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Perry Mason, Meet Sonia Sotomayor

By Eva Rodriguez

First there was Nancy Drew. Now, it's Perry Mason.

Sonia Sotomayor mentioned Nancy as an influence when first nominated by the president. Now, she's given Perry a starring role.

Sotomayor brought up the TV lawyer (played by actor Raymond Burr) in an exchange with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). The nominee referred to an episode of the 1960s series when Perry spoke after trial to the prosecutor in the show. Perry's client had been exonerated of a murder, and the real culprit was eventually identified. As Sotomayor tells it, Perry asked the prosecutor if he wasn't troubled that he had spent so much time prosecuting Perry's client only to find he was innocent. "My job as a prosecutor is to do justice," Sotomayor quotes the prosecutor as saying. "And justice is served when a guilty man is convicted and an innocent man is not."

The impact on Sotomayor: "I thought to myself, that's amazing -- to be able to serve that role." Sotomayor raised the TV episode by way of explaining one of her inspirations for later becoming a prosecutor.

I'm not certain about this, but I don't remember any other recent Supreme Court nominee (Roberts, Alito, Breyer, Ginsburg) mentioning as frequently characters from popular culture. I find this refreshing -- and not just because I, too, was a Perry Mason fan. (Don't bother asking how old I am!) For people unfamiliar with Chevron deference, the doctrine of incorporation or stare decisis, this was one exchange that was accessible, even if you weren't familiar with Perry Mason. It humanized Sotomayor and helped shed light on how she thinks about the justice system at its loftiest -- as a means of ensuring the fair treatment of all who come in contact with it.

By Eva Rodriguez  | July 15, 2009; 1:55 PM ET
Categories:  Rodriguez  | Tags:  Eva Rodriguez  
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Comments

So, does anyone know which episode(s) of Perry Mason were referred to in the Senate discussion? There seen to be two; the one referenced in this entry about the DA's comments about justice served, and the one where Perry's client was actually guilty. Be sure you e-mail Al Franken with the answer.

Posted by: peace54 | July 15, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Perry Mason to porn. Al has a wide range of interests!

Posted by: arby1 | July 15, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

What if I'm poor white working class before Sonia? ... No thanks. I'll take my chances in prison.

Posted by: deepthroat21 | July 15, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

There sure is an awful lot of hot air in here.

Posted by: ssol4569 | July 15, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Republicans didn't watch Perry Mason. As far as they were concerned: If the Police arrested you, you must have been doing something wrong; Police don't need search warrants because if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't mind them coming in to search your house; You shouldn't even need lawyers because the Rich and Powerful always act in your interests otherwise they wouldn't be Rich and Powerful (God's hand here). The law is to prevent chaos, not to insure justice. Why have Judges at all?

Posted by: thebobbob | July 15, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

"And justice is served when a guilty man is convicted and an innocent man is not."
That's the perfect answer and if practiced, it's the perfect solution. She is refreshing. She will do just fine as a Supreme Court judge and give a newer perspective and braden the field. She is the sum of her experiences and that will help this court of frumpy old white men and a token black. Unlike Clarence Thomas, she WILL write soem opinions.

Posted by: sd-mouth | July 15, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Fair treatment of 'all'?

Posted by: deepthroat21 | July 15, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

"What if I'm poor white working class before Sonia? ... No thanks. I'll take my chances in prison.

Posted by: deepthroat21 |"
--Yeah because Puerto Rican woman have always had their feet on the backs of the neck of white males.

Posted by: JRM2 | July 15, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

The theme to Perry Mason, best TV title theme EVER!

Posted by: JRM2 | July 15, 2009 7:10 PM | Report abuse

When will the Washington Post stop using these 'first year' Journalism Students to write 'Opinions'.

Posted by: austininc4 | July 15, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

So, she got that wise Latina judicial experience watching Perry Mason. Amazing!

Posted by: JD15 | July 16, 2009 2:31 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone know an email address for Al Franken besides the one at his now defunct campaign website or the one on the www.Alfranken.com website? I doubt he'd get an email sent to the campaign headquarters and the contact form on www.Alfranken.com will not accept pictures. I have a picture to send him which will illustrate a point I'd like to make. Thanks.

Posted by: hillallen36 | July 16, 2009 7:15 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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