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Lawyer, judge and author, provides courtroom drama at its literary best.

Anatomy of a Murder novel by Robert Traver (Voelker)

Not sure how I avoided reading this book for as long as I did. If you have any interest in legal based novels like John Grisham writes, you need to read "Anatomy of a Murder." More than just an entertaining story based upon a real life criminal prosecution, it provides the reader a textbook manual for trial advocacy.

The book's author "Robert Traver" whose real name was John D. Voelker, was actually a lawyer and Michigan Supreme Court judge. Given his years of experience, the book is simply an entertaining "clinic" on criminal jury trials. The narrative is highly technical and provides a play-by-play of every stage of trial. Published in 1958 it was a best seller and became a classic film released two years later starring Jimmy Stewart as Attorney Paul Biegler. The film received seven Oscar nominations and was made part of the Criterion Collection.*

More than just a "true crime" story, the author provides skilled insight into a jury trial through the eyes of a veteran trial attorney. Although a work of fiction, it should be required reading in every litigation skills class. The attention to legal detail and procedure, the authenticity of the story and Judge Voelker's understanding of human nature all combine for an remarkable read. For the "student" of the trial advocacy, this book should not be missed. I found my copy on eBay for $3.00 and it might just be the most "valuable" book I have ever purchased on the law.


* "The Criterion Collection is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest technical quality, with supplemental features that enhance the appreciation of the art of film."

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