Scott Turow’s appearance last night at the Forum was superb. As
always, he was charming, engaging, and smart. He read an excerpt from his latest novel, LIMITATIONS, a terrific book and a breezy read that raises many questions concerning the nature of judgment and the illusion of objectivity.
Judges are not removed from the realm of human experience. They come to the bench with their own backstories, past experiences that inform their present thinking. For this reason, judgment can never be totally blind. There are biases and prejudices harbored by the very people who profess to be neutral and impartial. There are limitations to human understanding, even among judges, surely among judges. And the judges themselves face limitations in their own character–the flaws that we all have as human beings. And yet we ask them to judge. How can that be so? As
the protagonist in LIMITATIONS, George Mason, a state appellate court judge, asks: “Who are we to judge?”
Rusty Sabich, the protagonist in PRESUMED INNOCENT, resurfaces in LIMITATIONS as a secondary character, the chief judge on the appellate court, and, when faced with this question, suggests that we want our judges to be plagued by the memories and traumas of their own personal lives when rendering judgment because such reflections and influences ultimately ensures the quality of mercy.
What do you think?