The first rule of preparing to examine a witness

District Attorney Gladstone forgot the first rule of preparing to examine a witness: Be sure you know how the witness will answer when you ask a question.

Gladstone called Mrs. Bellefort, a motorcycle-riding grandmother, to the stand.

He began, “Mrs. Bellefort, do you know me?”

She said, “Certainly. I’ve known you since you were a tadpole, and you are a major disappointment. You tell lies, you cheat on your wife. You gossip. Oh, yes, I know you think you’re really something, but you haven’t even got brains enough to know you’ll never amount to anything but a two-bit, small-town jerk.”

Gladstone was shocked out of his wits. He pointed at the other desk and asked, “Do you know the defense attorney?”

“Yes, indeedy. He’s a bigot with a drinking problem. His law practice is a sham and a shambles. And you should know that one of the half-dozen women he cheated with was your very own wife.”

The defense attorney was seized by a coughing fit and turned beet red.

Then the judge called both attorneys to approach the bench. Very, very quietly, he said, “If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I’ll send you both to the electric chair.”

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