Why lawyers should never ask a witness a question if they aren’t prepared for the answer:
In a trial, a Southern small town prosecuting attorney called his first witness to the stand – a grandmotherly, elderly woman. He approached her and asked, “Mrs.. Jones, do you know me?” She responded, “Why, yes I do know you, Mr. Williams. I’ve known you since you were a young boy, and frankly, you’ve been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you’re a big shot when you haven’t the brains to realize you never will amount to anything more than a two-bit paper pusher. Yes, I know you.”
The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, “Mrs. Jones, do you know the defense attorney?”
She replied, “Why yes, I do. I ‘ve known Mr. Bradley since he was a youngster too. He’s lazy, bigoted, and he has a drinking problem. He can’t build a normal relationship with anyone and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire state. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women, one of whom was your wife. Yes, I know him.” The defense attorney almost died.
The judge asked both counselors to approach the bench and in a very quiet voice said, “If either of you bastards asks her if she knows me, I’ll throw your sorry asses in jail for contempt.”
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Why lawyers should never ask a witness a question