16 June 2004

Yankee Lawyer Southern Justice

This has been bouncing around in my head since I watched "My Cousin Vinny" a few days back:

When I first came to practice criminal law I was surprised at how quickly trials go in Virginia. Most felonies are completely tried within a day. Major trials seldom take more than a few days. There was a story which floated around among the old timers which was used to demonstrate the difference between a trial in Yankeedom and a Virginia trial.

The story starts with a bunch of folks from up North with vowels at the ends of their names coming down to this area and starting various restaurants serving pizza and various types of pasta involved foods. Figuring these people for trouble, local law enforcement cracked the whip and a number of people ended up in court.

A lawyer from New York City comes down here pro hoc vice to handle one of the gentlemen's jury trial.
Lawyer: Your honor, I don't think that jury selection should take any longer than two weeks.

Judge: Counselor, this trial is going to conclude this afternoon.
And the judge was right.

The lawyer had been under the misunderstanding that a judge in Virginia would actually allow him individualized voir dire.

Is the story true? Who knows. Did local law enforcement stomp out those establishments? Well, I've not had any problem finding a place nearby where pasta is served and the folks running the place always seem to speak some foreign tongue.

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