No one dove for the saloon doors, but the clock ticked and there was a "High Noon" feel to the dramatic courthouse showdown that began when Judge Nicholas Garaufis asked former Bonanno crime family boss Vincent "Vinny Gorgeous" Basciano if he would testify at his ongoing capital murder trial.
Instead of answering directly, Basciano stood up in Brooklyn federal court and launched into an emotional speech about information he first wants prosecutors to divulge and then complained about perceived injustices suffered while housed in solitary confinement.
After the judge and the mobster clashed over the issue, the debate stopped and a tense silence followed, while attorneys and spectators watched on uncomfortably as the Old West stand-off dragged on for 40 minutes. Jurors were not present.
The mobster said he wanted the judge to force federal prosecutors to hand over more information about their claim that Basciano had plotted to kill Mafia-busting federal prosecutor Greg Andres.
A list with Andres' name was discovered in a federal detention center where Basciano was housed, and prosecutors say it was the mobster's hit list.
But Basciano insists it was a harmless list of names used for incantations in his practice of Santeria.
Garaufis struck down Basciano's request for more information about the alleged hit plot, saying that prosecutors already have turned over to defense attorneys all the information required under law.
Eventually, the judge gave Basciano a 4 p.m. deadline to make up his mind or forfeit his right to testify on his own behalf.
After the deadline passed, the judge said Basciano had lost his right to testify by default.
Then the mobster made his own declaration.
"Based on the court's denial of the motions, I will not be taking the stand," Basciano said.
A jury will decide whether Basciano should be executed by lethal injection or sentenced to life in prison after being convicted last month of ordering a mob murder.