Janis Wilson is a writer, retired trial lawyer, television commentator and lecturer. She could be a called a Renaissance woman, but she swears she is not that old.
As a kid, she was inspired by Rosalind Russell, who played reporter Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday. Janis loved the idea of digging up news about corrupt officials and putting it on the front page. Consequently, she attended the University of Memphis, graduating with a degree in journalism. As a reporter, she wrote award-winning articles about the failure of local governments to address inner city problems, life in a women’s prison and the challenges of providing quality education. She returned to the University of Memphis and obtained a Master of Arts in Political Science.
Hoping to combine her love of journalism and politics, Janis moved to Pennsylvania’s capital, Harrisburg, and resumed her newspaper career. In Harrisburg, her reporting included articles on the murder of school teacher Susan Reinert and on police corruption. Janis spent countless hours in state and federal courts, covering investigations, grand jury proceedings and trials.
In court, Janis observed the best and worst trial lawyers. One was so bad she decided, “If he could get through from law school, so can I.” And she was right; she graduated from the Temple University School of Law and went on to try cases in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties.
As a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, she chaired the Civil Litigation Section and edited its quarterly magazine, Update. She also served on the Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility and the Women in the Profession Committees.
Janis has taught continuing legal education courses on trial strategy, effective brief writing and professional liability. She even portrayed Mary Surratt in the mock appeal of Surratt’s death sentence before an appeals court and performed the role of defense attorney in a recreation of the Lindberg kidnapping trial. Her cross-examination and closing argument led the mock jury to acquit Bruno Richard Hauptmann.
Her first short story, The Devil’s Triangle, appears in Death Knell V, available on Amazon. She is an expert in Jack the Ripper, the never captured murdered of five women in the Whitechapel section of London in 1888. The Ripper and his victims are the subjects of her first novel, Goulston Street. She is currently working on her second Lady Sarah Cartwright mystery, another novel involving a famous person from the Victorian era.
As the co-organizer of RipperCon, the American Jack the Ripper conference, Janis will moderate a panel on Ripper fiction, The Truth about Ripper Fiction, and will discuss Sherlock Holmes and his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle, whose influence is felt throughout the Ripper community. RipperCon is open to the public and will meet in Baltimore April 8 to 10.
Janis is a commentator for various true crime programs, including Nightmare Next Door, Deadly Affairs and Scorned, all of which appear on the Investigation Discovery Channel.
Janis also is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Pennwriters, Inc., The Wodehouse Society, and Guppies.
She lives without incident with her husband and two semi-precious rescue cats, Jade and Amber. Jade sits atop Janis’ chair while she writes. Janis is grateful to her muse.