2022 Cinema of Law: Find Me Guilty

Tuesday, March 22, 2022
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.


Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield, MA 01201

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Berkshire Law Library


76 East St., Pittsfield, MA 01201

Overview of 2022 Cinema of Law: Find Me Guilty

Each year in March, the Berkshire Law Library, in partnership with the Berkshire Athenaeum and the Berkshire Bar Association, holds the "Cinema of Law" program. We show films about the law, either documentaries or dramas, and we invite attorneys or judges to speak about the legal issues raised by the films. The speakers generally talk for about 15-20 minutes before the films, and stay to answer questions afterwards. 

The presentations begin at 6 p.m. in the auditorium downstairs in the Berkshire Athenaeum, on Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield. 

Attention Berkshire Community College Students: This program has been approved for Forum Credit.

Find Me Guilty (2006)

Introduction by Attorney Lou Oggiani, with enlightening comments on the legal aspects of the film.

This film is a courtroom drama/comedy based on the true story of the longest Mafia trial in American history.  Vin Diesel stars as Jackie DiNorscio, a New Jersey mobster who is on trial for racketeering along with nineteen of his fellow gangsters.  Unlike them, Jackie decides to represent himself in court.  Already serving a 30-year prison term for a drug crime, Jackie is pressured to act as a cooperating witness against the others in the racketeering trial, in exchange for early release, but he refuses. Jackie’s arrogance and vulgar humor in court appear to be charming the jury, but the lead mob boss worries that it will cause them all to lose the case, and wants to sever Jackie’s case from theirs.  The frustrated District Attorney (played by Linus Roache) also wants Jackie thrown off the case, but the judge reluctantly allows Jackie to remain as his own counsel. The trial lasts 21 months, including emotional testimony, humor, and surprises both in court and behind the scenes. 

The film raises many issues, not least of which is our ability as an audience to view criminals with sympathy, the code of loyalty and fear that permeates the underworld, and how society and the courts can deal with organized crime in view of these issues.

Diesel, better known as an action movie star, shows impressive range as an actor. Peter Dinklage, acting in the role of the lead defense attorney, steals every scene in which he appears, with a gravity that belies his physical stature.

Directed by Sidney Lumet, who also directed 12 Angry Men (1957), Serpico (1973), and The Verdict (1982).

Much of the courtroom testimony in the film is taken from the original court transcripts.

The real Jackie DiNorscio served 17 and a half years before being paroled in 2002. He died of natural causes during filming.

This film is rated R for much vulgar language. Parents be forewarned.

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