**hole, talking tough, blaming me, saying that he knew a bunch of lawyers, and here’s the kicker–he threatened that he was going to take me to court. I’m a laid back dude in contrast, and I was cordial to him. We went to the police station and made our statements to the traffic investigator.
I didn’t have a dashcam (at the time), but a day later I got a copy of the CCTV footage that was looking directly at the scene of the accident. I showed the investigator the video, and he was absolutely stunned how wrong the other guy was. At that point, I told the investigator that I was an attorney, and that I’d decide if I wanted to take the matter to court.
Following day, I got a call from the guy who hit me. Apparently, he said he also saw the CCTV footage, and he had called to settle things. I was just shocked because this dude who was previously Mr. Alpha Male, did a total 180 and was suddenly polite and respectful.
Amazing what an impact video has.
– [deleted user]
6. Can I get a witness?
When I compared the scanned copy of the deed provided by the other side’s lawyers to the original my client eventually got around to providing.
The scanned copy provided by the other side had a witness signature. The original did not.
7. Mail call!
Found on tax returns she had tens of thousands allocated to unreimbursed business expenses, including thousands of miles in vehicle travel.
Her job was distributing the mail in a high rise to the various suite.
No driving involved in the job.
8. Getting sloshed
Not a lawyer, but we had no evidence that the woman who slammed into my stopped car going 85 mph was d**nk…until she indignantly admitted it on tape in her deposition.
She busted into my deposition and demanded she go first because I was a “lying b**ch”. She excitedly told my lawyer that the police report was wrong because it said she was coming from the movie theatre when she was actually coming from her friends bar.
“Did you have anything to drink at your friends bar?”
“How many drinks”
“I dunno, they just keep my glass full.”
“Did you take any medicine that day?”
“Methadone and low blood pressure medicine.”
The cops had refused to breathalyzer her at the scene because her husband was a firefighter that they knew personally. They told her to go home, sober up, and go to the hospital later. I heard the whole thing but had no proof until she handed it to me. They settled same day.
9. Unfortunately for him…
I trapped a defendant pretty badly one time. He testified in a depo 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
10. The Holiday Home
Not a lawyer, but was working as a paralegal for a law firm. We were defending a claim which had run into tens of thousands of pounds against our client (a holiday home), by a woman who had tripped over a speed bump while walking back to her caravan, and damaged her knee. The fall was genuine. The question was whose fault this was. She claimed it was the holiday home’s fault because she hadn’t seen the speed bump due to low lighting, poor marking etc. The claim had (outrageously) gone to months, and made it to court.
Going through the various questions to her, when our barrister asked how she knew the speed bump was poorly marked (or something similar). Her response “Well, I remember thinking how it wasn’t well marked when I was walking up to it”. Needless to say it was a short day in court after that point.
11. Wild child
“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!”
12. A ridiculous case
Not a lawyer, but my girlfriend had a very minor nose to tail and a rookie cop who happened to drive by booked her on some massive charges and fines.
She went to trial, and her lawyer tore apart the cop. In the report he filed the officer ticked her ethnicity as African (she’s white / European), put the wrong date, the wrong street name, and didn’t get the other witnesses details.
The prosecution & officer argued that she had signed the witness statement so while a few things were accidentally filled out wrong, it reflected what happened.
Her lawyer asked to the officer show the court her signature on the statement, he looked at it, and said oh I must have forgot it. The prosecutor and a few police that went to the trial for some reason all let out audible groans. The judge adjourned for 10 minutes, the police still wanted to press on but the judge threw it out immediately after recess and gave the prosecutor an earful for taking such a ridiculous case to trial.
13. The dummy
I clerk for a judge and we had a low level thief in our courtroom who had robbed one of his neighbor’s houses in the winter in Colorado and all the police had to do was follow the footsteps back to his house where he was hanging out with the stolen items and a small amount of drugs and a sh**ty handgun.
14. Mistaken identity?
I had a client charged with battery. The alleged victim didn’t really support the prosecution’s case and in any event was reluctant to testify. They still had another witness though, and she said that my client was hitting the alleged victim, so it wasn’t looking great.
The prosecutor and I were talking before court started, hanging out by the courtroom doors, when the witness walked in. She looked right at my client (who was sitting not five feet from me), then scanned the room and said “where is [client name]?”
The prosecutor and I looked at each other for a minute, and then he said he needed to check on something. When I saw him a few minutes later, he told me he was dismissing the case
15. Brotherly love
When the petitioners attorney called me my brothers name when I was on the stand.
My brother is a sh**bag and I don’t associate with him anymore, but dude has a lengthy criminal history and it pops up on traffic stops occasionally. So I was in court over custody of my oldest and her moms attorney was trying to paint me as a hypocrite for being an addict.
I denied it all on the stand and he said “Now James I must remind you that you are under oath and by denying this you are committing perjury”. I stared him dead in the face and said “My name is Bill, James is my brother.”
Even the judge laughed at him and the only reason we didn’t bring it up sooner (we knew he submitted it as evidence but had no idea why) was because I really wanted to know what he was up to with it all.
16. 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.
17. 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
18. 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.
19. 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.
21. 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…”
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. 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”.
25. Do you 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.
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”
26. 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.
27. 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.
28. 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.
29. 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.