My Cousin Vinny is a highly praised American comedy, directed by Jonathan Lynn, and stars Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei, Fred Gwynne’s final-film appearance before his death, and many other notable actors. The film deals with two young-city folk (Ralph Macchio and Mitchell Whitfield) who travel through a rural town until they are falsely tried for a murder they did not commit. One of the convicted New Yorkers calls on his cousin to save their case, Vincent Gambini (Joe Pesci), who had only recently passed the bar exam and is traveling with his fiancée, Mona Lisa (Marisa Tomei). Much of the humor stems from Vinny’s several-unsuccessful attempts to defend his clients and the characters dynamic personalities. The movie itself has been acclaimed by countless lawyers for its seemingly-accurate depiction of a court and trial procedure/strategy; but there are a few minor errors…
Here’s our list for Basic No-No’s- My Cousin Vinny:
- Vinny unfortunately struggles during the preliminary hearing, and it becomes evident that the district attorney has a stronger case. Though, having a stronger case would not ensue a preliminary hearing one day, and trial start the very next week; but then again, it is a movie.
- When the two young New Yorkers, try out their public defender in questioning, due to insecurities with Vinny, their defender openly enters the space between the bench and the counsel tables; a space called the well. Attorneys are not allowed to step foot in the well, without the permission of the judge, which he clearly did not receive.
- Continuing with the blunder, the public defender, because of poor preparation, nearly ruins the case due to his own questions. It’s essential to know that trials lawyers don’t ask open-ended questions during cross examination, especially if they don’t know the answer to them. Instead they use leading questions, and usually prepare beforehand.
- Later in the movie, on the trials third day to be exact, the district attorney produces a surprise witness, who’s later revealed to be an FBI analyst. This is kind of cheap because no expert witness can testify last minute without disclosure, even if he/she was disclosed the night before.
- As much as we love Marisa Tomei and her portrayal of Mona Lisa, she would not be classified as an expert, in most legal situations. An expert can give an opinion, but must meet the minimum threshold, namely through conducting a Voir Dire, but her eligibility is extremely narrow and generally would happen during briefing- not on the stand.
- The obvious lying and fraudulent profile (Jerry Gallo).
Watch My Cousin Vinny today and let us know if we missed anything!