After nearly 40 years of waiting for his big chance, incompetent barrister Morgenhall gets a "dock brief" to defend mild Mr Fowle who murdered his insufferably jolly wife. Despite Fowle's insistence that he is guilty, Morgenhall refuses to believe it and conjures up a magnificent victory in court with himself as star performer. But the actual trial is a disaster. Morgenhall bungles the case and Fowle is found guilty. However, Fowle is reprieved on grounds that he was inadequately defended. He consoles Morgenhall by pointing out that if the latter had been a better lawyer his client probably would not now be a free man.