PDA

View Full Version : PRESUMED INNOCENT: Did Rusty & Lip make the right choices? (spoilers)


Skald the Rhymer
06-05-2011, 06:12 PM
It's a twenty-year-old novel, so no spoiler boxes. I will, however, drop down a little for mouseover purposes.

Yes,
we
can
talk
about
the
movie
too.

All righty then.

In Scott Turow's late-80s bestseller Presumed Innocent, the narrator and protagonist--prosecutor Rusty Sabich--is accused of the murder and staged rape of his colleague & former mistress, Carolyn Polhemus. On trial for the crime, Sabich is exonerated in no small part because of the incompetence of the junior prosecutor trying the case.. A primary piece of physical evidence (a drinking glass with his fingerprints on it) is never produced at trial because the prosecution cannot find it, and the medical examiner's testimony is utterly discredited because he overlooks the fact that Carolyn had a tubal ligation years earlier, and thus the sample of semen taken from her and matching Rusty's blood type is no longer reliable. In the light of this evidence, both the judge and the senior prosecutor agree that the case should be dismissed, and it's clear that everyone things the junior prosecutor, Tommy Molto, manufactured the case against Sabich.

As it turns out, things are not as simple as they seem. The glass could not be found because it was in the desk drawer of a police officer, Detective "Lip" Lipranzer, whom Molto had removed from the case. Lip, who is Sabich's best friend, could no longer enter evidence in the police's storage on that case, and Molto neglectfully never thought to ask him for it. More important, however, is the fact that Rusty's wife, Barbara, murdered Carolyn Polhemus. She planted the semen in her rival's dead body (having obtained it in the obvious way) after killing her. Rusty believes that his wife did not in fact intend for him to be convicted of the crime; rather, she thought he would realize that she had framed him and thus bury the case, which would force him to live with that knowlege indefinitely. Rusty keeps the secret for three reasons. First, he blames himself for having the affair which, he says, drove Barbara to an episode of madness. Second, it is a practical impossibility to try two persons for the same crime in sequence. Finally, he and his wife have a young son who loves his mother, and Rusty cannot bear to break his son's heart.

Do you think Rusty made the right choice? What about Lip? Explain your answers, please.

RikWriter
06-05-2011, 09:45 PM
Rusty didn't have any choice. But I personally would have probably wound up divorcing her.
Lip...I dunno. That's a tough one. I think I would have had to turn the glass over if I were him.

Cliffy
06-05-2011, 10:47 PM
Well, what do you mean by "right"? Lip's decision was likely criminal and as Rusty says in the book's narration, he almost certainly believed at the time that Rusty had done it. I can't say I'd be happy to know that cops are making those kinds of decisions on their own.

Rusty's decisions are trickier. Sure, he's right that it'd be very difficult to prosecute Barbara for the murder. But it's the height of hubris for Rusty to determine who gets to know the truth and who doesn't -- Carolyn has a son that wasn't a major character but is shown a couple times in the book, and he's sort of at sea over the thing, even though he didn't know his mother well. Plus, who else might Barbara see as a threat down the road? Some kid who takes Nat's lunch money? His girlfriend?

And while Rusty assumes that she'd never hurt Nat, one thing Rusty knows for sure is that Barbara's head can get stuck on some obsession and it's impossible to get her off that track. Not a good candidate for raising a kid.

--Cliffy

Captain Amazing
06-06-2011, 12:12 AM
Just so you know, Turow wrote a sequel to Presumed Innocent. Well, he wrote a lot of books in that world, but his most recent book is Innocent, which is a direct sequel to Presumed Innocent.

buddha_david
06-06-2011, 02:37 AM
Seen the movie, never read the book.

In what way are Lip's actions criminal? Nobody asked him if he'd seen the missing glass, and he had no reason to return the glass to evidence since he'd just been booted off the case. Sure, he's mainly looking out for his friend, but it sounds like he would have willingly given up the glass if only someone had asked him for it.

As for Barbara's confession...well, I'm a bit confused about Rusty's assertion that two separate people can't be tried for the same crime. That doesn't make much sense, especially since the first person accused was the victim of an obvious frame-up. Does that really mean any murderer can go free, if someone else gets accused & acquitted first?

Cliffy
06-06-2011, 11:42 AM
It's not a legal rule that people can't be tried in succession. But it's a practical one -- the PA's office's reputation is ruined and their budget is shredded from the first case. Now they have to make the argument that the same people who investigated and decided to prosecute Rusty are now competent to investigate and prosecute someone else, even though there's been at best no apparent change in their levels of competence, diligence, or intelligence. Very easy for the defense in trail 2 to make them look like the Keystone Kops (esp. given the outcome in People v. Sabich).

I'd say Lip is obstructing justice -- he's a cop in possession of critical evidence and knows it, and he further knows that everybody's freaking out looking for it. At the very least he has a professional duty to tell Molto where the glass is. Maybe arms-length litigants can avoid prosecution by playing dumb, but not people charged with the public trust.

--Cliffy

Skald the Rhymer
06-06-2011, 11:50 AM
Just so you know, Turow wrote a sequel to Presumed Innocent. Well, he wrote a lot of books in that world, but his most recent book is Innocent, which is a direct sequel to Presumed Innocent.

It's on my nightstand but I haven't opened it yet. If y'all want to talk about it I understand, but I'd appreciate spoiler boxes if anyone does.


Seen the movie, never read the book.

In what way are Lip's actions criminal? Nobody asked him if he'd seen the missing glass, and he had no reason to return the glass to evidence since he'd just been booted off the case. Sure, he's mainly looking out for his friend, but it sounds like he would have willingly given up the glass if only someone had asked him for it.


Lip believed that Rusty might well have committed murder. It would've been trivial for him to give the glass to Molto & Delay, and certainly his duty as an officer of the law would have required him to do so. If the defendent had been Horgan or Lyttle he'd have done so in an eyeblink.


As for Barbara's confession...well, I'm a bit confused about Rusty's assertion that two separate people can't be tried for the same crime. That doesn't make much sense, especially since the first person accused was the victim of an obvious frame-up. Does that really mean any murderer can go free, if someone else gets accused & acquitted first?Rusty says it's a practical impossibility. The fact that he was accused of the crime and sent to trial is going to make it easy for Barbara's attorney to create reasonable doubt, and as a professional prosecutor he feels that he would not waste time and resources on a case he is virtually sure to lose.

ETA: Damn you, Cliffy! :)

Captain Amazing
06-06-2011, 12:16 PM
All I have to say is poor Tommy Molto. Poor, poor Tommy. He gets so screwed over in the case by Lip.

Skald the Rhymer
06-06-2011, 12:26 PM
All I have to say is poor Tommy Molto. Poor, poor Tommy. He gets so screwed over in the case by Lip.

Tommy screwed himself by his dealings with Painless Kumagai. After Stern's cross of PK, the State had no credibility left; either Molto & Painless was trying to frame Rusty, or Molto & Painless were incredibly incompetent.

And the glass wouldn't have helped. It was too easy to explain away, what with being the thirteenth piece of a set and Rusty having a legitimate reason to be in the apartment without being Carolyn's lover or her killer.

Bryan Ekers
06-06-2011, 02:14 PM
Sure. Lady was bad news.

Bryan Ekers
06-06-2011, 02:27 PM
Relevant video material (http://youtube.com/watch?v=tPLWbTh9_Nk&feature=related)

Best Topics: what is trafficinside.me triplet time signature sleep tie america unearthed debunked fantasy grounds hotkeys wildfire song meaning parse link sharpie on plastic mexican whistling mike military alcatraz flor english left handed shake very inspiring bearing stethoscope bowling pinsetter cost sudafed rebound most ejaculate doctors associates penis chaffing chickie run refrigerator vents president logan ventilator vs tracheostomy blowjob before sex mfx porn magic erasers burn recurring itchy bump reheating alfredo se7en movie sloth asian robes satyrs and fauns willie n ethel submarine ballast clippy must die i took an arrow to the knee norse where is the cd player in a 1999 ford taurus zimbabwe currency for sale ebay can lithium get you high how to ship snow how to revive nail polish what is a roto rooter sanding floor with belt sander freeze relief sump pump vampire murders new orleans great green gobs song cloudy vision in the morning biopunk vs. steampunk is south america cold gin mixes well with how to get a straight guy to do stuff with you western channel on uverse whiskey in the jar lyrics meaning grandma dies by a reindeer 2 dollar bill lucky or unlucky boy and girl conjoined twins how to place mouse traps coup de gras definition can you flush cat poop down the toilet how long should it take to charge a car battery who threatened to torture galileo when did you realize you were in love best dean koontz book one white eyebrow hair fear factor cave spiders best pesto sauce brand how to mute a video in windows movie maker