The trial of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, which began last week in the federal district court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago, made me think about depictions of trials in literature. Apart from the contemporary works of Chicago’s own terrific novelist and lawyer, Scott Turow, not to mention presiding Judge James Zagel’s thriller, “Money To Burn,” and, of course, the works of John Grisham, the following books came to my mind:
1) To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
2) Pudd’nhead Wilson, by Mark Twain
3) An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser
4) The Trial, by Franz Kafka
5) The Stranger, by Albert Camus
6) The Crucible, by Arthur Miller
7) The Bonfire of the Vanities, by Tom Wolfe
None of the trials in these works, however, bears any similarity to the issues surrounding the Blagojevich trial, and I’m disappointed for not being able to think of any good similar fictional depictions. Professor Daniel Solove of George Washington University Law School provides a list of fine works of literature with legal themes on his faculty website, but not all of these contain actual trials. I can’t help thinking there must be a number out there; readers, can you think of some I’ve overlooked, especially trials involving allegations of political corruption from other times (i.e. centuries) and places?
Among a number of other good sources, I’m enjoying looking at The Blago Report’s daily analysis of the trial. Don’t know why that writer, who, according to the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn is Phil Smith of Tampa, FL, doesn’t provide his name on his site (unless I’ve missed something really obvious, which has been known to happen); perhaps he’s concerned about being overly self-promotional, but I think he should take more credit for his articles. You’ll find a list of other bloggers and tweeters about the trial at the link for Zorn.