Lawyers From Around The World Share ‘I Rest My Case’ Stories

Lawyers From Around The World Share ‘I Rest My Case’ Stories

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of going to court, you’ll know that it’s rarely as dramatic as what they show us in movies and TV shows. The law is dull, and dry, and disinterested in the personal.

However, every once in a while, a lawyer will get the chance to slam dunk a case — whether through their own cleverness or someone else’s stupidity. There’s simply nothing better than an ‘I rest my case’ moment. Well… as long as you’re the one resting.

Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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38. Way to prove them wrong

I was on the losing end of this one. I was representing a pro bono defendant who was attempting to regain custody of her children. The Family Division attorney was laying out his case to the judge for why my client wasn’t ready, and his final point was that my client had refused emotional counseling to avoid violent fits of rage that she had inflicted on her children.


I just caught the opposing attorney’s smirk of satisfaction as I got up to usher my client out of the courtroom.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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37. Technically correct

When I was in law school, I had to argue a case for an exam. I was the last in my class to go so there wasn’t anyone arguing against me. I opened with a motion to dismiss since opposing had failed to show. The judge grading me chuckled and said “touche counsel.” I still had to go forward but we got off on the right foot and I ended up with an A.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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36. Correct me if I’m wrong…

Not a ‘case winning’ moment, but a ‘motion winning’ one for sure (think of cases like a big war, with motion hearings as little battles).

Opposing attorney was insisting that ‘Rule A’ meant they could do X. I tried, multiple times, to point out ‘Rule A’ literally did not say that.

During the hearing, the judge reached behind them, grabbed their ‘Rules of Civil Procedure’ (basically a dictionary of rules), placed it in front of the other attorney, and said, “Show me where Rule A says X.”

Other attorney did not take the hint, read rules out loud for a brutal 5 minutes, and gave the book back. I said, “Judge I have nothing to add.” It was pretty fun.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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35. Put me in the trial, coach

Opposing counsel decided that I had coached my witness and gave him lines to repeat, that he was lying.

Short version is that he asked the witness if he spoke to me before he testified. Witness said he had. Attorney looked like he thought he had me. Attorney asked the witness what I told him, what instructions I gave him. Witness looked him dead in the eye and said, “First thing he told me was to tell the truth no matter what. He said the lawyer is never the one who goes to jail, that he isn’t going to jail for me, and if I lie, I’m on my own.”

Attorney looked like someone took the air out of him. Everyone in the courtroom simultaneously looked at me. Only time I’ve smirked or laughed in court. I wanted to put my feet up on the table like I was Vincent LaGuardia Gambini, hands behind my head, and say, “I’m done with this guy.”


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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34. You coulda just confessed

I was prosecuting some kid. He had an ‘anti-social behaviour order’, which meant that he was not supposed to go to a certain street. He had pleaded not guilty on the basis that he had not been there.

I opened my cross examination by holding up a map and pointing at the street. I said to him “you went here, didn’t you?” He said “yes”.

In England, we don’t say, “I rest my case.” Instead I looked up at the bench, said “no further questions,” and sat down.

It might not seem that epic, but I got the defendant to admit the offence with one question. That never happens!


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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33. Tu quoque

Corporate lawyer, so I don’t have cases to rest. But once opposing counsel was forcefully insisting that it was ridiculous for me to expect a certain provision in a contract we were negotiating, and I pointed out that this provision was standard in his own firm’s contract forms, as I knew from several prior transactions I’d worked on across from them. Pretty exciting stuff.

He took it in stride and said (jokingly), “Well, of course it’s fine when we ask for it.”


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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32. That’s a compulsive liar for you

I represented a company that was sued for breach of contract by a former independent contractor. Dude basically alleged that my client wasn’t paying him correctly in accordance with the contract.

During his deposition, dude admits that he never reviewed any documents to make sure his allegations were true, never reviewed his complaint before filing it to make sure the allegations in it were true, and had no idea whether or not my client actually failed to pay him in accordance with the contract. Basically, he tells me that he was suing my client because he didn’t think their agreement was fair (even though he agreed to the terms when he signed the contract). The kicker is that he admitted that he OWED my client money.

At arbitration, he tries to flip his story and starts giving testimony that is the exact opposite of his deposition, so I whip out his transcript and undermine his testimony bit by bit. Needless to say, I won that case.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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31. Shoulda taken the fifth

Defendant in a bench trial for a speeding ticket said he couldn’t possibly go as fast as the officer clocked him. He knew this because he video taped himself accelerating from a full stop to the location of where the officer sat. His experiment showed his vehicle could only get to 55mph and not the 67 mph he was clocked at. The ADA then moved to have another speeding ticket issued because the actual posted speed limit was 50mph.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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30. Oh, that’s right, I’m lying

I was in traffic court one time and saw a lawyer straight-up brutalize a cop with words. The cop had previously testified that the weather on the night of the traffic stop was heavy rain and winds so strong that the defendant could only open his window 3″, and that the car had stopped on an area with very little shoulder, forcing the cop to approach from the passenger side not the driver side. The cop had then testified that he smelled a strong smell on the defendant’s breath that indicated he had been drinking.

When the defense lawyer got up, he repeated what the cop had said almost verbatim and asked how he could have possibly smelled drinks on the breath of someone on the other side of the car, through a 3″ crack in the window, on a night with pouring rain and strong winds. The cop sort of opened and shut his mouth a few times, squirmed around in his seat, and said “that’s just what I always write in my log, to remind me that it was a DUI stop.”

The judge threw the case out. No motion to dismiss needed. Then he took a break and called the traffic prosecutor and the cop into his office. I’m guessing it wasn’t for a nice spot of tea and some scones.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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29. Photographic evidence

Complaining witness accused my client of harassment/stalking. Said she told him numerous times that she wanted nothing to do with him. My client claimed they were dating, but whenever she got mad at him, she’d call the police and say he was harassing her.

On the stand, she testified that she’d never dated him, never invited him into her home, wanted nothing to do with him. She presented a photo on her phone of him sitting on her porch to prove that he had come to her property.

I asked the judge permission to look at the photos before and after the porch photo for context.

Girl had dozens of photos of the guy, who was clearly her boyfriend. I showed her one such picture:

“This is Mr. So-and-so, right?” “Yes.”

“In this photo, he’s on a bed?” “Yes.”

“The bed is yours?” “Yes.”

“The bed is in your bedroom?” “Yes.”

“You took this photo of him?” “Yes.”

“He’s smiling in the photo?” “Yes.”

“And in this photo, he’s wearing your brassiere?” “Yes.”

No further questions, your honor.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories

28. Speak of the devil

I’m relatively junior so I’m hoping to beat this one day. I defend professionals and brought a motion to dismiss a case on the basis that the plaintiff could not prove my client was negligent as she had not served the required expert evidence.

As opposing counsel and I waited for our motion to be heard, we were sitting in the courtroom. The judge, who I did not know and who had not read our materials, wanted to talk to the parties of a short trial which was to be heard after our motion was argued. That matter was also a professional negligence matter and the plaintiffs had no expert support.

The judge then spent 10 minutes explaining that he had practiced in professional negligence for many years and was well versed in the evidentiary requirements to prove the elements of professional negligence. In fact, he said, “I very rarely use the word impossible in this court room, but it is impossible for you to be successful without expert evidence.”

Our matter was then called and I revelled in explaining to the judge that he was about to hear a motion to dismiss a professional negligence case on the basis that the plaintiff had no expert evidence.

I won.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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27. Great lie, bro

My sister got t-boned by a car, causing a concussion when I was younger. Long story short, we were in court with the judge, who asked the driver if he had ever sped before.

“No, your honor, I never speed,” was his reply.

The judge asked him a couple more times if he was sure, if he never sped. Ever? The driver was adamant that he never sped and never had before.

A few minutes later, my sister’s lawyer gave the judge some paperwork. She read it, and said to the driver, “It seems that you have some past driving violations. Can you tell me what they are for?”


The driver had to pay medical bills for my sister.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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26. You are entitled to nothing

I had a long-time client who was being sued and I got to shut down the guy suing him in a very satisfying way.

So my client had hired a guy, we will call Kevin, as basically a right-hand man for his company. The employment contract wasn’t done yet but they had an agreement that Kevin would work six weeks at a lower wage and then sign the contract and get the agreed upon wage. So the guy works decently for 5 weeks and then is given the contract to sign. He comes back to the owner (my client) and says that he has some small changes he would like to make.

When the owner gets the contract back he finds that the “small changes” involve removing the “Duties and Responsibilities” section (basically the job description) and the non-compete/confidentiality clause. Not only that but he has written in a higher salary than agreed and added a bunch of new benefits for himself.

Obviously, my client tells him that he can either sign the contract as it was originally laid out or he can find himself another job. He takes the latter option. But he starts a lawsuit against the owner wanting to be paid for the six weeks he was supposed to work (which had already been paid), two weeks in lieu of notice and FIVE weeks vacation pay.

I got the enjoyable job of telling Kevin, in front of a judge, that he was not entitled to anything under the employment legislation and the only way he could get any of that would be if he had signed the contract. Judge dismissed the case and awarded costs to the defendant but not before giving Kevin a lecture on wasting the court’s time.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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25. Throw the book at him

We had a case where opposing counsel was cross-examining our expert witness on hydrology regarding some silt/runoff issues.

“Mr. Smith, wouldn’t you agree that the book I’m holding is highly respected in your field and considered to be the gold standard on the subject?”

Witness: “I am aware that it is highly regarded in my field.”

“Would you be willing to explain, in your own words, what paragraphs 6-10 on page 121 is describing?”

So the witness reads the passage word for word.

“Yes, I can read, but could you put this passage in your own words for the court?”

Witness: “These are my own words. I wrote the book.”


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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24. How old is old?

As a young attorney, I had stated a claim that an insurance company was dragging out a case in bad faith, in hopes that my elderly client would die before they had to pay him. I was requesting that the trial date be given priority due to my client’s advanced age. The judge was no spring chicken himself, and seemed skeptical when he asked exactly how old my client was, maybe thinking that he was in his 70s and must merely seem ancient to a baby lawyer like me. When I responded that my client was 92, and the case has already gone on for 5 years, the judge was visibly shocked, and immediately granted my motion for priority, shutting down the insurance company’s attorney’s attempt to respond. They wrote us a check for a million dollars the next week.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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23. Shoulda gone to med school

I was representing a woman with a severe neck injury. Opposing counsel presented a test result that showed her cervical exam was normal. I felt almost bad when I pointed out he had the wrong cervical area in mind…


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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22. I can’t make you

The most memorable court scene I witnessed was ~1968, Sacramento Ca. I was waiting to be tried in traffic court (my usual speeding) before Earl Warren Jr. The son of the great Earl Warren of Supreme Court Fame. The guy before me was being tried for reckless driving. When it got down to sentencing, Earl Warren Jr, ordered some nominal fine and that the defendant attend traffic school. The defendant got all upset and began ranting how he didn’t need to go to traffic school. As the defendant slowed down, Earl Warren, Jr. calmly stated:

“Well sir. I cannot make you attend traffic school. I can only issue the order for you to attend. If I find after two weeks you have not attended, I will issue an warrant for your arrest and place you in county jail for 30 days. At the end of which I will renew the order for you to attend traffic school. So we can keep you going in and out of jail, until you decide to attend traffic school.”

The guy just grumbled and walked out of court. Don’t know if he did go. I certainly did when I got a similar sentence.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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21. Murder ink

“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.”


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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20. Dude, have you never watched Judge Judy?

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 wherever you went. Any time you wanted something he would say “Oh wait, let’s go to [Store] 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 stuff 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, stuff like new electronics or guitars.

Eventually the relationship ends, but not long after we find out he’s taking us to court because 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.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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19. I just hope the guy didn’t do it

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.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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18. Paid with your own coin

I practice mostly criminal defense. Fairly recently, I 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?”

I just sat back like Vincent LaGuardia Gambini while Mona Lisa Vito was being voir dired. It was wonderful to watch.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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17. I steal from you, then I sue you

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 have 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.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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16. How do you not sense where these questions are going?

Working as a paralegal. Divorce case, hired by wife. Husband insists he never had an affair with their female friend.

Days later. Paralegal in charge asks me to show intern how to do property search. Last address in mind is the possible mistress. Type in address, look at deed, get parcel, even get a satellite photo. This is important. I print up satellite photo.

Attorneys meet. Our boss is L. The husband is H.

L: Sir, you insist you never had an affair with Ms Woman, correct?

H: That’s correct.

L: Did you ever go to her house for anything?

H: No. I can’t remember where she lives.

L: Mm hmm. So between the dates of blah and blah you never visited her residence?

H: No, never.

L: What vehicle do you drive?

H: Ford F-350.

L: What color?

H: White.

L: Anything in that truck bed?

H: Toolbox.

L: Silver, the kind that’s bolted in place?

H: Yeah?

L: Do your truck and toolbox look anything like the ones pictured at the woman’s house in this satellite photo taken on such-and-such date?

H: Crap.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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15. The whole truth

Not so much a “rest my case” moment, but a memorable one. There was a deposition of a witness and a room full of attorneys. Witness is asked if he knows or has spoken with any of the attorneys in the room before the deposition. Witness responds he knows Attorney X because sometimes they go to the same parties and snort up together. Needless to say, Attorney X had an immediate meltdown. A transcript to hold onto for sure.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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14. If they’re laughing, you’re losing

A colleague was questioning a police officer about a “consensual” encounter with a defendant. Officer claimed that he in no way intimidated the client, and that the client was free to walk away at any point. My colleague said, “Officer, you think based on what you said and how you acted that any person in this room under those circumstances would feel like they could walk away?” The officer said yes, and the full courtroom audience actually started laughing.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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13. You punched the wrong dude

Not a lawyer, but a witness. I was called to testify in an assault case when I was a high school teenager. I had witnessed an altercation between two kids where one had been sucker punched by another, resulting in a broken orbital bone. So I was asked to testify whether the kid who was assaulted instigated the fight in any way. I stated that the attack was basically unprovoked as a group of us had just been hanging out on school grounds catching up when the attack occurred.

After I testified, the lawyer for the defense got up and asked a few questions.

L: “What we’re you doing hanging out on school grounds during the summer?”

Me: “We were hanging around catching up with friends from my town because I hadn’t seen a lot of them over the last several months.”

L: “Why is that?”

Me: “I’ve been away from home in [insert neighboring state] for school the last nine months.”

L: “Is that some kind of detention facility?

Me: “No, it’s a college preparatory seminary. I’m studying to be a priest.”

L: “No further questions.”


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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12. What was your defense going to be?

Fraud trial. Prosecutor gets right to the point pretty much third question in to defendant: “So you earn $45,000 a year, have no properties, no other source of income, no inheritance and as far as I’m aware have not won the lottery. Yet you have foreign bank accounts with millions of dollars and you drive a Ferrari. It must simply be a coincidence that [defrauded entity] has an accounting black hole pretty much equal to those riches, right?”

The defendant pretty much gave up at that point.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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11. Loose ends

We just had a case where a guy embezzled our client, then SUED them!

He had done it by moving money to his company and calling it inter-company loans.

His expert witness who was a CPA was asked about their one document they had produced, and she said: “As you can see, this document shows that [embezzling plaintiff] owes your company $650k.”

We had no questions and rested right there.

He should probably have gotten his CPA on the same page with him.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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10. You’re on candid camera

I had a client who had a pretty severe slip and fall in a pharmacy. In my state, we are not allowed to see surveillance of the subject until after the deposition or other similar testimony is taken. The rule is in place to protect defendants so we don’t coach the client based on what we see in the video. Anyway, we take the deposition, then they send the video. Not 30 minutes later I get a call from opposing counsel wanting to settle.

The video revealed that my client had fallen, passed out and peed herself (she was very elderly, and very hurt). The manager of the store had an employee put signs out showing wet floor, and mop up around the lady. All while she was unconscious, all before calling 911.

Settled that one for the policy limits right there.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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9. You are the evidence, pal

I was defending a company being sued for kicking a customer out for being hammered.

He showed up to trial (small claims) completely sloshed at 10 a.m.

The judges in small claims are lenient on process, they like to adjudicate on the merits. So we started.

He’s the plaintiff so he goes first. Can barely stand during his opening statement. Knocks over his shopping bag full of evidence. Just awful.

The court put a stop to it and ruled in my client’s favour. The only words I spoke were putting my name on the record.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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8. A team effort

Workers comp claim for a back injury that seems suspicious so they sic a PI on the guy after while, which is fairly common.

PI comes back with a video of the guy batting softball batting practice, torquing his back over and over. Exactly what he says he can’t do.

Okay, whatever. People get caught all the time.

The camera pans and who is shagging balls in the outfield?

Opposing counsel!

So, ya. Case dropped and the judge took it up with the Bar Association.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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7. Lie better

Truck driver changed his story on the stand about how the accident happened from what he had always said previously. Next on the stand the police officer who had responded to the scene gives this new version too. I ask him on cross when he heard this new version, and he said, “in the hallway just before I came in.”

The cop had only ever talked to the truck driver because my client was too injured to talk; so he had parroted the trucker’s story in his report and found my client at fault. So I think he initially was trying to back up the truck driver since it was kind of egg on his face if the driver had been lying. But at least he was honest enough to admit that the driver had very recently amended his version of the story.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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6. Some father you are

Not my case but this happened during my aunt’s divorce. Custody case. Wasn’t really one hearing per se but over multiple hearings. My aunt wanted full custody of the kids, she initially had custody but uncle was allowed to see the kids every other weekend under supervision.

Uncle was abusive, nasty even to the kids, even under supervision. Social Services reported his behaviour and at hearings he was rude and arrogant to the judge, wouldn’t listen and even walked out on a few occasions. Even his lawyer thought he was a piece of crap. He made it obvious he care about the kids and he and his mother declared on a few occasions that the kids were a result of an inappropriate relationship between my aunt and her father.

Yeah, he dug his own grave with that one.

Judge ruled that normally father will get some custody at least but he was making an exception and banning him from coming near the kids until they’re 18. Aunt got full custody.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories

5. “I’m a momma bear”

Opposing party (mum) stands up while the Justice is speaking, interrupts, and says, “I can’t force my children to do something they don’t want to do!”

For context, the Justice was talking about how dad (my client) needed to have some parenting time. Mum had alienated the kids, and was claiming that they didn’t want to see him.

Opposing counsel, who had most definitely not anticipated her client doing this, just lowers her head and closes her eyes.

I stand up and say, “If mum can’t control her children, then perhaps she should not be the primary parent.” The Justice replies, “And I’ll be available to hear it when you make that application.”

That said, I knew I had won when mum stood up earlier and questioned the qualifications of the psychologist she had suggested, when said psychologist came back with a report that my client should have parenting time.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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4. Know your audience

I was trying a civil case in New Hampshire in front of a salt of the earth jury. In the back row were 4 women. I called a witness who was an assistant town clerk. She came in without a subpoena voluntarily while on maternity leave. She left her baby at home. This was a lovely, well-spoken and articulate woman who oozed credibility and likability. Her evidence was useful to us but shouldn’t have been fatal to the other side’s case.

After my direct exam, the other lawyer decides to tear into her with largely irrelevant questions in the harshest, most rude way possible. After one question which reeked of his arrogance, the 4 ladies in the back row all were rolling their eyes and looking at each other as if to say “you believe this crap?” It was right then and there I knew we were winning that one.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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3. Your temper will screw you every time

Hit and run. My client was the one who got hit.

Defendant’s defence was: “It may have been my car, but I had reported it stolen and it wasn’t me behind the wheel of the car.”

During my client’s examination, this happened…

Me: What were you doing at that time?

Client: I was waiting for the pedestrian light to turn green so that I could cross the street on the zebra crossing.

Me: And did you wait for the light to turn green before crossing?

Client: Yes. The light turned green, and I waited a few seconds before crossing the street.

Right then and there, the Defendant jumps up and roars across the courtroom:”MY LIGHT WAS GREEN TO GO. THAT BLOODY LIAR DASHED ACROSS THE STREET!”


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
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2. It’s nice to know you made a difference

I’m an appellate criminal defense attorney, which means I take the case after the defendant has been convicted/sentenced, and I try to convince a court of appeals that he deserves to be released from prison/get a new trial/get a new sentence.

I had one case a few weeks ago that was a total travesty of justice – black client tried by an all-white jury, defended incompetently by a dreadful trial attorney who did absolutely nothing for him, who then got convicted on all counts and received an extremely high sentence for a relatively piddling fraud.

I raised five different issues on appeal, which is a lot. Typically I keep it to one issue or MAYBE two.

At oral argument, the judges on the panel seemed pretty sympathetic during my presentation, though they asked me some tough questions. After I sat down the government lawyer went up to speak.

Before she got a word out the first thing the judge said was: “This is like a law school exam, there are so many issues here.”

Had a pretty good feeling I’d win after that one! And indeed they ended up reversing all of his convictions and my client is now a free man.


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

1. Ah, those rookie mistakes

Was hired late one day in a traffic case set for jury trial the following morning. Usually the court will say no worries and reset the case to give you time to prepare. I showed up expecting just this. When I told the judge I’d just been hired less than 24 hours ago, she announced aloud in court, and in front of the jury panel, that my client “knew what she did” and we were going to have this trial right now. I looked at the prosecutor, expecting him to agree that we should reset for a future date. But he was afraid of the judge, and not a very good prosecutor anyway, so he just shrugged.

The only thing I knew was that my client was accused of passing a stopped school bus on the right side shoulder, which is about as dangerous a move as you can do and not end up in jail.

The prosecutor calls two police witnesses who say they saw the car pass the bus improperly. The prosecution rests. I waited until the police left to resume their duties.

When the judge looked at me to see if I wanted to call any witnesses, I said, “I’m going to need to Court to direct a verdict of not guilty from the jury.”

This angry judge was losing her cool. “What are you talking about, Counsel?”

“Judge we’ve just heard from two witnesses about someone passing a school bus, but neither one of them indicated that my client was anywhere near there.” The prosecutor had made a rookie mistake, forgot to check in-court ID off his list, twice.

The judge sighed. She had bullied me into this trial, a total denial of my client’s Sixth Amendment rights, and had prejudiced the jury with her “she knows what she did” remark, and had wasted a couple thousand taxpayer dollars in doing it.

“The Court directs the jury to return a verdict of not guilty.”


Lawyers From Around The World Share 'I Rest My Case' Stories
Image by EB Pilgrim from Pixabay