courtroom fails

I'm not sure if there's ANY other courtroom scene in movie history as satisfying as Marisa Tomei taking the stand in My Cousin Vinny - after a series of setbacks and failures, Vinny is finally able to unravel the case against his cousin ENTIRELY....all thanks to his fiance's extensive automobile knowledge. The prosecutor tries to trip her up, but she's fifty steps ahead of everyone. It's satisfying on a level that few other movies can be - just take a look:

Too bad this kinda stuff never happens in real life, right? Well....it doesn't REALLY happen like this, but similar things DO happen. Just ultimate badass "case closed" moments that completely shut down a case instantly - except it's USUALLY because of people being too DUMB, not too SMART. 



1. These boots are made for convictin', and that's just what they'll do. (from banterbandit)

Wasn't my case but 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.



2. Grammar nazi wins again! (from graboidian)

I was in an accident a few years ago (other guys fault). He got a ticket for unsafe left turn, and I got a ticket because I wasn't wearing my seatbelt.

In the section on the ticket, the cop inadvertently wrote "Did wear seatbelt while operating motor vehicle".

When I got to court, The Judge asked how I wanted to plead. I asked the Judge if I could ask a question first, and he said "Sure". I stated "The ticket says I did wear my seatbelt while operating motor vehicle, and if that's the case, I want to plead Guilty"

The Judge looks down at the ticket, and looks back at me and says "Case dismissed! Have a good day".

I did!



3. This is basically My Cousin Vinny in real life. (from BoltActionGearbox)

A friend's sister went to court over a moving violation. She's an engine tuner and had built herself a beautiful first gen Mitsubishi Eclipse with 6-700 horsepower at the wheels. This car, inevitably, attracted the attention of the local law enforcement, who pulled her over with no fewer than 8 cruisers after some slightly aggressive acceleration around a left turn.

During cross examination she asked the officer who'd made the call why exactly she had been pulled over.

"I heard the engine revving, and I saw you spinning the tires and sliding around the corner."

"To be clear, officer, which tires were spinning?"

"The rear tires."

"So I was spinning the rear tires, and it was the back end that swung out?"

"Yes ma'am, that's correct."

"And you're sure that's what you saw?"

"Clear as day, ma'am. The light turned green, you stepped on the gas, and the rear tires broke loose under power."

"The rear tires broke loose under power? There's no doubt in your mind that's exactly what happened?"

"None at all."

"Your honor, this officer is either lying or hallucinating. My car is front wheel drive."



4. This is a pretty rock-solid case. (from KxxLxxxxx)

Denmark's Constitution states that you are to be held before a judge within 24 hours of your arrest - no exceptions!

Christmas Day, we bring a man before the judge, and the whole case took like 2 minutes from we entered the court.

Prosecutor: "Your Honour, the man before you has an entry ban from Denmark - yet here he is. I have no further allegations".

To clarify...

"I don't get it?" - The accused is not allowed to be in Denmark. The accused is sitting in a Danish courtroom, making it a very hard case for him to deny that he is, in fact, violating his entry ban.

"Why is it important that it's Christmas?" - it's implicit that none of us wanted to be in court for longer than absolute necessary, since we had better places to be.

"How do you get banned from Denmark?" - It helps if you're a non-EU citizen and commit a crime that gives more than four years in prison. I don't know what this man was banned for in particular. There's plenty of people getting banned, but it is a bit complicated - not just because of international laws, but because we don't really have hard borders. It's more of a speed bump.

"What if the 24 hour rule is broken?" - Ahh, time for a classic law term: It depends. If a Danish citizen does a petty crime, there's a possibility he's just send home. We do that with drunks, fights, junkies, etc. You don't just let a foreigner go, because how would you ever find him again? I remember a case, where one of our big, international oil tankers was attacked by pirates outside the coast of Somalia. The pirates were caught and held captive on board for 12 days and taken to the police as soon as the ship was in harbour. All the pirates had to be paid a compensation, because they were not held before a judge (called in via Skype) within 24 hours.



5. Classic mistake. (from Choactapus)

There is a Judge Judy episode where a high school girl is suing two boys from her school for taking her backpack and stealing various valuables out of it and something like the following conversation happened.

Judge Judy: And what was taken from your backpack?

Girl: My phone, my money, my headphones...

Boy 1: No, they weren't.

Judge Judy: Excuse me?

Boy 1: There weren't any headphones in the backpack.



6. See, he should have said "Gosh Darnit." (from DONT_PM_ME_BREASTS)

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."

"That's correct."

"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."



7. Honestly not sure why EVERY defense attorney doesn't do this. (from PugBarkingAtWind)

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.



8. You gotta respect this kind of commitment to penny-pinching. (from ProtoJazz)

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 $storeName 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 shit 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, shit like new electronics or guitars.

Eventually the relationship ends, but not long after we find out he's taking us to court becuase 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, in fact 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.



9. Bad move, Dr. Banner. (from WolfySpice)

I tend to trot this out a lot, but a colleague of mine. She 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.)



10. Always take a picture. (from PatientBear1)

This is one of my Dad's favorite stories.

So he is out of state on business driving through 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 whats 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.



11. The only time Caps Lock ever saved the day. (from Thandius)

not a lawyer but my Father in Law was subpoenaed to testify in a trial. Wasn't a big case, it was to do with a car and if it had or had not been written off and if there was fraud going on.

Essentially they had a form from the garage my FIL had been working at (he did all their paper work) and they put him on the bench and asked some questions, then they handed him a form which he had filled out for her work to be done after her accident.

the lawyer asked him

L "Did you fill out this form?"

FIL "Yes"

L "and on the right where it says 'write off, car totaled, did you write that?"

FIL "No"

L "You are sure?"

FIL "Yes"

L "Is it possible you wrote that and forgot?"

FIL "No"

L "How do you know you didn't write that and simply don't remember"

FIL "I always write in all caps like the majority of this form, that is not written in caps so I know I didn't write it"

I am told the lawyers face dropped and the case was dismissed.

My FIL said this after "He was a bad lawyer, you never ask a question that you don't already know the answer to"



12. Always make sure your judge isn't a coin geek before doing this. (from wjray)

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?"



13. Takes a bold person to sue the people they tried to rob. (from disguisesinblessing)

Was on a jury.

Defendant attempted to rob a tip jar from a barista, and the barista fought back. He ran, and she tossed the empty jar towards him.

Defendant claims that he was hit on the head and injured by the metal tip jar.

Even though we'd already watched the video, and I already caught this detail, the prosecutor asked to play the video of the robbery again. And then she says "How could the barista had hit him in the front of the head, when she was throwing it from behind? And he's wearing a HAT."

She was so annoyed she had to point that out, I almost laughed.