Explore the links on the left to learn more about Mimi Wesson’s books.
Marianne Wesson (known to friends as Mimi) grew up in Dallas, Texas, graduated from Vassar College and the University of Texas Law School, and began teaching at the University of Colorado Law School in 1976. She lives on a ranch in Larimer County, Colorado, with her husband Ben Herr, fifteen llamas, various cats and dogs, and visiting elk, coyotes, and bears.
On nice days, Mimi can sometimes be seen riding to work at the University on her motorcycle. She had a much-loved Kawasaki 800 Drifter, shown in the picture, which she unfortunately crashed on April Fools Day 2012. She has replaced it with a wicked black-and-chrome Harley-Davidson Custom Sportster that she calls The Boyfriend, but she has to admit it’s yet to find the same place in her heart as the Drifter.
As a scholar, Mimi is known for her contributions to the debate about pornography in feminism and law, but she has also written on the death penalty, sexual assault, the jury system, and related subjects. Her work has been published in law reviews as well as in more popular publications such as The Women’s Review of Books. She has published many academic articles over the years, as well as a treatise about the Colorado Criminal Code called Crimes and Defenses in Colorado (which she believes nobody has ever actually read from cover to cover). Her principal teaching interests are criminal law, evidence, trial practice, and law and literature. Mimi’s teaching has been honored with the Teaching Excellence Award at the University of Colorado three times; she has also been named a President’s Teaching Scholar, the University’s highest form of recognition for teaching excellence. She holds the Wolf-Nichol Fellowship at the Law School, a position set aside to honor teaching achievement. She also served as Interim Dean of the Law School in 1995-96, an experience that persuaded her once and for all that academic administration is not her calling.
Mimi is an experienced trial lawyer as well. In 1980, after four years of teaching, she took a leave of absence to serve for two years as a federal prosecutor in the Office of the United States Attorney in Denver. During those years she tried many federal criminal cases, including kidnapping, firearms and explosives cases, extortion, and white collar crimes. After she returned to teaching in 1982, she continued to take on occasional trial work to keep her skills from growing rusty and because nothing else has the thrill of the courtroom. In the mid-1980s she co-represented the plaintiff in Simmons v. Simmons, the first case in Colorado (and one of the first in the country) to recognize that a woman has a right to sue her former husband for abusive injuries he inflicted on her during their marriage. In 1991, Mimi was appointed by the California Supreme Court to represent a death row inmate, Jerry Grant Frye. His case is now in federal habeas corpus proceedings.
The experience of representing Jerry inspired Mimi to write her first novel, Render Up the Body, about a former prosecutor and rape victims’ advocate who is appointed to represent a death row inmate. Render Up the Body is dedicated to Jerry Frye. It was published by HarperCollins in North America, Headline Press in the U.K., Goldmann Publishers in Germany, Editions Stock in France, and for other translations into Norweigan, Dutch, Portuguese, Hebrew, and Latvian. It appeared in the U.S. in January of 1998, where it was also a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and a finalist for the Colorado Book Award for fiction.
Her second novel, A Suggestion of Death, was released in 1999 in the U.K., and February 2000 in the US, with various translations published in 2000 and 2001.
Chilling Effect, the third novel in the series, was published in September 2004 by the University Press of Colorado. All three novels feature protagonist Lucinda Hayes, who practices law in Boulder, Colorado.
Mimi’s most recent book, published in 2013, is A Death at Crooked Creek: The Case of the Cowboy, the Cigarmaker, and the Love Letter. It revisits a once-famous but neglected episode in nineteenth century America, in which a waitress from Lawrence, Kansas sued three life insurance companies because they refused to pay the policy proceeds after (she claimed) her husband was killed in a firearms accident. The case lasted for a quarter century, went to the Supreme Court twice, and created a piece of the law of evidence that still rules today.
You can listen to Mimi being interviewed about A Death at Crooked Creek by Dan Rodrick of the Baltimore NRP affiliate WYPR at this link: http://www.wypr.org/podcast/cowboy-csi-friday-august-16-1-2-pm.
You may have seen or heard Mimi on National Public Radio, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, CNN, or Court TV, with her observations and analysis of the trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Lynn Nichols, the Columbine shootings, the JonBenet Ramsey case, the Aurora theatre shootings, and other legal matters.