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The Morris W. H. (Bill) Collins Speaker Series

Photo of John Hailman

Wednesday, September 10, 2014     Video

"My Life With Senator Stennis"

John Hailman, of Oxford, Miss., was a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney's office in Oxford for 33 years. He was an inaugural Overby Fellow in journalism and is an adjunct professor of law at the University of Mississippi. Hailman's lecture included a discussion of the Stennis murder attempt and trial followed by a question and answer period. Hailman, who served as legal counsel and assisted with the case, also donated a four volume copy of the official transcript of the trial to the MSU Libraries.

Hailman began his career in journalism as a columnist for the Washington Post. He served as a nationally syndicated wine, food and travel columnist for Gannett News Service. His weekly column appeared in 100 daily papers for 15 years. He is author of From Midnight to Guntown and Thomas Jefferson on Wine from University Press of Mississippi. His latest book, The Search for Good Wine, will be released in October.

Hailman served as Legal Counsel to the late U.S. Senator John Stennis when he was chairman of the Armed Services and Ethics Committees during the historic period known as Watergate. Hailman served for two years as law clerk to Chief Judge William C. Keady when the Judge integrated the public schools of North Mississippi. He worked as a civil rights lawyer for both North Mississippi Rural Legal Services and California Rural Legal Assistance.

Hailman attended the Sorbonne in Paris for two years, the Université Laval in Quebec and the National School for Magistrates in Paris. He is a graduate of Millsaps College and holds a masters degree from Tulane and a Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi. He was a Graduate Fellow in Trial Practice at Georgetown University Law School.

Hailman has taught law at the University of Mississippi for over 20 years as well as the FBI Academy and the Justice Department's school for prosecutors. He has taught law internationally for the Department of Justice in over a dozen countries, from Morocco and Tunisia to Indonesia, the Republics of Georgia and Moldova, and the Sultanate of Oman. Hailman speaks fluent French and has served as an interpreter both for France and the Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs.

Hailman and his wife Regan have two grown daughters: Allison, a medical doctor in Tupelo; and Lydia, an account coordinator with Siegenthatler Public Relations in Nashville.

As a federal prosecutor, 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, 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 have 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 20th century. But Hailman delivers the inside story no one else can. He also recounts his scary experiences after Sept. 11 when he prosecuted terrorism cases.