Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Cousin Vinny and the Judges

The American Bar Association listed the movie My Cousin Vinny as #3 on the all-time list of their 25 Greatest Courtroom Movies. In this movie Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei played an engaged couple from Brooklyn who traveled to the South so he could sever as a lawyer for his cousin who had been wrongly accused of murder. You might be able to guess that people from Brooklyn talk differently than people from the South. Both areas have distinct accents. There are times in the movie when the southerners can't understand what Vinny is saying. And Vinny has a lot to learn when it comes to Southern culture. In fact, even though Vinny is a lawyer, he has a lot to learn when it comes to courtroom behavior. It turns out that Vinny is actually an auto mechanic who studied law at night school. This will be his first case.

When Vinny gets in front of the judge, his New York brashness and lack of respect for courtroom procedure get him thrown in jail every day for contempt of court. It is abundantly clear that the judge doesn't like him. His life was made far more complicated because of this judge who was always getting mad at him. By the end of the movie, Vinny was trying to skip town in a hurry (after winning the case) because he thought that the judge had just figured out his true credentials. Instead, the judge came up and said how great it was to have Vinny and that he had finally been able to verify Vinny's qualifications. It turned out that Vinny's girlfriend had called a judge that knew Vinny and had him send the positive recommendation. Having a judge that liked him was what eventually overcame having a judge that couldn't stand him.

While I don't think that this movie has much of anything to commend it to us spiritually, the attitudes of the judges illustrate and important truth. It is always better to have a judge who is pleased with you than a judge who doesn't like you. Remember that God is our ultimate judge. When the time comes for you to be judged by God, would you like to approach Him as a friend or as a foe? Would you rater come before God for judgement as someone who has made Him happy or as someone who has disappointed Him. The Bible tells us how we can have a relationship with God in which He is happy with us.

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