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

From Midnight to Guntown

True Crime Stories from a Federal Prosecutor in Mississippi

By John Hailman
Paperback : 9781496802590, 400 pages, 40 b&w photographs, March 2015

A former prosecutor’s tales of the ne’er-do-wells and knuckle heads he helped bring to justice


As a federal prosecutor in Mississippi for over thirty years, John Hailman worked with federal agents, lawyers, judges, and criminals of every stripe. In From 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.


"Drawing on his forty years as a courtroom lawyer, John Hailman delivers a boatload of fascinating stories, all true, producing a real page-turner of a memoir which reads like a novel. John Hailman is the toughest federal prosecutor ever to hit the state of Mississippi. "

- Bill Minor, syndicated columnist, New Orleans Times-Picayune

"A most interesting character, fluent in French and English, John Hailman has acquired a reputation as a splendid trial lawyer. As a federal prosecutor, he has perfect balance; he exercises sound discretion both in and out of the courtroom. "

- Chief Judge William C. Keady, Northern District of Mississippi

"John Hailman is a great southern lawyer, raconteur, and writer of stories. "

- Douglas Blackmon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Slavery by Another Name

"From Midnight to Guntown is an exciting personal account of politics, power, and the law, exploring their intersection on the main streets and in the rural backwaters of modern America. This book should be required reading not only for aspiring trial lawyers--on both sides of the courtroom--but for all lovers of true crime stories, whether they love lawyers or loathe them. "

- David Bowen, five-term United States Congressman

"From Midnight to Guntown is a beautifully written portrait of the complex and criminal underworlds of rural Mississippi. With humor and pathos, retired prosecutor John Hailman captures in a subtle way the individual lives of bank robbers, drug dealers, and racist killers, a cast of characters reminiscent of the best Faulkner novels. By the end of the book, the criminals, police, and judges have become so familiar to the reader, they are like an extended, if highly dysfunctional, family. Hailman knows this world intimately, and his book brings people vividly to life, touching the heart of the reader. "

- William Ferris, former director of the National Endowment for the Humanities

"No book I have ever read captures with greater writing skill the color and humor of our courtroom dramas. "

- Judge E. Grady Jolly, U.S. Court of Appeals

"That Hailman fellow from Mississippi who tells those funny stories about bank robberies--he should write a book. Oh, he did? Well, that's good. "

- Willie Nelson, Grammy-winning country music star

"A masterful portrait of our culture as viewed through the peculiar lens that is Mississippi. Hailman is a gifted raconteur and a writer of rare strength and talent. He has produced the most fascinating and informative book I've read in years. "

- Parham Williams, Dean, University of Mississippi School of Law

"Mississippi has always provided great fodder for novelists, and From Midnight to Guntown explains why in a straight, uncut version. John Hailman knows this world inside and out and delivers hilarious yarns as if told at the bar stool right next to you. Highly recommended for all fans of true crime stories. I'll be keeping this one handy on my bookshelf to reference for future novels. "

- Ace Atkins, best-selling crime novelist