Lawyers Reveal The Moment They Knew They Would Win Their Case
Lawyers definitely don't have the easiest jobs in the world: years of school, followed by hours of studying case law in preparation for every new case sounds exhausting. Sometimes the other party makes a major mistake, and the job gets a whole lot easier, though.
Reddit user u/Apsurdista asked:
Some responses have been edited for content, clarity, or profanity.
I had a client who had a pretty severe slip and fall in a pharmacy. In my state, we are not allowed to see surveillance of the subject until after the deposition or other similar testimony is taken. The rule is in place to protect defendants so we don't coach the client based on what we see in the video. Anyway, we take the deposition, then they send the video. Not 30 minutes later I get a call from opposing counsel wanting to settle.
The video revealed that my client had fallen, passed out and peed herself (she was very elderly, and very hurt). The manager of the store had an employee put signs out showing wet floor, and mop up around the lady. All while she was unconscious, all before calling 911.
Settled that one for the policy limits right there.
I can't really say I'm proud of this one, it's not a happy case, but it was a pretty sure winner:
I represented a client once who had gone through a really rough marriage/divorce several years prior. (Child drowned, a couple miscarriages, wife developed postpartum on one, which amplified an existing mental illness, incredibly sad story.) At the time I came into the story, the ex-wife had been in jail for several years (stalking her ex-husband initially, but was still being held because she wasn't competent to stand trial), and I was representing the ex-husband, who just wanted authorization to take over sale of the house so they could finally finish severing ties.
Prior to the trial, the wife's pro se briefs made it seem like she was under the impression they were going to relitigate the divorce, filled with allegations related to the marriage itself. Like I said upthread, she already had mental problems, and it was clear she'd picked up some SovCit tendencies during her ongoing incarceration. When it actually came to trial and she was brought in, you could tell she was clearly not well. She was having a conversation with herself while my client was on the stand giving his explanation of the situation. We didn't really have any witnesses to speak of, this was hardly a major matter, so the ex-wife gave her side after that, and that's when the wheels fell off. She basically went on like she had in her briefs, rambling about the divorce itself, claiming my client had committed adultery and therefore she was entitled to 100% of all assets, aforementioned SovCit stuff, some general babbling, etc.
The judge we had was a nice guy, for which I'm forever grateful. He was patient with her, kind, reminded her that the initial divorce wasn't the issue, but generally just let her continue to speak her piece for a bit. After a few minutes, he gently shut her down, had the bailiff and guards lead her away, and gave us the authorization. Like I said, it's not a happy "oh lord, we're so going to win this" case, just a sad situation, but it was probably my surest winner other than default judgments.
I was defending a company being sued for kicking a customer out for being drunk.
He showed up to trial (small claims) wasted at 10 a.m.
The judges in small claims are lenient on process, they like to adjudicate on the merits. So we started.
He's the plaintiff so he goes first. Can barely stand during his opening statement. Knocks over his shopping bag full of evidence. Just awful.
The court put a stop to it and ruled in my clients favour. The only words I spoke were putting my name on the record.
I was a complete newbie attorney, practicing bankruptcy, which I had no experience in prior to this job.
So little experience, if fact, that basically all I had been told relevant to this particular case was this - if someone has filed for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and their car has recently been repossessed, the creditor has to give it back or you can sue them for money sanctions. And while that is often true, it is not the full story, and it differs slightly depending in the jurisdiction.
Anyway, I file a very basic motion for sanctions. We want car, they won't give car, we want an order for the car and money sanctions. However, a day or two before the hearing, opposing counsel files a response that lays out some pretty solid reasoning for why they didn't have to give back the car.
I enjoyed working at that firm, but one thing they lacked was a more technical understanding of bankruptcy law. They weren't bad attorneys, but not many there had really ever cracked open the Bankruptcy Code and read more than a few relevant parts. Maybe a good analogy would be a religious person who has an understanding of their religious text from having been preached to, but not ever really reading the book itself. So here I am, a newbie attorney, with second-hand knowledge of the Bankruptcy Code, a day away from arguing a very technical case, and all I can get from anyone is basically a shrug, go-get-em kid.
I spent all day and most of the night before prepping for the hearing. And frankly, his argument did make a lot of sense.
But I came up with a marginal counter-argument, and I was ready to at least not embarrass myself at the hearing.
Like a true newbie, I get to the podium and just launch into this very technical assessment of the case. My knees are shaking. And it becomes clear as I continue, from the judge's puzzled expression, that the judge had no idea what I was talking about, what the facts of the case were, or what the other side's argument was. The judge silences me with a hand.
"Opposing counsel, their motion says they didn't get the car back. Why not?"
"Well, your honor, based on this law..."
"You have to give the car back."
"But your honor, there is an exception for..."
"No, you have to give the car back."
"In other jurisdictions, there is an exception for..."
"COUNSEL, I WILL FINE YOUR CLIENT FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS PER DAY UNTIL THE CAR IS RETURNED."
We ultimately worked out a settlement in the hallway where the client got their car back, some money sanctions, and our attorneys fees. The attorney called their client and essentially explained that he thought they had a winning position, but it was clear that the lower court judge was not having it, so it was probably cheaper to settle rather than have to appeal.
As it happens, since then this same issue has been litigated a couple of times in front of some other judges in this district, and the results are all over the map, and I think the Court of Appeals will eventually need to give a ruling. But as soon as I heard this judge roar "FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS PER DAY," I knew I had lucked into winning that case.
Opposing party (Mum) stands up while the Justice is speaking, interrupts, and says "I can't force my children to do something they don't want to do!".
For context, the Justice was talking about how Dad (my client) needed to have some parenting time. Mum had alienated the kids, and was claiming that they didn't want to see him.
Opposing counsel, who had most definitely not anticipated her client doing this, just lowers her head and closes her eyes.
I stand up and say "if Mum can't control her children, then perhaps she should not be the primary parent". The Justice replies, "and I'll be available to hear it when you make that application, Mr. LJofthelaw".
That said, I knew I had won when Mum stood up earlier and questioned the qualifications of the psychologist she had suggested, when said psychologist came back with a report that my client should have parenting time.
I was representing a rental company for homes. Had to present a case where I had to prove the tenants had been using the house they had rented for an illegal weed farm. They claimed they did have weed in the house, but only for their own recreational use.
Apparently there's such a thing as a weed expert and I asked him to testify about how much weed is considered normal for a joint, how many joints per day a regular user would smoke, etc. Little weed facts, so to speak. With his written testimony I did the math, which I presented during my end statement.
With all the weed they had lying around, even if the couple smoked 18 heavy joints a day, per person, they had enough for ten years. That ain't recreational folks. I knew I had them when I heard the bailiff snort when I presented the numbers.
God, this is going to read like it belongs in r/thathappened. My dad saw the video, which was famous at his firm.
Workers comp claim for a back injury that seems suspicious so they sic a PI on the guy after while, which is fairly common.
PI comes back with a video of the guy batting softball batting practice, torquing his back over and over. Exactly what he says he can't do.
Okay, whatever. People get caught all the time.
The camera pans and who is hitting balls in the outfield?
Opposing f*cking counsel.
So, ya. Case dropped and the judge took it up with the BAR.
I was trying a civil case in New Hampshire in front of a salt of the earth jury. In the back row were 4 women. I called a witness who was an assistant town clerk. She came in without a subpoena voluntarily while on maternity leave. She left her baby at home. She was a lovely, well spoken and articulate woman who oozed credibility and likability. Her evidence was useful to us but shouldn't have been fatal to the other side's case. After my direct exam, the other lawyer decides to tear into her with largely irrelevant questions in the harshest, most rude way possible. After one question which reeked of his assholery, the 4 ladies in the back row all were rolling their eyes and looking at each other as if to say "you believe this sh*t?" It was right then and there I knew we were winning that one.
Hit and run. My client was the one who got hit.
Defendant's defence was: "It may have been my car, but I had reported it stolen and it wasn't me behind the wheel of the car."
During my client's examination in chief:
Me: What were you doing at that time?
Client: I was waiting for the pedestrian light to turn green so that I could cross the street on the zebra crossing.
Me: And did you wait for the light to turn green before crossing?
Client: Yes. The light turned green, and I waited a few seconds before crossing the street.
Right then and there, the Defendant jumps up and ROARS across the courtroom:"MY LIGHT WAS GREEN TO GO. THAT BLOODY F*CKING LIAR DASHED ACROSS THE STREET!"
Oh dear. How long before he realised he f*cked up?
He sat back down in a huff for about 3 mins before he turned white.
When the other lawyer got a call on his cell phone while he was making his closing argument to the judge. He told the judge "just a second" and took the call.
He took the call...in court...during submissions?
That has to be fake. Please tell me that's fake. Surely no lawyer would be that arrogant and rude!
I've heard of lawyers kicked out of court just for having their phone out, even of it's off. Who the hell would take that call?!
"It wasn't me!"
There's not much you can do when the righteous fist of the law comes down on you. Call it a mix-up, or call it a mistake, if someone's pegged you at the scene of a crime there's not much you can do but trust the justice system to prove you innocent. However, that's a gamble, and just because you've been given a "not guilty" doesn't mean the effects won't follow you for the rest of your life.
Reddit user, u/danbrownskin, wanted to hear about the times when it wasn't you, seriously, it was someone else, when they asked: