Lawyers Reveal Their Best "I Rest My Case" Moments
The defense rests! I win!
Lawyers are not the most popular people in the world and they don't care. They are there to win and claim victory at any cost. Half of the time you have to wonder... do they actually love lawyering or just flat out winning?
It's a bloodthirsty, competitive career not for the faint of heart. In the end all lawyers can recall their best moments when they knew they had a lock!
Redditor movierevision wanted lawyers to talk about... Lawyers of Reddit, what is the most bada** "I rest my case" moment you ever witnessed?
Stupid is as stupid does....Giphy
My mum was a personal injury solicitor, and she was basically trying to prove that the car that hit her client and caused life changing injuries (brain damage) belonged to X.
X at first pretends not to live where he does, then the car is found abandoned all wiped down. The trail seems to end. Then, my mum has a hunch and checks X's facebook.
He had a public profile, and his profile picture was his standing next to the car in question. She screenshots them and sends them to the opposing counsel with a slightly more politely worded 'your client is dumb.' She's retired now but she considers it to be one of the most satisfying moments of her career.
Needless to say, she won the case and her client got a million pound settlement and is now living in Spain. All for the want of a simple privacy setting and a touch of common sense.
Where there is smoke... there's crack!
This just happened in a tenancy arbitration yesterday.
I evicted a tenant for being a small time dealer. She disputed it, and we had a tenancy arbitration. I submitted video of people walking up to her window like a Burger Crack drive-through, plus brought in her neighbor as a witness. The hearing is conducted over the phone.
The witness testified that she smelled crack smoke, and had a constant stream of drug addicts buzzing her intercom and knocking on her door, looking for her neighbor. As in, 5-10 per hour sometimes. The tenant got a chance to cross-examine the witness and her first question, in an excited "gotcha" type voice was: "So, how do you know what crack smoke smells like?"
Witness response, without skipping a beat:
"Before we had our baby my husband was a drug user. He also bought from you and smoked it in your apartment, so that's how we know what it smells like."
These people live among us!Giphy
Two guys were being tried for robbing a gas station. A customer who saw the robbery was now on the witness stand. The prosecutor asked him to describe what he saw. He said that he saw two guys robbing the store and then running out, and one of them bumped into him. Then the prosecutor looked at the two perps and said "Are those two men in the court room today?"
At which point, the two idiots raised their hands. Case closed.
Do you not hear yourself Sir?Giphy
For a while my mother dated a man who really liked to act like a big shot. He was a guy that claimed to know a guy where ever you went. Any time you wanted something he would say "Oh wait, let's go to [store name] I'll talk to owner and get you a deal."
Nearly every time he did, the owner seemed like he wasn't entirely sure who this guy was.
He would do stuff like insist on taking the whole family on a vacation, or take everyone to a fancy restaurant. Or he would show up with expensive gifts out of the blue, like new electronics or guitars. Eventually the relationship ends, but not long after we find out he's taking us to court because we owe him money.
Court date comes, he presents his case first. He goes through a huge itemized list of every item he ever bought us. Every single item, from a vending machine coke, to a new sink because he broke the old one. Even a birthday cake bought for the youngest child. Once he's done, the judge asks if there was an agreement to be paid back for any of that. He says it was just an understanding.
The judge asks specifically if he ever said he wanted to be paid back. He says no, that usually when someone buys you something you pay them back. The judge then explained that no, infact that's not usually how gifts work, and that by his own admission there was never an expectation to pay for anything.
So after his own testimony, the case was closed. He then appealed. Again he presented his testimony first. Again, closed by his own words.
Deep breaths and a Xanax friend...Giphy
A colleague of mine was cross-examining a guy in a family law trial, probing him on his anger issues. He quickly got so angry enough he tried to pick up the chair and throw it at her.
(The chair was bolted to the ground.)
Signs need to be visible.
A little late but this is one of my Dad's favorite stories.
So he is out of state on business driving though some no name town when he goes through an intersection. Suddenly a cop pulls him over stating that he ran a stop sign and ticketed him. My dad insisted there was not any stop sign but the cop did not listen. Pissed, he went back to the intersection and saw that there was a stop sign hidden behind a tree and twisted in the wrong direction!
Even more pissed he went to a convenience store that was in sight of the intersection and bought a disposable camera while the clerk laughed because he saw what happened and knew what was up.
Luckily, my dad had to be back there in a few weeks for work. The cop assumed that someone with out of state plates would just pay the ticket and they were shocked when my dad turned up in court, calmly presented his evidence to the judge and strolled out in 5 minutes scott free.
I got you on camera! I got you on satellite!Giphy
Working as a paralegal. Divorce case, hired by wife. Husband insists he never had an affair with their female friend.
Days later. Paralegal in charge asks me to show paralegal intern how to do property search. Last address in mind is the possible mistress. Type in address, look at deed, get parcel, even get a satellite photo. This is important. I print up satellite photo.
Attorneys meet. Our boss L asks, "Mr Husband, you insist you never had an affair with Ms Woman, correct?"
H: That's correct.
L: Did you ever go to her house for anything?
H: No. I can't remember where she lives.
L: Mm hmm. So between the dates of blah and blah you never visited her residence?
H: (annoyed) No, never.
L: What vehicle do you drive?
H: Ford (something big like F-350).
L: What color?
L: Anything in that truck bed?
L: Silver, the kind that's bolted in place?
L: Do your truck and toolbox look anything like the ones at Ms. Woman's house in this satellite photo taken on such-and-such date?
Summary: Husband swears he never visited the house of his alleged mistress, only to be caught by a satellite photo.
But they matched my outfit...
In criminal docket court one morning the accused wore a pair of very unique custom made red cowboy boots... stolen from the house he was accused of robbing. Wore them. To court. To plead not guilty. The prosecutor was laughing.
Shhh... no quiet... it's all over hun!Giphy
My wife and not me, and it was during sentencing.
"Mr. Defendant (local gang boss), you stated you are not and have never been in a gang."
"Do you have any tattoos?"
"Yeah, I have a tiger on my calf and one on my chest that says GD 4 Life?"
"What does GD stand for?
"Gangster Disciples. . . but, I mean. . . ."
"No further questions, you honor."
You might want to get some glasses...
When I was in law school, I clerked for a criminal defense legal clinic. We had an assault and battery case where there was only one witness to the crime, which was the victim.
I was sitting at the defense table with the actual attorney, another law student that worked on the case with me, and the defendant. We were all in similar looking suits as a matter of unplanned coincidence.
The victim was asked to identify the person who committed the assault in court and she pointed to me and not the defendant.
Our attorney asked several times if she was really pointing to me and if she was sure, and she said yes. The prosecutor was visibly upset and the trial pretty much ended there as this was a bench trial and not with a jury.
It was never discussed or admitted to, but I suspect our attorney purposefully had me there at the trial because I did have a passing resemblance of the defendant.
How high can you count?Giphy
A friend told me this story. He's not a lawyer but was job shadowing or something and was in court for the day. Anyway, one of the cases was a girl contesting a stop sign violation.
The prosecutor asked how long she was stopped at the stop sign and the girl responds 40-50 seconds. The prosecutor asks her to look at the clock in the court room and proceeds to stay silent for the next 30 seconds, which is a really long time.
Once the 30 seconds is up, the prosecutor looks back at her and says were you really stopped 40-50 seconds and the girl was basically silent. I'm pretty sure she was found guilty.
Know the car make friends...Giphy
Not me, but a buddy who is a DUI attorney. In the state he practiced in being in the car with the keys in the ignition, even if the engine isn't running, is considered a DUI (if you're intoxicated.)
Had a client come in, told his story to my buddy, the buddy goes to the DA after discovery and says "Don't take this to trial!" DA says "Yeah, right."
In court, he gets the State Trooper who made the arrest up on the stand and the Trooper says under oath "I saw with my own two eyes that the keys were in the ignition."
Buddy gives the cop several tries to walk it back. Then has it read into the record that the car was a Prius.
BOOM. Instant dismissal and the Statie got into some trouble.
Late to the show, but I used to be a domestic violence advocate, and helped victims get protective orders against their abusers.
At one hearing, my client told her story of abuse, him hitting her after an argument. The judge asked him, so did you hit her? Is her story true. He says, and I quote, "now Judge, it was just a little Love Tap, you know how it is."
The judge blinked twice, stunned, slammed his gavel, and granted her petition.
These two yutes....Giphy
Kind of applies, I'd suppose.
I practice mostly criminal defense. I, fairly recently, had a client who, after pleading guilty to a theft charge, contested the amount of restitution owed. Essentially the client said, I stole some stuff but I didn't steal all of that stuff.
The victim had to come to court to prove the value of the things he alleged were stolen. Some of those things (that my client denied having touched, much less stolen) were rare and valuable coins.
To support his claim, he brought a statement purporting to be from a local coin dealer with the type of coin listed and its value.
I knew nothing about coins, but I knew the judge knew a lot about coins, having collected them for years. The DA asks his questions.
I muddle through my questions. Then the judge said he had some questions, and verbally ripped this guy's list to shreds. Stuff like, "You expect me to believe that blah blah blah coin in blah blah condition is worth $250 when I can go online right now and find the same coin for $36?"
I just sat back like Vincent LaGuardia Gambini while Mona Lisa Vito was being voir dired. It was wonderful to watch.
The best I've got was an auto accident case. The police report claims my client was proceeding through a red light, and got t-boned in the passenger side. My client claims they were proceeding through a green light and got t-boned in the driver's side by someone else who was running the red.
I asked to approach the bench and showed the judge and opposing counsel the police report. It included a sketch of how the cop said the accident happened. Then I showed the prosecutor the pictures I had of my client's vehicle, with the giant dent in the driver's side where my client says they were hit.
The prosecutor points out that the police diagram shows my client being knocked into a telephone pole, so of course there's a dent. I flip forward to a picture confirming the dent in the opposite side, then back to the picture of the driver's side. And the closer up picture of the driver's side. Which includes a mostly legible imprint of the "victim's" license plate.
The prosecutor hemmed and hawed and said he wanted to talk to his officer. The judge told him he could do that, but also, that he might want to consider whether he could ethically pursue this case. He went off for a few minutes then came back and dismissed.
I don't know that I handled that optimally (I mostly do civil work, talking things out is what I'm good at, I don't know how an experienced criminal defense pro would have handled it and any reading this are very possibly cringing hard at my work) but it got the job done without a trial.
How about, instead of the most "I rest my case" moment, the most dumb "I rest my case" moment? This is civil so its more my forte.
Opposing counsel malpracticed. Its hard to call it anything but that. He had plenty of time to answer a complaint, but didn't file an answer and didn't ask for an extension. Its now several months later and default judgment has been granted against his client.
He moves to reopen the case. In theory this is hard to get, but everyone hates my client so its not as hard as its supposed to be. He claims that a case tracking error occurred due to unfamiliar case management software, and that this should count as excusable error.
I know that he's done this in other cases, so... if that's the reason, he should have fixed it by now. But my side isn't planning to throw him under the bus by saying that. We just want our default judgment to stand, and we're planning to argue as delicately as possible without bringing in any outside details like that.
In short- if his mistake was excusable error (it wasn't) and his client would be really harmed (probably) then the case can reopen. If he just malpracticed then no.
We're alone in the small town court. The judge comes in wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, and just walks up to us and starts talking about how he doesn't want to put anything on the record if we don't need to, sure, opposing counsel CAN go on record and argue his motion if he really wants, but maybe we can all talk about this, and maybe my client is open to negotiation without technically reopening the case... I'm not going to go into the reasons but that wasn't a crazy thing to suggest- my client may have been better off with an agreement than with the judgment we already had.
Opposing counsel says he wants to go on record.
The judge says... really? Reeeeeeaaally? He's read the briefs and he understands what happened, and he's not going to maaaaaaaake opposing counsel go on record.
Opposing counsel wants to go on record.
Judge leaves and comes back in robes.
Opposing counsel speaks first because its his motion, and details, in what is now about to lead to a formal and written court ruling, how he malpracticed.
The judge says, "That doesn't sound like excusable error, that sounds like malpractice." End scene.
Your turn Sir...Giphy
I heard about a deposition in a personal injury case where there was a question about whether or not the plaintiff used illegal drugs.
Defense lawyer: Do you now or have you ever used illegal drugs?
Defense lawyer: Is cocaine an illegal drug?
Defense lawyer (shows plaintiff a document): So, how do you explain this drug screen where you tested positive for cocaine?
Plaintiff (gets serious because he's about to make this lawyer feel terrible): Sir, as I'm sure you're aware, I have a medical condition that requires me to have a catheter in my bladder. The pharmacy puts a form of cocaine in the lubricant so that it numbs my penis when I have to put the catheter in.
Defense lawyer (pulls out another document): Sooooo, do you also put crystal meth and marijuana in your penis? Because this other drug screen I have here ...
I have two. One my own, and one someone else's.
In mine, my client was accused of not leaving this woman alone when she wanted no contact with him. He swore that they were dating, and she'd call the police when she got mad.
She swore she wanted nothing to do with him. She had a photo on her phone of him sitting on her porch, to prove that he'd come around without her consent.
I asked permission from the judge to look at the photos before and after to get context. Lo and behold, she had hundreds of photos of him. Eating dinner with her, sitting on her couch, wearing her undergarments... It was glorious.
We're done here...Giphy
During my divorce, my Ex was on the stand lying her butt off about how she was totally not using drugs and having an affair with an underaged child being present in the home.
Her lover was outside because my attorney subpoenaed him and he HAD to be there. My attorney grilled him and what he said contradicted what my Ex was saying at least a dozen times.
Then my attorney put her back on the stand and made her admit every single lie she told the judge. Her closing argument was basically that mom is a liar and has zero credibility.
I was awarded primary custody of our child, the house, child support, AND her druggie boyfriend is not allowed within 500 yards of the child. That was pretty awesome.
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We are told that, if you're not confident, you should just "fake it til you make it."
This is great--in theory. In practice, sometimes "faking it" can have extremely real and terrible consequences, which these people found out the hardest of hard ways.