Essential Law for Masses: Perry Mason and my Learning

Would there be court room drama in upcoming SC JIT trial of Nawaz Sharif? Would there be arguments, counter arguments, counsels for the defendants and the prosecution? Would there be dissection of the evidence using the fine lens of law and constitution? Are there any Perry Mason (Erle Stanley Gardner’s lawyer) enthusiasts of the fiction of court room drama around here?

There are over 80 Perry Mason books and stories written by Erle Stanley Gardner from 1930-70. I bought most of them from a 2nd hand “kabaria” in Lines Area in 1980-81 for Rs2/book. My mother, sisters and brother and I had read the books several times. We used to read the bookin a few sittings (many a times in a sitting or two). How I cherish that time. I lament the loss of this pleasure among the youth.

We used to intently watch Perry Mason series in early 1970s on PTV starring Raymond Burr on our Sharp B/W 20″ TV. In fact Iron Side (another serial starring Raymond Burr on wheel chair) was the first program that we saw on our first TV when we turned it on in 1970-71 on a Thursday at around 8pm. It is surprising that you still remember such minor details about 50 years later. That was the extent of imagination and fascination with TV at that time for a kid of 8 years of age.

Later when I went to UT Austin for my MS and PhD I had the pleasure of again watching the re-runs of the serial during 1987-94 on KBVO Austin channel.

Perry Mason books were serialized during 1948-68 on CBS and US Channels and owe a great deal to the understanding of the legal vocabulary of the masses in USA. Terminologies like:

  • I refuse to answer the question because it would incriminate me. 
  • Right to due process 
  • Innocent unless proven guilty 
  • Objection: The question is argumentative and asking for opinion and conclusion. 
  • Objection: The question is calling for “Hear say” 
  • Right to be charged. 
  • etc 

At my university UT Austin:

“The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin holds Gardner’s manuscripts, art collection, and personal effects. From 1972 to 2010, the Ransom Center featured a full-scale reproduction of Gardner’s study that displayed original furnishings, personal memorabilia, and artifacts.[17] Although the space and a companion exhibition were dismantled, a panoramic view of the study is available online.[18]” Wikipedia

Lesser known dimensions of US Universities – Archives of history and literature

Why our masses need to learn law and constitution

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