The following is a true story that may or may not amuse, depending on your point of view.
One morning during a long trial, a young associate was delighted by the news that his boss, the lead trial lawyer, was going to allow him to cross-examine a defense witness after lunch. The cross-examination took place later that day without a hitch, and the young lawyer was justifiably proud.
That night at dinner, the young lawyer had all sorts of questions for his boss. He started with the first: "How come you let me do the cross-examination?"
The lead trial lawyer knew the answer, but wasn't sure how to respond. Finally, he decided that he should answer honestly, since it seemed like the truth might contain an important lesson for the young lawyer.
"I let you do the cross-examination," the lead lawyer said, "so that the jury would know just how unimportant that witness was."
According to the story, the young lawyer didn't take the explanation very well. He was so unhappy about it, in fact, that he was still recounting it years later to anyone who cared to listen, hoping that they'd be shocked, as he was, that his former boss, the lead trial lawyer, had so heartlessly duped him into playing the role of fool before the jury.
Most who heard his story, however, just laughed.
Publication note: Originally published 9/2/05.