Order in the Court: Can't Get Enough Courtroom Drama

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I am working as a circulation assistant in a university law library while I attend grad school for a masters in library and information science. I am surrounded by lawyers and soon to be lawyers all day long which got me thinking about books with lawyers in them which led me to create a list of classic and contemporary books that offer up some great courtroom drama.


The Eumenides

by Aeschylus, translated by Robert Fagles

This ancient Greek playwright wrote what is perhaps the first courtroom drama with Athena presiding as judge and Apollo acting attorney for the defense.


The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

After many twists and turns, the merchant Antonio and the money lender Shylock square off in court. Shylock demands his pound of flesh in payment for the loan that Antonio cannot pay back. It is court that the famous speech beginning “The quality of mercy is not strained./ It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven/ Upon the place beneath.”


The Trial

by Franz Kafka

One day Josef K. wakes up and is arrested and prosecuted for an unspecified crime. But the nightmare has only begun and things get much, much worse.


The Stranger

by Albert Camus, translated by Matthew Ward

A classic of existentialist fiction, it is the story of Meursault, a man disinterested an unemotional about everything including his mother’s death and the woman whom he marries. One day he kills a man on the beach. The entire second half of the book is concerned with Meursault’s trial and its results. His seeming indifference to everything infuriates his lawyers and seals his fate.

This book also appears on Books That Journey into Darkness


Presumed Innocent

by Scott Turow

This is Turow’s first book. It is a story of big city political corruption that culminates in a murder trial in which “every dark twist of legal statute and human nature is convincingly revealed” (Publisher’s Weekly).


The Pelican Brief

by John Grisham

A page turner of a legal thriller that was on the bestseller lists for months. After two Supreme Court Justices are assassinated, Brilliant Tulane law student Darby Shaw comes up with a theory to explain the whole thing. Is she right? She must be on to something since she soon finds her own life in danger.


Silent Witness

by Richard North Patterson

Successful criminal lawyer Tony Lord returns home to defend his oldest friend who has been accused of murdering his 16-year-old mistress. When Lord was a teen he was a suspect when his girlfriend was brutally murdered. Now the past comes back to haunt Lord as emotions and resentments long buried make for high drama in the courtroom.

This book also appears on The Fun Books of Economics


My Sister's Keeper

by Jodi Picoult

Anna was conceived as a bone marrow donor for her older sister who has leukemia. After countless medical procedures with plans for her to donate one of her kidneys, Anna has had enough and sues her parents for medical emancipation. As you can imagine, there are all kinds of moral implications at play in this story.



by Chris Bohjalian

Sybil Danforth, successful midwife, is on trial for illegally operating on one of her clients. Sybil says the mother was already dead when she performed the operation to save the baby. The prosecution says otherwise. Narrated by Sybil's daughter, is the trial just another attempt by the medical profession to prosecute midwives? Or, is there something else going on?

This book also appears on Oprah's Book Club


To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

A classic with which you can’t go wrong. Atticus Finch, steady, firm, compassionate and single father of two provides the moral grounding for the book. His defense of Tom Robinson inspires us all to want to stand up and do the right thing.