Remember those days in grade school when you thought you were going to do some real work, but then the teacher wheeled a movie projector into the classroom and you realized you were going to get to watch a movie? It happened to me once in law school, during ethics class as a 3L. Only it was a VCR attached to a TV that was wheeled into the room: the professor wanted us to watch Anatomy of a Murder, starring Jimmy Stewart, George C. Scott, and Lee Remick.
Do you know the movie? In 1960, it received six Academy Award nominations. I’m not sure why we were watching it in ethics class, except the professor seemed hung over. I don’t remember much about the movie. But I do remember the book. It was written by John D. Voelker and published under the pseudonym “Robert Traver.”
During his career, Voelker wrote eleven books as Robert Traver. Anatomy of a Murder, an early courtroom drama, is the best remembered and is still selling well today.
In Michigan, Voelker’s career as a lawyer and novelist is quite well known. For 14 years, Voelker worked as the prosecutor of Marquette County, Michigan, publishing his first book during that time. After he was voted out of office, Voelker was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court, where he wrote over 100 opinions before retiring only a few years later to write full time.
Voelker used a pseudonym because as a prosecutor, he did not want anyone to think he was “spinning yarns on company time.” He died in 1991. For more about Voelker, see this short biography, which was the source for most of this post.