People go to court to get justice. But sometimes, they bring justice crashing down onto their own head. These redditors share their stories of watching people ruin their own lives in court.
"My client messed themselves up really badly.
I’m doing landlord tenant stuff and my client was facing eviction over non-payment. My client was withholding rent payments because of habitability issues in the apartment — no heat, high lead levels, vermin. This is gonna be an easy win for me.
I told my client continually to make sure they don’t spend the money. Because if you show the judge you still have the money it looks real good for you in terms of making the judge believe that you’re withholding for good reasons.
We get up in front of the judge, landlord doesn’t have an attorney, so I’m dancing inside because there’s no way I can lose.
I make my arguments and the landlord makes his.
The judge asks my client if they still have the money.
The client goes, 'Nah, I blew that at the casino last week.'
I literally put my face in my hands in the courtroom. Luckily, the judge was lenient. It’s always embarrassing to have a client agree to something then totally drop a curve ball on you at the eleventh hour.
The judge signed a warrant of eviction executable two weeks from the court date.
If a tenant withholds the rent for legitimate issues — i.e. the apartment isn’t habitable — then it’s easier to convince the judge that yes the apartment isn’t habitable because: 'look your honor, it’s not that I don’t want to pay rent, I have the rent right here, it’s that I want the landlord to fix these problems before I do.'
If the tenant doesn’t have the money then it’s real hard to convince a judge that you withheld the rent for any reason other than you simply didn’t want to pay."
"Fifteen or so years ago, my dad was the manager of a small hotel. One of the semi-regular customers was this big Samoan dude, who booked in for a day at a time, always had a few visitors, and always paid in cash, in a one-to-one conversion with American dollars - highly unusual in Australia.
My dad always said he was a great customer, very friendly with the staff, never gave anyone any problems, and always had a bit of a chat when he checked in.
One day, a couple of detectives rocked up, and asked to speak to my dad. They showed him a photo of the aforementioned customer, and asked if he was currently staying in the hotel. My dad confirmed that he was, and in a matter of minutes a small contingent of cops arrived, stormed the room and walked the guy away in handcuffs. Turns out the guy was a pretty major dealer and was wanted in a couple of states.
Cut to the court date quite some time later. My dad was in the witness stand, and (for whatever reason) the defense was trying to make out like my dad didn't know the defendant, and had never seen him before. Obviously, my dad insisted that he did in fact know the defendant, but that line persisted from the defense.
As my dad left the witness box, he walked past the defendant and said, 'Hi Barry,' to which Barry enthusiastically replied, 'Hi Jason, how are you?' While I'm sure this wasn't the only thing that counted against him in the case, it certainly couldn't have helped.
He ended up getting quite a few years in jail."
"I work as a public servant in a criminal law judge's office, so I get to do a lot of work with judges hearings.
Last month, we had a huge trafficking case (20 or more people involved, months of investigation, undercover agents, videos, audio, the whole ordeal). The hearing lasted three days.
One of the defendants was being read his charges, to which he was pleading not guilty, as he very loudly stated from the majority of the hearing. The defendant kept saying 'I'm not guilty' up until the judge told him to shut up, or he would be admonished. To which the defendant replied 'what are you gonna do, arrest me?' which was actually a bit funny. The prosecutor told him that 'he was being accused of selling, trafficking and carrying x amount of x, with the base of his operation being his house, where he lived with his partner' (the partner hadn't been arrested, nor was she involved at all) to which the defendant responded 'wait up, I was the one selling, she didn't do anything.'
His lawyer facepalmed so hard it's actually recorded in the audio of the hearing.
The guy still pleaded not guilty."
"This was a case a prosecutor in my office had a few years back. A 30-year-old defendant was charged with indecent assault of a child after he got his girlfriend’s 14-year-old sister pregnant. The girl actually kept the baby so the police just waited and got a paternity test. No surprise, defendant was the father.
The defendant wanted probation; prosecutor refused to offer it. He decided to plead guilty and have a jury decide punishment (here in Texas, you can choose to have the jury set punishment). Evidence mostly proceeded as expected. The victim testified to having consensual (aside from not being old enough to consent) relations with the defendant, getting pregnant, etc.. Paternity test introduced.
Defendant took the stand. His version of events was that he snuck into victim’s room at night, covered her mouth, and held her down while he forcibly had relations with her against her will. It seemed like his own lawyer had no idea that’s the story he settled on.
The jury deliberated about 15 minutes before returning a verdict of 17 years (the maximum possible as charged was 20). When interviewed by the attorneys afterwards, one of them said they decided on 17 years so the defendant would never forget the age of consent in Texas again."
"My ex did not want to pay child support so he did not show up to the court house (don’t think just because you don’t go to court you can avoid the reason you are supposed to be there) and got nailed with the maximum amount of money.
After three years of not paying (and only coming to see our son six times), he owes something like $10,000. He finally decided to go back to get it lowered and asked if I would forgive the past due. I told him yes I would if he would start coming to see our son at least one day each week for a few hours.
A few months go by, then the court date rolls around. He has failed to visit more than twice and I have a mound of evidence (Facebook post, text, and MySpace) of him not only having a job but buying illegal substances, expensive clothes, and car accessories. He also lived with his mom so no bills, even his food was paid for by mommy. He makes his case about how he doesn’t have a job and just can’t afford child support, blah blah blah. Then it’s my turn and he thinks I am there just to say hey judge forget about that $10,000 and don’t make him owe so much each month. He was not prepared for the folder I handed the judge that had all his information from the past few months printed and highlighted. He SCREAMED at me, at the judge, and at the room, 'That’s personal! That has nothing to do with this! I was given that stuff!' It took everything in me not to laugh.
The judge waits for him to be quite and calmly says, 'If I could keep it at what it is, I would. Actually, if I could raise it, I would! Sadly, even with all this evidence, I will have to set it at about half.'
My ex was NOT happy about that but there was nothing he could do. After I told my ex that the offer still stands if he ever wants to be a dad, I will forgive the past child support. As of now, our son is 11 and has only seen his dad once a year since. He has not paid any child support other than $100 at each court appearance since he found out as long as the judge sees some money going in, they will not arrest him."
"I had a client who was trying to get away from an abusive ex-husband and filed for a restraining order. The ex shows up to the final hearing and is making a big fuss about a truck that they bought during their marriage. He said it was just his, and she had no rights to it because their marriage was void.
I asked him during cross-examination what he meant by that, and he said that he had already been married in another state when he married my client. He said that my client had no idea, but that it means their marriage is invalid and the truck was all his.
Not only is that legally inaccurate, the transcript of the hearing was promptly turned over to the police, who were actively investigating him for bigamy.
Oh, and the judge gave my client the truck along with a two-year no-contact order."
"Well, not my story, but a prior boss's story:
They had an impaired-driver-kills-a-car-worth-of-people case at the time when they were a general practitioner. My boss was representing the family that got hit (one where the two kids and the wife had died, but the father had not) and wanted the college guy's skin to be mounted on a wall.
This was back before Facebook was commonly used in court proceedings and before tons of people realized that stuff is too great for any attorney worth their weight in salt to pass up.
So, the kid (inebriated driving college kid) had managed to get the judge's sympathy during the first part of the hearing by saying he was sorry, haunted, never going to drink again, this was going to ruin his life, etc. The judge seemed to really be eating it up.
Then comes my boss and immediately burns this kid's remorse to the ground by showing numerous Facebook statuses and photos of them binge drinking, partying, and even joking about driving hammered from the date of the accident up until a night ago. The kid looked like he was being forced to swallow hot coals and the judge was absolutely livid.
Needless to say, the kid had to do way more than just apologize and be remorseful after that."
"Not my case, but my dad's. He was the equivalent of a Public Defender decades ago. There was this guy that would get caught for being hammered in public, public lewdness, etc. EVERY weekend. He seemed to draw the same judges and was pretty well known to everyone in the courthouse as an absolute lost cause. One of the 'regular' judges had him appear in his court again. The judge is ready to give him a prison sentence because he was driving a car this time, but the guy starts crying that he finally got a job out of town and was trying to turn his life around. Judge tells him as long as he never makes a mistake 'in my town again' he would just drop the charges.
Well sure as anything the guy shows up the following Monday. Same judge. Driving under the influence AGAIN. My dad now has his case. The judge tells him he gave him his final chance, to which the guy sobs and replies 'I was leaving town, your Honor. But my friends decided to throw me a going-away party.' The judge was not amused. My dad had to do everything he could to not laugh."
"Sitting waiting for my client and the judge is giving a mass colloquy for an alternative program on a driving under the influence. Basically probation.
Question - Has anyone consumed any substances they shouldn't have in the last 24 hours?
Obvious answer aside, one dude proudly raises his hand - "I smoked some dope last night..."
He did not get probation."
"Not a lawyer, but I was a jury foreman on a case about five years back. The guy was accused of attempting to kill his girlfriend. Various charges up and down the severity were filed. However, the victim's testimony wasn't terribly convincing, especially after cross, and there was only evidence that something had happened in the house that night, but not necessarily that the boyfriend had done it.
Anyway, it was the defense's turn to present, and they unexpectedly recess for the day. We come back the next day, and the defendant testifies. He puts himself at the scene, and admits to hitting her. We ended up convicting him of everything but attempted murder.
Afterwards, the judge came into the jury room and told us that the unexpected recess the previous day was because the defendant insisted on testifying against his lawyer and the judge's advice. If he hadn't testified, basically no chance we would have convicted him.
Play stupid games, win stupid prizes."
"I work in criminal law, and once saw a defendant who was charged with simple theft of mail matter. He was a porch pirate and had stolen a package that was worth less than $100. When he was initially arraigned, he was offered a 30-day jail sentence to plead guilty. He refused and insisted upon going to trial.
When his case reached my office, he was again given a reasonable offer of tow years. Because he had a lengthy criminal history he was considered a persistent offender, so the offer was more than what a package thief would typically get, but reasonable nonetheless.
It’s important to note that he was caught on security camera actually stealing the package, and getting into a car that was registered to him. Basically we had him dead to rights. But, he still insisted on trial. So we tried the case. The jury found him guilty and imposed the statutory maximum sentence given his criminal record—20 years.
That’s the story of the man who turned a 30-day sentence into 20 years."
"Not my story, it was my dad’s case. Back before genetic testing, paternity was determined by hearings with the testimony of the parties. My dad was representing a young man; his ex-girlfriend claimed she had conceived the child while camping with the client and his family over a holiday weekend. The nature of the case meant you had to question the parties about when they had slept with someone and with whom, and my dad was modest guy, so I knew he wasn’t crazy about it. The young lady was on the stand and had testified that she’d had relations with the young man, so he followed that up by asking if she had done it with anyone else that weekend. The young lady froze and burst into tears - turns out she had slept with the young man’s married father, much to everyone’s surprise. He let the young lady compose her self for a moment but figured he needed to go back to that well, so he asked if there was anyone else; the young lady sobbed harder and admitted she slept with his uncle too (I don’t remember if he was married).
At this point, the client wanted a recess. The three of them got together and the young man came back in and acknowledged paternity, and the three of them agreed to make certain the support was always paid. My dad said he had never won a case that turned out to be such a disaster."
"I had a stalker, during preliminary court proceedings, his lawyer asked for clarification on where he had trespassed in my parents home in the last six months and the guy was stupid enough to say, 'only in their kitchen.' Guy had a 12 month EPO at that time restricting him from within 100 yards of me or my family home.
Backstory...he had been stalking me my entire 11-12 grade years. My neighbor finally filmed him breaking into our house and touching himself in my bedroom. Then he stole my change jar and EVERY.SINGLE.PAIR of my underwear and all my bras and both of my pillows on my bed."
"My friend, who is a public defender, told me about a guy who was on trial for impersonating a police officer. He entered the waiting room to see his client wearing a cosplay quality police uniform down to the tactical belt. All he was missing was a police issue sidearm.
He said 'are you kidding me,' understandably, and the guy responded 'this is just the way I dress.' My friend told him 'give me the fake badge. Now.'
That guy was found guilty."
"I saw the cops blow it once. A high school friend got a speeding ticket and he ended up in court questioning the cop. Asked where the cop was situated when he clocked him (sitting under an underpass), would you say it was dangerous to speed in that situation (yes, traffic was heavy), do you remember me saying at the stop there was another vehicle same make, model, and close in color as mine (yes), how can you be sure you pulled over the right one (between clocking the vehicle and pulling it over I never took my eyes off of it).
At this point my friend says, 'After the stop, if I had pulled quickly onto the highway from the shoulder without looking at traffic in the rightmost lane I was entering, would you say that was dangerous and something you might pull me over for again?'
The cop is like, 'Uh, yea, if I saw you do that it would be unsafe and I'd pull you over again and give you another ticket. Are you admitting that's what you did?'
My friend: 'Are you testifying that you would never pull out onto traffic without checking the rightmost lane you were merging into?'
Cop: 'Yes, I wouldn't do that.'
Friend: 'So it's safe to say that when you pulled out to chase me, you definitely did so safely? You already said the traffic was dense, so are you sure you didn't just fly out into traffic and possibly almost hit someone?'
Cop, smugly: 'Uh, no. I'm quite sure I didn't almost hit someone or pull out in a dangerous fashion. What does this have to do with anything?'
Friend: 'Well, you said earlier that you never took your eyes off the vehicle you clocked. Now you're saying that you entered the roadway safely because you checked the lane you were merging into. Can you please explain how it is that you managed to keep your eyes on a speeding vehicle in dense traffic retreating from you at a high rate of speed and looked in your side mirror & rear view, or over your shoulder, and merged safely?'
Cop: 'I, uhh, I mean, it's possible…'
He just kind of looked pleadingly at the DA at this point. Judge had had enough, reamed my friend but dismissed the ticket."
"Lawyer here. Lady got into a minor fender bender with a truck in a casino parking lot (she backed out of a spot into him). My guy said she parked and went inside the casino for a few hours. At her deposition, she testified that she was so hurt she went right home and to a hospital. I asked if she was a frequent visitor of casino, and if she had a rewards card. She was happy to tell me she did, and she had gold status, and showed me the card.
I subpoenaed her rewards cards records, and it showed she was playing slots for hours after the accident."
"Cross examining a custom home builder who had a lump sum contract (set price as opposed to 'cost plus' which means cost of the materials plus x% as builder fee) with the home owner. Claimed he put 20% more labor/materials in building the home than the contracted provided for and he was suing for these excess costs.
Was asking him about an email with my client negotiating the price of the construction and he volunteers that he knew he couldn't build it for that price.
My head snaps up, supervising partner’s head snaps up, and opposing counsel goes pale. Dialogue was something like:
Me: you quoted ‘x’ price? Builder: yes Me: you knew you couldn’t build it for that price? Builder: yes Me: you knew the home owner was relying on that quote? Builder:yes Me: you knew home owner wouldn’t have signed contract without that representation? Builder: yes Me: and you told home owner’s lender you could do it for ‘x’? Builder: yes Me: and bank relied on that price and wouldn’t have given loan if knew it was wrong? Builder: yes
This is textbook fraudulent inducement and he had no idea. Builder got poured out in the arbitration award and slapped builder with sizable punitive damages on top of it.
Five minutes of testimony sunk his case because he volunteered information without being prompted."
"My ex represented himself on a status quo order he invoked. Almost a year prior, he asked for an additional night with the kids per week, and agreed to go to weekly family counseling or parenting classes to 'get on the same page' in return. That could have been great for the kids. Granted, he had to pay less child support under that arrangement (his consistent motivation in all things - money), but the quality of life for the kids could have improved greatly if he would learn to collaborate and stop being an angry bully about everything. He was taking a lot out on them too, verbally, so it was really hard on them. We never made the visitation changes formal with the court, it was just spoken, and in email references too.
He attended one appointment, the first one, and walked out within 10 minutes, saying it was all ridiculous, insulting the counselor, insulting me. He never attended another appointment after. (It was the counselors first time meeting either of us, he said my ex was 'charming', and we had a laugh).
I stopped allowing the extra night at threat of having the police at his door if he didn't return them at the legal, court documented scheduled day and time. Unknown to him, this was by the request of the children, they'd had it and didn't want the extra night anymore. He and I had bickered for many months about him following through on his promise, he'd made a ton of excuses, the 'deal' was violated I'd said, but he ignored me, kept them the extra night anyways, for almost a YEAR at this point, before I pulled that card.
He dragged me back into court immediately after I threatened the police would enforce the original schedule. He motioned it would be detrimental to the children to have this change (lose that extra night), and lose time with him. He was his own attorney for the first time (we'd had 12 trials prior), and his usual arrogance in life was over the top, this was going to be a cluster, I could see that the minute we entered the courtroom. I'd never seen him so arrogant and sure of himself. My attorney vacillated between doodling and walking back and forth over to help my ex with courtroom structures just to save time during proceedings. It was surreal, I remember feeling annoyed I was paying my attorney to help him too, but the alternative was watching the ex fumble painfully with every interaction and drag it out, so I just sat there with the weirdness and watched.
I'd vowed the kids would not be dragged into court unless absolutely necessary, he'd taken me to court at least a dozen times before, they'd only had to meet a custody evaluator once in the beginning and otherwise had remained as far away from all of it I could muster. He always started the fights, and he always lost them. So I just had my attorney along and decided to wing it, and only call the kids in after if we somehow lost and let them tell their needs then. In the meantime, I'd simply offer he made a deal, and broke it, and 'best interests of the children' would have been parenting classes and counseling, and they'd said they wanted to be with me for the 'extra night' when given the choice.
When it was his turn to question me, he asked about my education, noting he was far more educated, and trying to humiliate me. He started doing the head wobble thing (kinda Regan-esque) he does when extra arrogant, so I saw his 'big move' coming. Now that I was clearly 'verified as stupid', he asked what made me think HE needs counseling or classes, and what made me think I could 'make' him go or needs to (utter disgust and contempt in his voice). I replied calmly - 'You agreed to it. We had a deal. You failed it.'
My attorney leaned back in his chair as if he'd just been seated at the beach with a drink in hand. The judge's head dropped really low and bobbed a little, I think she was covertly chuckling. Then she shifted in her chair and looked intrigued for the first time (most the time, she looked bored, but attentive). My ex, confronted with the delusion of grandeur he'd imagined at how things were 'supposed' to go... gridlocked. Veins popped out in his neck and face, he turned red, he just marinated in rage impotently. The script in his head, how it would go, clearly didn't afford logic in the mix, and he had no contingency. He just sat down and stared at the table. He'd dug himself into a hole and just put the shovel down, we all watched his arrogance shrivel. The judge had to coach him how to officially end questioning. My attorney asked what the kids had told me they wanted (no extra night), didn't question my ex at all (my ex had done all the legwork for him on the biggest points), and had nothing further..
He lost, again. He got tagged with my lawyer fees to boot. 10 minutes start to finish. The judge said something to the ex about red herrings, never heard the term before, but the context sounded like she was convinced he was full of it. (the judge had enforced, upon the first time meeting us (she nailed him for fraud that time), she would reign over every case between us so long as the kids were minors, she had his history and persona down pat but it seemed a real treat to see him represent himself, and she seemed to delight in the spectacle he made of himself and calling him out on his own lies).
Of course, he took it out on the kids anyways. The kids told me he said the judge was awful to him, unfair, man hater, etc. He had lots of 'charming' things to say about me too. Their solace: He had one less day a week to play the victim to them, and victimize them. It never did occur to him he was an illogical putz, unfortunately.
The next time he threatened to take me to court was on a call, he was bullying me again, and I was trying to reason with him, which just made him angrier. I was tired, annoyed, and just wanted him to shut up so bad at that moment. Usually I'd try to foster cooperation, explain... positive stuff, or at least neutral. That day, I just couldn't muster it. I was sure he was going to drag me to court again. In the most exasperated, sighing tone, I simply said 'I'm getting so tired of kicking your butt'.
He didn't file again. His hate campaign didn't ebb, but he at least got out of his own way in regard to trying to take his lies to a courtroom. Not a happily ever after, but it was still a big improvement."