Marianne Wesson

Professor Emeritus
Criminal Law; Evidence; Trial Practice; Law and Literature

University of Colorado Law School
Wolf Law Building
401 UCB
Boulder, CO  80309-0401

Curriculum Vitae:  View (PDF format)

Personal Link:

Educational Background:
J.D.   University of Texas   1973   with high honors, Order of the Coif
A.B.   Vassar College   1970   cum laudi generali

Marianne Wesson has been a member of the Colorado Law faculty for over three decades, teaching, researching, and writing 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 been an editor and adviser for a number of legal and academic journals. She served as a member and later Chair of the Criminal Law Test Development Committee of the National Conference of Bar Examiners from 1978 to 2008. She has been a commentator for several media outlets, including National Public Radio. (You may listen to her interview on National Public Radio concerning the 2004-2005 Supreme Court Term here.) She was elected to the American Law Institute in 1989, and designated a President's Teaching Scholar at the University of Colorado in 1992. In 1995 she was named the first Wolf-Nichol Fellow at the Law School, and in 2011 she became the inaugural Schaden Chair in Experiential Learning.

Another of Professor Wesson's abiding interests is literature. She not only teaches a seminar in "Law and Literature," and publishes scholarly articles in that area, she is a novelist, writing fiction that explores legal and jurisprudential themes. She has published three novels: 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. You may listen to her interview about Chilling Effect on Colorado Public Radio. Her newest book, to be published in spring 2012, is A Death at Crooked Creek: The Hillmon Case and the Supreme Court. In this work of "creative nonfiction" she revisits a famous and influential 1892 decision of the Supreme Court, employing long-neglected archival sources and the forensic examination of a century-old cadaver to re-open a mystery about the identity of a corpse. Her work suggests that the Court may have been prompted to create an important rule of evidence because they harbored a certain understanding about the solution to this gruesome mystery, an understanding, she concludes, that may have been wrong. Her research on the Hillmon case was the subject of a documentary film, Hillmon's Bones, and a play produced by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

Published Books

A Death at Crooked Creek: The Case of the Cowboy, the Cigarmaker, and the Love Letter (2014).
Chilling Effect, (2004).
A Suggestion of Death, (2000).
Render Up the Body, (1998).


Dunya, 76 UMKC L. Rev. 795 (Law Stories: Tales from Legal Practice, Experience, and Education) (2008).
Remarkable Strategems And Conspiracies: How Unscrupulous Lawyers And Credulous Judges Created An Exception To The Hearsay Rule, 76 Fordham L. Rev. 1675 (Symposium: Ethics and Evidence) (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).

Book Chapters

"Low Connections": Some Wisdom for the Academic Lawyer in a History of English Magic, in Law and Magic: A Collection of Essays 387 (Christine A. Corcos ed.) (2010).
Domesticated Monsters, in Criminal Law Conversations 262 (Paul H. Robinson, Stephen P. Garvey, Kimberly Kessler Ferzan eds.) (2009) (Comment on Ch. 12: Joseph E. Kennedy, Monstrous Offenders and the Search for Solidarity Through Modern Punishment)..
Wesson (with Paul Bergman), I am going with a man by the name of Hillmon, in Trial Stories (Michael E. Tigar & Angela J. Davis eds.) (2008).
The Hillmon Case, the Supreme Court, and the McGuffin, in Evidence Stories 277 (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 Educ. 627 (1996).


Fall 2014 Evidence and Trial Practice LAWS 6363-001
Spring 2014 Evidence LAWS 6353-001
Spring 2014 Seminar: Law and Literature LAWS 8458-001