(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Reversible Errors draws on Scott Turow’s pro bono death penalty defense work to show how even well-meaning prosecutors can cause justice to miscarry. Corporate attorney Arthur Raven has been assigned the final appeal in a notorious murder, the killing of a popular restaurateur. A ne’er-do-well named Rommy Gandolph has been convicted on circumstantial evidence and a confession evoked under pressure, and since he is both marginally retarded and disagreeable, his fated end has not provoked much sympathy. Raven, however, becomes convinced of Gandolph’s innocence and does battle with the two key figures in the prosecution: detective Larry Starczek, who elicited Gandolph’s confession, and Muriel Wynn, the prosecutor. Starczek and Wynn were once lovers, and since their attraction endures, their professional relationship is complicated by their residual feelings. Both are competent and ambitious, unwilling to simply admit error, especially given Gandolph’s confession and the absence of any other credible suspects. Their debates about the correct response to Raven shows that prosecutorial intransigence can be more than simple stubbornness, for their motives include skepticism about the defense, a righteous regard for justice and the victim’s family, a yearning for closure, and a justifiable pride in what they regard as a job well done.

Raven is aided in his defense by Gillian Sullivan, the former judge who sentenced Gandolph, now disgraced...

(The entire section is 517 words.)