July 15th, 2009
12:26 PM ET
5 years ago

Sotomayor: 'Perry Mason' influenced her to become a prosecutor

WASHINGTON (CNN) – An episode of the television show "Perry Mason" influenced a young Sonia Sotomayor to become a prosecutor, she testified Wednesday at her confirmation hearing to become the nation's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

Sotomayor, 55, said the program starring Raymond Burr as a successful defense attorney awakened her to the fundamental role of the law.

She cited one particular episode, in which the Perry Mason character - after winning yet another case - consoles beleaguered prosecutor Hamilton Burger by noting it must be hard to expend such effort only to have charges dismissed.

"No, my job as a prosecutor is to do justice, and justice is served when a guilty man is convicted and an innocent man is not," she quoted the prosecutor as saying.

"That TV character said something that motivated my choices in life," Sotomayor said.

The original television show, based on the fictional character created by Erle Stanley Gardner, ran from 1957-66. There also were films and later television shows based on the Perry Mason character.

Later in the hearing, the newest member of the Senate and the Judiciary Committee - former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Al Franken - told Sotomayor he also watched "Perry Mason" as a child and asked if she knew of the one episode in which Mason lost the case.

"I wish I could remember the name of that case," Sotomayor said with a laugh, to which a deadpan Franken replied: "Didn't the White House prepare you?"

Several Web sites devoted to the show say there are two episodes in which Perry Mason loses to Hamilton Burger - "The Case of the Terrified Typist" and "The Case of the Deadly Verdict." But there is dissension as to whether the famous defense attorney really lost in the end, as Perry apparently manages to clear one of his clients afterward.


Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. You lose all credibility when you belittle Palin

    Thanks Mike.

    July 15, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  2. kdim

    I like her already,

    July 15, 2009 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  3. What was I thinking?

    Apologies to Sniffit.

    July 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. Marc

    Mississipi Mike, Obama=disaster, Surge and all the others... How do YOU GUYS chose to be what you are today, what was your first motivation that made you end up having the jobs you have today?
    Or you couldn't satisfy this real wish of yours and had to pick a job that you don't like and don't really appreciate?
    She just stated when was the first time she decided that she would be part of the judicial system, since she is a Judge qualified by her record to be a Justice then you have to admit that she managed to fulfill her wish. even if it makes you THAT JEALOUS....

    July 15, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  5. Palin is a joke

    The Republican party. The party of bad ideas.

    July 15, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. Shirley In California Now On The Fence Re Obama

    I love the Perry Mason episodes too.

    July 15, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. Obama Victim

    well................I feel better about her now....by the way...Raynond Burr was a shiney boy.........ties in with Obozo's support of the gays and lesbians

    July 15, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Peter

    Satomayor! intelligent a role model to the young Americans. she is qualified to be in the supreme court more than anyone else please leave her alone.

    July 15, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. Trade Freedom for Security, Lose Both

    Too bad everyone is politicizing the confirmation hearings. Arguably, SCOTUS Justices have more lasting influence in shaping our country than do Presidents. Every SCOTUS nominee should be grilled about everything – too much is at stake not to. Admit it Dems, when a Repub president serves up a SCOTUS nominee, you will want your chance to rake him/her over the coals.

    July 15, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  10. Susie

    Wow – This woman should just SHUT UP. Her mouth is too big – she's only burying herself with these DUMB Bleeps!!! Perry Mason??? Really – well shows she didn't really have any other Role Models so she picked ANOTHER ACTOR!!!

    July 15, 2009 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. Susie

    UNbelievable – The FAKE LAWYER???? Wow – She Did it AGAIN!!!!!

    July 15, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  12. Bill, Bloominton IL

    So what inspired Biden to be a dimwit?

    July 15, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  13. Kathleen

    I am sitting here watching the coverage on Judge Sotomayor is being grilled by Sen. Specter. He is so rude and it is embarrassing for me to watch as he repeatedly interupts her. I find it to be an act of disrespect and I am tired of seeing it within our govenment. We as a people are looking to our government for guidance, and instead we see the shameful displays of their manners. People have the right to plead their case, so LET THEM TALK!

    Kathie, Wauconda Illinois

    July 15, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  14. Nathan

    I used to watch saved by the bell. I think i might become a principal

    July 15, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. TCM

    @Obama is not character he plays on TV –

    Then it's a match made in heaven; Obama's not a real president...but he did sleep at a Holiday Inn once....

    July 15, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  16. Lauren

    As I watch the hearings I can't help but wonder why the republicans are beating up on her. From what I have seen of, and heard from her during the hearings, I like Judge Sotomayor.

    I did not particularly care for the way lindsey graham and sessions kept cutting her off and would not allow her to finish answering the question they had asked her, before rudely interrupting and asking her another question.

    July 15, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  17. TCM

    @Republicans are the American Taliban –

    Well, guess the Coyote's better than being inspired by the Tele-Tubbies, huh? At least that's the intellect level that Obama has assigned to his kool-aid drinking masses; who'll believe anything and are hungry for more ficticious dribble....stay tuned, I'm sure he'll use some buzzword in a sentence that'll be cerebral in nature, but have no "meat n taters, " to it...as usual....but will keep liberals gleening and giddy with anticipation of disaster, cleverly disguised as Hope and Change....

    July 15, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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