15 Lawyers Shared Their "Gotcha" Moments In Court And It's Tea-rrific
"The entire court facepalmed."
Remember that "gotcha" court scene in Legally Blonde when Elle got Chutney to admit that she killed her father after proving that she had lied about having a perm?
1. This shady plaintiff:
"I was representing a plaintiff in a hit-and-run case. Plaintiff is testifying and is, despite me preparing them for several hours the previous day, an absolutely terrible witness for her own case. Like, she couldn’t even identify the street she was crossing when she was hit by the car. The 'oh shit' moment came during cross examination. Defense counsel pulls out a picture of my client dressed up and ready to hit the club which was posted to Facebook the day after the alleged accident. I, thinking quickly, object because the timestamp refers to when it was posted, not when it was taken. Defense counsel show the picture to my client and asked her when the picture was taken. Sure enough, they say it was taken the day after the accident when she was supposedly in unbearable pain."
2. This lawyer's epic fail:
"I sat in on a personal injury case, where the plaintiff broke their leg in an accident and had a doctor on the stand as an expert. The woman's lawyer begins questioning the doctor about their experience with leg injuries (he was a well-known orthopedic surgeon in the area).
She asks if he's ever treated a 'tibula' fracture (the leg bones are tibia and fibula) to which he only answers 'no,' then she starts grilling him with questions about the tibula.
After about six to seven questions, she asks 'How did you get a medical license and have been able to practice medicine this long if you've never treated a tibula fracture?' And begins a small rant about going after his credentials and those that gave it to him, to which he simply responds 'There is no bone named the tibula.'
The lawyer became beet red and everyone in the room tried their best to keep from laughing including the judge."
3. This simple question-and-answer mess-up:
"Custody dispute. Dad's attorney grilled mom for about 20 minutes on texts she had sent claiming to sell her prescriptions. She wouldn't admit it. Dad's attorney moved on and eventually ended with, 'One more question. Where did you get the pills you were selling?' Mom responds without thinking, 'Oh, my doctor prescribed them.'"
4. This automobile assumption:
"I had parked my motorcycle in my driveway. The officer ordered me to remove it, and tried to levy fines for the violation. He went after my landlord and tried to get me evicted. Eventually, I got a lawyer and filed a complaint. When asked to point to the bylaw I was breaking, he did and even read it out, which basically read:
No parking or storing anything in a driveway other than an automobile.
He seriously thought a motorcycle wasn't an automobile because an automobile is a car."
5. This oblivious attorney:
"Custody case. Attorney stands up in this case and goes to the judge: 'My client has only been found guilty of child endangerment in (county next to us) and (county next to that). I see no reason that this court should hold that against him when it comes to custody of his children.'"
6. This dead giveaway:
"Custody dispute. Children have severe asthma. The kind of asthma that requires special equipment, and mom said the father is ignoring these issues. He's negligent. He's endangering them. Mom should have custody. Mother called her mother — the kids' grandma — to the stand. She babysat the kids often. The mother swore that the grandmother never smoked in front of the kids, and that her apartment was not a dangerous environment for asthmatic children. The grandmother was called last minute by the mother as a rebuttal witness. As she took the stand, the grandmother leaned over into the microphone and cleared her throat. 'Ahecchhhmm.' It was a two or three-second-long expression of smoky phlegm. Father was awarded custody."
7. This BS evidence:
"I was reviewing some documents of a case involving work-related death benefits. Naturally, the deceased's heirs were claiming the money as they were the beneficiaries. Basically, the heirs just had to prove that the deceased's death was work-related. I noticed that the official certificate of death said the guy passed away on Jan. 1, but the heirs had submitted hospital records that the deceased had been admitted to that hospital in February. The dates were so radically different that it could not have been a typo. This was the turning point when their credibility was wiped out, and I knew that the claim was bullshit."
8. This shitty citing:
"I was in a small claims action with a former employer. He tried citing his own lawyer as an authority that the judge should defer to. The judge was not amused. I won."
9. This admission:
"Some guy was accused of something — I cannot remember what — but the judge spoke him free because there wasn’t enough evidence he had done it. Guy said, 'Thank you, judge, I’ll never do it again.'"
10. This lead-a-horse-to-water moment:
"We had a client who was on the board of directors for a company, and was being sued for allegedly not telling the board something. The entire case against him essentially boiled down to whether or not he told the board about X. We prepped him for hours to say that he told the board about X. In court, opposing counsel straight-up asks our client what he told the board. He doesn't say X."
11. This lying client:
"We had a woman come to us saying that she slipped and fell outside of a nail salon because they hadn't swept up the wet leaves outside the door. We take the case and then get a call from opposing counsel saying he's going to send us something important. We open it, pop the disc in the computer, and right there is security cam footage of our client picking up the wet leaves, putting them on the sidewalk, and sitting down on them before calling for help."
12. This shitty argument:
"In a custody battle, we believed the opposing client (the mom) had Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy because the baby was only ever sick with her and healthy and happy as a clam with dad. It was even alleged that she'd faked a fever the baby supposedly had by holding a thermometer to a light bulb. But the kicker for me was her insistence that the baby was constipated and that it was the dad's fault. Her proof? A photo of a diaper with poop in it."
13. This fiery admission:
"In court, a man was charged with lighting a fire in a public park and the judge asked why anyone in the world would have thought that was a good idea. The man said his rationale was that no one was around, so he didn’t see why he couldn’t light a fire in a public park during the day."
14. And lastly, this super honest defendant:
"My boss (lawyer) had to defend a small-time delinquent. Before going to court, he asked her what he should do. My boss explained to him if he was cooperative and truthful his sentence would be milder. After hearing the case, the judge asked him if he wanted to add something. He got up and explained to the judge, 'My counsel told me to be truthful, so I wanted to tell you that I not only did the robbery I'm being heard for, but I also did several others in the region.' He continued to admit to several robberies that had not been solved yet, and everyone face-palmed."
Have you ever witnessed one of these types of moments in court? Let me know in the comments below!
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.