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From Midnight to Guntown

From Midnight to Guntown: True Crime Stories from a Federal Prosecutor in Mississippi

John Hailman
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    From Midnight to Guntown
    Book Description:

    As a federal prosecutor in Mississippi for over thirty years, John Hailman worked with federal agents, lawyers, judges, and criminals of every stripe. InFrom Midnight to Guntown, he recounts amazing trials and bad guy antics from the darkly humorous to the needlessly tragic.

    In addition to bank robbers--generally the dumbest criminals--Hailman describes scam artists, hit men, protected witnesses, colorful informants, corrupt officials, bad guys with funny nicknames, over-the-top investigators, and those defendants who had a certain roguish charm. Several of his defendants and victims have since had whole books written about them: Dickie Scruggs, Emmett Till, Chicago gang leader Jeff Fort, and Paddy Mitchell, leader of the most successful bank robbery gang of the twentieth century. But Hailman delivers the inside story no one else can. He also recounts his scary experiences after 9/11 when he prosecuted terrorism cases.

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-953-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Law

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xx)
  4. Common Law Enforcement Abbreviations and Acronyms
    (pp. xxi-2)
  5. Prologue: The Making of a Career Prosecutor
    (pp. 3-16)

    For years, it never really occurred to me why I enjoyed being a prosecutor so much, but I knew I did. In my office, we used to say, “If I didn’t need the money, I would do this job for free.” What we all enjoyed most were the jury trials, which were like sports, full of intense competition performed before an audience of jurors. Our Anglo-Saxon system is clearly a modern form of deadly combat, mental and moral, with the underlying motives of violence and revenge focused and controlled.

    My daughter Allison, now a medical doctor, caused me to think...

    (pp. 17-68)

    We once took an informal poll in my office for our favorite crime to prosecute. The result was unanimous: bank robbery. Why? Well, a bank robbery is fast-moving and exciting, and even though there is an element of force and violence, physical injury is pretty rare, although there is often emotional trauma to the tellers and other victims. There is also no confusion about whether a crime was committed. In a white-collar case, there is usually no doubt who did it; the only question is whether what the accused did was a crime and whether he or she knew it...

  7. 2 CORRUPTION IN POSITIONS OF TRUST: Lawyers, Judges, Supervisors, Sheriffs
    (pp. 69-172)

    Prosecuting public officials and other prominent citizens for corruption brings conflicting reactions from the public. For some, it deepens their cynicism about government: “They’re all crooks—I told you so.” Other times, a few public officials criticize us prosecutors: “Every time y’all prosecute another sheriff or county supervisor, it makes the rest of us look bad.” The latter view has a grain of truth, but to me it is a price worth paying. If you don’t prosecute corruption, you end up with a national reputation for immorality in public life like New York City for sex scandals, Chicago for rigged...

    (pp. 173-236)

    When I joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office, because of my three years of civil rights experience with Legal Services during law school and my two years as law clerk for Judge William Keady during school and prison desegregation, U.S. Attorney H. M. Ray assigned me to do all the office’s civil rights cases, both criminal and civil. For a few years, we had only civil class actions, handled by the Civil Rights Division in Washington with me helping. First there wasGates, a monster class-action suit to desegregate Parchman Prison; then cameGipson, another monster class-action with over five thousand...

    (pp. 237-318)

    Most murders are not federal crimes. State DAs handle most homicides unless they are committed on federal lands like national parks. Fortunately for prosecutors in our office who get satisfaction from putting killers behind bars for life (like me) north Mississippi is rich in federal enclaves and interstate highways. The Natchez Trace Parkway seems to be the crime scene of choice for federal killings in Faulkner country. Most emotional and unforgettable for me was the locally famous Natchez Trace sniper killing where a paroled rapist used a high-powered rifle to murder a nine-year-old boy returning home from Christmas with his...

    (pp. 319-370)

    When I joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1974, it never occurred to me that I would ever know a terrorist beyond the Ku Klux Klan nor have any use for the fluent French I acquired during my two years as an undergraduate at the Sorbonne in Paris. Oxford did not sound like a launching pad for terrorism or for using my French to get free trips to exotic foreign cities. For five years, the only time I used my French at all was for a couple of interesting interviews with the French-Canadian wife of a Montreal drug dealer passing...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 371-376)
  12. Bibliography of Related Readings
    (pp. 377-380)
  13. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 381-382)
  14. Index
    (pp. 383-398)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 399-400)
  16. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)