My Cousin Vinny

My Cousin Vinny is a film about a murder case in a rural Alabama town, where police discovered the body of a sore clerk who had been shot and killed (Lynn, 1992). Investigations ensued, and the officers took pictures of the scene of crime, with the tyre tracks found on the scene being matched to the vehicle Bill and Stan were driving. The two had on the same day been caught shoplifting that raised a probable cause since they allegedly killed the clerk to ensure that she did not report them to the police. The police had already passed their judgment on Bill and Stan and did not an in-depth investigation to ascertain the circumstances leading to her death. The collection of evidence and over-reliance on witnesses whose statements may be biased exemplified the extent to which the officers did not take necessary investigations on the murder (Lynn, 1992). Their case was built around the matched tyre tracks that could have been for any matching model or would have been driven by another person.

Their arrest also did not match proper procedures since they were not given the reasons for their arrests by the officers. They were not given a chance to understand the circumstances surrounding their arrests and were quickly hauled to the station for questioning. The two thought that they were being arrested for shoplifting while they were being arrested for murder (Lynn, 1992). Every individual has a right to freedom and police need to follow due process and be told why they are being arrested.

Booking involves taking fingerprints, giving the names of the two suspects and recording of these processes by the officers to enter them into the systems. The two were not given any recognizable form of booking but were taken into the cells although the police believed they had gathered enough evidence to charge them with murder (Lynn, 1992). This is not due process, and the failure to follow procedure was further compounded by the fact that the two were taken to a correctional facility instead of a county jail. The two had not been sentenced therefore they should not have been taken to a correctional facility until after they had been sentenced.

The appearance of a lawyer and the sentiments made in a courtroom to argue their case should be respectful to the specific organ of court. Vinny had no respect for the court and did not dress as a judicial officer who was representing members of the public in a case that determined their lives. He was, therefore, charged $200 for contempt of court due to his conduct. This is in line with the judicial processes and proceedings as was the case with the $200000 bail set for the two since their felon was much greater (Lynn, 1992).

The preliminary hearing went on smoothly and albeit an unprepared defense Attorney the proceedings followed proper procedure and the judge ruled according to the requirement of the judicial process. All the witnesses pointed out towards the two boys, and the sheriff who had caught the boys by surprise claimed that they had made a confession (Lynn, 1992). A confession is however recorded or signed to prove its existence. The sheriff did not provide these documents or forms of evidence to the court. Vinny, who was the defense attorney, should have done more to ensure that the case did not go to trial but didn’t although all the evidence presented was circumstantial. The judge, however, set the trial date when these parties were expected to report back to court and make their case.

During the trial, the information sheet was presented and read out where all the different charges against the accused were highlighted, and the laws that they had violated were listed (Lynn, 1992). The evidence that supported these accusations was also listed, and it was given to the relevant parties in the court at the beginning of the case. The grand jury was also present at the hearing. The grand jury is drawn from members of the community who meet to decide if the evidence presented supports the charges that have been presented by the prosecutor against the defendant in a court case. The process of Voir dire was, however, not conducted on the jury. It is important for the jurors to be vetted and tested by the lawyers to ensure that they are not biased against any side and will have the ability to give a fair verdict (Newburn, 2007).

In the trial, however, although Vinny had come off as an incapable lawyer during the preliminary hearing he managed to outwit and discredit the witnesses who had been presented. However, as he had initially expected the prosecutor was not forthcoming with all its witnesses in the case (Lynn, 1992). They presented a surprise witness who had supposedly won the case for them before Vinny found a work around the statements as well the evidence that he had given. The prosecutor is supposed to give the defense all relevant information and key witnesses beforehand to ensure that the defense managed to prepare for the case properly (Herring, 2007). Although they argued that they got the witness after giving out the information sheet, it was a manipulative tactic that was meant to sway in their favor. On the other hand, Vinny showed great ingenuity and commitment towards the process when he managed to come up with a good move that changed the view of the jury (Treadwell, 2006). Vinny managed to win the case and at the same time give the police the suspects who had committed the original crime. The tyre marks that were meant to be the main object of the case turned out to be the same factors that eventually led to the capture of the actual culprits.

The case was at the end withdrawn, and the two were released after the prosecutor moved on to dismiss the case. It was a case that was marred by inconsistencies and a lot of disregard for the proper procedures that are implemented to ensure that the law and criminal proceedings are fair to all parties. Justice can only be given if the right people are judged and not through pinning other people for crimes that they did not commit. The main objective of the law is to ensure that it can give justice to all those who have been wronged, but that does not mean unjustifiably judging others for these crimes. Vinny may have started as an incompetent lawyer but gets his wits when it matters and has been given some court etiquette by the presiding judge.





















Herring, J. (2009). Criminal law. Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lynn, J. (Director). (1992). My Cousin Vinny [Motion picture]. United States: 20th Century Fox.

Newburn, T. (2007). Criminology. Cullompton: Willan Pub.

Treadwell, J. (2006). Criminology. London: SAGE.


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