Our Blogmistress, good citizen that she is, got up bright and early today to head down to the courthouse for jury duty. Most people I know approach the prospect of sitting on a jury with the kind of dread that is usually reserved for watching movies starring Mariah Carey, but not Our Heroine, who has seen 12 Angry Men more times than is probably healthy.
This got me thinking about novels about trials, and I thought I'd do a quick post of "Five Great Novels About Trials" or something. However, all I could come up with was Crime and Punishment (which isn't really about the trial), The Stranger (ditto), Milan Kundera's The Joke (kind of a stretch), In Cold Blood (not really a novel, not really about the trial) and of course To Kill a Mockingbird.*
So in lieu of that, I'll just quote this excellent passage from Ms. Lee's excellent novel and ask for suggestions of trial novels. Thoughts?
"The state has not produced one iota of medical evidence that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place. It has relied instead upon the testimony of two witnesses whose evidence has not only been called into serious question on cross-examination, but has been flatly contradicted by the defendant. The defendant is not guilty, but somebody in this courtroom is."
* John Grisham novels do not count. I said "Great" novels, and the Grish's books have always struck me as lawyer-porn for guys who took the bar instead of getting their P.I. license or becoming a biker or a shrimp boat captain or some such. Guys who spend a lot of time sitting on their back deck, drink in hand, wondering if and when they got soft, and where it all went wrong.**
** Lest my lawyer friends and relations take this amiss, I should point out the same midlife-crisis fantasy subgenre exists for academics: instead of getting involved with shadowy conspiracies and seedy Lower Alabama underworlds, the protagonists get involved with a grad student or a local pottery artist, or maybe the Dean's wife. Being the people in charge of such things, these books get to count as "literature" while Grish & Co. do not. It's what we get to make up for not making the big bucks.