Could Atticus Finch get elected today?

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Brock Peters as Tom Robinson in the 1962 film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus Finch, the fictional lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird, passionately believed in justice. He didn’t like criminal law, yet he accepted the appointment to represent Tom Robinson, an African-American man charged with raping a young white girl. The story, set in Maycomb County, Alabama, in the early 1930s, portrays a lawyer who felt that the justice system should be colorblind. Had Atticus Finch run for office after the trial, could he have been elected?

Judge Kevin Burke, NAPCO board member, and senior judge and former chief judge in Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District Court (Hennepin County/Minneapolis), reviews in a recent commentary published in the MINNPOST, a series of historical and contemporary cases involving defense lawyers who have represented unpopular clients. They do so, he observes, to ensure a fair system of justice in spite of the public risks involved which often cause them to be vilified for doing so.

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