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Scott Frederick Turow (born April 12, 1949) is an American author and a practicing lawyer. Turow has written eight fiction and two nonfiction books, which have been translated into over 20 languages and have sold over 25 million copies. Movies have been based on several of his books.
Turow was born in Chicago, to a family of Russian Jewish descent. He attended New Trier High School, and graduated from Amherst College in 1970, as a Brother of the Alpha Delta Phi Literary Society. He received an Edith Mirrielees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, where he attended from 1970 to 1972. In 1971, he married Annette Weisberg, a painter.
Scott Turow later became a Jones Lecturer at Stanford, serving until 1975, when he entered Harvard Law School. In 1977, Turow wrote One L, a book about his first year at law school. After earning his Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree in 1978, Turow became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago, serving in that position until 1986. There he prosecuted several high-profile corruption cases, including the tax fraud case of state Attorney General William Scott. Turow also was lead counsel in Operation Greylord, the federal prosecution of Illinois judicial corruption cases.
After leaving the U.S. Attorney's office, Turow became a novelist, writing legal thrillers such as The Burden of Proof, Presumed Innocent, Pleading Guilty, and Personal Injuries, which Time magazine named as the Best Fiction Novel of 1999. All four became bestsellers, and Turow won multiple literary awards, most notably the Silver Dagger Award of the British Crime Writers. Many of the characters appear in multiple books, and all of his novels take place in Kindle County. (The state is unspecified, but the county contains a tri-city conglomerate on the Mississippi between Chicago and New Orleans <Burden of Proof p. 52>; compare the "Quad Cities" on the Mississippi, originally Davenport IA, Rock Island IL, Moline IL, and East Moline IL, but now also including Bettendorf IA.) In 1990, Turow was featured on the June 11 cover of Time, which described him as "Bard of the Litigious Age". In 1995, Canadian author Derek Lundy published a biography of Turow, entitled Scott Turow: Meeting the Enemy (ECW Press, 1995). In the 1990s a British publisher bracketed Turow’s work with that of Margaret Atwood and John Irving, republished in the series Bloomsbury Modern Library.
Turow was elected the president of the Authors Guild in 2010 and was previously president from 1997 to 1998.
From 1997 to 1998 Turow was a member of the U.S. Senate Nominations Commission for the Northern District of Illinois, which recommends federal judicial appointments. In 2011, Turow met with Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig to discuss political reform including a possible Second Constitution of the United States; according to one source, Turow saw risks with having such a convention, but believed that it may be the "only alternative" given how campaign money has undermined the one-man-one-vote principle of democracy.
Turow is a partner of the international law firm SNR Denton having been a partner of one of its constituents, the Chicago law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Turow works pro bono in most of his cases, including a 1995 case where he won the release of Alejandro Hernandez, who had spent 11 years on death row for a murder he did not commit. He was also appointed to the commission considering the reform of the Illinois death penalty by former Governor George Ryan and is currently a member of the Illinois State Police Merit Board.