Being a lawyer is an extremely commendable profession, as they serve as a "mouthpiece for the constitution." Whether or not they agree with the actions of their clients, they have an obligation to uphold the law and ensure that their clients have the best representation possible. However, moral conflicts do arise especially when clients are charged with especially heinous crimes and show no remorse for their actions. In these cases, lawyers must do their best to represent the client even if it has a lasting effect on them personally. Below, lawyers share when they realized their clients were true monsters.
"Helping a client through a divorce. She is a late 30s woman, two kids, idyllic suburban life with her husband who had an incredibly lucrative medical profession. He caught her cheating. He wanted to patch things up, she decided on a divorce. So far - nothing out of the ordinary, unfortunately.
Then I start getting the details. He caught her on his birthday. In their bed. While the kids were downstairs. Dude decided to come home early as a surprise, and his wife was getting serviced by a 19 year old. But wait... There's more.
Really fun stuff from the husband. Guy had been treated for gonorrhea twice, and both times he had caught it from his wife. The second kid wasn't his, it was obvious because the child was 100% another race and the 'dad' was not that race.
Bad stuff, right? Well, enter the texts, e-mails, etc. She was carrying on like a dozen affairs at any given time. Spanning years. She would bring them home, and tell the kids they were electricians, plumbers, etc. She'd start messing around with other guys within minutes of dropping her kids off at school.
I've met some awful people in my time, but this woman straight up told me how much this guy loved her and how she manipulated the heck out of him. He knew about a lot of the stuff, and each time he found something new he just tried to 'win' her back. I don't want to go into the details of what happened, but some money that you get you don't really want."
"I was working on a bond case. The issuer defaulted, the project funded by the bonds went belly up, and a lot of people lost money. I helped represent the brokerage firm that had been the underwriter. During a deposition that was focused on the prospectus, we realized to our horror that some key financial information had been omitted and there were only blanks or whited out figures where this financial information should be. I had just gotten on board of the case and immediately felt my heart sink - and I felt even worse that the opposing counsel didn’t realize our client’s huge mistake. Despite this, our client threw absurd amounts of money at the case and we won. Our client was so pleased that they had delivered us a seemingly endless sushi bar, with servers, as a bonus.
Later, I was sent a box of correspondences from the defendants for reasons I can’t remember now. Included in it was a letter from an elderly woman whose husband was dying. They were about to lose their farm as they had invested their savings into these bonds, but she had sent $5 to the plaintiffs’ counsel when they tried to get class certification (we succeeded in blocking that). She apologized for not sending more but hoped her $5 helped. I had been billing out tens of thousands on this case each month for many months. I felt absolutely horrible, I ended up quitting my job not long after and changed professions."
"I've done a lot of prison legal aid, and I could tell stories about child abusers that would turn you green, but instead I'll turn you green a different way.
I had a kid around 17 years old who was mildly cognitively disabled, due to brain trauma he sustained at the hands of his birth parents, and ended up with a really wonderful foster care family and thrived.
He was a popular kid in school, good athlete, got a girlfriend and invited her to meet up and be teenagers one night in a corn silo - which I guess is a thing that country kids do? I don't know, this all comes from the pre-sentence investigation report I read before taking his case, but this girl met him at the silo and they were hanging out inside.
By his account, they were having a nice time and he was really enjoying himself, then for no particular reason, he picked up a 2x4 and bashed her skull in. He then used a combination of very crude farm implements (shovels, etc.) to chop her body up and bury it in the corn and went home like nothing had happened. He literally didn't have a reason. The cops tried their hardest to make sense of it, but couldn't find a shred of evidence to fit whatever narrative they proposed. For example, they tried to tie it to a small-time narcotics ring that the kid turned out to have absolutely nothing to do with. Determining a motive can help make sense of a situation and make it easier for the prosecutor to present a case to a jury, but even in the absence of any motive, if all the other facts and evidence lineup, that suspect is going to be convicted, which he was.
We all want to try to make sense of tragedies like that, but sometimes people are just messed up and they hurt other people."
“When I was a new attorney, I was working for a company and they gave me a case in a black folder and said that no one was going to take it so it was on me. When I looked into the folder, it was the most grisly, disgusting description of assault of a child that I vomited into my trash can. I had to take it, met the girl, very smart but terrified of everyone and everything. She told me how he hurt her every day and would climb in bed with her for 'special uncle time' every night. The girl was five. When offered one of the dolls to show where he touched her she simply replied 'everywhere.' He had taken advantage of her every single night for at least a year and further abused her multiple times. It was also suspected that he brought his friends over to abuse her as well but that couldn’t be confirmed.
The girl broke down in court and couldn’t stand as a witness. She couldn’t testify. She was the only witness. The mother testified the uncle wouldn’t do anything, same with the father. I got to watch this man who I knew with everything in me hurt this child buckle her into the car and drive her away with the parents. It was disgusting. I will never forgive anyone in that jury for as long as I live and I hope they rot. I don't know where that little girl is now today and that's something that'll bother me for a very long time.”
"Can't name too many specific details because of privilege, but the situation was as follows: Client came to our legal center seeking assistance in applying for permanent residency. He was in the country on the basis of a refugee permit. Now in order to draft an application for permanent residency for a refugee, I ask multiple questions pertaining to his reasons for flight and non-return to country of origin, as well as background information about his prior life. At first look, he appeared to have fled for reasons related to ethnic genocide and the aftermath thereof. He feared unjust prosecution for war crimes he stated he had not committed, would he be forced to return. That is a typical complaint for clients of this background, so it didn't raise any eyebrows. After doing the interview I then went on to do research about past and present situation of the man in question. I stumbled across some names that seemed oddly familiar. It turned out the client was not only the godson of the president who had instigated a genocide that had left millions dead, pretty much every name he had mentioned in terms of prior place of work, family members, friends had their own wikipedia page dedicated to the atrocities committed by themselves, some charged by the ICC with war crimes but have thus far managed to escape prosecution. I confronted him with what I had found. He persisted he was the sole person in his surroundings who somehow had not been an active, and leading perpetrator, of the genocide.
I couldn't be sure, and knew we were the only option for legal assistance he had due to lack of funds (the center I worked at was exclusively pro-bono). I drafted and filed his application for permanent residency. It was not my place or right to judge his story and decide his fate. I have to trust the system that they'll sufficiently investigate the merit of his application, but I guess I'll never know if I helped an innocent man flee the persecution of an unjust, and biased government or if I made it possible for a genocidal mass murderer to walk free."
"I was working at a matrimonial law firm in a very wealthy area, so a majority of my work concerned millionaires and billionaires getting divorced.
One of the first cases I worked on involved the parents of a victim of a high-profile school shooting. The parents were divorced and had been prior to the death of the child, and were now battling over who would get the victim's compensation fund money and the funds they received from a fundraiser they set up themselves on a GoFundMe-type site!
These were incredibly wealthy people fighting over what was literal chump change to them and asking the public to donate to them as if they needed it. They were so clearly exploiting the death of their child for money and to irritate the other parent, it was honestly one of the most disturbing things I have encountered, ever."
"I'm a Criminal Defense attorney. This one time I represented a guy charged with kidnapping, attempted murder, domestic battery, etc. The guy allegedly grabbed his girlfriend from her house and took her to the nearby river to kill her, which he denied entirely.
We had a 404b hearing (where, basically, the State attempts to get his prior bad acts admitted as evidence at trial) where three prior girlfriends all testified that he strangled them, beat them, etc. At least one was hospitalized for a broken jaw. The guy does not deny any of it.
I was forced to cross examine all of them and the only thing I had to go on was their credibility and possible substance use or lack of memory. Not effective at all. Additionally, the local paper quoted me pretty much attacking these victims of domestic violence.
The guy's face never changed during their testimony. Realized then I do not care if he goes to prison for life because there is a zero percent chance he will not hurt more women."
"I am a former family lawyer. Because I dealt with separating parents, care of children and protection orders (relating to domestic violence), I got to see my fair share of disturbing situations. I can’t actually talk about the worst ones as they made the news, but here’s another.
The one that stands out involved a father who came to us while he was in prison, looking for an order for his 4 year old son to visit him in prison. We took him on as we were a legal aid firm and basically tried to process as many people as we could handle at one time to make up for the low fees. He was serving a 7 year term, and it soon became apparent why when we received the documentation from his criminal case. He had a history of convictions that went on for several pages, ending in a conviction for Wounding with Intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
He’d been in a relationship with the mother of his child on-and-off for about 5 years and was constantly violent to her. He’d had several convictions for assaulting her and had a protection order made against him that he’d breached four times and received a jail sentence for in the past. He also blamed the maternal grandmother for constantly trying to stop her daughter from going back to him.
One day, when they were again on a break, he turned up at her house while the grandmother and child were there. She told him to leave but he wouldn’t. She then tried to leave and he got violent. He picked up a brick and ran after the grandmother, hitting her in the back of the head and knocking her to the ground. The mother screamed and tried to stop him, at which point he grappled her to the ground and started hitting her in the head with the brick repeatedly, fracturing her skull. The little boy of course had been standing right there when all of this was happening, and tried to push his dad off, yelling 'Stop hitting my mom!'
Obviously it’s a freaking miracle he wasn’t charged with attempted murder. You can imagine the look on the judge’s face prior to hearing when I had to explain his argument for why the boy should be forced to go and see him at the medium-high security prison he was housed at. It stuck with me because the mother was brave enough to appear at what eventually became a submissions-only (ie. no direct evidence given) hearing despite the head injury and mental trauma she had suffered. Needless to say we didn’t win, and it certainly seemed the best outcome for the child."
"This is a story from a long time ago, during the summer after my first year of law school when I was briefly working at a well-known criminal defense firm.
The client whose case I was working was one of several defendants charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Three individuals had committed the murders, and several others had either helped plan it, abducted the victims, came along to watch, or filmed it.
In order to see whether our client was one of the individuals present at the scene, I had to watch multiple videos of the murders. I watched multiple people brutally killed in about the worst possible way you can imagine - they were chopped into pieces while they were alive and had their skulls stomped in. It wasn’t some grainy security footage either. It was HD video taken by bystanders just a few feet away. The videos showed some very grotesque things I don't feel I'm at liberty to share, but guaranteed they are burned into my psyche permanently. I also had to listen to the audio to see if our client’s voice could be heard. The screams were bad. The laughter was worse. It has stuck with me for years and years, and I don’t see it going away any time soon.
Thankfully my internship at that firm ended a few weeks later at the end of the summer. I never looked up the sentence from the case, and have no desire to. In our case there was no presumption of innocence - the individuals involved had all taken pleas in hope that the prosecutors wouldn’t seek the death penalty. The only thing that would change was whether our client would get the death penalty (if he was present/filming) or life in prison (if we showed that he played a more minimal role). Working in criminal defense meant setting my judgement for people aside so that they could be afforded the rights guaranteed to them by the constitution. I still did my job to the best of my ability, but I found myself lying awake at night for several weeks in a row, praying to every god that I knew that each of those monsters involved would fry in the electric chair, and that someone would laugh at their screams too.
After that internship, I never returned to criminal law. I now practice civil law where I help people recover for wrongs done to them."
"I was appointed to represent a serial offender. He was charged with a level 1 felony intimate assault that involved a home invasion at 5:00 a.m. It was a college town and this monster was going around an apartment complex, checking doors and found one that was unlocked. He goes in and gets on top of the victim and ties her to the bed, then takes advantage of her in various ways. He finishes and then dumps a bunch of water all over her while still tied up. Then he takes her phone and some other property and unties her and tells her to not move for 30 minutes and leaves.
I spent about 3 hours reading the case file and all the depositions of the witnesses. Afterward I felt like I was going to vomit. I felt sick that I'd be spending my time and effort defending him. I have been intimately assaulted more than once in my life and the stuff from this case is essentially my worst nightmare.
His defense: it was consensual and they met outside at the bus stop at 3 in the morning and she told him he was a 'beast' and invited him up to her place.
When I went to visit him in the jail for the first time he said he had done some digging on the victim and found out she had a conviction for driving under the influence. He asked if we could bring this in to discredit her. It was hard for me not to flash angry at this.
It was at this point I told him to take the deal for 20 years because he'd get 80 years at trial with the evidence the state had."
"There was this young college student who got picked up for driving under the influence after destroying a boatload of government and private property. My friend is graced with the task to defend. He says it’s going to be a quick one...Gets back the next day, and he tells me the police searched the kid’s vehicle’s trunk and found about 400 pages of documents and six folders of photographs.
It turns out the college student was the bait for his parents and aunt and uncles to lure women back to their home where they would perform this occult ritual where the family would perform intimate acts as a group with the women, and it always ended with killing the victim and burning the body out in the middle of nowhere. They wouldn’t keep any of the parts but they had a very lengthy record of how many people they were burning. Those 400 pages...mind you not every page is each victim, they liked to document what happened during the ritual and what the bodies looked like when they burned. Apparently the student was off to get the pages and photographs bound into a book at a print shop for the family’s ritual anniversary."
"The first week I started at my current criminal defense firm I was tasked with cataloging discoveries from our client's phone.
The phone had multiple (talking around 4,000) videos, photos, text exchanges with women under 16 (though not all of the girls' ages were confirmed, most, if not all, were under the legal age of consent and many were barely pubescent) without any clothes on and being sold for 'favors' for over a year. He would lure these girls in exchange for getting them high.
Nothing felt totally bizarre until I came across one video where he was clearly forcing himself upon a literal child who was so high on benzodiazepines (not willingly but rather forced) and choking her in the process. When our firm confronted him, he said he was in love with her and that's why he did it.
He would also take these girls to hotels and make them do the dirty with one another while he taped, but nothing beat what I said above.
Pretty horrifying stuff for my first week on the job. He ended up getting locked up for a LONG time."
"My close relative is a criminal defender, and he was giving me examples of cases he had covered while I was considering going to law school (which I am currently enrolled in). Without breaching my confidentiality agreement, here’s what I can give away:
This dude was known to have anger issues. One day, he came home inebriated (not messed up enough to prevent conviction, though) to his girlfriend and his child. It was the child of his ex. Anyway, the child was in one room, he and his girlfriend in another. He started beating her and torturing her. He also filmed it. In the end, he beat her to death.
I have not seen the video, but I have seen photos of her body and it’s not a sight I will ever forget. The guy was convicted of murder, but only the lighter version. In Germany, a murder is looked at in the context of specific aggravating circumstances, so to get lifelong imprisonment it has to be more than 'A kills B'. The requirement is that they have to kill out of pleasure, gratification, out of greed or otherwise base motives (this isn’t specified, but used for every murder where it’s evident that there was more than just a killing), by stealth or cruelty or by means that pose a danger to the public (think gas or bombs or driving a car into a group of people), or in order to facilitate or cover up of another offense.
In this case, cruelty was the only possible circumstance. However, after hearing expert testimonies, the judge only went for a normal murder, because apparently, the guy had beaten her with a blunt object and in her temples. The experts said that she likely didn’t feel anything afterwards. Cruelty however must be experienced by the victim. Since she couldn’t anymore, he didn’t cruelly murder her. However, the judge also said that he easily could have gone the other way, but that he felt he couldn’t without reasonable doubt. He still said it was a very serious case, in which case the sentence is life imprisonment as well, so in the end, the consequence for the client was the same. Still something that messed me up for months and I honestly can’t imagine being in criminal law because of cases like these."