Friday, September 18, 2009

Humorous Story About "My Cousin Vinny"-Like Jailing of Attorney

7th Circuit Affirms Conviction Despite Lawyer’s ‘Vinny’-Like Jailing

A federal appeals court has affirmed the attempted murder conviction of a man whose lawyer was jailed during trial for “obstinate behavior” in an opinion that compared the case to the movie My Cousin Vinny.

The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted similarities and differences between the jailing of the Illinois lawyer and the fictional defense lawyer, Vincent LaGuardia Gambini, the Wisconsin Law Journal reports.

Unlike “Vinny,” the Illinois lawyer claimed his overnight jail stay during his client’s trial left him sleep-deprived and without the presence of mind to continue the defense of his client William Riley Sutherland III, later convicted of attempted murder.

Vinny, on the other hand, emerged rested from his night in jail and won the case for his client, Judge William Bauer wrote in the opinion affirming Sutherland’s conviction. Bauer said the real-life lawyer should have moved for a continuance upon returning to court.

“We cannot accept that an attorney functioning on little rest, whether it be three hours of sleep or no sleep at all, would lack the presence of mind even to request a simple continuance,” he said.
A footnote noted the similarities to My Cousin Vinny. “Unlike defense counsel here, Vinny, a New York lawyer struggling to adapt to the rural-Alabama trial setting, found that the accommodations in jail offered the best night’s sleep he could find away from the Big Apple,” Bauer wrote. “Upon his return to the courtroom, a revitalized Vinny dismantled the credibility of the state’s circumstantial case and cleared the names of the ‘two yutes’ he represented. (And again we see that life follows art).”

The above article was posted on September 16, 2009 on the ABA Journal website and was written by Debra Cassens Weiss.

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