Anatomy of a Murder is based on a real homicide and subsequent trial that occurred in Big Bay, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in the early morning of July 31, 1952. Coleman A. Peterson, a Lieutenant in the Army, was charged with murdering Maurice Chenoweth. The alleged motive was revenge for the rape of Peterson's wife by Chenoweth. Voelker successfully defended Peterson who was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Voelker was born in Ishpeming, Michigan and spent most of his life there. He graduated from the University of Michigan law school in 1928 and practiced law for a time in Chicago, Illinois before tiring of city life and returning to Ishpeming to enter private practice. Later, he was elected to the office of Marquette County prosecutor. In 1957, he was appointed the 74th justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, and was subsequently reelected to that position. After the success of his novel, Anatomy of a Murder, Voelker retired from the court in 1959 in order to write full-time and to fish at his beloved Frenchman's Pond.
Under the pen name Robert Traver, Voelker published a number of novels and short stories with legal themes, all with the small-town Upper Peninsula Michigan setting he was most familiar with. He chose to write under a different pen name in order to assure others that his agenda as a writer and a prosecutor were completely separate. He also published three books on fishing which are regarded as classics of the genre. The Escanaba River was the setting for many of his fishing stories.
Novelist or Supreme Court Justice?: The Literary Flair of John D. Voelker's Legal Writings. (Language and Literature).
Mar 22, 2002; Novelist or Supreme Court Justice? The Literary Flair of John D. Voelker's Legal Writings. William H. Volz, Wayne State...
Backwoods Barrister: He Was Known as the "Bard of Frenchman's Pond" and He Loved Trout Fishing, "Spinning a Yarn," Cribbage and Good Bourbon. to the People of Ishpeming and Marquette County, He Was One of Them-A Treasured Native Son-And One of Their Prized Natural Resources
Nov 01, 2001; The last of six boys, John Donaldson Voelker was born on June 29, 1903. His father, a saloon owner, encouraged him as a young boy...