We all remember the scene from Inherit the Wind. Spencer Tracey, playing Clarence Darrow, is cut off from calling almost all his experts, so he turns round and calls the prosecuting William Jennings Brown-based character, who then makes a fool of himself.
The real story is nearly as good, as described by Wikipedia:
The earliest argument proposed by the defense once the trial had begun was that there was actually no conflict between evolution and the creation account in the Bible; later, this viewpoint would be called theistic evolution. In support of this claim, they brought in eight experts on evolution. But other than Dr. Maynard Metcalf, a zoologist from Johns Hopkins University, the judge would not allow these experts to testify in person.
On the seventh day of the trial, Clarence Darrow took the unorthodox step of calling William Jennings Bryan, counsel for the prosecution, to the stand as a witness in an effort to demonstrate that belief in the historicity of the Bible and its many accounts of miracles was unreasonable. Bryan accepted, on the understanding that Darrow would in turn submit to questioning by Bryan. Although Hays would claim in his autobiography that the cross-examination of Bryan was unplanned, Darrow spent the night before in preparation.
According to the Washington Post, the Republicans have gotten close to hiring one Rachel Mitchell as their questioner. I am not sure if this violates anti discrimination law, with its Congressional exceptions, nor if it’s a bigger insult to women or men. Mitchell is in the the Sex Crimes Unit at the Maricopa (Phoenix) DA:
In a 2011 interview, Mitchell said she was drawn to sex crimes work after she was paired with a senior lawyer prosecuting a youth choir director after joining the office as a law clerk awaiting the results of her bar exam. “It was different than anything that I would have ever imagined it being,” she said. “It struck me how innocent and vulnerable the victims of these cases really were.”
She is now a supervisor, where her duties include analyzing legislative changes and managing other attorneys. In an interview earlier this year on a local NPR radio station, she talked about the nuts-and-bolts of the office’s adoption of a new sex crimes protocol, the first in office history, intended to improve the investigation and prosecution of cases. She said the new manual would ensure prosecutors “have something to look at to say, okay, these are the best practices, so that we can do the best we can for victims.”
Can you imagine what an impossible position she is going to be in if she is cross examined abut the circumstances — or how craven the Republicans will seem if they cut off such an exploration off. Would Michell be able to try a case again. Everything that she said would be quoted by defense experts in every future trial.
I doubt either side will risk it, but what a thought.