40 Lawyers Share The Dumbest Thing A Client Has Done To Ruin A Case

A lawyer can have the perfect case all laid out, only to have the whole thing go up in smoke due to the wild actions of a client.

Reddit user u/Sunieta25 wanted to know more about such cases, so they posed the following question on AskReddit:

Lawyers of Reddit, what is the dumbest thing your client has done to ruin a case?

The answers poured in from lawyers who were still in disbelief.

From calling the plaintiff a “woke baby” to wearing the same outfit in court as the suspect in the security cam footage, these clients tanked their own cases so spectacularly that all their lawyers could do was throw up their hands.

Scroll through for our favorites.


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I was defending a client who was accused of trademark infringement. Thought he knew better than the IP Attorney assigned to his case (me) and so went on his company’s website to “defend” himself by basically confessing to what he did and claiming it wasn’t against the law and the trademark owner was a “woke baby” who needed to either “learn the law” or “get back in the kitchen and make her husband a sandwich” (i wish i could say i was joking). I was one email away from negotiating a settlement that would have allowed the continued use of the complainants mark with limited restrictions and a very nominal fee. Little to say, she saw his website, told us to go f**k ourselves, and dragged it before a judge. My client lost…big. His lack of self-control cost him thousands of dollars.


I was on a jury where the defendant showed up in court day 1 wearing the same exact outfit as the “unknown suspect” in the video of the crime. It took only a few seconds before the judge immediately called a stoppage. All lawyers went into the back with the judge and they came out like 7 minutes later as announced the defendant had taken the plea deal. Wild.


Not a lawyer, but I am a former police officer and spent a lot of time in courtrooms.

One guy was on trial for a DUI, and he wanted the judge to know that the cop who arrested him was “just some punk kid”. He insisted that he’d only had two bottles of wine and his lawyer keeps trying to get him to stop his stream of verbal diarrhea and he just keeps going

Eventually the judge says “I think you should take a moment to confer with your attorney” and the guy says “Don’t interrupt me, I’m not a child!”

Judge smiled and leaned back and said “by all means, please continue”. dudes attorney just looked like he was deflating.


With the utmost certainty in his voice, he yelled at the arresting officer that “It’s not domestic violence; I’m on public property!”

You could tell from his face he really thought he had the cop over a barrel on this one but….


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Around 1990 there was a guy on trial for armed robbery. He pled not guilty. A witness on the stand identified the defendant. The defendant jumped to his feet and roared, “I should have blown your head off when I had the chance…..” pause, thinks, adds, “if I had been the one who robbed you…”.


IANAL, but I used to review disability claims so I often worked with clients who had lawyers.

A man whose attorney had instructed him to not speak with us directly (a very smart, very basic recommendation) called me up to rant, angrily, that his lawyer was wrong. He COULD shop for groceries and mow the lawn and do all sorts of house work JUST FINE, thank you.

Now I had seen this man’s medical records. There’s no way he was doing all of this without difficulty. So I probed a little further. He could shop for groceries… as long as he used a mobility scooter and had his wife carry things in the house. He could mow the lawn… if he used a riding mower and took a lengthy break every 10 minutes or so. He could do house work… which was limited to wiping down counters and folding (but not carrying) laundry. I called his attorney and gave them a quick update as soon as he and I hung up.

I approved his claim, but that man is so damn lucky he got someone who was willing to take an extra 15 minutes with him.


Not an attorney, worked in a firm. Workers compensation claim, guy falls down at work and claims he injured many different body parts (Shoulder, Knees, Back). We tell him to stay off social media. No problem, he doesn’t use social media. At trial, he tells the Judge he used to be a Spin Class Instructor, but since the accident, he cannot teach classes anymore. Welp..turns out, he continued to teach these classes after his injury. This was proved by the HOURS of surveillance the Insurance company did, showing him teaching and vigorously riding in Spin class. How did the Insurance company know he was still an active instructor? The guy posted his Full Teaching Schedule on his FB page. His potentially very lucrative claim, was quickly changed to a fraud claim against him.


My mother was in court as a witness, in a case of criminal harassment between two of our neighbours. We basically knew that the case was ridiculous and a sham – the accused neighbour was totally innocent and was being falsely accused by the local trouble makers, who kept on provoking him and who then wanted to be able to sue him for easy money.

Anyway, by pure coincidence, the defendant was secular Jewish, just like my parents. It’s literally just a coincidence.

The two trouble maker neighbours, who were also there, were very angry to see my mother in the court. One of them then stood up in the middle of everything and yelled some c**p about how my mother is a Jew and only there because the defendant is a Jew and Jews apparently always stick to help each other.

The judge immediately ripped him to shreds and threw the case out.


Client in the interview with police:

Police officer: “I don’t care how angry you are- you can’t go around threatening to kill a 5 year old!”
Client: “I didn’t threaten to kill her!!! I threatened her mother!!!”

He thought there was some sort of distinction there. We took a plea deal.


man doing bboy in front of people at daytime
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Not my client but the petitioner attorney’s client. The man claimed Workers’ Compensation and threw the kitchen sink at us, meaning, he basically listed just over half of his body parts on the claim petition stating that he injured each one. He was full of st and my firm knew it. Anyways, we were going to trial and the day before we ran one more social media search. This absolute f***g moron posted a video of him winning a break dance competition that was only a few months after the alleged work incident. Never saw a quicker dismissal in my life.


Client was being sued and didn’t like the opposing counsel or the judge so he left the court a bunch of voicemails so profane that he was subject to a criminal contempt of court hearing.


NAL, but my uncle used to be a prison manager at the local prison in the area of NZ where I grew up. They had ‘court’ hearings when the prisoners had done something against the rules etc, they’d go before a couple of the prison workers and explain, kinda like an internal hearing I guess. Uncle was the ‘judge’ for a lot of these.

One dude had been found with a cellphone. Denied up and down that it was his, didn’t know where it came from, blah blah blah. Uncle asked him several times if he wanted to own up, guy absolutely INSISTED it wasn’t his.

Uncle “well, someone’s wasted a hundred bucks on a phone then”

Prisoner “F**k off, I paid $600 for that!”

Uncle “………….”


I was called for jury duty and was sitting in the courtroom watching the other potential jurors get questioned by the attorneys, just waiting for my possible turn to be questioned. One of the charges was aggravated assault.

The defense asked one juror (who was a professional videographer) if her career made her more or less likely to put stock in video footage. To me, this was a hint (but not admission) that video footage would be a big part of the case.

Before the juror could even answer, the defendant yelled from his table “I had a mask on! You can’t even see my face!”

The entire room went silent for about five seconds before the defense attorney regained his composure and asked the judge to dismiss the jury pool. The judge dismissed us back to the holding room. Five minutes later, one of the clerks of the court came in and told us (even the already selected jurors) that the trial was being rescheduled and we were all dismissed.


Not a lawyer but I know a cop who went to a report of a guy being mugged.

“What did he steal?”

“£275 in cash and about thirty £10 deals of crack and Heroin”


“Yeah. It was _______ that did it, known him years and he’s a rival”

Cop writes statement detailing what happened and what was stolen

“Sign here if that’s all absolutely correct and exactly what happened and was stolen”

Guy signs

“Cheers. You’re under arrest for being concerned in the supply of Class A d***s”

The cop prosecuted the caller for possession with intent to supply AND the guy that robbed him for robbery and possession with intent to supply


people gathering on concert during night time
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Not me, but a colleague. A wealthy client’s son got picked up for d**g dealing at a local music festival. The client bailed him out, and then had his whole fancy law firm defend his son.

The son shambled into the courtroom stoned off his as, and loudly attempted to buy d**s off the bailiff.

There wasn’t a lot the lawyers could do after that.


Not a lawyer, heard this story from a guy I used to work with. His brother in law got injured at work and was suing for a hefty sum. Case was pretty much open and shut, all the evidence was in the BIL’s favor… Until the BIL started talking. They ask him to tell them about the day of the accident. BIL started out fine until he gets to the where he approached the piece of equipment that injured him. He tells everyone that there was a note on it stating that it was out of order. BIL then says that he discarded the note and started up the piece of malfunctioning equipment as he had a job to get done…

That easy win was discarded faster than that out of order sign.


Not a lawyer, but I was in a courtroom watching injunctions (restraining orders) play out.

One case the woman was there, but the man was in prison so he was calling in. After deciding on an agreement, the guy asked if he could make a statement. At the end of his statement, he said “and tell {the woman} to go f**k herself.”

He got an additional 6 months of prison. The guy asked to make another statement after getting a tongue lashing from the judge.

And he did it again – telling her to go f**k herself. And got another 6 months.

Imagine losing a year of your life because you couldn’t shut up for 5 minutes.


I’m not a lawyer, this isn’t my story. But, the lawyer who handled my business stuff and a legal dispute is a federal judge. Before he became a judge, he was a lawyer for divorces and civil stuff.

A wealthy male client filed for divorce. There’s a prenup. It’s pretty iron clad. It discusses the distribution of wealth, the alimony (if any) is laid out at x amount, increasing yearly based on inflation. There’s 1 major “exception” and that is “if you are caught cheating, cheating here is defined by any sexual contact with a person before the divorce is final, you automatically get the worst terms of the prenup.” In the woman’s case, (if she cheats) she gets zero alimony, and a 1-time payment of 100k. In the man’s case, (if he cheats) he loses the main family home, all cars that are not his daily driver, and 1/4 of his business. (A buy-out option is available, but doesn’t matter to this story)

Lawyer gets to court and meets with his client in a conference room. And client is beaming. He shakes the lawyer’s hand. And says “hey! Mike!! I want you to meet Jasmine. I met her 2 months ago. She’s amazing. We got engaged over the weekend in France!”

And Mike shook her hand and slumped in the chair and said “so, we got a major problem. You are cheating on your wife with her. And legally, this is discovery I’m required to hand over to the other side” he’s all “how the f**k am I cheating? We’re separated?!?!” Mike is all “cheating is any sexual contact before divorce is final. It’s in your prenup. That you wrote on your own.”

The guy flipped his s**t. Ended up being so mad, he ditched court. Which gave him a default judgment. Meaning she gets everything she asked for. + because of the cheating + not showing up, the judge ordered that the transfer of money happen within 30 days. As part of the initial agreement between both parties. He’s not there to contest it. So, blam.

The guy ended up trying to sneak the company to the new woman via a trust. But, it’s an illegal move. He also tried to hide the money with her by giving her 1.1 million dollars in cash (a bank transfer) but, the judge stopped that once he found out and required the woman to repay the money since she was given notice also.

He fought for years. And ended up losing money, time, energy, his business, house, 6-7 cars, and his new wife. Now, (cuz I know his daughter from work) he’s a retired angry man living in rural New Mexico. He can’t afford to golf more than once a month. And he posts about how women are scum.


Friend of mine used to be a latent print analyst. Going to get prints of a suspect arrested for breaking into a home to rob it. While she’s getting the ink and paper set up, suspect shouts, “whaddya need the prints for? She looked right at me when I kicked in the door!”.


person holding flower vase
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I was a 3L student in school’s family law clinic. We had one of those custody cases that just would not die. The husband remarried, and step-mom did not want bio-mom to exist in their happy family and dragged this mom to court for the smallest things to try and get full custody instead of 50/50 of her “spirit son.” We were in court every other month just for this case. The court never budged on custody. Eventually, step-mom decided us meddling kids were the only thing keeping her from her “spirit son.” Step-mom called the law school and made a complaint against my team accusing us of doing really horrible stuff to the child and threatening them. They then demanded we be expelled or the university would be sued. We filed an emergency hearing and told the judge everything and asked for sanctions and argued harassment. Judge found the couple in contempt for threatening us to sway the case. The judge then said he questioned their ability to effectively co-parent and act in the child’s best interests. Mom was given primary custody, and they got every other weekend and some holidays. The judge also decided that given the couple’s history, they were harassing the mom using the court and banned them from further custody filings. Later we found out the couple also filed a bar complaint against our professor too. That was investigated and found without merit.


IANAL, but had a case against a totally insane neighbor that built a fence on my property. He had a court order to move it and only moved it about 3 inches. It was supposed to move about 6 feet. Up on the stand, judge said “You will move the fence to the correct place within 7 days or we’ll find you in contempt of court. The rest of the charges will depend on your cooperation.” (He was up for a few other things as well.)

He said under his breath “I’m not moving that fence again.”

You should have seen that judge’s head snap up. “What was that?!??”


He was found in contempt that day, had to pay a fine and was doing weekend jail for a month. He also lost all the other cases.


Paralegal. Once had a convicted criminal explain to me how their murder charge should be overturned because the victim didn’t die at the scene of the crime. The victim died at the hospital, therefore the defendant couldn’t be charged with anything more than attempted murder.


The worst ones are the ones who think they’re smarter than they are. When it comes time for depositions, broad sweeping statements of how “I would never allow discrimination in my office” and how “I’m 100% sure I never said that” are a great way to destroy your own credibility, set yourself up to get eviscerated by opposing counsel, and ultimately turn a nuisance value b******t case into something worth six figures.

Moral of the story: if you’re going to ignore the entire day of deposition prep I did with you just so you can protect your own fragile ego on the record, at least do me the courtesy of telling me to f**k off ahead of time.


Client accused of punching another man & knocking a tooth out. He said numerous times on the stand that he had arthritis and was not capable of closing his fist to form the punch as described by the victim.

Part way through his cross examination, the magistrate stopped him to state on the record that he had watched my client clench his fist numerous times since he made that statement.

He was found guilty.


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NAL – I was a legal clerk for a couple years in college. Still baffles me how this one made it all the way to trial. Lady slipped & fell at a chain restaurant, “hurt” her back irreparably, wanted a huge payout. Said she slipped on butter that was on the floor. On cross exam she was asked what type of butter, answer “the little pats of butter they put out in the buffet.” Defense immediately re-called the store manager…. The store had never used that type of butter. Case ended pretty quickly. Lol.


NAL but watched as a girl in her early 20’s giggled her way through sentencing on a petty theft charge.

Instead of the same 30-day suspended sentence her remorseful looking co-defendant received, she got 90 days in county jail.

She wasn’t giggling after that.


IANAL. I handle work comp claims. This one always cracks me up. Guy claims bilateral wrist injuries from repetitive motion cutting meat. We get “word” aka he posts on his Facebook about him competing in an MMA style event. Send surveillance there which gets this dude fighting with no issues.


I had an instructor who was a prosecutor. He called a witness who had seen the whole thing, and had an interest in seeing the defendant punished. Slam dunk case.

She thought she was on TV. She overacted EVERY WORD. Completely embellished the retelling of the events. Didn’t lie, but she was the center of her version of events.

He said you could see the faces of the jury members sour minute on minute. He lost the case.


Not a lawyer, but a forensic professional. And this wasn’t “dumb,” the poor client couldn’t help himself. Like Ron White said, he had the right to remain silent, but not the ability.

Involuntary commitment hearing of a very manic and psychotic man who was hospitalized after trying to break into his mom’s house by pounding on the door with his .357 magnum. After going into diagnosis and mental illness, etc, at length, the prosecutor rested his case having literally forgot to ask the doctor if THIS man met criteria to be committed. The defense attorney, with a surprised smile, was about to ask the Judge to dismiss the case (basically, he had “won”) when his client hauled on his sleeve and they had a heated whispered conversation. The attorney informed the Judge that his client was DEMANDING to testify, against his advice. After cautioning him that his testimony was not required, the poor man took the stand and launched into a rambling angry rant about a myriad of disconnected delusional thoughts until stopped by the Judge. His last sentence was, “Oh, and Your Honor, make them give me my gun back.”

He was committed.


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NAL – my dad’s psychotic ex-girlfriend was trying to press bogus charges on my dad, in general trying to ruin his life and career. And his family – she attempted to make some things up about me, too. Had to go through interviews, detective’s office talks, APS visits. My dad and I filed protective orders. Her response to the POs, and I was afraid it would happen, was to vandalize a part of his property in a very gross and obscene way. She also went back to the detective to make another claim on me, saying I stole her non-prescribed ds*, so basically admitting she had illegal d*s. So she got a bit more than just protective orders against her; she had jail time, now, too. Good riddance!


What a question! How much time do you have? I have hundreds of stories of clients making dumb decisions!

One particular client that comes to mind is a guy who committed a spree of burglaries… while on electronic monitoring for another case. The State brought a list of his coordinates to his bond hearing. I actually made the argument that he is clearly not a flight risk, since he actually kept his monitor on, and that the Court should release him on the same terms as his other case. The Judge looked at me like a crazy person and held my client without bond.


It was a credit card fraud case in the early part of my career. He actually wore the stolen clothes to court and a clerk at the defrauded store identified them in front of the jury. I felt like the guy in the commercial that asks “want to be somewhere else?”.


One of my BIL lawyers (there were three at one point) was described as incompetent and failing to provide adequate counsel by his former client, on death row, for failing to get an innocent verdict. The problem was that the client (since executed) went to his local bar immediately after committing the murder at a local grocery store in broad daylight, and proceeded to brag for hours how he’d killed the victim, in very specific detail. Also there were something more than a dozen eyewitnesses…


A friend was doing the workman’s comp as well as suing the company for a few million. Could not bend over, raise his arms, plus everything he could think of.

Taking the stand, using a cane. Lawyer ask him to read the highlighted parts from the local paper. A week before he had won a Martial arts tournament.

Can you explain that? Next fifteen minutes he explained each kick, punch etc with a big smile. I rest my case. Jury Foreman ask the judge if they had to leave the room or could they just announce the verdict.


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Assault case, when the witness took the stand, self represented defendant screams: “this witness is going to lie, there’s no way he could have seen it, he wasn’t around when I punched (the victim)”.


Age discrimination case. Client: “Age was never a factor”. Memorandum written by client: “He’s just too old to be effective any more.” Client in deposition: “Age was a factor, yes”. Settlement followed.


Not an attorney, but one client of ours baffles me to this day. He had multiple cases, including aggravated battery and drug possession, At the insistence of dude’s family, we moved heaven and earth getting him a bond, so that he could get out of jail and live with said family until the case was over. The whole process took weeks.

Less than a day after getting out, he was caught stealing $16 worth of batteries from Target. Bond revoked. To be fair, the line between stupidity and compulsion is blurred with this one.

EDIT: For anyone who’s curious, we immediately ordered a psych eval for him. He was found competent, but it also confirmed what he had mental health issues. The Agg. Batt. charge ended up being dropped, and he took a plea for time served.


Not an attorney, but I was in the jury for a three defendant murder trial.

We sat through weeks of testimony and from the sheer amount of direct evidence the state had, it was extraordinarily obvious very early on that defendant 1 had committed the crime.

Defendant 2 (D1’s brother) and Defendant 3 (D1’s girlfriend) were much less obvious and we were being asked by the state to consider circumstantial evidence that left most of us feeling like we had to make some leaps to draw the conclusion they wanted us to.

That is, until Defendant 3 decided to take the stand.

Defendant 3’s attorney did a very good job of painting her as the victim of abuse. Her attorney had us feeling sorry for this poor, unintelligent, woman that had been groomed since she was 16 by a man 20 years her senior.

From the attorney’s narrative, D3 was basically D1’s slave. He controlled what she wore, what she did, and even who she talked to. He even made her get a tattoo saying [D1’s name]’s property. We saw text about D1 killing D3’s puppy because D3 had made him mad about something small. We saw texts from D3 to D1 cheering him on after he had sent her pictures of a bloody knife (the murder weapon) but D3’s attorney had us questioning if those words were just her playing the role of supportive partner so D1 didn’t come after her next.

We were starting to believe she was terrified for her own safety and that is why she did not report her boyfriend. I mean, clearly this man was a maniac and it seemed reasonable that she just didn’t know how to escape him.

Then other defendant’s attorneys and the DA tore her apart on cross. They made her look argumentative, tripped her up in multiple lies, and by the time they were done, based on her own testimony it was pretty clear that she did in fact know the victim and had been the one to plan the entire murder.

Shoot, we even started to feel like she probably manipulated D1 more than he manipulated her!

The other defendants did not take the stand.

When we went to deliberations, we all discussed how bad of an idea it was for her to testify. We had decided defendant 1 was guilty on all counts within the first 5 minutes. Defendant 3 was almost as quick. We decided that while she did not physically commit the murder, she had conspired and was just as culpable. (Whatever formal charge that was.)

Defendant 2 took the longest. We all felt pretty strongly that he was somehow involved, but that the DA had not meet their burden of proof of beyond a reasonable doubt. So we had to return a not guilty verdict on all counts.

Edit for clarification: D1 and D3 were both found guilty on multiple counts. D2 was found not guilty.


Client added 9 years to a short sentence. He got like a year or 2 for being involved in a drag race that the other guy crashed and severely injured someone else. Then towards the end of his short prison term he tried to escape, got 9 more years for prison escape! He became friends with John Lennon’s killer in NY prison, which was interesting.


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Recently was in court and apparently part of the requirements of this guy was that he not talk to his family. He called his mother on Mother’s Day. The judge said “your mother seems to care about your freedom as little as you do- put the cuffs on him.”

Edit- I don’t know the perimeters of this case, I was just a bystander in court. The lawyer, in sweats mind you, said “Oh Judge, I told him. I told her. Can’t fix stupid.” It was wild to watch.

Read More: Middle Schooler Says “Teaching Is Easy” So Teacher Lets Him Do It And, Well, It Ends Like You Think

Alex Buscemi

Alex Buscemi

Writer. Billionaire. Astronaut. Compulsive liar.

@whatsupboosh on socials.