cover of book

Scoundrels to the Hoosegow: Perry Mason Moments and Entertaining Cases from the Files of a Prosecuting Attorney
by Morley Swingle
University of Missouri Press, 2007
Paper: 978-0-8262-1722-6 | eISBN: 978-0-8262-6595-1 | Cloth: 978-0-8262-1717-2
Library of Congress Classification KF373.S95A3 2007
Dewey Decimal Classification 364.10207


I closed my direct examination of narcotics officer Bill Bohnert by asking, "Detective Bohnert, do you see in the courtroom today the man we just saw on the tape, selling the crack cocaine to Darren Bullard?"

            Bohnert pointed to Robert Funt.

            "He's right there. . . ."

            I heard laughter in the courtroom. I glanced at the defendant, who had dutifully raised his hand.

            The prisoners seated behind him were laughing. They recognized a Perry Mason moment when they saw one. 

            Bohnert continued, "He's the one with his hand raised in the air."

            It has been said that the public prosecutor has more power over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person—a daunting proposition, but perhaps less intimidating when that official’s perspective is tempered by humor and compassion.

            In Scoundrels to the Hoosegow, a veteran prosecutor who is also a consummate storyteller shares more than thirty entertaining legal stories drawn from real life, re-creating, with verve and wit, villains, heroes, and ordinary citizens. In cases both tragic and hilarious, Morley Swingle offers a behind-the-scenes look at the justice system, taking readers from the scene of the crime to the courtroom as he explores the worlds of judges, attorneys, police officers, and criminals.

            Informed by a deep appreciation of Mark Twain, Swingle aims to do for his profession what Clemens did for riverboat piloting. He leads readers on an enjoyable romp through crime and punishment, while offering a clear exposition of legal points—from the subtleties of cross-examination to the role of plea bargaining.

            In cases ranging from indecent exposure to conspiracy to commit murder, Swingle considers the fine line between pornography and obscenity and discusses sensitive issues surrounding first-degree murder and the death penalty. Whether describing a drunken but well-meaning probationer who frees the dogs on “death row” or the woman who tries to hire a reluctant hit man to dispose of her husband, he combines true crime and legal analysis with a healthy dose of humor—and shares the occasional “Perry Mason moment” in which a trial dramatically shifts direction.

            Not since the author of Anatomy of a Murder, Robert Traver,  wrote Small Town D.A. fifty years ago has an American prosecutor penned such a candid, revealing, and funny account of the job—an altogether satisfying book that sentences the reader to many hours of enjoyment.

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