The film Presumed Innocent, based on a novel by Scott Turow, focuses on the trial of a deputy district attorney suspected of murdering his former lover. The film brings into question our assumptions about the phrase Ainnocent until proven guilty@, suggesting that most people do not believe an accused is ever really innocent (a theme also sounded in films such as Reversal of Fortune).
Besides the basic Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendment issues explored in the film, some ethical issues also surface. The judge involved also had a relationship with the victim and does not recuse himself. The new prosecutor has a grudge against the accused and wants to testify against him as well as prosecute the case, and the defendant=s former boss is apparently trying to frame him.
To examine the interaction of popular culture and law in this film, you might begin with the following materials.
On author Scott Turow and Presumed Innocent:
Bonetti, Kay, Scott Turow, in Conversations With American Novelists: The Best Interviews From the Missouri Review and the American Audio Prose Library 153 (1997).
Chase, Anthony, An Obscure Scandal of Consciousness, 1 Yale J. L. & Hum. 105 (December 1988).
Corcos, Christine A., Presuming Innocence: Scott Turow and Alan J. Pakula Take On the Great American Legal Fiction, 22 Okla City U. L. Rev. 129 (1997).
Lundy, Derek, Scott Turow: Meeting the Enemy: A Biography (1995).
Macdonald, Andrew and Gina Macdonald, Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent: Novel and Film - Multifaceted Character Study versus Tailored Courtroom Drama, in It=s A Print!: Detective Fiction From Page to Screen 175 (William Reynolds and Elizabeth A Trembley eds.; 1994).
Meier, Robert H., Getting Away With Murder, 21 Armchair Detective 150 (Spring 1988).
Sanger, Carol, Less Than Pornography: The Power of Popular Fiction, in Representing Women: Law, Literature, and Feminism 75 (Susan Sage Heinzelman and Zipporah Batshaw Wiseman eds.; 1994).
On judicial and attorney ethics
ABA/BNA Manual on Professional Conduct. Looseleaf, regularly updated. Also check the following websites for ideas for further research:
Cornell University Law School/Legal Information Institute American Legal Ethics Library
Rules of Lawyer Conduct (By Topic) (From Cornell University Law School/Legal Information Institute: Folio Database)
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