"Bonfire of the Vanities" Judge Burton Roberts Dies
Judge Burton Roberts has died. He was 88. The retired Bronx Supreme Court Judge was the inspiration for Myron Kovitsky, the judge in Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities.
In “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” one of the only admirable figures is Myron Kovitsky, a Bronx judge who refuses to be influenced by the press, the public or publicity-seeking prosecutors. Mr. Wolfe modeled the character after Judge Roberts and dedicated the book to him and one of his former assistants, Edward W. Hayes. In the 1990 film version, the judge’s name was changed to Leonard White, and he was portrayed by Morgan Freeman.
Judge Roberts, a longtime prosecutor before becoming a judge, was flamboyant but always true to his strongly held principles:
[He] denigrated capital punishment, mandatory sentencing laws, and public officials who criticized rulings in ways he felt were politically motivated intrusions upon the independence of the judiciary.
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