Marianne Wesson

(my friends call me Mimi)

mimi at hillmon gravesite

At rightMimi Wesson, with the marker that she and her research team placed at the grave in Oak Hill Cemetery, Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photograph by Ben Herr.)

“Mimi’s latest project is one she calls a “nineteenth century true crime story,” a book based on the famous (among law students and evidence professors) case of Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Hillmon. The Supreme Court’s 1892 decision of this case is very important to the law of evidence, but it does not resolve the central mystery: who was the man who died at a remote Kansas campsite in 1879, leaving behind a corpse that some claimed to be that of John Hillmon, and some (especially the insurance companies who had insured Hillmon’s life) claimed to be someone else?” 

This mystery and many others are addressed in her book A DEATH AT CROOKED CREEK: THE CASE OF THE COWBOY, THE CIGARMAKER, AND THE LOVE LETTER (New York University Press 2013).  For more information about the book, click here.



Marianne Wesson has been a member of the CU Law School faculty for over three decades, teaching and researching in the areas of criminal law, evidence, and trial advocacy. She practiced criminal law as an assistant attorney general for the state of Texas and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the district of Colorado. Her articles have appeared in a wide variety of law reviews and journals, and she has served as an editor and adviser for a number of legal and academic journals.  From 2011 through 2013, she served as the inaugural Schaden Chair in Experiential Learning at the Law School.

She served as a member of the Criminal Law Test Development Committee of the National Conference of Bar Examiners from 1978 to 2006. She has been a commentator for several media outlets, including NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, the Washington Post, the Dallas Morning News, the Denver Post, and the Rocky Mountain News, as well as serving as a legal correspondent for National Public Radio and Colorado Public Radio. She was elected to the American Law Institute in 1989.

Wesson teaches a seminar in “Law and Literature,” and publishes scholarly articles in that area.  She is also a novelist, writing fiction that explores legal and jurisprudential themes. She has published three works of fiction: A Suggestion of Death, Render Up the Body (for which she was named a finalist for the Colorado Book Award), and  Chilling Effect, which touches on the First Amendment debate concerning the legal liability of producers of violent, sexually-oriented texts.

To read more about her books, go to

Mimi lives in a Colorado mountain valley with her husband Ben Herr, fifteen llamas, and visiting wildlife, including an elk herd and a flock of wild turkeys.


Published Books:

  • A Death at Crooked Creek: The Case of the Cowboy, the Cigarmaker, and the Love Letter (2013)
  • Chilling Effect (2004).
  • A Suggestion of Death (2000).
  • Render Up the Body (1998).


  • “Remarkable Strategems And Conspiracies”: How Unscrupulous Lawyers And Credulous Judges Created An Exception To The Hearsay Rule, 75 FORDHAM L. REV. 1675 (2007).
  • “Particular Intentions”: The Hillmon Case and the Supreme Court, 18 Law & Lit. 343 (2006).
  • The Hillmon Case, the MacGuffin, and the Supreme Court, Litig., Fall 2005, at 30. (2005).
  • Wesson with Bergman & LeFrancois, New Developments in Fourth, Fifth & Sixth Amendment Law, 31 N.M. L. Rev. 175 (2001).
  • A Novelist’s Perspective, 50 DePaul L. J. 583 (50th Anniversary symposium on Civil Litigation and Popular Culture) (2000).
  • Three’s A Crowd: Law, Literature, and Truth, 34 Tulsa L.J. 699 (1999).
    That’s My Story and I’m Stickin’ to It: The Jury as Fifth Business in the Trial of O.J. Simpson and Other Matters, 67 U. Colo. L. Rev. 949 (1996).

Other Publications:

  • Second Thoughts (Review of Daphne Patai, Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism), xvi The Women’s Review of Books 9 (1999).

Book Chapters:

  • Law and Magic in Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, in, LAW AND MAGIC, forthcoming 2008 (Carolina Academic Press C. Corcos ed.) (2008).
  • Wesson (with Paul Bergman), The Hillmon Lawyers Have Their Say, in TRIAL STORIES (2007)(Foundation Press, A. Davis & M. Tigar eds.) (2007).
  • The Hillmon Case, the Supreme Court, and the McGuffin, in, EVIDENCE STORIES 277-305 (Foundation Press, R. Lempert ed.) (2006).

Book Reviews:

  • Book Review, 26 Signs, No. 2 (2001).
  • Reasonable Women (Review of Elizabeth M. Schneider, Battered Women And Feminist Lawmaking), xviii The Women’s Review of Books 29 (2000).
  • Second Thoughts (Review of Daphne Patai, Heterophobia: Sexual Harassment and the Future of Feminism), xvi The Women’s Review of Books 9 (1999).Atticus Finch Outnumbered (Review of Trial and Error: An Oxford Anthology of Legal Stories, in Jurist: Books On Law, December (eds. Fred R. Shapiro and Jane Garry) (1998).
  • Life in Hell (Review of Beth Sipe and Evelyn J. Hall: I Am Not Your Victim: Anatomy of Domestic Violence), xiv The Women’s Review of Books 18 (1997).
  • Review of The Feel of Silence by Bonnie Poitras Tucker, 46 J. Legal Edu. 627 (1996).


Also see Mimi Wesson’s biographical page at