I've never thought the whole identical-twins-switch-places thing was all that amusing, and I might even rank it one step below its leprous cousin, the inexplicably frequent parent-child-body-swap farce. And that's when Hollywood does it. It's even less likely to go well in court.
In Kansas City last Thursday, prosecutors moved to have defense lawyer Dorothy Savory held in contempt after it turned out the man she brought to a preliminary hearing was not her client, but his identical twin brother. According to the Kansas City Star, Judge Kenneth Garrett called the case and asked Savory whether her client was in custody: "She replied no, that he was in the courtroom. Garrett then asked 'Mr. White' to come forward."
He did, or at least a "Mr. White" did.
When the prosecutor called the victim to the stand, she asked her if she could identify the man who attacked her. She identified the man sitting next to the defense lawyer. Presumably, Savory was then ready to spring her trap.
But if she was, the trap was defective. "Let the record reflect that the witness has identified someone other than my client as the man who attacked her, namely this person sitting here ... who, yes, may look exactly like my client because they are identical twins, but is in fact not him, and let the record also reflect that I've just realized this isn't going to work and I really should have thought this through a little more. Nothing further, your Honor."
If this wasn't what Savory planned to try, it's hard to see why her client was also at the courthouse. At about the time of the (mis)identification, the arresting officer (in the hallway waiting to testify) noticed the guy he had arrested getting off the elevator. But wasn't he already in the courtroom?
This is the part where the hilarious hijinks come to light and everybody laughs, and then the defendant's parents get remarried, or whatever. Except Judge Garrett doesn't like that story, either. After a brief recess, he had a few questions for Savory, who, I'm pleased to report, denied everything.
"My client was not planning on testifying at all," she insisted, and then sprung another defective trap. "My client was not the one I called to come to the table. This honorable Court asked for 'Mr. White,' and that's who's at the table today, Mr. White." Well played, counselor.
"[I]t was presented to this Court ... that the person sitting at that table was your client," Garrett said, angrily. "Was it your intention to bring someone else up to this counsel table so she [the victim] could misidentify him?"
"No, your Honor," Savory replied.
Why did he come forward, then? (Maybe the twins fooled the lawyer, too.) Because "[she] asked me to," the other twin testified. (Guess not.) The only other explanation I can think of is that maybe the defendant was going to be late and they thought they would switch at some point. That's not quite as dumb as the identical-twin-misidentification plan, but it's still dumb.
Judge Garrett was so furious that he had to take a recess, probably so his robes didn't burst into flame due to the level of fury. Ultimately, he said he would let the presiding judge decide what to do with Savory. That hearing is set for January, and if Savory has a twin, she should try to talk her into covering that one.
See also "Judge Not Amused by Twin Antics" (in which an 18-year-old took her twin's place - and pleaded guilty - because her sister had a final that day); "Italian Lawyer Changed Places With Twin" (in which the twin, who was not a lawyer, appeared on behalf of a client); and cf. "When Does a DNA-Test Result With 99.9% Certainty Not Prove Paternity?" (in which the answer was "when the mother slept with each of two identical twins while in town for the rodeo").
Update: This report has some audio excerpts from the hearing, if you want to hear the sound of a bad argument going down in flames.