By Scott Turow
Center Point Large Print (2006), 223 pages
Genre: Legal Thriller
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - July 21, 2010
Turow tells the tale of an appellate court judge's problems. Judge George Mason is part of a three judge panel deciding a case involving four young white men who had raped an unconscious black girl several years ago. The lower court found the men guilty. They had stupidly videotaped the rape, showing all the gory details and their gloating over their acts, and the tape was shown at their trial.
On appeal the three judges are faced with two issues: Doesn't the State law disallow the use of a videotape in a trial when the taping was done without the consent of one of the parties. This is the only evidence against the rapists. If it is excluded, they would be set free. Secondly, this rape occurred many years ago. The girl, who was unconscious, thought she was raped but was not sure, so she did not report it. When the tape was discovered after the boys showed to their friends, the case was brought to court. But wasn't this a violation of the law that sets limitations forbidding suits being brought years after the alleged offense.
Complicating the matter is that Judge Mason committed the same crime about forty years earlier, when he was a youngster and did not know that he was doing wrong until after he and others raped a drunk semi-conscious girl. Should the young men in the case before him be punished for a mistake they made when they were youngsters several years ago? If so, shouldn't he be punished as well? Shouldn't he be disqualified to judge this case since he is affected by it?
Several other complications bother Mason. His wife is suffering from cancer. He is wondering whether he should run in the next judicial election. One of the three judges deciding the case, who is only a temporary appointee, wants to take his place and is using this case to embarrass Mason. And, perhaps most of all, someone is threatening to kill him. He does not know who or why.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.