Being a lawyer requires a thick skin and a large tolerance for uncomfortable situations. There's no telling what they'll have to face when they walk into that courtroom. Even when they're dealing with a minor case, the people involved with the law may be unpredictable or confusing. Read on below to find out some of the crazy situations that these lawyers found themselves in on the job!
Thanks For Saving My Life, Now I’m Going To Sue You
“Our client saved a woman who had drowned at the edge of a lake. She didn’t have a pulse. Our client pulled her ashore and gave her CPR, as he was the only adult in the area and the only person certified to give CPR. This was about 12 – 15 miles from the nearest hospital, so if he didn’t act, she would die. During the course of the chest compressions, he bruised two of her ribs and cracked another (this is actually fairly common when performing CPR). He was able to resuscitate the woman, saving her life. She survived with no long-lasting damage whatsoever, which was extraordinarily lucky.
2 months later, she filed suit for damages (alleging battery). Which, I mean, ok, he did cause your cracked ribs. But also, without him, your two young kids would be down a parent and would have watched their mom die. So, you know, bad move. To be fair, it may have been required in order for her insurance to cover it – since he did cause the damage to her ribs after all. That seems stupid on behalf of the insurance company rather than on her, but I’m not sure if this was the case or if she just decided to sue.
Thankfully his care was considered reasonable in the jurisdiction so he was protected by local good samaritan law. The suit was dismissed.
Luckily, we even got the dude’s legal fees taken care of. It’s called a request for legal fees. Basically it’s saying ‘Hey, our guy had to spend about $4,000 for a case that never should have even been attempted. Please make the other party pay.’ That’s what we did, and that’s what happened.”
Even Cops Have To Watch Out
“There was a lady we represented who was FLYING down the highway, probably going about 90 in a 55. Cop drives up behind her, dash cam shows her swerving all over the place. He lights her up, she pulls over. He walks up and says, ‘Hello ma’am, how are you doing? Do you know why I pulled you over tonight?’ She is obviously clueless. He says, ‘Well, it looks like your tabs (registration sticker) are expired. Have you been drinking tonight?’
Rest of the stop goes par for the course, this lady is about 5’1 and maybe 100lbs when she’s soaking wet with change in her pockets. She blows .29 (almost 4 times the legal limit).
Well, unfortunately, expired tabs was a secondary offense, meaning they can’t pull you over JUST for that. They could give you a ticket for that after pulling you over for things like speeding, failure to maintain a lane, failure to signal, etc.
We motion to have the case dismissed and it’s thrown out. Had the cop said anything like, ‘You were going pretty fast,’ ‘You were swerving,’ anything. But because he stated the purpose as an illegal stop, the case was thrown out completely.”
“A long time ago, I used to do some relationship property work (who gets what stuff after a couple splits up). In one case I represented the woman. Her ex partner was self-represented, and he was totally crazy. He used to write long letters to my firm, addressed to the managing partner (who was a commercial lawyer, not a litigator, so he had nothing to do with the case). The letters always explained at some length that he was physically perfect, over six feet tall, and a genius with an IQ of 150, and that he would ‘unleash the dogs of war’ and crush us all if we opposed him. Speaking of dogs, one of the main aspects of his case is that he said that after he and my client split up, he bought a dog, then the dog died in a car crash because he was so sad after the break up that he crashed his car, so now my client owed him money for the three years with worth of dog food he’d supposedly bought. He used to ring me up and scream at me over the phone. He’d get completely undressed and throw rocks at his neighbor’s property. My client was terrified of him and even I used to peer out of the elevator before leaving work at night In case he was waiting for me. The file was closed after he got wasted and choked to death on his own vomit at a party.
I should add that while undressed and throwing rocks at the neighboring property, he at all times sported a stiffy, which the rock throwing was intended to draw attention to.”
What Do We Do?
“This middle-aged woman died in bed one day. Her husband had sort of given up on her, just letting her do her thing: sleep in and go to the store to buy a box of Franzia every day. She would then lay in bed and drink a gallon of the stuff every single day.
He came home and found her unconscious on the bed. When she wouldn’t wake up (he described her as cold and sorta stiff), he raised her to a sitting position and tried to give her some water, but it all spilled down her gown.
He proceeded to call their son, who came straight away. They didn’t know what to do with her, so they carried her out, sat her in the car – taking care to fasten her seat belt.
They then drove to the ER and the husband went to the reception and said, ‘My wife’s in the car, dead.’
Cue personnel running on the double, hauling the long dead, wet wife from the car and trying to revive her.
Case was about ‘indecency with a corpse’ but was of course closed due to lack of criminal intent.
I’ve worked on many strange cases, but this one is kinda sticks out to me because it is both funny and sad, and because even if it would normally be a crime feeding a corpse and driving it around, it was done in confusion and out of love for this poor woman.”
The Day I Learned That Not Everything On Jerry Springer Is Fake
“I was a prosecutor for a couple of years. I was prosecuting a woman who hit another woman in the head with a meat cleaver – several times. The defendant worked as an exotic dancer. She lived with a man who ‘managed female relation services’ if you get my drift. The woman that got hit with the meat cleaver was one of his women. The guy was having relations both women at the same time – thus there was some bad blood.
Well, they get invited to be on Jerry Springer and they all agree to go. Huge fight happens (we are talking multiple fights where clumps of hair are coming out). Dancer tells the other woman, on the Jerry Springer show, that if she ever comes around the house again she will kill her.
Well you guessed it, she comes by the house when they get back. Dancer hits her with now a butcher’s knife in the head, several times. Somehow the woman lives. Dancer gets convicted of aggravated battery.
During trial, the court reporter taking the plea was very attractive. During the entire please hearing, the dude in the middle of this mess was staring the court reporter the entire time. It was so bad, I was getting creeped out. The court reporter bolted from the court room the moment the hearing was over because she was completely grossed out by the dude.
After the attack (but before the plea hearing) – they got invited back to appear on the Springer show. They went two more times. It was an absolute wild show – only appeared on the Too Hot for TV videos. Somewhere around here I have the old VHS copy of the three appearances.”
A Series Of Insane Decisions
“I had a case where a dealer client referred another dealer my way for representation on his charges. This is all quite some time ago and largely contained in police reports and courtroom testimony, so there’s nothing privileged here.
He comes to my office, we sit down and exchange pleasantries and he starts to spin out his yarn. He starts by saying, ‘I don’t know if you know this…’
‘But you’re kind of a big deal?’ I say, with a bit of a wink and a nod.
‘Exactly,’ he says, dead serious. I die a little on the inside.
He goes on to tell me that he and his wife were preparing to go on a vacation down to Vegas, but before heading to the airport, they decided that they needed to wash their dog while pretty messed up on god knows what. Apparently the dog escaped from the shower and broke their glass shower door, which left a huge gash on my client’s arm.
Seeing that they were to be late to the airport, they threw everything they needed into a suitcase and headed off.
At the airport, TSA notices my client acting suspiciously in the security line, in that he is bleeding from an open wound and gnashing his jaw like he’s working through a pack of big league chew in one go. They take him aside and search his luggage. Inside they find $10-20k of loose cash and a pile of blood covered clothes, as well as an apothecary bag full of uppers, downers, siders, and everything else you would need for a trip to Vegas.
In the little security detention area, my client decides that he’s hot and he takes his pants off. For some reason this also necessitates him to stand on the bench where he should be sitting. This is how the real police found him on the handoff from TSA.
So we’re back in my office now. This guy is buttoned up, you know? White collar, long black high-quality trench. Sober disposition, besides the incredibly obvious narcissism.
‘I want to take this to the mat!’ he exclaimed, fueled by righteous indignation. ‘I need you to beat this for me!’
You see, the problem with narcissism – true, unmediated narcissism – is that it is impossible for the narcissist to be wrong. It is incredibly difficult to represent someone like this.
Eventually I got him a sweetheart of a plea deal that I had to twist his freaking arm into taking. Quantities were for personal use, etc., do some treatment, everything goes away.
There is one stand-out moment from a conversation he decided to have with the judge during one court appearance. ‘Are you employed, sir?’ asked the Judge.
To which my client replied, ‘Yes, I’m an…off-paper partner in a restaurant.’ Whatever that means. Sure doesn’t sound like you’re doing anything illegal there. The judge just rolled his eyes and let it go. One more rich junkie.
About a year later, the guy got picked up again. Not quite as dramatic this time. Motor vehicle stop for poor driving, found tons of his merch and loose bullets in the car, just sort of rolling around on the floor. Client ended up firing me when I recommended that he get some actual treatment, end of story. Not sure how it all turned out for him.”
It Shouldn’t Be This Hard
“I started my career in juvenile court, handled a lot of sad cases. Some were out of control, but one in particular, mom and stepdad were addicts, there was physical and intimate abuse, and all of it was verified by findings from child services and a guardian ad litem. Not to mention the mountain of evidence and witnesses.
Mom goes to the bishop of her (Mormon) church and next thing I know, child services is pushing unsupervised parent time even though I have a court order forbidding it. The kid’s teacher was sneaking her in to see him at school because she was a member of mom’s church. Social workers are leaving him alone with her during what was supposed to be supervised parent time because ‘she’s surely a good mom.’ She’s suddenly got this very high priced lawyer who, at one point in court, calls me out on not being Mormon. The kid’s development rapidly backslides.
After that, it just devolved into this surreal and insane fight, like I was the villain, personally. Her husband threatened the lives of my witnesses, and they started dropping out and I couldn’t get anyone to support them. Her husband blocked me in the court parking lot one day, and looked me in the eye while brandishing a weapon. When I finally left, he tried following me but I was able to shake him.
At one point in a hearing on the protective order, the attorney for child services gets riled up and screams as loud as she can, ‘THIS FAMILY IS BEING REUNITED WHETHER THIS MAN LIKES IT OR NOT.’
I didn’t like it. And they wouldn’t be. But sweet tap dancing Moses, it should not have been that hard or horrible.”
Talk About Troubled
“So, in the first place, it’s always nice to get a client from a business card you left at a diner. It means people pick those things up. However, when leaving business cards at diners in certain areas of town, I should expect some issues.
This call came through on a dreary December day as I was sipping coffee and watching the snow fall. The caller ID read that it was the local hospital, and as I picked up I spoke to a rather frantic young man who informed me he was being held against his will and he needed an attorney to help him. When I asked where he was, he simply said ‘the 5th floor.’ While this may sound innocuous, every hospital has a ‘5th Floor,’ where Napoleon roams the halls freely and the residents speak to their imaginary friends who may, or may not, have been an influencing factor in why they decided that clothing was a way for the government to track them and therefore the only solution was to create Poop Pants to throw off the monitoring ability of the CIA.
Long story short on this portion, within an hour of the call a friend had dropped off my fee, and I was en route to the Fifth Floor to meet with my new client. I assumed it would be an involuntary committal defense, and after speaking with my client I gauged that, while the man was most definitely in need of mental care, he was not a danger to himself or others and was unlikely to be one. He had, in my opinion, been forced to agree to being committed by his probation officer, and frankly I wasn’t going to let that stand. I got the name of some contacts from his treatment plan who were willing to vouch that he had, until recently, been compliant with his medications, and contacted his social worker who was able to confirm that, yes, since he had ceased taking the medication due to an inability to afford the medications, the county would assist him with it. A slam dunk, I would simply swing my big lawyer ego around the mental ward and get him released, then appear in the Court to defend against the involuntary committal.
Within 24 hours of being committed, my client was back at home. A hearing was set a couple weeks in the future, and I did daily checks to be certain he was compliant with his medication leading up to the hearing…until the one day I didn’t.
A call from the local police was my tip off. An older officer, one I was familiar with, called to advise they had responded to a disturbance at my client’s home. He apparently had been screaming in an empty room loud enough that the neighbors were concerned and called the police. The police officer, a friendly sort, gauged the situation and decided my client wasn’t a threat, but asked what the situation was.
‘The ghost,’ my client had responded, ‘The ghost won’t get out and it won’t leave me alone.’
‘Well,’ said the officer, ‘I can tell it to leave.’
So he did. He told the ghost to leave. And then, apparently for poops and giggles, told him that it was a ‘civil matter’ if the ghost refused to leave, and therefore an attorney would need to be contacted. At which point my client dropped my name….which resulted in the cop giving me a heads up.
So, I call my client…who is inconsolable at the concept of sharing his home with the ghost. Keep in mind, I’ve been to this guy’s house. This is the first I’ve heard of a ghost. But there is a competency hearing on the horizon, and this will not play well in front of the judge.
‘The cop said it’s a civil matter,’ my client repeated about the 18th time after I told him I was not, in fact, a priest, but was a lawyer and didn’t know how to perform an exorcism.
‘What do you want me to do,’ I snapped a bit, ‘Evict it?’
There are moments in time when you should keep your mouth shut. This is one of them, because the immediate response was ‘CAN YOU? THAT’D BE GREAT!’
So, long story short, I ended up driving out there with a ‘Mock Up’ Notice to Quit addressed to ‘Any spirits in possession of the property located at [1313 Mockingbird Lane] without any authority under color of law’ advising them that their possession was ‘unlawful in nature’ and ordering them to ‘quit and surrender the premises, or any portion thereof, within fifteen (15) days of the date of this notice.’
As I was obviously unable to obtain personal service via hand delivery, I had my client direct me to the portion of the premises the Ghost occupied, an empty spare bedroom, and made service by posting the Notice to the door of the room. I then announced that the ghost ‘HAD BEEN SERVED A VALID NOTICE TO QUIT AND SURRENDER POSSESSION’ and went home.
A week later, as we’re preparing to enter the Court for my client’s competency hearing, I ask about the status.
‘Oh Mr. Lawyer, it worked great!’ my client announced. ‘He moved out the same night and took all his stuff with him.’
The ghost apparently had ‘stuff.’
Anyhow, I smiled and patted my client on the shoulder as I offered some sage advice.
‘Well, good,’ I said, ‘now, let’s not mention this in front of the judge. He might have a problem with the service and order us to let the ghost back in if he finds out about it.’
My client nodded enthusiastically. I kept him out of the mental hospital that day, and take some comfort knowing somewhere today this crazy guy is still telling people about his great lawyer who got rid of his ethereal roommate for free.”
“I was a young lawyer prosecuting in Texas. In Texas, a person is entitled to a jury trial for every criminal offense. Everything from a seat belt ticket to first degree murder. I was prosecuting misdemeanors and, generally, we would try to get through most of the docket in the morning and try a case in the afternoon. We’re not talking about complex cases here — mostly traffic offenses and city ordinance violations. Jury selection generally started at about 1 and most trials were done by 5.
So, I’m in court one day and the one particular pro se defendant bubbles up to the top of the trial list. I forget what he allegedly did, but he insisted on a trial where his main defense was that he was a Sovereign Citizen, meaning that he was part of a movement that asserted essentially that the government had no power over them. And, as such, he was not subject to the jurisdiction of that — or, in fact, any — court. When we started jury selection, the only people in the courtroom were court personnel, the defendant and the prospective jurors. Just like pretty much every other trial I ever conducted there. They were boring and you didn’t stick around to watch if you could find something else to do.
So, we pick our jury and I put on the State’s case. The defendant tries to muddle through and the jury finally gets the case around 4 pm or so. And I turn around for the first time in hours and realize that there were probably 20 or so HPD officers just sitting in the audience. I walked out in the audience to a cop I knew and asked him why they were all just sitting in on a boring, routine trial. He said the defendant had sent threatening letters to the judge, had attempted to ‘sue’ her in her own court and had attempted to place a lien on her house. They were there to make sure he didn’t try any funny business.
The jury came back with a guilty verdict and ordered him to pay a fine. Ok. Great. Normal, everyday trial. Well, this guy, who had argued for a couple of hours that he was not part of any sort of government and that he was free from all that, turned to the clerk and asked if they would accept a credit card for payment.”
Never Represent Yourself
“My favorite was a divorce/child custody trial I had against a pro se husband/father. For what it’s worth, he was a deadbeat dad who was much more concerned about money than his child. He clearly believed that by watching courtroom TV shows and movies, he knew how a trial would work. When it was his turn to testify, he started by launching into a story that had nothing to do with the case. I objected to pretty much everything he said, either as hearsay or irrelevant. His responses to my valid objections included, ‘Your honor, I’m trying to make my case,’ and ‘I’m getting to my point, you’ll see.’ The judge sustained all of my objections, and the guy kept trying to continue with his stories anyway, leading to the judge threatening to hold him in contempt. Eventually he got so flustered and angry that he just gave up trying to testify, and sat with his head down. He didn’t try to object to anything my client said, even though plenty of her testimony could have been excluded as inadmissible.
He ended up getting about 6 hours of visitation with his kid per month and a whole lot of child support. The amount of money he would have spent hiring a barely-competent attorney even for the single appearance would have been more than made up for in child support savings within a few months.”
Law Is A Dangerous Game
“When I was a young lawyer, one of our clients received a subpoena for business records from a pro per plaintiff (PPP) (a plaintiff who’s representing himself or herself in litigation). The litigation was in connection with a business dispute that was headed toward mediation. We were involved because the PPP formerly worked for our clients and decided to leave and take some business with him. After he left, he got into a business dispute with one of the customers he took with him and decided to subpoena business records from his old employer (my client) to help with his case and countersuit.
The PPP would send a demand letter a week and came to my office a few times to meet. He was pretty aggressive and threatening in all of our interactions but most pro se or pro per litigants are so I wasn’t overly concerned. Given that our interests were aligned, I worked closely with the attorney representing the customer who was directly involved in the litigation. He was an older, well-respected attorney in town.
Fast forward a couple of months and I get a call from a friend at the older attorney’s firm. Unsurprisingly, the PPP lost at the mediation on both his claims and the counterclaims made by the customer. Apparently, after the mediation was over, he went out to his car, grabbed a weapon and shot both the older attorney and the CEO of the customer who was attending the mediation. He then went on the run from the police. I think the total amount at stake was around $20,000—really senseless.
As soon as I learned about the shooting, I alerted our building security to be on the lookout for the PPP. He was found the next morning with a self-inflicted shot wound in a parking lot. Later that afternoon, I got a call from the police department who said my address and the address of the CEO of my client was in the PPP’s car. Not sure why I needed to know that information, but whatever. Shortly after that, I decided to switch to transactional work.”