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Real Life Stories of Lawyers’ Dumbest Clients

Real Life Stories of Lawyers’ Dumbest Clients May 26, 2022Leave a comment

Some people just don't know when to plead the fifth. Here are some real life stories of legal clients who really should have listened to their lawyers' advice, told by the lawyers themselves, who are just so tired of people hiring them and ruining their own cases by being utterly incompetent.

Fashion Crime

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Wore a shirt that said "Natural Born Killer" on it to a hearing. For an assault charge.

I had him turn it inside out. He went down anyway, but at least it was for, you know, actually assaulting someone, rather than the shirt. Story credit: Reddit / Tortfeasor

Some People Never Learn

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My all time favorite is a client I had who was charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI), who wanted to challenge the charges on the grounds he didn't think he was drunk and the tests was administered improperly...

Who appeared at his court hearings rip-roarin' drunk...twice...and then, both times, he got into his car and tried to drive away...and BOTH TIMES, the police promptly stopped him, administered a breathalyzer and charged him with DUI and related offenses.

We didn't win that case. Story credit: Reddit / CoJoetheLawyer

Bonus Confession

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Told a client "don't say anything to the police, wait until I get there." Confesses to a crime he wasn't being investigated for. Story credit: Reddit / [deleted]

Double Booked

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Not my client, but I was on the prosecutor's side when a defendant failed to appear for court. His attorney can't reach him, nobody know where he is, so we all sit there for about half an hour, until the judge gets sick of it and moves on with the docket.

We found out later that day that the defendant decided to rob a 7/11 the night before and was sitting in jail two counties over when he should've been in court. Story credit: Reddit / AngryPurpleTeddyBear

More Than Meets The Eye

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I worked for the Public Defenders office and met a client in jail for a line-up that he had adamantly demanded regarding a crime with multiple witnesses. I met the client for the first time in a separate room to let him know how it would go down and what to expect.

This is the kind of line-up you traditionally see on television where there are a number of similar looking people standing shoulder to shoulder in front of mirrored glass. They pull the people for the line-up from the jail population and despite their best efforts this is not a huge population.

I walk in to meet the client and he has a stye on his left lower eyelid the size of a golf ball. It was the most identifiable mark on a human's face i have ever seen. He still demanded the line-up and was identified instantly by every single witness without a shred of doubt in their mind.

He still demanded a trial and the stye was gone by the time the trial commenced. Story credit: Reddit / BR0WND0G

That's What Friends are For

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Defendant robbed his friends at gunpoint in their home wearing a Halloween mask he had shown them the day before and wearing a short sleeved shirt that displayed his distinctive sleeve of tattoos. Story credit: Reddit / Maxwyfe

Over My Dead Body

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I represent clients before the IRS. Had a couple who owed around $250,000 in back taxes. We had no defense, so the only thing to do was have the clients meet with the IRS and plead for leniency.

Well, the wife got arrogant with the IRS agent, and at one point stood up and screamed at the IRS agent (who was a pretty decent person, making a very middle class wage) "you'll take away my Mercedes over my dead body!" Then she stormed out of the conference room.

Needless to say, she lost the Mercedes. Story credit: Reddit / riverrat36605

Within Earshot

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My Dad was suing a customer for non-payment. The judge ruled in his favor for the whole 15k. The guy he was suing got up to leave, but walked over to my Dad and said " If you think you are going to see a dime of that money you are a moron. I will kill you first." He then walked away.

For a second my Dad was worried the guy would get away with the threat, but he didn't worry much because the guy had said it loud enough for the bailiff and the judge to hear. He did not make it out of the courtroom. Story credit: Reddit / 10per

The Defense Rests

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My dad was a lawyer in the navy. One of his first big cases was defending a guy accused of falling asleep at his post during Vietnam. My dad was all psyched, delivering what he thought was well prepared defense to the judge.

The judge interrupted him, telling him to turn around and wake up his client. Story credit: Reddit / [deleted]

Early Retirement

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Cashed in their retirement while in bankruptcy. When it is cash, it is not protected. Story credit: Reddit / Legalbegallove

Facebook Fail

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The case had gone on for years. Client was badly injured in a car accident and was about to win millions. Then she posted a Facebook status about her doing something very active and thus negating the entire case. Had to settle for $100,000. Years of work down the drain in one Facebook status. Story credit: Reddit / garishbourne

Persistent Calls

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"Your client, who I see is charged with harassing phone calls, left us 87 messages over the weekend. The Judge would like a word with you." Story credit: Reddit / ServantofProcess

Practicing Restraint

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"She has a restraining order on you. You absolutely cannot contact her any more."

They moved in together. Story credit: Reddit / dart22

More Than Just Pens

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This was relayed to me by the RP manager (individual stores didn't have RP managers, they existed at the district level) of the office supply chain I worked for in High School.

A young man (let's call him Eric) had been with the company for almost a year. He worked in office supplies and was, by this time, known to management to have light fingers.

At some point the store manager called young Eric into his office to discuss his continued employment with the company.

When Eric entered the room there was a strange man who was introduced as the RP manager for the district. The conversation from the RP manager was very short, hoping to elicit a confession to the pens they knew he had stolen.

"Eric, we know what's been going on. If you tell us all about it we'll promise not to press charges against you." Eric just about crapped himself and proceeded to spill all the details.

The assistant manager was bringing in additional software, packing it in empty boxes of printer paper and selling the "printer paper" to his "friends" and somehow writing off the software as stolen or returned. Eric's job was to fetch the boxes from the back when the friends came to pick them up. Story credit: Reddit / NorthstarMeatball

Lending a Hand

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Story from a friend of mine - he was defending a guy in court, don't remember what he was charged with.

The main witness for prosecution was on the stand, and was asked if she could identify the defendent. She was scanning the courtroom & seemed confused - my friend was already silently celebrating because if she couldn't identify him, he could probably get all charged dropped.

As he was mentally adding this case to the 'win' file, he happened to glance over at his client, who had just helpfully raised his hand to make it easier for her to identify him. Even the judge facepalmed on that one. Story credit: Reddit / Jeffbx

Dress to Impress

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My law teacher would tell stories about a juvenile court he used to work in in one of the more questionable areas of California. Apparently they had a real problem with defendants coming in with sagging pants and court officials showing up in beach clothes.

The judge finally got so fed up with it that he kept a box of rope (for an impromptu belt) and a box of neckties behind his desk, and he'd begin court proceedings by lobbing ample amounts of both over his stand at anyone he felt was in need of them. Story credit: Reddit / [deleted]

Let's See The Evidence

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Guy came in and said he wanted to sue Oral-B because their toothbrushes kept cutting his gums. He asked if I wanted to see his evidence. I said no, but he still proceeded to dump a grocery bag of used, slightly bloodied, toothbrushes onto my desk. Story credit: Reddit / legalaidthrowaway

Why is the Rum Gone?

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Doing a trial for client in a circuit court about an hour outside of the city I operate in. Client decides to get a cab out there and tells the driver they'll pay them when they arrive. Client arrives in this community and gets the driver to stop at local convenience store across the street from the courthouse.

Client proceeds to attempt to steal five 26 ounce bottles of rum and is promptly arrested and taken into custody. Trial is postponed as we spend the day (unsuccessfully) applying for bail. Story credit: Reddit / legalaidthrowaway

Ballin'

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During a divorce, the ex-husband claimed that he didn't make much or any money and wasn't able to pay the child support we were asking him to pay.

A few hours after receiving this information he posts a picture on his public Facebook of a wad of cash talking about how 'Ballin' he was. Needless to say his claim didn't hold up after that. Story credit: Reddit / dawsonscreekrox

To-Do List

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My sister is a public defender. She recently had a shoplifting case where the defendant was caught in possession of stolen goods which happened to match a list (also in his possession) entitled "stuff to steal from Walmart." Story credit: Reddit / ephantmon

Cooking the Books

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Client was an accountant for a good size company. During the recession she was laid off and filed for unemployment where claimed she made 200k+ salary. Real salary was 60k. The company received the unemployment claim, investigated, and found out she embezzled millions. Story credit: Reddit / vctunnel

Opportunists

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So I'm a law student, but I work at a volunteer desk that helps people complete the forms for court. The awful part is I can't give any legal advice since I'm not a lawyer, which means I can't tell these people they don't have a case. However, the stories are great.

Theres the lady who sues celebrities. She asked me to help her sue Robert De Niro. Someone else helped her with a suit for Mathew McConaughey. She was doing it on behalf of her kids and their fathers for "in excess of $100 million dollars." she didn't even know how to spell their names.

Then, there's the guy who is suing DirectTV, CNN, Fox, and who knows who else. Apparently, he's the one you have to thank for putting color on your TV shows and adding animation. He was suing because they hadn't paid him... ever.

Finally, there's the lady who is suing her former employer for giving her too much money on her last paycheck. She told me they did it because they liked her and wanted her to come back. There was maybe 60 extra dollars on the check. She was suing for $10,000. Story credit: Reddit / UntimelyOccurrence

Not Guilty

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Not a lawyer but in court for a ticket. Apparently the cop lost the ticket book so there was no "official" evidence. The judge said, the next 15 on the docket (I was luckily one of the 15) just needed to say not guilty since there was no evidence.

One moron got up there and started to argue that he was only going 5 mph over not 10. The judge looked at him and said "son, just say not guilty". The guy again said but I wasn't going that fast.

The judge laughed and repeated again. Son, just say two words for me, not and guilty. The guy, confused mumbled not guilty in the form of a question, the judge said dismissed. Everyone in the court room laughed and clapped for him. Story credit: Reddit / JohnnyBrillcream

Video Evidence

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It's illegal to kill crocodiles in Australia so our client filmed himself and his friends doing it. Funnily enough, they got caught!

Going to be kind of hard to disprove a video that clearly shows the animal being killed and subsequent celebration. Plus photos with the carcass. What an IDIOT. Story credit: Reddit / chililily

Oopsies!

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My client tried to pay a fine with counterfeit money. Story credit: Reddit / mikeyloo

In for a Penny

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We had a client who was convicted of murdering his stepson, before passing sentencing the judge asked if he had anything to say to the court. He replied, "I only messed up when I didn't kill my wife too." Life sentence. Story credit: Reddit / Wolfman87

Like a Box of Chocolates

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My lawyer brother once got a "contempt of court" charge dismissed against his client by begging for mercy, using a Forrest Gump-like defense "Mah client is not a smart man….".

Immediately after the charge was dismissed, the client turned and in front of the entire court punched my brother in the mouth, yelling "Who are you callin' DUMB?!" Client was promptly re-arrested. Story credit: Reddit / MastadonBob

Safer in Prison

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Arguing for my client to be released on his own recog. The judge asks him where he is going to live. "With my fiancé", he says.

He spins a lovely tale about how wonderful his fiancé is, how supportive, did he mention they are having a baby and he wants to get out of jail and take care of his soon-to-be wife and kid to support them properly? The judge asks the courtroom, "could Defendant's fiancé please approach the bench?"

From opposite sides of the room, two women stand up and start walking to the front. One is about 4 months pregnant and the other is nearly 9 months pregnant. They are looking at each other with identical expressions of "who are you?" You could see the exact moment when each of them realized.

The fight started before they even got to counsel's table. Pregnancy or not, these chicks were seriously trying to kill one another. The bailiffs had to stop laughing long enough to break up the fight.

My client says, "your Honor, I didn't think they'd both come." The judge said he was denying bail for my client's own protection. Story credit: Reddit / [deleted]

No-Show

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Not showing up for court. Had a defendant/client with a very simple traffic issue but he WOULD NOT come to court. Now, he had an attorney (a good one) who had negotiated a sweet, sweet deal, but since he wouldn't come to court, the judge put a warrant out for his arrest.

No big whoop. We find the client, arrange for him to come to court on the next available day and file the appropriate motions to have the warrant lifted. And guess what? He doesn't show.

So now, his sweet deal is blown, he's incurred $600-$700 in additional attorney fees for the extra work and there's still a warrant out for his arrest. Story credit: Reddit / Maxwyfe

Don't Ask, Don't Get

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I'm not a lawyer, but the optometrist that I went to had an officer manager that was marking on people's accounts that they got refund checks and crediting the balance, then cashing them herself.

She took $50,000 in a year and got caught. When asked why she did it, she said "no one told me I couldn't." Story credit: Reddit / digitalstomp

He Makes a Fair Point

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Accused bank robber at a bail hearing was told by the judge his bond was set at $100,000 and explained to him that meant he could post $10,000 in cash to be released pending trial. He asked the accused if he had $10,000 for bail.

The accused replied "Judge, if I had $10,000 I wouldn't have been robbing the bank." The US attorney asked for a copy of the transcript, easiest conviction ever. Story credit: Reddit / JME_123

Mistaken Identity

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Guy robs bank, flees scene. His clever getaway plan is to jump into the nearest taxi. Yells at the driver "I just robbed that bank, now drive!". Driver turns around. Is cop. In haste robber has mistaken Police car for taxi (in my country taxis are white, so it is feasible but EXTREMELY dumb). Story credit: Reddit / bezufache

Unusual Occupation

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Guy is being questioned at scene of recent burglary, as suspect. When asked for occupation he says "Burglar". Story credit: Reddit / bezufache

Naked Murderer

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This is morbid but… guy kills girlfriend after a fight at her house. Because he is smart, he then takes off all his clothes, leaves them on the bed next to her body, and sets it all on fire to destroy any incriminating evidence.

Because he is really dumb, he does not realise until after running naked to his car that he left his keys in his pocket. Because he is REALLY REALLY dumb he runs back inside and tries to somehow retrieve his keys from his burning clothes.

Becomes overcome by smoke and jumps out the window. Police find him lying outside with burns. He claims he was coming to visit his girlfriend, saw the house was on fire and ran in to try and save her. Is asked "So….why are you naked?" Cannot answer. Story credit: Reddit / bezufache

Brevity is... Wit

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I watched a case play out in traffic court where the guy who went up before I did for something stupid that should have been a small fine completely lost his cool and start hollering about in the injustice of it all and was carrying on about how America was going down the drain and being taken over by communists when finally the judge lost his cool right back. It went something like this:

Judge: "Be quiet! Not one more word! I've heard enough, NO MORE.. Silence!"

"But Your honor!" .... long silence.... Judge looks down at the guy... "But.. your honor..."

"Not one more word.." "But.." "I see this is difficult for you to understand. Let me say this exactly one more time, a last chance so to speak, NOT ONE MORE WORD."

"Your..." "BALLIF!" So after watching the idiot getting hauled out of the courtroom the judge bangs his gavel and it's my turn.

I walk up to the judge's desk and say, "Well I had this well thought out defense as to why I was driving without a license and expired tabs but I'm just going to go with I was an idiot for forgetting both of them."

"Oh well, happens to the best of us, show me your license and papers are current and we'll forget about it." Story credit: Reddit / [deleted]

Oversharing

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Defendant is at a preliminary hearing for a domestic battery charge. Alleged victim, his wife/girlfriend/whatever, failed to show up, so the prosecution dropped the case. The judge told the defendant it was his lucky day and asked if the defendant had anything to say about that.

Defendant starts to explain his point of view on what happened and just about talked himself right back into that domestic battery charge. Indeed, if the judge hadn't been in such a good mood, he might have. Story credit: Reddit / rdavidson24

Lack of Restraint

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This happens constantly: Guy hires us to defend him against charges by an ex-girlfriend that he is stalking/harassing her. We get girlfriend to agree to drop the criminal charges if our client agrees to have a restraining order entered.

This prevents the client from having a criminal record and/or risking jail time. After this is all worked out, and the restraining order has been entered GUY CONTACTS GIRL. Story credit: Reddit / d0k74_j0n35

Whopper of a Lawsuit

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Remember when Burger King had those commercials that featured a guy with little hands who didn't want to be seen eating a whopper? I had a guy come in to my office and wanted to sue Burger King for defamation because he had little hands. To the guy's credit, he did have little hands. Story credit: Reddit / chio182

Papers, Please

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Someone i went to highschool with was arrested. He served his jail time and ended up out of jail on probation. He couldnt find a job to pay for his probation and court costs so he decided to rob a bank.

He walks into the bank and hands a note to the teller saying hes robbing the place and give him money. She does and he leaves.

She flips his note over after he left to find that the piece of paper he used was the backside of his probation papers with his address and info all over it. He was back in jail shortly there after. Story credit: Reddit / Dahboy

Chatty

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Call me every day for 30-45 minutes at $175/hour asking the same questions each time just for reassurances on his case. His bill was over $10,000 prior to trial. Story credit: Reddit / VegaDark541

Solid Explanation

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On a site inspection with opposing counsel's experts. Expert: "Can we please see the bolts that failed, causing the plaintiff's death?"

Client: "No, those are broken. They were made out of cheap metal. That's why they failed!" I almost slapped my client. Frankly, I'm sad I didn't. Story credit: Reddit / _Vici_

Switch Things Up

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My dad once had a guy get caught for vandalizing and he was caught on tape. This guy wore the same exact clothes into court that he wore on the video…. Story credit: Reddit / undercover_seaturtle

Thorough Cleaning

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"The judge ordered you not to touch anything in the storage unit where your husband's stuff is. So don't even go there." Breaks into the storage unit and pours bleach over everything. Story credit: Reddit / [deleted]

Mistaken Identity

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My dad is an attorney, his office is robbed and the guy took a bunch of our IDs, passports, social security cards, ect that we kept at my dad's office. A few years/months later (not sure of the timeline) my dad is in court for another case/meeting.

Guy enters the courthouse, going through security for a hearing for some unrelated charges. My dad gets called from his meeting and the security guys were laughing, "hey get a load of this, this guy says he's YOU!" I believe he was then charged with robbing my dad's office. Story credit: Reddit / Spretty21

Double Jeopardy

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NYC criminal defense attorney here. All inmate phone calls at the city jail (Rikers Island) are recorded. I remind my clients on a regular basis that somebody is listening to all their calls, and that they should never discuss the case or call anyone related to the case from jail.

I had a client who was charged with stalking and harassing an ex girlfriend. The thing about these charges was that this was the first and last time I had seen a legitimate case of double jeopardy (defendant being charged with the same crime twice).

The defendant had already pled guilty and done a small amount of jail time for the same incidents. I walked into court on our first appearance supremely confident that my client would be walking out of court a free man.

To my surprise there was a second indictment charging new crimes. My genius client had called his ex-girlfriend and the DA had recordings of him threatening to beat her if she came to court to testify against him. We took a plea right there and he served 3 years for witness tampering and contempt.

If my client had only listened to my advice and let me do my job he would have gone home three years earlier than he did. Story credit: Reddit / Impudent

Quick Trip to Jail

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I prosecuted a bank robber. I think he pled guilty mostly to avoid having my show bank surveillance cam photos to the jury. See, he robbed a bank while wearing sagged pants.

When he tried to leap over the half-door that separated the teller area from the customer area the pants came off and tripped him and he fell on his face.

The cameras captured, in exquisite detail, the change in his facial expression from bravado to concern to terror as his pants came off. Story credit: Reddit / KenPopehat

I'm Not Lovin' It

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Actual case I defended: woman using drive through ordered a regular sized value meal at McDonalds. The restaurant had run out of smaller soft drink cups, and without telling her first gave her a large soda.

Rather than saying thanks she sued claiming the unexpected weight of the large soda tore her rotator cuff. Litigated it for two years. Story credit: Reddit / gaajiwaaih

Insanity Plea

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Defendant moves to remove his public defender, apparently listening to advice from a cellmate. Def: "Your Honor, I would like to represent myself."

Judge: "Very well, will you be changing your plea?" Def: "Yes, I would like to plead not guilty by reason of insanity." Judge: "Do you have a mental disorder?" Def: "No." After a brief chat with his former attorney, defendant reinstated the public defender as his counsel.

My guess is defendant listened to counsel when he said that pleading not guilty by reason of insanity means admitting you did indeed perform the acts of which you were accused. Story credit: Reddit / shocolatemilk

Full Hands, Empty Head

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Posting my mother's story on her behalf: She was a public defender and once got a client who was charged with reckless endangerment for the n-th time (can't remember how many). She tells him to basically be quiet and she will talk to the ADA and see what can be worked out.

They end up getting in front of the judge and the client just starts trying to tell the judge his story - wherein he complains that he had just stopped at McDonald's and so had a big mac in one hand and a large coke in the other hand.

His cupholder wasn't easily accessible, so since both hands were full he clearly couldnt control the fact that he was going 90+ on a winding country road with a 30 mph speed limit. Story credit: Reddit / Rentiak