Lawyers From Around The World Share Their 'Gotcha' Moments

Lawyers From Around The World Share Their 'Gotcha' Moments

If you've ever had the misfortune of setting foot in a courtroom, you'll know that things usually don't play the way they do in the movies. There really aren't that many "you can't handle the truth" moments, to lift a line from A Few Good Men. Real justice is laborious, dull, and often unsatisfying.

But every now and then, someone says or does something that immediately torpedoes their case, exposing them as the liar and cheat that they are. Every now and then, a lawyer gets to experience the rare 'gotcha' moment that blows the case wide open.

These lawyers recently went online to share those stories with us. All rise!

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30. Gives you paws

I acted for a plumber who ripped up a tile floor to replace a pipe. He installed new tile on top but warned the owners not to walk on it for 48 hours. He emphasized not to let their kids or their dogs walk on it either. They walked on it but alleged the defects were caused by improper install. We had an expert do a report which confirmed that it was consistent with proper installation but people walking on it too soon. Crazy homeowners still went to trial on it.

In their evidence disclosure they included a series of pictures. One of the pictures had in the foreground a tile that was tilted upwards. The background very clearly showed a dog’s paw pressing down on the other end of the tile. That wasn’t so much an I got them situation as they got themselves.

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29. Oily and greasy

I had client whose $60k car was ruined by a shop that put in the wrong oil. We couldn't prove it at first, the engine blew up, oil leaked out and evidence was lost. I subpoenaed their bank records, figured out they bought their oil from Costco. Called Costco and got the their prices for the last two years. I then worked out the amounts they were spending, did some backhand math, and showed based on the values it was impossible they had ever bought the right oil. They settled in full immediately.

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28. Acting in bad faith

My brother is a divorce attorney. His most memorable case, he was representing a guy in a divorce custody battle who was accused of abuse. Very graphic, very detailed depositions from the young kids against daddy. Things look grim.

Then my brother notices the deposition transcript (done by social workers under oath) contains a question at the end from one of the kids: "Did I hit my marks?" My brother had previously tried to make it as an actor in Hollywood right out of high school, failing miserably (and decided to go into law, an altogether different form of "acting"). He wonders how little kids know about acting jargon. Subpoenas the wife's personal checking acct during discovery, sure enough, acting lessons.

Deposes an extremely sketchy "acting coach", and panicked coach quickly coughs up DVDs of "practice interrogations" with the kids, hours of coaching the kids on exactly what imaginary things to say about daddy.

He says it was his one and only "Perry Mason moment" in 20+ years of practice, and Dad got sole custody of the kids.

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27. Low speed chase

Had a client accused of leading the cops on a high speed chase. The cop on the stand estimated he was going 90 mph, but never actually clocked him. Then the cop identified where the chase started with me, and where it ended. It lasted about 2 miles. Then we went through his log of when it started and when it ended. About three and a half minutes. Once you walk through the math on that, the average speed of this chase was 35 mph. Client got acquitted really quickly after that.

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26. "You just confessed, sooooo..."

I was prosecuting a traffic ticket and ended my opening statement with something similar to, "By the end of the day you'll agree that the officer caught the defendant going 65 in a 50."

Defendant, representing himself, stands up and says, "While he may have clocked me going 65 in a 50..."

Judge stopped the trial, excused the jury, and was like... "You just confessed soooooo... Are we changing your plea to no contest or what?"

By the way, this is Texas where you have a state constitutional right to a jury trial on literally anything.

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25. That's why you never monologue your evil plan

I was suing a landlord who failed to make serious repairs in order to force the tenant out. The hard part is proving bad intent instead of mere idiocy so you get higher damages. Code Enforcement was involved, so I request those records. The landlord left a voicemail to the enforcement department saying to hold off on the fines, they will make the repairs as soon as the tenant is forced out. That was an easy case.


24. What are ya? Chicken?!

I was representing Mom in a bitter custody fight. Dad wanted full custody and argued mom was an unfit parent. Mom wanted full custody because Dad had a history of violence towards her and the kids.

Dad's lawyer was doing a good job of painting her in a bad light during his cross-examination, and I was starting to get worried. His lawyer brought a close family friend as a character witness for Dad, who said the usual nice things about Dad. Then he said something about them owning chickens. I thought that was odd so I asked more questions.

I was able to get the friend to spill the beans that the Dad owned chickens for illegal fighting. Not only that, but he would take his minor children to these fights, and when the children were acting up, he'd punish them by forcing them to feed the chickens, during which they would get pecked and scratched unmercifully. And obviously, the children were terrified of those chickens.

I could see the color draining from Dad's lawyer's face. Mom got full custody.

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23. Lying about lying about your lying

My client’s wife was on the phone with her new boyfriend when he got home from a BBQ with their son. He asked her who she was on the phone with, and she freaked out and ran to the bedroom and locked herself inside. She told new bf that he’d hit her, that she was black and blue, etc.

New bf is (understandably I guess), freaked out. He calls the cops and relays everything wifey said to him. Then he tells her he called the cops. She freaks out even more because now she’s about to be caught in the lie.

Cops show up, she tells them he hit her on the back of the head, that’s why they can’t see the mark. The cops feel the back of the head and she winces.

They arrest my dude. We take it to trial.

When you testify at trial, certain prior convictions can be used against you to show the jury your character. Wifey had a prior conviction for “falsifying statements to a grand jury” in a different state a few years ago.

In cross exam, after she changed her story up and accused me of attacking her, I asked her about her prior conviction for lying to a jury. SHE LIED ABOUT IT TO OUR JURY. SHE SAID IT DIDN'T HAPPEN.

I very calmly approached her with the certified record of her conviction and asked her to confirm it was her name, date of birth, then walked back to my stand and asked the same question. She refused to answer this time, just glared at me.

The jury walked my client.

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22. It's a little late to confess

The lawyer was describing a theft during trial. “The footprints make it seem as though he didn’t go to the basement”

And the defendant said, “Actually we did.”

I swear to god...

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21. Exhibit A

I've had much bigger moments, but because of the character of the other side this will always be my favorite.

Doing a boundary dispute, a squabble over what was essentially a few inches of land. The other guy was a lawyer, and an absolute arsehole. He was acting for himself - the whole 'a lawyer who acts for himself has a fool for a client' thing was bang on for him. But he was a deeply unpleasant guy, a bully who thought that he was the smartest guy in the room.

Part of his case hinged on wheelie bins and how prior to the boundary having been moved there wasn't space to store a full size bin beside the house. The fact you now could meant clearly the boundary must have moved. That was the extent of his evidence, it really was thin stuff.

During the actual trial he pulled a fast one by suddenly producing an old aerial photo ostensibly to show the boundary at the front of the property had also moved (a fast one because you have to disclose stuff like that in advance, you can't just sit on something relevant and then suddenly whip it out at trial with a flourish).

Whilst he was making his submissions that it should be admissible, I looked more closely at it, away from the bit of the boundary he said it was relevant to and realized that it very clearly showed a wheelie bin in exactly the spot his case said there couldn't be one. Told the judge we were happy for the photo be admitted after all, got the other side to confirm the date it was taken, then pointed out he'd just completely sunk his case.

That photo did him for nearly $50k in adverse costs. Couldn't happen to a more deserving man.

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20. Oops I forgot!

I was deposing a guy in a large breach of contract/fraud action. I asked him if he'd ever been convicted of a crime, he said no. Later in the deposition, I asked him the question again and there was no objection and he answered "no." I then whipped out his indictment for felony fraud and his conviction for misdemeanor conspiracy and he denied it was him until I started asking about his co-conspirator (his son). Then he gave me the "oh yeah I remember something about that" routine.

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19. Counting your chickens

My brother is an attorney. He had a case where the guy said he was permanently disabled from a work accident. At a deposition my brother overheard the guy talking about getting his house remodeled. He was already spending the money he thought he was getting.

So my brother drove by the house to see how much work was being done and saw the guy carrying bundles of roofing shingles up a ladder to the roof. This was before smart phones so he drove to a Best Buy and bought a video camera, went back, and recorded the guy. He had copies made and sent to the other attorney.

The guy dropped the suit and was back at work the following Monday. My brother's client didn't want to pay for the video camera. He saved them thousands of dollars. They eventually paid but he still gets a little peeved when he talks about it.

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18. "Are you taking notes on a criminal conspiracy?"

We hired a private investigator to track our defendant in a fraud/asset recovery case. Private investigator returned with a photograph of torn pieces of paper that clearly constituted a ripped-up note, albeit in a foreign language. I happened to know said foreign language, so pieced it together and realized it was a letter written by the defendant raging at his accomplice for making highly specific mistakes that screwed him over in the context of our fraud/asset recovery case. (Obviously, we later had this verified and sworn to via affidavit by an official translator.)

It was unbelievable - the handwriting was a match; plus, he'd also signed it, and the contents were so specific (contained information about specific amounts going into specific trusts under specific names) that it was basically a smoking gun. We almost thought they'd planted it to throw us off, but the guy was just stupid and arrogant. Ran into a bit of a fight over admissibility but the letter ultimately helped us receive a significant settlement that made our clients extremely happy.


17. Never represent yourself

When I was a prosecutor I had a guy who was representing himself. He was charged with car theft and evading. He was actually able to escape the cops for quite a distance and was captured later. His defense was that he wasn't the person.

I got his calls from jail and he talked so much to his girlfriend about how he had committed the crimes. The look on his face when I told him that I was providing him copies of his jail calls was great.

I remember an even funnier thing! I had another guy who was representing himself. It was a residential burglary and one of the elderly neighbors saw the defendant running from the house. At trial, the defendant was cross-examining the witness and he asked, "Now when you saw this person running away..." and the witness said, "You! I saw you running away."

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16. You raised a little too much awareness

Plaintiff alleged he was so injured in an auto accident that he couldn't work, do any regular activities, or pick up his young kids. He then posted on his public Facebook profile him doing the Ice Bucket Challenge. If you're not familiar, he basically lifted a huge cooler filled with ice water over his head. His attorney had no idea he had posted it.

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15. Someone should really be fired over this

When I was in the military, I was accused of something I didn't do and I had to go to court over it. And during court the prosecutor started to detail this investigation and how they had staked my apartment out for months. They entered into evidence a picture of "my apartment." And when they put it up I looked shocked at my lawyer because it wasn't a picture of my place. It was my ex wife's apartment. A place I had NEVER lived. I lived in a house, she lived in an apartment.

And when my lawyer was asked if she objected to the picture being entered into evidence she replied, "I don't mind them entering it into evidence as long as they change the listing of it. That's not his apartment."

On top of this, the witness they used against me described going to my house on the night in question and she named the subdivision where she had visited me, except that wasn't where I lived either.

Case was dismissed and I was told they requested the witness to return to answer questions about perjury.

The funny thing was, when they brought me in to question me they had this huge folder full of their "evidence" and I was just like... wtf is going on in there? But because I wasn't "cooperating" by confessing to something I hadn't done they wouldn't show me what was in it. However, they had to turn it over to us before court. And it was legitimately like 5 or 6 months full of entries where they had someone scoping out my ex-wife's house. And each entry said something along the lines of when they got there, how long they were there and "no contact made with subject."

So they really were at the wrong house every day for five or six months and never realized it. I have no idea why they never just tailed me home from work or something.

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14. Better hit up that parent-teacher interview

When I did family law this one would happen more often than I would have liked but I always got a little rush out of it, at least until I thought about the kid. But a parent, almost always the father, would claim to be the primary caretaker of the child and how mom was neglectful etc. I would ask a simple question, "What is the name of your child's teacher?" They almost never knew.

Nothing will destroy your custody case faster than not knowing the name of your child's teacher or their pediatrician. And these idiots, who knew so little about parenting that they didn't even think it was important to look up their child's teacher's name or find an old report card or find out the pediatricians's name, would claim they were the primary parent over and over.

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13. Shoulda just paid up

My client's house burned down from an explosion in the fuel oil tank used to heat the house. It was clearly the oil maintenance company's fault, but his homeowners insurance (from a very reputable company) still refused to pay out, citing a ridiculous technicality in his policy.

Essentially, the policy covered damage caused by the oil heater but they claimed that it was the storage tank that exploded and wasn't part of what was covered.

So they deny his claim, which was about 1.2 million, and then I get involved. During a deposition with the claims adjuster I ask how she came to the conclusion that the storage tank was not a part, or at least connected to, the heater. She states that she relied on her "expert witness" who was an engineer. Little did she know I had already checked this person's background. He had zero engineering experience or education.

As most of you might know, you don't get attorney's fees in most cases. However, when an insurance company denies your claim in "bad faith", now you do. Her little admission cost the company about 500k in fees, on top of the original claim for 1.2 million.

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12. No amount of money fixes that

My client was a woman working at a meat-packing plant. Her glove (they would only give her the loose kind because they were cheaper) got caught in the machine and she lost her arm.

We sued the owners of the plant for the glove issue. We also sued the machine manufacturer for failing to include the required guard. Then we sued the distributor for being in the chain of the sale but didn’t really think they played much of a role. The manufacturer swore they included a hand guard and said the plant owner must have used a grinder to take it off. During a deposition of the guy that owned the distraction company he shows up with the sale documents he was supposed to have turned over weeks before.

Turns out there was a note in small print at the bottom he didn’t know about that said the sale was without the hand guard. Which is against the law. I pointed it out and we ended up settling that afternoon with the distributor. The woman got all her medical bills paid, got money for a prosthetic and got a bunch of pain and suffering damages.

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11. A stab in the back

Represented an employer in an FMLA retaliation claim. The Plaintiff had quit, claiming a hostile work environment, then went on and started her own company that more or less competed with my client.

In the Plaintiff's deposition, the Plaintiff went on an on about how sick she was when she went on FMLA leave, and how horribly she was treated by my client. Her new company had a Facebook page. I asked her about it, and had printed out several sections from the page, including photos. She admitted she had posted the photos, and more so posted them from her phone moments after they were taken.

After I had those admissions on the record, I produced pictures of her touring the facility where her new business was located, smiling and walking with her friends. The date of those photos was while she was on FMLA leave from my client.

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10. You said too much

Ex-wife ("EX") trying to fight ex-husband's new girlfriend ("NG"). NG is in her car trying to flee while EX is beating on car, blocking escape, and grabbing at door handles to get in, but doors are locked. After EX briefly moved out from the path of the car, NG begins to drive away slowly. EX, noticing the car starting to leave, dives onto the hood of the car, slides off, gets run over at slow speed, and breaks bones. Several surgeries later, EX sues NG, alleging negligence in hitting EX with the car.

As I'm deposing EX, she claims to have never touched the car before it hit her - never punched or kicked the car, never broke the windshield wipers, never grabbed the door handle to try to open the door, never dove on the hood - just yelling. I asked what NG was doing during this time, and EX describes NG as deer in headlights, staring straight ahead, locked in her car, both hands on the steering wheel.

"How did you know the doors were locked?"

That one got dismissed pretty quickly.

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9. "My life is my life."

I represent tenants in eviction proceedings. Landlords being landlords, I have lots of "gotcha" stories. The most recent one was last week, in a classic "he-said, she-said" case. That is, the entire case depended upon whom the jury believed.

When the landlord was sworn in prior to testifying, she unnecessarily said "yes, on the Bible," when asked to tell the truth, the whole truth, etc. Her testimony, however, was evasive. She avoided answering almost every one of my questions. She even avoided answering some of her own lawyer's questions. During a recess, but still in the middle of her testimony, she was seen outside the courtroom, in full view of the jury, whispering with her lawyer and a family member about, obviously, what she was supposed to say on the stand.

When she got back up, the first thing I did was ask her what she was talking about with her lawyer and her family member outside the courtroom. I demanded to know whether they were telling her how to answer my questions. Her lawyer objected. The judge overruled the objection and ordered the witness to answer. The witness responded: "My life is my life."

During closing arguments, her lawyer tried to argue that she must have been telling the truth because she swore "on the Bible" even though she didn't have to. That meant, according to him, that she took her oath more seriously than the average person (AKA my client) who wouldn't bother swearing on a Bible when not asked to do so.

In my response, I agreed with the landlord's counsel that his client must take her oath to tell the truth seriously. She must have taken it so seriously, in fact, that she refused to lie under oath when her truthful testimony would have sunk her case. So, instead, she just refused to answer almost every question put to her.

The jury came back in about 30 minutes with a 12-0 verdict in the tenant's favor.

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8. This time you lost big

Lady got into a minor fender bender with a truck in a casino parking lot (she backed out of a spot into him). My guy said she parked and went inside the casino for a few hours. At her deposition, she testified that she was so hurt she went right home and to a hospital. I asked if she was a frequent visitor of casino, and if she had a rewards card. She was happy to tell me she did and she had gold status, and showed me the card.

I subpoenaed her rewards cards records, and it showed she was playing slots for hours after the accident.

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7. The chips are down

Not my story but a mentor's.

He worked in personal injury and accidents. The accident was between two very expensive cars, his client's being new and the opposing side's being a vintage collectible.

The case was only in regards to damages and what each side owed each other. The opposing side tried to claim the paint damage on the front where there was a collision, claiming that the cost of the paint job was no longer made and had to be custom made, mixed, and applied especially and made a big deal over paint.

My mentor had the keen eyesight and pointed out if the paint was damaged, where were the paint chips, as they were missing yet not on the ground or embedded in his client's obviously contrasting car? This was brought up in cross, and was met with a dumbfounded look and quiet.

This bore a huge hole in the credibility of the opposing council and eventually led to the very expensive case going in his favor.

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6. Just like with doctors: always tell them everything

I had a former client file for bankruptcy and in connection with that case brought an action against his landlord for violating the automatic stay. In order to prove "damages" he wanted to show he paid my firm for legal fees in connection with the landlord's pursuit of rent in violation of the stay.

So this former client's bankruptcy lawyer serves me a subpoena to show up at the bankruptcy hearing. He didn't ask me any questions prior but just gave me the gist of what the objective was, i.e. verify with the court the time I spent and the cost to his client.

The bankruptcy attorney called his client (my former client) to the stand first. He asked him questions related to his hiring my firm to do this and that as it related to his landlord. Apparently that's not enough, the bankruptcy attorney wants me to verify these facts as well.

I get put on the stand and I'm asked to verify the invoice. I first object to the question as a precaution since it may be a violation of attorney-client privilege to answer the question and to cover me for any claim by the bar or my former client. As predicted, the judge overrules and orders me to answer.

I review the invoice answer, "No, this is not my invoice."

His attorney: "I don't understand, this is your firm's logo and information right?"

Me: "Yes"

His attorney: "And you provided these legal services right?"

Me: "No."

A very confused attorney slowly started to put together (after a couple more follow-up questions) that this idiot client of ours had manufactured my invoice to prove his damages. Needless to say that I could have given his new attorney the heads up, but I wasn't going to help someone who had committed perjury to the court using my name. I had represented him in a completely different matter and this guy was trying to make some extra cash through this bankruptcy hearing.

Two lessons: tell your attorney everything and as an attorney, make sure your client feels comfortable to tell you everything.

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5. So you're saying you're a criminal?

I was cross-examining a custom home builder who had a lump sum contract (set price as opposed to “cost plus” which means cost of the materials plus x% as builder fee) with the home owner. Claimed he put 20% more labor/materials in building the home than the contracted provided for and he was suing for these excess costs.

Was asking him about an email with my client negotiating the price of the construction and he volunteers that he knew he couldn't build it for that price.

My head snaps up, supervising partner’s head snaps up, and opposing counsel goes pale. Dialogue was something like:

Me: You quoted ‘x’ price?

Builder: Yes.

Me: You knew you couldn’t build it for that price?

Builder: Yes.

Me: You knew the home owner was relying on that quote?

Builder: Yes.

Me: You knew the home owner wouldn’t have signed contract without that representation?

Builder: Yes.

Me: And you told home owner’s lender you could do it for ‘x’?

Builder: Yes.

Me: And the bank relied on that price and wouldn’t have given loan if knew it was wrong?

Builder: Yes.

This is textbook fraudulent inducement and he had no idea. Builder got poured out in the arbitration award and slapped with sizable punitive damages on top of it.

Five minutes of testimony sunk his case because he volunteered information without being prompted.

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4. Nothing like lying under oath

I had a DUI case that seemed pretty standard. Police report said that they saw a car with a headlight out leaving a Buffalo Wild Wings parking lot, he stopped him, the guy failed roadsides and blew a .09.

I have a meeting with the kid to get his side of the story.

My client was drinking in a BWW watching some MMA fight -- so it was super packed. Sometimes for events like this, police officers hang out inside to make sure no one gets in fights, steals stuff, etc.

Anyway. My client was flirting with the bartender, and she asked him to go home with her when she got off. He, being a man of about 25, says yes. She says she’ll drive him, and he tells her okay, but that he had to grab his cell phone charger out of his car.

He walks out of BWW to do so and the cop followed him out. It was pouring, so instead of just opening his door and reaching for his charger, client gets in the car to rummage through his glove box for it. When he steps out, the cop is standing there and demands for him to do roadsides, then hits him with a DUI.

We set for trial.

At the motions hearing, I asked the cop if he’d followed my client out of BWW. He said no, that he’d been patrolling in his car. He said he had no idea who was in the car when he approached it. He swore the car was on.

So at trial, I let him tell his story. I made him confirm to the jury that he was in his car doing routine patrol. He was never inside BWW. He didn’t follow my client to his car to entrap him into a DUI.

Then I played the video from inside BWW CLEARLY SHOWING the cop watch my client get up from the bar and follow him out.

Not. Guilty.

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3. Thank god for the body cam

Represented a DUI client who swore up and down to me he hadn’t been drinking. Newbie officer who had his field training officer with him in the car. Rookie pulls client over for a tag violation, walks back to the car with body camera still on, and training officer says “get him out for a DUI.” The rookie says, “but he’s not intoxicated.” To which the reply was, “do it anyway.” Then the body cam clicks off. It turns back on 7 minutes later and they’re doing field sobriety exercises on my client.

Client sat in custody for 3 weeks until I finally got the tape from the prosecutor and presented it to the judge. The “oh crap” looks from the prosecutor and field training officer when the judge saw the tape... I’ll treasure that forever.

The judge wrote the police chief a letter saying the training officer was dead to him and he’d deny every search warrant he tried to bring thereafter for being a liar. Client is hopefully still on track with his civil attorney in a lawsuit.

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2. Judge vs. lawyer

While doing SSA disability hearings a few years ago I represented a guy in a case that was back on remand from Federal Court.

Long story short, the original Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) didn’t follow the correct procedure and denied the guy because he “could return to his last work (Step 4).

Basically, he was granted a partially favorable decision that gave him $700 a month, rather than the $2,100 he should have received.

The ALJs are notoriously jerks, and try to scare people out of pursuing claims. This judge apparently thought he could intimidate me and my client into withdrawing the appeal by threatening to take away all the guys benefits. Little did he know, I’m not a moron, and I hate bullies.

He started the hearing by asking my client if he was aware that he could take all his benefits away. Asking if “your counsel has informed you that by continuing this hearing, you may lose all benefits and owe all amounts back to the agency as an overpayment.”

This was completely impossible, because 6 years had gone by since the original decision, and the judge could only reopen the decision within 2 years. Also, the job he previously did (computer system installer) was completely obsolete and physically impossible since his physical problems prevented him from lifting more than 20lbs, and the computer he was installing during the 1980s were 50-150lbs. The judge didn’t think about that, and clearly didn’t read the federal court remand notice.

So, long story short, the judge says to me, “Counsel, have you done your ethical duty and advised your client that he could lose all his benefits today?”

To which I responded by looking at my client, and in a full voice saying, “He can’t do that.” Then, without missing a beat looked back at the judge and said, “Your honor, I have advised my client that you cannot take his benefits away.”

I told the judge we would waive all other procedural portions of the hearings and proceed directly to vocational expert testimony.

I asked the vocational expert two questions, “would the prior job require lifting more than 20lbs?” And “has the prior job existed as performed since 1999?”

She quickly answered “no” to both questions and then on her own elaborated all the reasons why.

Total hearing was 6 minutes long. The judge had no choice but the grant the original application, and the guy got $158,000 in unpaid benefits. And $1,400 a month more than he had been receiving.

He broke down into tears and said he could finally keep the promise to his wife to return her ashes to the beach they got married on in Hawaii. A dream he had years ago decided would be impossible.

Best day of my career, so far.

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1. The magic formula

Worked as Paralegal/investigator. Working a trade secrets case involving the manufacture of dental wheels used to grind teeth. Long story, but go with it...

Company A was a small family owned manufacturer but made the best product on the market from a small factory in the middle of nowhere. Sold massive amounts of product because of quality. Its location was remote enough and the owner paid employees so well, the employees stayed there FOREVER. All of them had worked there for 30+ years. When the founder of Company A died, it was sold to International Company B because the kids and grandkids had no interest in the company. Company B then closed the old factory and tried to use company A's formula at their facilities. Company B couldn't make the formula work...

Now enter Company C... Another international company who lost the bid on buying company A.

When company C heard about the problems Company B was having, they bought the old factory facilities and then rehired the old staff to restart production. All the employees of old company A were delighted to have their good paying jobs back and went straight to work. Producing the better quality items once again and Company C's product worked.

Company B... Sues company C, for trade secrets violation. When you buy a company, you buy their trade secrets. And this company had a bunch. This product was just one part. But the most profitable part of their operation. Thus, company C, because of their action, was accused of violating the laws governing trade secrets.... Company B even managed to get a temporary restraining order against company C in Federal Court and Company C had to stop manufacturing at the old plant now owned.

This is when I enter the picture...

Our firm represented Company C an I was assigned to interview all the employees. I was in the living room of this delightful older lady in her late 50's that offered me snacks, asked me if I was married and wanted to set me up with her granddaughter, you name it...BEST AND FUNNIEST INTERVIEW EVER...

Then she drops the bomb. I asked her how she knew how to make the product. All my previous interviews said so and so taught them. She said.... "From the directions on the wall." Total moment of silence.

"Directions on the WALL?"

"Yes" she said, "no one ever looks at'm. But there is a board on the wall with the directions."

I call the janitor of the facility from her phone (yeah, this is before cell phones) and had him meet me there. He unlocks the place and yep, covered in probably 40 years of dust making it just part of the background, is a board with the entire process on it..

Thus, when company B sold the factory, which was eventually purchased by company C, company B accidentally sold the trade secret to company C because they abandoned it on the wall.

I did serious evidence sourcing on this. My best pictures were of this 65+ year old former janitor knocking the dust off the pages, taking the entire board off the wall, putting it in paper bag, and sealing it so I never touched it. Every picture he smiled for the camera... His FU expression was priceless in every picture. They were so freaking funny.

The judge in Federal Court was laughing his butt off when he heard the details of what I found to reverse the restraining order. When he opened the bag, he laughed even more.

The factory reopened immediately. Company B and C settled by agreeing that they both got to use the trade secret but couldn't sell it to anyone else.

What they really figured out was... Those little old ladies had slightly changed the formula over the years and slightly made them better over time. Even the formula on the wall didn't work as well as these little ladies did.


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