A Lie Will Suffice: A Family’s Criminal Law History (1921-1935)

On Monday, November 7, 2022, the Law Library of Louisiana and the Supreme Court of Louisiana Historical Society sponsored a free CLE presented by retired federal magistrate judge Jay Wilkinson. Judge Wilkinson’s great-grandfather and great-grandmother emigrated from Sicily to New Orleans in the 1890s. Judge Wilkinson’s great-grandfather concealed the dark aspects of the family’s history from his children and following generations, who by the early twenty-first century had established themselves as pillars of their American communities. One day Judge Wilkinson’s mother, one of his great-grandfather’s granddaughters, discovered the truth about the 1921 Mafia assassination of her grandfather’s oldest son, her Uncle Domenico. A Lie Will Suffice: A DiGiovanni Family History is the result of twelve years of research that attempts to unravel and explain the sometimes difficult-to-discern, complex, but ultimately triumphant DiGiovanni-Guinta family history. In the CLE, Judge Wilkinson focused on four criminal cases described in the book. He examined the legal issues that all four cases have in common, and compare and contrast 1920s-1930s Louisiana criminal procedure to the modern era.


Judge Jay Wilkinson, Ret., served as a magistrate judge for the Louisiana Eastern District from 1995-2020, three of those years as chief judge. Judge Wilkinson earned a B.A. from Louisiana State University and a J.D. from Tulane University. He clerked for the Hon. Morey L. Sear in the Louisiana Eastern District before entering private practice. Immediately prior to his service as a magistrate judge, Judge Wilkinson was a staff attorney at the Louisiana Eastern District.