Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
My Cousin Vinny
My Cousin Vinny is a 1992 American movie, released on Friday, March 13, starring Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei. Tomei won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance. The cast also includes Ralph Macchio, Fred Gwynne, Lane Smith, and Bruce McGill.
The movie portrays Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci), a lawyer from Brooklyn, New York, newly admitted to the bar. In his first court trial, Gambini demonstrates the remarkable skills necessary for a trial lawyer to find the weaknesses in an adversary's case as it is presented at trial.
After appearing before the judge at the arraignment in his nephew's (Ralph Macchio) murder case in a leather jacket without a tie, Vinny is thrown into jail for failing to enter a plea of "not guilty" for his nephew and friend and for not giving the judge due respect. On his second appearance before the same judge Vinny Gambini does not even bother to cross-examine one witness in the probable cause hearing. His nephew and his friend decide to hire the public defender but they quickly realize that Cousin Vinny (who failed the bar exam five times before passing) is still a superior lawyer than available through local legal aid.
Vinny's style comes to the fore during the trial when his cross-examination techniques expose the weaknesses in the prosecutor's case. Of course his denouement would not have been possible without evidence photographed by his fiancée (Marisa Tomei), which he unveils by calling her as an expert witness. None the less Vinny's performance and his tribulations are an exemplary presentation of the skill necessary for a criminal defense trial lawyer to succeed at trial and why so many lawyers plead their cases out and accept a plea bargain or settlement when faced with the vagaries of courtroom practice.
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