Your honor, I’m confused! From sketchy deals to courtroom antics, these people reveal the bizarre experiences they’ve had in court. Content had been edited for clarity.
“The Man Was A Walking Savings Account”
“I wish I had kept notes detailing all of the ridiculous things I have experienced in the courtroom. This incident, in particular, began in court, led to a cheap restaurant, and went back to court.
I was in traffic court, and I rarely had clients there. The clerk, ‘Mr. G’ asked me out to lunch. At the time, I was very new in the practice. I had got a referred client, and I happened to know one of the prosecutors from a former job. I had already learned the workings of traffic court in the District of Columbia, and it was typically a ‘cash only,’ operation. My friend introduced me to an older practitioner, and I took them to lunch. I took it upon myself to ask questions about the judge and the work I was getting into. In passing, the practitioner showed me the roll of twenties, fifties, and hundreds in his coat pocket. The man was a walking savings account and loan!
As a new layer, I needed work. And luckily for me, this work happened to be easy. The government made plea deals routinely, but only with the counsel. Bad drivers and defendants were stuck. They needed to hire counsel to escape punishment, sometimes even for minor offenses.
Mr. G and I had a very nice lunch, during which he named and described all of the personalities in the courthouse. There were the judges, prosecutors, lead lawyers, repeat offenders, and the clerks I could ‘count on.’
Mr. G also informed me about how some lawyers routinely got more clients than they needed in traffic court. The court clerks had an advance copy of the defendants, and for a price, they shared the names, addresses, and phone numbers with their ‘preferred’ lawyers. Mr. G assured me I could always count on him. As long as I paid him a certain sum of cash each month, he would provide me with the first look at the list of defendants who needed lawyers. Plus, if I wished, he would carry my business cards and distribute them to stray defendants in need.
I was gracious, so I thanked him and said, ‘I’ll pay for lunch today as a part of my education. However, I’m not interested in buying what you’re selling.’
He looked confused as to why I didn’t take his offer.
I warned him, ‘You know, you are really asking for trouble. Before you offer your services to lawyers, you should ask for their identification. I could have been a cop!’
Nine months later, I was still sort of a newbie. However, I was working in criminal court by this time.
In the very same restaurant where Mr. G and I had lunch prior, I sat down and took a look at the newspaper.
The first headline I saw read, ‘Probe in DC Superior Court Leads to Criminal Conspiracy Involving Clerks.’
I was shocked. If I had been so inclined, I could have wandered over to arraignments and represented Mr. G. He, his peers, and a couple of other lawyers were all arrested. They were charged with criminal fraud and bribery. I am almost certain the Internal Revenue Service investigated each person, too.
I felt I had a conflict of interest, so I simply continued with my coffee and doughnuts.
I am glad I had a semblance of common sense at the beginning of my career and didn’t get involved in the scheme.”
“He Was Making Six Figures And Still Behind On Child Support”
“My ex-husband and I got married and had my son at a young age. We couldn’t afford daycare at the time, so we made an agreement. My husband would go to school while I stayed home, he could get a good job, then it would be my turn. After a few years of scraping by, he finally got a good job. He also became abusive, and I put up with it for a while. Until he pushed our child. You don’t ever push our child!
I divorced him, and rightfully so. My son was three years old, and I knew I needed to take him. In exchange for full custody, I gave my ex-husband everything I owned. This included all of our clothes, furniture, my son’s toys, and even my childhood keepsakes. He didn’t want to pay child support, but the judge ordered it.
Thirteen years later, he was making six figures and still behind on child support. He already divorced his second wife, and he and their two children were living with his new fiancee.
We went to court, and he told the judge he was a single dad attempting to raise his two daughters by himself. This was a flat-out lie! His second wife wanted her kids, but she was scared of him.
The female judge went on to praise him for how wonderful he was for being a single dad and raising two daughters. She berated me for not giving him the credit he deserved for being a wonderful father.
I pointed out to the judge, ‘He isn’t a great father. If my sixteen-year-old son was in the courtroom, he wouldn’t even recognize him. He hasn’t seen his own son in years.’
The judge excused my ex-husband for his behavior and said, ‘Well, he is busy raising the little girls on his own. What do you expect?’
In the end, after I got yelled at and my ex-husband was praised, the judge looked at his income and found he should now be paying double the child support than what was ordered thirteen years prior. He had to pay what was owed, plus an increase on current child support.
Eventually, I agreed to end the child support a year before it should have. I didn’t want to go before the same judge ever again.”
“The Judge Started Cracking Up”
“In my brother’s younger days, he was a bit of a moron. He was never a violent criminal, but he had more than a few run-ins with the law.
One time when my brother was in his mid-twenties, he was riding his motorcycle outside of the local university. He thought it would be a good idea to show off some cute tricks on his bike, and performed a perfect wheelie.
The university police caught him and stopped him in the act. When my brother got off of the bike, he was a bit wobbly. Allegedly, he smelled of adult beverages, too.
When he went to court, the judge read the police report out loud.
During reading the report, the judge stopped and asked, ‘Okay, what is a wheelie? I am not familiar.’
My brother jumped up like an excited three-year-old and showed the judge what a wheelie looked like. Unfortunately, he thought it would be a good idea to use the lawyer’s desk as a prop.
The judge started cracking up, and he was duly impressed with my brother’s desktop acrobatic skills.
He posed a follow-up question to the officer, ‘And how far would you say he rode like this, sitting atop the handlebars?’
The officer replied my brother rode this way for several hundred feet, to which the judge replied, ‘You really expect me to believe somebody could perform this after having adult beverages? I don’t buy it. Young man, save your stunts for the circus and not the streets. Case dismissed.’
A few years earlier and a few counties over, my brother was in court for a poaching charge. He had left his baited hook in the water and tied the line to hit his finger while switching over to a lure while continuing fishing. Having two lines in the water got him written up for poaching, and it carried an eight hundred and fifty buck fine. My brother went in to request leniency and a payment plan since he couldn’t afford to pay the entire fine at once.
The judge asked, ‘Young man, how much can you afford to pay?’
My brother replied ‘Your honor, I’m so broke I can’t even afford to pay attention.’
The judge cracked up and brought his fine down to fifty bucks.
My brother was a troublemaker, but he certainly had a way with words.”
“Nobody Believed I Was There For A Parking Ticket”
“Back in the seventies, I returned from a month-long trip to Atlanta. When I looked through my mail, I found a ticket I had mailed in with a check had been returned.
I told myself, ‘I better get down and pay the ticket immediately or it will go to warrant.’
I zipped down to city hall and attempted to pay for the ticket for the third time.
The first time I tried to pay it, they told me, ‘You have to wait five more days to pay it.’
I replied, ‘I’m leaving town, so I need to pay for the ticket now.’
They told me just to mail my payment in, so I did.
This time, the woman at the counter told me the ticket had already gone to warrant, so I needed to speak to the bailiff. At the time, I was wearing cutoffs, a tank top, and sandals. My outfit made me look like a criminal!
When I spoke to the bailiff, he told me, ‘There’s nothing I can do now. You’re going to have to go to jail.’
I was cursing myself for not going to breakfast before I tried to pay for the ticket. The bailiff took me over to the courthouse, booked me, and kept me in a holding cell. There were about twenty other guys in the holding cell, and none of them believed I was there for a simple traffic ticket.
Fast-forward to my appearance in court, and I was standing in front of the judge in my best suit and tie. I completely lost my temper.
I angrily yelled, ‘I’m going back to jail for this, but I don’t care! This is ridiculous, so I have every right to yell!’
The judge asked for my plea and I yelled at him, too.
I exclaimed, ‘Your honor, I tried to pay for this ticket three times! Three times and I still wound up in jail! This is an outrage, and I am going to let the world know it!’
I expected a bailiff to put me in cuffs and haul me away, but to my surprise, the judge said, ‘You’re absolutely right! This should not have happened, and you have the apologies of the court.’
I was stunned. I had never heard a judge apologize in an open court, and I didn’t even think it was possible.
I replied, ‘Thank you very much, your honor,’ and walked out totally blind-sided.
I didn’t see an apology from the judge coming at all.
When I told my friends, they all doubted me and said, ‘Nah, you’re lying! Judges don’t apologize!’
Except for this time, the judge did apologize. Even fifty years later, I am still surprised by it. On any other day in court, I would have gone back to jail. On this day, I walked out wondering at the strangeness of the universe.”
“I Got Every Dime I Deserved”
“A while back, I had a tenant who stopped paying their rent. He trashed the townhouse he was renting from me, and then he moved out. Between rent and the damage, he owed me about seventy-five hundred bucks. I settled with him for forty-five hundred bucks instead, with the stipulation of him paying me five hundred bucks per month for nine months, due by the fifth of each month. However, if he missed a payment, an automatic judgment would be entered for the full seventy-five hundred bucks. This settlement was presented to the court and entered as a legal judgment.
The tenant paid every month for seven months, and then he stopped. I texted him on the fifth of the month, reminded him a payment was due and received no response. I did the same thing again a few days later, and I told him I now had grounds to get the full seventy-five hundred. Again, I didn’t receive a response. A few days later, I filed in court for full judgment. The tenant never contacted me even after receiving his court notice.
At the hearing, the judge asked me to present my case. I showed the judge the texts as evidence, as I knew they were valid proof that I tried to contact the defendant. Then, it was the defendant’s turn to speak.
The defendant said, ‘I sent my landlord a check for the remaining thousand bucks, I think he didn’t cash it so he could take me back to court and charge me.’
Confused, the judge responded, ‘But he contacted you saying he never received the cash. Why didn’t you tell him you sent it.’
‘I never got the texts,’ uttered the tenant.
‘But when the check didn’t clear and you got notice to appear in court, didn’t you think to contact the plaintiff?’ asked the judge.
The tenant simply replied, ‘No.’
The judge pressed on, ‘Well, why not? It was your responsibility to figure out he got the payments. Obviously, he didn’t get the payments or he wouldn’t have contacted you and filed the case. Do you have proof you sent a check? What was the check number?’
“I don’t know.’ said the tenant as he shook his head.
The judge had heard enough.
He concluded, ‘Judgement for the plaintiff for four thousand bucks.’
This tenant walked into court only owing me one thousand bucks and walked out ten minutes later owing me four thousand instead. He thought he could get away without paying me, but he was wrong.
I garnished his wages and got every dime I deserved.”
“My Kid Was A Regular Perry Mason”
“Several years ago, my youngest son borrowed his son’s pickup truck. He was seventeen years old at the time, and borrow the truck to go on a late-night drive on a country back road.
The reasoning behind the midnight excursion was never made clear, which was for the best. What I didn’t know couldn’t hurt me, right?
At some point, my son lost control of the truck, ran off of the road, and hit a tree. The truck was totaled, but he walked away alive, for which my wife and I are eternally thankful. While raising three boys, I learned to live by a code of, ‘Vehicles are replaceable, people are not.’
The night my son got into the accident, a state trooper was on patrol and happened upon the scene. He spoke with my son and found his driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance in good order. The trooper then wrote him a citation for failure to maintain control, waited around for the tow truck, and then everyone went on their merry way.
Later on, my son was summoned to court, and my wife and I accompanied him. I was expecting him to plead guilty, pay a fine, and everyone go home. That didn’t happen.
When the judge asked my son how he would plead, he replied, ‘Not guilty, your honor.’
‘What the heck?’ I thought crazily.
It suddenly occurred to me my seventeen-year-old son was pleading not guilty to the charge and was apparently going to represent himself in open court. I glanced at my wife, and she looked like she was going to crawl under the table at any moment.
The judge asked a few questions, and my son explained, ‘A deer ran right in front of the truck, and I had no choice but to swerve. I had to veer to the right and avoid the deer, and I wound up running into the tree.’
‘Wow,’ I thought to myself.
My kid was a regular Perry Mason.
The State Trooper was called to testify, and he stated my son was cooperative and the citation was issued.
The judge didn’t appear too pleased with this, but he finally said to my son, ‘Since there were no witnesses or refute to corroborate your testimony, I am inclined to rule in your favor. Case dismissed.’
‘Bam!’ went the gavel.
As we left the courtroom, I hugged my son around his neck and said, ‘Not guilty, eh? Pretty slick, dude.’
‘Thanks, dad!’ he said, as he hugged me back.
Nowadays, our son, aged twenty-seven, lives and works in New York City as a musician, concert promoter, and production coordinator for a performing arts venue
We are extremely proud of him.
As for the little bump in the road, truck crash thing?
“I Lost All Faith In The Justice System”
“When I was eighteen years old, I took a law course in my last year of high school. Part of the course included going to a local courthouse to watch a proceeding. Most of my classmates bailed out, but I was interested so I stuck around.
When I entered the courtroom, there were very few people inside. It was a sentencing hearing for a man who plead guilty to the crime he was accused of, so there was so trial or evidence presented. He plead guilty and the judge passed the sentence. The whole ordeal took around fifteen minutes.
The man appeared in court with his female partner who was standing next to him as the judge asked her questions and addressed her specifically.
The man was accused of and confessed to abusing his partner’s daughter. Apparently, the abuse had gone on for at least a year. He acknowledged all of this somewhat sheepishly, and it seemed like he didn’t care.
The judge asked the partner, ‘Do you forgive him for what he did? Are you and your daughter receiving counseling?’
The woman replied, ‘Yes, I have forgiven him. We are all attending counseling.’
The judge sentenced the man to two years of probation with no jail time. His justification? The judge didn’t want to ruin the man’s career and claimed the man was a good provider for his partner and her daughter.
I walked out of the courtroom completely confused, angry, and disillusioned. It was clear nobody in the courtroom cared about the child. She was hardly even acknowledged! I lost a good deal of faith in our justice system during the hearing.
After working around the justice system as a social worker for the past decade, my faith certainly hasn’t been restored, either.”
“I Thought He Was Joking”
“I worked as an attorney back in the late seventies. At the time, Ohio had never seen a woman attorney. I showed up at the court to try a smaller case, and it wasn’t a good one. My firm did a lot of insurance subrogation work for insurance companies.
When I walked into the courtroom, the judge was appalled.
He uttered, ‘There is no way on earth a woman is trying a case in my courtroom!’
I argued back and forth with him, and he finally said, ‘Fine. I’ll let you stay, but you have to stand behind the bar.’
I replied, ‘Are you serious?’ as I thought he was joking.
The judge was in fact serious.
I had to stand in the visitor’s seats behind the bar to do my opening and closing statements and ask questions. I literally had to shout at the witnesses and jury! It was nearly impossible to pick a jury from the back of the courtroom. No surprise to me, I lost the case.
My firm took the case up on appeal. In verbal arguments, the appeals court explained I had a terrible case, and they could see no error except for standing behind the bar. I lost the appeal, but they sent the judge a letter admonishing him and offered me a job as a clerk. I was flattered, but I was already in a major league firm.
I politely declined the position. Thankfully, I was treated better as a woman lawyer in the following years.”
“The Lawyer Was Even Surprised About The Hearing”
“When this incident occurred, my husband and I were in the process of adopting our second child. When we went to court for our first adoption, it was only to undergo a formal court hearing. A lawyer and judge were called in, my husband and I were sworn in, and we were questioned from the bench.
A bit more than a year later, we were back in court to formalize the adoption of our second child. Our first child, still a toddler, had to come along with us since nobody could watch him. We provided him with a toy for entertainment during what we expected to be a long and boring process.
When we arrived at the courthouse, the judge asked us to approach to the bench. He invited my son to come to sit on his lap, pulled a puppet out from the desk drawer, and started to talk to him. He chatted with my son with the puppet for a few minutes and finally asked my son how he felt about having a little brother.
My son replied, ‘I like having a little brother.’
The judge chucked and announced, ‘Well, I guess I better sign the papers then.’
I think the lawyer was even surprised about the hearing. He provided us with a rebate on our fee as it was based on his representation in court. The hearing couldn’t have gone any better.”
“I Was Lucky The Judge Had A Sense Of Humor”
“A couple of years ago, I was laughed out of court by the judge.
I received a ‘go straight to court,’ ticket on a technicality. I was speeding in a school zone. The catch? The road wasn’t marked as a school zone. However, because the buses were in the yard, the speed limit was below what was posted. Even the cop who pulled me over told me it wasn’t a fair situation. In retrospect, I’m not sure why he ticketed me in the first place, then.
Anyhow, I went to traffic court to plead my case. When it was my turn to speak, the judge asked me how I was going to plead. Before arriving in court, my partner told me I needed to plead, ‘no contest,’ but I scrapped the plan quickly.
I went to the stand and told the judge, ‘Your honor, I plead guilty. And really, really, really, sorry.’
Thankfully, the judge busted out laughing. He let me off with a reasonable fine. I paid the fine and left the state forever. I was planning on moving anyways, and I couldn’t afford to lose my license due to a technicality.
I was lucky the judge had a sense of humor when I went to court.”