The 22 Funniest Court Cases of All Time
Lawyers actually have a lot of fun doing what they do, and I should know. I’m a lawyer. Check out these hilarious stories from lawyers and judges. You’ll never look at a court of law the same way again!
The “Hairy Hand”
A young man named George had surgery to correct an ugly scar on his hand. The surgeon grafted skin from George’s chest onto his hand… except George had a hairy chest…so now he had a hairy hand as well. George sued the surgeon and was awarded “the difference in value between a 100 percent good hand… and a hairy hand.”
Judges have latitude when it comes to how they write their opinions and some run with it. For example, here’s how Justice Goldberg (a federal appeals court judge in Texas) began his 1986 opinion in the case of United States v. Batson:
Some farmers from Gaines had a plan.
It amounted to quite a big scam.
But the payments for cotton
began to smell rotten.
T’was a mugging of poor Uncle Sam.
Justice Goldberg keeps up the hilarity right until the very end, even as he breaks the bad news to the farmers: they’re still in big trouble.
Party on, Garth
“After an extreme close-up review of the record and excellent authorities, the court enters the following order.” So begins the opinion of Federal District Judge Paine in Noble v. Bradford Marine, a clear shout-out to the hilarious film, Wayne’s World. The first section is captioned, “Hurling Chunks.” The last: “A Schwing and a Miss.” In between, Judge Paine calls the defendant’s case “bogus” and “not worthy” and ultimately denies the defendant’s motion with a curt, “Party on.”
The ole stiff shoes excuse
More legal hilarity comes from Frank Caprio, Providence’s Chief Municipal Judge in Rhode Island and now the star of Caught in Providence, who, “judging” by the stories he recently shared with Reader’s Digest, has clearly has heard everything. For example, a man charged with speeding actually told Judge Caprio that he didn’t realize he was speeding because he was wearing a stiff, new pair of shoes and couldn’t feel how hard he was pressing on the gas. If you don’t laugh at these lawyer jokes, you might be held in contempt!
Another man accused of speeding seemed really, well, anxious, as he stood before Judge Caprio. “Is there something you want to say?” Judge Caprio asked the man. “Actually, yes,” the man replied. “My wife and I are trying to have a baby, and she’s ovulating right now.” What could be said beyond, “Thank you for sharing”? Actually, these might just be the funniest lawyer jokes ever.
The Heimlich “maneuver”
Another man stood before Judge Caprio defending himself for having parked in a handicapped spot, despite not having a sticker or a visible handicap. The man claimed he’d meant to park for just a moment to go into a restaurant to bring his mother a glass of water (she was dehydrated, he explained). But when he was on his way out, he saw someone choking and felt obliged to administer the Heimlich maneuver. The only problem was when Judge Caprio asked him how one does the Heimlich maneuver, the man had not a clue. Guilty as charged!
Well, that was awkward
In the “Only in Rhode Island,” category, Caprio tells Reader’s Digest that everyone knows everyone in the tiny New England state, and sometimes it gets super awkward. For example, one time a guy came in for a hearing on a parking ticket. So far so good… until his lawyer showed up. The lawyer, who was the husband of the defendant’s ex-wife, was also the former governor of Rhode Island. Spoiler alert: it turned out the parking ticket was issued in error, so everyone went home happy (except the police officer who wrote the ticket).
“The dumpster made me do it”
Judge Caprio recalls the time a woman argued against a parking ticket she’d received for parking in what had clearly been marked a loading zone. Not only was the sign clear on that, but the woman said she typically parked legally in an adjacent spot.
“So why not park legally this time?” the judge asked.
“Because a dumpster parked in that spot. So I took the spot the dumpster should have taken.”
She had to, hm? She also had to pay her parking ticket…obviously. Here are some smart tips for fighting parking tickets.
Speaking of funny judges, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina had us in tears when she told us about an exotic dancer who, having pleaded guilty on a drug charge, was sentenced to wearing an ankle monitor. Just a few days after sentencing, however, the woman was back in the courtroom, seeking an exception because the ankle monitor was kind of “ruining her vibe” at the strip club. In response, Judge Aquilina offered a veritable Solomon-esque solution: “Bedazzle that thing to match your outfits. Motion denied.”
Up the down hairdo
Attorney Allison Margolin, partner at Margolin Lawrence, has her own rather amusing drug-related story, only her is from the other side of the bench. “I was defending a criminal client on a drug charge,” she tells Reader’s Digest, “and I smelled pot in the courtroom.” Weirded out, she kept looking around trying to determine where it was coming from. She even looked in her own purse to see if her client had used her as a “mule.” No dice… until Margolin got home and took down her hair. “My client had stuck a joint in my up-do,” she realized.