John S. Haller Jr.


Aimed at scholars and general readers alike, this book offers the first biography of Michael A. Musmmano, a Pittsburgh native, who found national and international fame in his storied roles as lawyer, judge, and author of sixteen books, two of which became Hollywood movies. Born to Italian immigrants, Musmanno began working as a coal loader when he was a teenager, and he later earned a law degree from Georgetown University. Over the course of his colorful career, Musmanno became best known for serving as appellate attorney in the Sacco-Vanzetti trial; presiding over the Einsatzgruppen trial at Nuremberg; and issuing over 500 impassioned dissents as a justice on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. John Haller’s lively biography highlights the historical and political significance of these achievements, while also illuminating the range and influence of Musmanno’s other professional accomplishments. At the same time, Haller’s book also looks beneath this public persona. It uncovers striking and sometimes troubling details about Musmanno’s private life, including his relationship with a young child who would eventually become his fiancée for a brief time. In telling the story of Musmanno, Haller transforms extensive archival research into an engaging narrative. His book not only charts Musmanno’s indelible political influence, but also portrays a human a figure riven with ambiguity, complexity, and contradiction.


Justice Michael A. Musmanno was a man of profound contradictions—kind and cruel, generous and ruthless, liberal and reactionary. In his excellent biography, John S. Haller Jr. reveals the complexities of Musmanno’s enigmatic personality, exposing the man behind the public figure.

— Richard P. Mulcahy, professor of history and political science, University of Pittsburgh

A towering figure in the development of the law, Justice Michael Angelo Musmanno comes alive in the pages of John S. Haller Jr.'s highly readable and superbly researched book. In his inimitable style, Musmanno set a course for greater justice for the average citizen, and his varied life experience, skillfully presented in this biography, shows how his truly unique persona was formed. Not only will this book interest general readers, but it belongs on the shelf of every student of history and jurisprudence.

— Judge Timothy Patrick O'Reilly, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Pennsylvania

Michael A. Musmanno: Lawyer, Legislator, Judge, and Showman