Lawyers Share The Dumbest Things Their Clients Have Done In Court
Lawyers get paid big bucks to defend their clients. After all, it takes a lot of work to earn a law degree and pass the bar exam. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take a lot of work to be downright dumb…and that’s what lawyers have to deal with more often than they’d like to admit. But in service of their clients, attorneys will tough it out and deal with just about anything.
Sometimes, though, even the best lawyer in the world can’t save some of the dumb clients they represent; from directly admitting guilt to claiming it was the “aliens” who did it, a client can really throw a wrench into an otherwise cut and dry case. The legal workers of the internet didn’t hesitate to share some of the straight-up stupidest things they’ve seen their clients do in court.
Natural Born Killer
The one time, I literally had a client wear a t-shirt to a hearing that said “Natural Born Killer.” Let me please point out that he was in for an assault charge, so that definitely wasn’t the image we wanted to be putting out there in front of the court. I’m just amazed at what doesn’t go through a client’s head on the day of the hearing….
Anyway, I got him to go to the bathroom and turn the shirt inside out. This made him look really scruffy, but I was stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one. The hearing happens, and he ends up going down for it. But at least it was for actually assaulting someone rather than what his shirt alluded towards. Reddit User: Tortfeasor
We Didn’t Win That Case
My all-time favorite is a client I had who was charged with driving under the influence (DUI). So it turns out that he then wanted to challenge the charges on the grounds that he didn’t think he was drunk, and the tests were administered improperly. So I say that’s fine, and we end up going with that and arrive at the court hearing….
This man arrived at the court hearing and was completely drunk out of his mind. At his next hearing, he also arrived completely smashed. Both times he got into his car after the hearing and tried to drive away, emphasis on both times. The police promptly stopped him, administered a breathalyzer, and charged him with DUI and related offenses. We didn’t win that case. Reddit User: CoJoetheLawyer
The Odds Weren’t in His Favor
This isn’t a story about one of my clients, but I was on the prosecutor’s side when a defendant failed to appear in court that day. His attorney can’t reach him, nobody knows where on earth he is, so we all end up sitting there in the court for about half an hour until the judge gets sick of it and moves on with the docket….
It turns out we were waiting there for nothing, and of course, there was no way we could have gotten hold of him. Why was this? We found out later that day that the defendant decided to rob a 7-Eleven the night before and was sitting in jail two counties over when he should’ve been in court. Let’s just say he doesn’t have the odds in his favor. Reddit User: AngryPurpleTeddyBear
End of Argument
So, I had a client show up to a child custody hearing high on something. It was a pretty rough custody battle, even without the drugs being involved. It just went from bad to worse very quickly from when the mother arrived at court. She gets into the court and just starts screaming orders at the judge about the dad of the child….
She screams and then is demanding that her “no good baby daddy” is drug tested. I asked the judge if we could have a moment, and then I took her in the hallway and told her that if the judge ordered a drug test for the dad, he would have to order one for her. Needless to say she had nothing further to say. End of argument. Reddit User: weinerdog12345
The Stye That Gave It All Away
I worked for the public defender’s office and met a client in jail for a line-up that he had adamantly demanded regarding a crime with multiple witnesses. I met the client for the first time in a separate room to let him know how it would go down and what to expect. They pulled the people for the line-up from the jail population, and despite their best efforts, this was not a huge population….
I walked in to meet the client, and he had a stye on his left lower eyelid the size of a golf ball. It was the most identifiable mark on a human’s face I have ever seen. He still demanded the line-up and was identified instantly by every single witness without a shred of doubt in their mind. He still demanded a trial, and the stye was gone by the time the trial commenced. Reddit User: BR0WND0G
Think Before You Speak
I represent clients before the IRS. I had a couple who owed around $250,000 in back taxes. We had no defense, so the only thing to do was have the clients meet with the IRS and plead for leniency. Well, the wife got arrogant with the IRS agent and at one point stood up and screamed at the agent….
Let me preface this by saying that the IRS agent was a pretty decent person and also makes a very middle-class wage. She then screamed, “You’ll take away my Mercedes over my dead body!” Then she stormed out of the conference room. I don’t think her choice of words worked in her favor. Think before you speak, people. Needless to say, she lost the Mercedes. Reddit User: riverrat36605
Didn’t Make It Out of the Courtroom
I’m not a lawyer, but this happened to my dad. He told us this story about something that happened to him in court. My dad was suing a customer for non-payment. The judge ruled in his favor for the whole 15k. The guy he was suing got up to leave but walked over to my dad and said, “If you think you’re going to see a dime of that money, you’re a total moron. I’ll kill you first….”
He then walked away. For a second, my dad was worried the guy would get away with the threat, but he didn’t worry much, because the guy had said it loud enough for the bailiff and the judge to hear. He didn’t make it out of the courtroom. You have to wonder at some people and their lack of an inner voice or sense of timing in life. Reddit User: 10per
A Sleepy Defense
My dad was a lawyer in the Navy. One of his first big cases was defending a guy accused of falling asleep at his post during Vietnam. My dad was all psyched, delivering what he thought was a well-prepared defense to the judge. It was his big moment and also something that he had clearly put a lot of work into….
During the hearing, the judge interrupts him. Why does he get interrupted? The guy whom he’s busy defending about a sleeping issue is busy sleeping. The judge asked my dad to turn around and wake up his client. What an utter embarrassment. Maybe this guy had that sickness when you randomly fall asleep and can’t help it. Reddit User: [redacted]
The Million Dollar Facebook Status
I had been working on a case, and it had literally gone on for years. What had happened was my client was badly injured when she was in a car accident. We had gone for the jugular on this one, and I was sure that she was going to win. I’m talking about a very big win, a win of millions. We were right there….
Then my client decided to go onto Facebook and post a status. The status she posted was about her doing something very active, thus negating the entire case I had worked so hard on. We ended up settling for just $100,000 compared to the millions she should have been awarded. Years of work down the drain in one Facebook status. Reddit User: garishbourne
When Your Phone Rings
This one still gets me to this very day, and I can’t believe the stupidity. I once had this brilliant gentleman who was on probation for narcotics trafficking. Clearly, this was a serious allegation, and he needed to be on his best behavior at all times. With this probation, he was not permitted to own or use any type of cellphone….
It came to the day of his drug test with his probation officer. While he’s at the drug test, they hear a cell phone ringing. The ringing is coming from his pocket. The probation officer reaches into his pocket to check the phone and pulls it out. He doesn’t just pull out a phone, but also a large bag of drugs that he brought to his drug test. Reddit User: underwriter
Even the Judge Facepalmed
This is a story from a friend of mine; he was defending a guy in court, but to be honest, I don’t remember what he was charged with. The main witness for the prosecution was on the stand and was asked if she could identify the defendant. She scanned the courtroom and seemed confused at something. My friend was already silently celebrating….
The silent celebration was because if she couldn’t identify him, he could probably get all charges dropped. As he was mentally adding this case to the ‘win’ file, he happened to glance over at his client, who had just helpfully raised his hand to make it easier for her to identify him. Even the judge facepalmed on that one. Reddit User: Jeffbx
The Judge Like Oprah
My law teacher would tell stories about a juvenile court he used to work in that was in one of the more questionable areas of California. Apparently, they had a real problem with defendants coming in with sagging pants and court officials showing up in beach clothes. The judge finally got so fed up with it that he kept a box for this occasion….
What was in the box? It was full of rope (for an impromptu belt), and he also kept a box of neckties behind his desk, and he’d begin court proceedings by throwing ample amounts of both over his stand at anyone he felt was in need of them. This judge must have felt like Oprah. You get a bowtie, you get a bowtie, and you all get bowties. Reddit User: [redacted]
The Unsuccessful Bail Application
I work as a legal aid lawyer in a Canadian province. I’ve had many dumb clients who did many dumb things. One story is when I was doing a trial for a client in a circuit court that was about an hour outside of the city I operate in. The client decides to get a cab out there and tells the driver they’ll pay them when they arrive….
My client arrives in this community and gets the driver to stop at a local convenience store across the street from the courthouse. This client proceeds to attempt to steal five 26-ounce bottles of rum and is promptly arrested and taken into custody. The trial is postponed as we spend the day unsuccessfully applying for bail. Reddit User: legalaidthrowaway
Divorce for Dummies
I’m a family lawyer, and I have many funny divorce stories; I know it’s a serious thing in life, but sometimes you have to see the lighter side of it. One of the cases in which a client was seriously foolish happened to be this one. During a divorce case, the ex-husband claimed that he didn’t make much or any money….
He said because of this, he wasn’t able to pay the child support we were asking him to pay. A few hours after receiving this information, he posted a picture on his public Facebook of a wad of cash talking about how ‘ballin’ he was. Needless to say, his claim didn’t hold up after that. Think before you post on social media about how it will affect your real life. Reddit User: dawsonscreekrox
The Judge’s Fan Club
At first appearance, a defendant stood there calmly and quietly when the judge was reading his charges and bond information. When the judge asked if the defendant had any questions, the defendant gave the judge the finger and said a whole bunch of swear words. It went along the lines of, “Screw you, you idiot” and a few other choice words….
He then proceeded to throw down the microphone and walk away. The judge, who had been on the bench for years, replied, “Well, I guess I’ll let you know when my fan club meets.” I know this wasn’t an ideal situation for the defendant, but I absolutely love it when the judges give just as much sass as the people in the courtroom. Reddit User: mhbaker82
Get Out of Jail Free Card
I’m not a lawyer, but I was in court for a ticket. Apparently, the cop lost the ticket book, so there was no “official” evidence. The judge said that the next 15 on the docket (I was luckily one of the 15) just needed to say not guilty since there was no evidence. One moron got up there and started to argue that he was only going five over, not ten….
The judge looked at him and said, “Son, just say not guilty.” The guy again said, “But I wasn’t going that fast.” The judge laughed and repeated again, “Son, just say two words for me: not and guilty.” The guy confused mumbled, “Not guilty?” in the form of a question, and the judge said, “Dismissed.” Everyone in the courtroom laughed and clapped for him. Reddit User: JohnnyBrillcream
When Your Lawyer Knows What’s Best
So I was representing a kid accused of conspiracy to supply drugs. He was accused of acting as a lookout, warning the others whenever the police were approaching. He had a fantastic case, and it looked like he was going to win. On the day of trial, he turned up for the trial wearing a huge t-shirt with the Warner Brothers logo on it….
Above and below the WB logo was printed ‘If you see da pigs…Warn A Brother.’ He refused to change. What did he say to me when I asked him again to please change out of this seriously inappropriate t-shirt? “‘Na bud, no white boy tells me how to dress.” He was convicted. Sometimes your lawyers really do know what’s best for you. Reddit User: scamperthecat
Two Really Bad Clients
I’m not a lawyer but a legal secretary. It’s illegal to kill crocodiles in Australia, but our client filmed himself and his friends doing it. Funnily enough, they got caught. It was going to be kind of hard to disprove a video that clearly shows the animal being killed and subsequent celebration. Plus there were photos with the carcass. What an idiot….
Another guy robbed the pub he worked for, stole the work loot, drove to the city, went straight to the casino, parked the car in the lot, lost $10,000 playing blackjack, then bought two $500 hookers and was entertaining them when the cops arrested him. There are probably others, but I’ve been doing this for ten years, so they’ve all blurred together. Reddit User: chililily
Some of the Craziest Replies in Court
I’m a law student, but I have internship stories. We had a client who was convicted of murdering his stepson, before passing sentencing, the judge asked if he had anything to say to the court. He replied, “I only messed up when I didn’t kill my wife too.” Life sentence. Another client messed up upon being pulled over and being asked if he had any drugs or alcohol in the car….
He voluntarily told the officer that he didn’t but did have the heroin he sold in his hotel room. He then kindly escorted the officer there and gave it to him. We had a client charged with selling cocaine. In order to determine if he qualified for a public defender, the judge asked if he had any way he made an income, and he replied, “Well, you know, from selling drugs.” Reddit User: Wolfman87
Shut Up and Get Out of There
The defendant was at a preliminary hearing for a domestic battery charge. The alleged victim, his wife, girlfriend, or whatever, failed to show up, so the prosecution dropped the case. The judge told the defendant it was his lucky day and asked if the defendant had anything to say about that. At this point, you should really just be quiet and leave….
The defendant started to explain his point of view on what happened and just about talked himself right back into that domestic battery charge. Indeed, if the judge hadn’t been in such a good mood, he might have. Rule of thumb: if your charges get dismissed, shut up and get out of there. That guy got really lucky that day. Reddit User: rdavidson24
To Make Matters Much Worse
I had a client get caught for DUI. The officer didn’t do a good search, so my guy ended up in jail with about 30 pills and a gram of coke. Since he was now afraid of being caught with that stuff in jail, which would be a felony, he snorted a few bumps, took some ecstasy, and gave the rest away. The logic behind this still baffles me….
The deputies suddenly had two dozen guys tripping out in the receiving hall. They did a search, and my idiot client still had the baggies in his pocket. He was also so messed up at that point that he licked one of the sheriff’s deputies, which got him a battery on a peace officer charge tacked on. There is no hope for some people. Reddit User: DimplesWilliams
Do the Paperwork Yourself
So they pay me thousands in a retainer and then refuse to do even minuscule things to further their case. It would amaze you the number of times people have complained about their billing but have paid me hundreds of dollars an hour to fill out simple forms for them simply because they’re unwilling to do it. I have to call and conference with them and go through each blank on the form….
They simply won’t do it and return it in a timely manner. In more involved divorces, this can cost them thousands when all they need to do is sit down and list their assets/liabilities. You hire an attorney to do the legal work. You can save yourself a ton of money by taking care of everything that doesn’t require legal expertise on your own. Reddit User: SpaghettiSaber
A Whole Lot of Crazy and a Bag of Chips
I’m not a lawyer, but my dad is. His client was facing the death penalty and wanted to take the stand in his own defense. Basically, the guy was a really crazy guy, and he was probably out of his mind too. Any words that came out of his mouth were six kinds of messed up. My dad and the other three lawyers on his team advised him not to do it….
They tried to keep him from testifying for as long as they could. But if a client wants to talk, they can. He got up there and proceeded to read a twelve-page letter. It was just twelve pages of gibberish about how he wasn’t crazy. Obviously, it didn’t go well after that, and now he’s really caused himself an issue, because now he’s on death row. Reddit User: BecauseMagic
The Case of the Saggy Pants
I prosecuted a bank robber once. I think he pled guilty mostly to avoid having me show bank surveillance cam photos to the jury. See, he robbed a bank while wearing those really baggy pants that were once thought to be cool but just really weren’t. He tried to leap over the half-door that separated the teller area from the customer area….
The pants came off and tripped him, and he fell on his face. The cameras captured, in exquisite detail, the change in his facial expression from bravado to concern to terror as his pants came off. He was literally willing to plead guilty then and there to spare his ego, I’m guessing. Note to bank robbers: invest in some decent pants for your heists. Reddit User: KenPopehat
The Rule-Breaker Big Mac
I’m telling this story on my mother’s behalf. She was a public defender and once got a client who was charged with reckless endangerment for the nth time; I can’t remember how many. She tells him to be quiet basically, and she will talk to the ADA and see what can be worked out. They end up getting in front of the judge, and the client just starts trying to tell the judge his story….
Wherein he complains that he had just stopped at McDonald’s and so he had a Big Mac in one hand and a large Coke in the other hand. His cup holder wasn’t easily accessible, so since both hands were full, he clearly couldn’t control the fact that he was going 90+ on a winding country road with a 30 mph speed limit. Reddit User: Rentiak
Just Look Behind the Bookcase
Well, I’m a criminal defense attorney, so I could probably write a whole book, but this one was pretty bad, and it ended horribly. I co-counseled a murder case where the defendant allegedly, although he’s been convicted already, shot and killed a guy for supposedly taking his sister’s $50 bag of weed. The evidence came out that the sister’s boyfriend had allegedly pistol-whipped the guy….
Witnesses said he didn’t fight back. He left the place where he was and walked to some other apartments, where he was gunned down by another person, allegedly the defendant. The sad thing was, after the shooting when the victim was pronounced dead, it came out in trial that the bag of weed was later found, and it had fallen behind a bookcase. Reddit User: 919Esq
Finding a New Crime
A friend of mine was a public defender in the Northeast part of the country. I had a variety of wonderful “dumb client” stories. This was one of my favorite ones. This one involved a burglar who was deaf, so every alarm was a silent alarm as far as he was concerned. Police would show up and find him still rummaging through things….
I found this story absolutely ridiculous, so I had to tell my father, who is actually a retired public defender. He came up with a rather interesting suggestion for this guy. He said that if this guy had been one of his clients, that he would have suggested that he get into a different line of crime; I wonder if he’s changed his line of crime yet or is carrying on getting busted by alarms. Reddit User: restricteddata
Smart Enough to Know Better, Too Dumb to Care
I’m not a lawyer, but I am a law student. I had a professor who was a former public defender share this gem: her client was on probation after being released from prison and was riding his motorcycle on the highway when he saw a cop pull over another driver. He decided this was his cue to pull over as well and approach the officer….
He also thought that this was a good time to disclose that he was currently in possession of a knife and drugs, both of which would obviously violate his parole. When she asked him why on earth he would do that, he said, “They were going to find it eventually.” I’m not sure if this actually classifies as a dumb client; he was smart enough to know that. Reddit User: kranzmonkey
Being Taken into Custody
The worst was a person involved in an assault charge that called the alleged victim a horrible person, and other names too, at a preliminary hearing within earshot of one of the courtroom deputies and then gave the judge some attitude when questioned about it. The judge had the deputy handcuff my client to the “taking you into custody” bench….
And my client came this close to being put in jail for contempt. I think I might have been more annoyed than the judge since this was what should have been a routine 15-minute matter turned into an all-morning ordeal. A waste of time and a waste of my energy; you would think people would be aware of the situation and just behave. Reddit User: [redacted]
Mailbox Mouth to Mouth
I had one client take a deal on a DUI case. After he was taken into custody, his family came up to me and thanked me for helping him with everything and said that they were so happy he was going to get some treatment because his alcoholism was taking a toll on the family. Then they told me about two weeks prior to this arrest….
The client had driven home drunk, and while attempting to pull into the driveway, he missed and took out the neighbor’s mailbox. Upon hearing the noise of the crash, the client’s family came outside and found him giving mouth to mouth to the mailbox he’d knocked over. Is there hope for this kind of client? I hope I don’t have to take him on again. Reddit User: mcbreenrl
The Client That Was Taken Down
A fellow attorney was defending a DUI. The client shows up clearly drunk. The lawyer takes him into the hallway, gives him some mints, and tells him that no matter what, he should just keep his mouth shut. He tells the client that he’ll talk to the state attorney and get a continuance. They get in front of the judge, and the judge allows the continuance; all is well….
At that point, the client is so drunk that he forgets that it was his own attorney that continued the case, gets mad that the case is continued, and in a loud, booming voice says, “This is rubbish, this is a holdup.” The moment the words “this is a holdup” leave the man’s mouth, the 300-pound court officer standing ten feet away sprints at lightning speed, dives at him, and tackles him to the ground. Reddit User: tardymarty
The Landlord and the Refurbishing
I’m not a lawyer, but I represented myself in small claims against my landlord, trying to keep my deposit. She claimed I did a load of damage to the place, and she had to replace everything and had a builder in to rework the place. She gave me a signed, dated letter for my new place after viewing it herself, saying the place was fine….
She also showed her receipt for the furniture she bought, which was a week before she even came to view the apartment. Essentially she was trying to get me to pay for the refurbishment of her place, but her dated receipts for her expenses were all dated before she even saw the place. I won, and good luck to her future tenants who pay for her next refurbish. Reddit User: ridik_ulass
My Client Has a Question
I interned at a public defender’s office, and the chief PD told a story about a client who went to trial by jury on a burglary charge, challenging mostly the identification. The prosecutor called the bank clerk as a witness. After going through the testimony, it came time to identify the client, and the prosecutor asked, “Do you see the person who held you up at the bank here in this courtroom today?”
The clerk looked around, somewhat puzzled. He didn’t recognize the defendant. Slowly, the defendant raised his hand. When we heard this story, one of the other interns said, “What do you even do in that situation?” I responded, “Your Honor, my client has a question.” We had a good laugh about it, but can you imagine that happening? Reddit User: Rebar4Life
Be Honest With Your Attorney
I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve worked as a paralegal for a while, and I know one of the dumbest things a client can do is to not disclose all the facts to the attorney that’s representing them. I’ve witnessed so many cases that fall apart because pride or whatever else stopped the client from telling the attorney (whom they are paying and with whom they have the attorney/client privilege thing)….
Or they exclude exactly what the facts in their case are, only to get questioned about that very subject while under oath, give an unrehearsed answer that implicates themselves, and effectively kill their own defense. Nine times out of ten, if an attorney knows the real story from the get-go, they can find a way to work around potential landmine questions presented to their client. Reddit User: sec713
The Test You Didn’t Want to Fail
I sent a friend to a family member of mine who’s an attorney regarding a custody case. He had been swearing for over a year he was clean and on the straight and narrow; he wanted custody of his kids, he would be a better provider for them, a better influence on them and a real father of the year…that type of stuff. The mother wanted to take the kids and move a few thousand miles away to be near her family….
With her being a young mother with two kids and the children’s father not providing any financial assistance whatsoever, she needed help and needed to be near her family. His excuse was that he refused to give her any money because she would go spend it on herself and drugs. They go to court, call each other drug addicts, and the judge drug tests them both. She passes and he fails. Reddit User: did_it_right
Getting Accused of Fraud
I had a workers’ compensation client who was classified as permanently partially disabled, meaning that he made a concession that he can no longer work due to his work-related injuries and would receive weekly benefits from the insurance company for life in addition to medical care. However, after that happened, the client started a construction business for himself, which is a little strange….
Can you guess which insurance company he chose for workers’ compensation coverage? You guessed it; it was the very insurance company that was paying for his weekly benefits and medical care. He went on to testify for his employees in their own comp cases. Somehow, the insurance company caught on after a while and accused him of fraud. Reddit User: 42_24
The Worst Haircut in Court
I had a juvie client show up for his sentencing hearing on a charge of carrying a concealed firearm with a brand new haircut. How had he cut his hair? He had a silhouette of a Glock shaved onto the back of his head. I told him that if we managed to keep him out of lockup, he was NOT to turn his head away from the judge….
I told him he was to stare at the judge all the way out the door. Of course, instead, he chose to call the judge a cracker after he got sentenced to juvie probation, turned on his heel to stomp out of court, and got a 15-minute lecture and a resentencing to a commitment program. Ah, public defense. Reddit User: kingbad71
Scene of the Crime
This was a client on trial for murder. He asks the judge if he can represent himself because co-counsel and I don’t want him to “tell his side of the story.” The judge grants his request and lets him take the stand. Five minutes later, he accuses the prosecutor of committing the crime and goes on to “prove” it by saying he saw the prosecutor entering the building as he was leaving….
Until that point, there was no evidence that put him at the actual crime scene. He went on to describe the murder weapon that the “prosecutor” was carrying and to speculate that the “prosecutor” killed the victim because she was cheating on him with another drug dealer. He’s appealing his conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel. Reddit User: jhn107
Stop Selling Coke
I had a client busted by the cops for trading drugs for a digital camera. She called us from the jail, from the phones that advise the caller and the recipient that they are recording the calls, and said, “Can we get my camera back? You know, the one I got for the coke? The cops took it. It was a good camera.” Guess we’re pleading guilty now….
I’m just the assistant, and that’s the message she wanted to leave when I told her the attorney wasn’t in. Most of the time, they would just ask for him to come down and see them. Not this lady. She’s the same one who told the attorney, “I’m tired of going to jail for selling coke.” His response: “Stop selling coke!” Reddit User: cafedream