Accomplished director Sidney Lumet has based some of his most notable films on true crime stories, and FIND ME GUILTY is similar in this respect to such work as SERPICO and DOG DAY AFTERNOON. The difference lies in the comedic, almost cartoonish aspect of the later movie, which stars an astonishingly charming Vin Deisel as lifelong Mafioso Jackie DiNorscio. Perennially cheerful and always cracking wise, DiNorscio is a notorious criminal who is serving time on his most recent conviction for cocaine trafficking when the Feds bring him in to offer him a deal. They are mounting a massive case against New Jersey's biggest mob family, led by Nick Calabrese (Alex Rocco), in what will eventually earn a World Record as the longest-running trial in history. The fiercely loyal DiNorscio, however, refuses to rat on his friends, and instead he finds himself standing trial along with them.
Jackie throws another wrench into the works by deciding to forgo a lawyer and represent himself in the case; he begins a line of argument that positions him as a "gagster, not a gangster." All the lawyers on the case are initially horrified by this decision, including their leader Ben Klandis (Peter Dinklage in a rare turn), while Jackie repeatedly offends the judge (Ron Silver) and drives the high strung D.A. Sean Kierney (Linus Roache) to distraction. However, as the case progresses it becomes apparent that Jackie is winning over judge, jury, and audience. His commitment to his friends and family emerges in numerous moving moments, while Jackie's testimony--based closely on transcripts from the trial--remains truly entertaining while calling into question the integrity of a judicial system that just might fall for it.