Who was John D. Voelker, and how did he contribute to American literature?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of Voelker's most significant contributions was the infusion of the drama in legal adjudication into American literature.  Voelker was one of the first writers to realize that the courtroom can provide immense drama, operating as both legal exploration and dramatic theatre.  Voelker represented this in Anatomy of a Murder.  He also embraced this in his own life.  He operated as both litigator and writer. Voelker used his talents in both to illuminate how the courtroom can reflect legal issues and characterization.

Voelker established a legal tradition that is present today.  The courtroom has become a source of literary drama, seen in the publication of works by Scott Turow and John Grisham.  In much the same light as Voelker, they were able to use their legal experiences and background in order to develop quality literature. They borrow from the Voelker playbook in showing that the legal system is as much about laws as it is about human beings. The nuances and challenges within both make for compelling conflict and drama.  Voelker's efforts are evident in both film and television mediums, as well.  The emergence of shows like Law and Order and films that depict the complexities of the legal system owe a debt to Voelker's efforts. Voelker's most significant contribution to American literature was to democratize the perception of legal system, making it more approachable for outsiders to it.  

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rachellopez | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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John D. Voelker was born in Ishpeming in 1903. Before becoming a writer, he was a professional attorney/judge. During his writing career, he wrote 11 books, one being his biggest success called Anatomy of a Murder. The novel was turned into an Academy Award nominated film in 1959. As a writer, he was known by his pen name Robert Traver. Besides writing , he was a member of the bench and bar and a skilled fisherman.

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parama9000 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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He introduced the legal courtroom and the drama into American literature, of which the effects can be seen, up till today on crime shows. One of his most notable work is An Anatomy of Murder.

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