Defense lawyer R. Kenneth Mundy spent a full day of cross-examination yesterday chasing a reluctant government witness down a path of uncertain legal relevance.

The witness was Hazel Diane "Rasheeda" Moore, and Mundy's day was not wasted. Though his attempts to make an entrapment case had only just begun, Mundy sounded three themes likely to resonate with some jurors: that Moore laid a sexual lure for the mayor, that she guided and initiated the use of drugs and that she in turn was guided by her masters at the FBI.

Some spectators seemed almost disappointed that Moore had not collapsed under a barrage from one of the city's best cross-examiners. But Perry Mason-style demolitons are hardly the rule in actual courtrooms. Mundy's more plausible goal was far more modest, and the judge put it succinctly at a bench conference yesterday afternoon.

"Your honor," complained Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith E. Retchin, "{Mundy} is making self-serving statements before his questions and they are not proper statements. He is speaking to the jury rather than questioning the witness."

"That is what a large measure of cross-examination is," replied U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson. The objection was overruled.

What Mundy had to speak about was the enticement and betrayal of D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. The relationship between Moore and Barry, he suggested, was not complex: she led him on, she set him up and she tried to blame the consequences on him.

Even if those claims prove true, they do not add up to an entrapment defense. And even if entrapment is proved, it would counter only one charge of drug possession. Nine more counts of possession, one count of conspiracy to possess and three felony charges of perjury would remain.

But Mundy, a canny tactician, is not known for pursuing worthless quarry. A double-barreled goal emerged from his first full day of questioning of the government's most sensational witness: to make some kind of beginning on the entrapment defense, and to fan any flames of outrage at the government among the 12 jurors and six alternates.

Mundy's only explicit reference to entrapment was rhetorical.

"They didn't put you in there to entrap him in sex, did they?" he asked.

Mundy was trying to put his spin on Moore's motivation for using offers of cocaine to parry Barry's videotaped sexual advances at the Vista Hotel. The FBI, Mundy suggested, did not want Moore to sleep with the mayor, but to entice him into smoking crack cocaine.

But Mundy did not really expect an answer. Even with the broad latitude of cross-examination, Mundy knew he could not argue with Moore or ask her for a legal conclusion. The judge sustained Retchin's objection without bothering to call the lawyers to the bench.

The better part of Mundy's day was spent battling to get Moore to say that she was the first to bring up drugs and the first to return to the subject as the evening wore on. Moore, who declined to agree, consistently sought to break the rhythm of Mundy's examination.

Even when she conceded a point, she did not often do so without a pause. At one point Mundy asked what she meant when she told Barry, on the Vista videotape, that he should learn to be more warm -- and not just "go right to it."

"You are talking about sex, aren't you?" Mundy asked.

"It is primarily about touching," Moore replied.

"Touching is a prelude to sex, right? It is not a prelude to drugs, right?" Mundy asked.

"That is right," Moore replied.

"So you are talking about sex, right?"

Sometimes it took Mundy 10 or 15 questions to arrive at his reward of a frosty "that is correct" from the witness stand.

If Mundy convinces the jury that Moore instigated Barry's use of drugs, he will only be halfway toward an entrapment defense.

"If you find evidence in this case that the defendant was induced to commit the offense charged," the jurors will be told in final instructions, "you must go on to consider whether or not the defendant was predisposed to commit the offense -- that is, whether he was ready and willing to commit crimes such as are alleged in the indictment, whenever an opportunity was afforded."

Only where there is not predisposition, in other words, can there be entrapment. One day into his examination of Moore, Mundy had not yet addressed the prosecution's considerable evidence of Barry's predisposition.

Instead, he hammered hard where the jurors -- in jury selection -- had revealed themselves to be sensitive. Moore, he said, had chosen "a hotel room with a bed" as the setting for her sting. The FBI's undercover agent wore "a tight, short leather skirt." Barry did not "have drugs on his mind" when he arrived at the Vista to see her, "but you had drugs on your mind for him."

"This is correct," Moore replied to that assertion. What the jurors thought of that answer may turn out to be important down the line.