Michael Hall's Profile Photo

Mike Hall writes about criminals, musicians, the law, and barbecue. Mike graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1979 with a degree in government. He wrote for various publications, including Trouser Press, Third Coast Magazine, the Austin American-Statesman, and the Austin Chronicle. In 1997 he joined Texas Monthly, where he has won two Texas Gavel Awards from the State Bar of Texas and four Stephen Philbin Awards from the Dallas Bar Association. He was named Writer of the Year at the City and Regional Magazine Awards in 2015. His stories have appeared in The Best American Magazine Writing, The Best American Sports Writing, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Da Capo Best Music Writing, the New York Times, and Men’s Journal. Mike is also a musician and has played in Austin bands the Wild Seeds, the Setters, the Lollygaggers, and the Savage Trip. He pitches for the Burkas, the Texas Monthly softball team.

Sports |
February 12, 2013

The Man Who Fell to Earth

After decades as one of the most admired athletes on the planet and one of the toughest competitors ever to ride a bike, Lance Armstrong is facing a new challenge: how to come back from a very public disgrace.

January 21, 2013

The Last Man Exonerated

Kerry Max Cook walked off death row in 1997, but he was never officially exonerated. At least not yet. He just filed a DNA motion he hopes will clear his name.

January 21, 2013

Investigating the Prosecutors

What will state supreme court chief justice Wallace Jefferson do about Ken Anderson, the DA who sent an innocent man to prison? Based on these clues, Anderson is in for the fight of his life. 

Music |
January 21, 2013

The Red Hooded Stranger

Is Willie Nelson Santa Claus? We asked him that, and a few other things—like what it's like to get busted and get along with Pat Robertson and Snoop Dogg.

Behind the Lines |
January 21, 2013

Fed Up!

Sure, Texas’s criminal justice system is tough. But as Fort Worth inmate Richard LaFuente could tell you, the federal criminal system is even tougher.

Web Exclusive |
January 21, 2013

Another Tale of Wrongful Conviction?

Richard LaFuente, who was convicted of murder in 1986, has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence for more than twenty years. Now he has some unlikely support in one person—the victim's own sister.

Feature |
January 21, 2013

Free Richard Lafuente!

They say he ran over Eddie Peltier with his El Camino on a North Dakota Indian reservation in 1983. He says he didn’t do it, and the evidence is overwhelmingly on his side—yet the Plainview native has languished in federal prison for twenty years. It’s long past time for justice

Travel & Outdoors |
January 21, 2013

The Backwoods Drive

ROUTE: Uncertain to JasperDISTANCE: 140 milesNUMBER OF COUNTIES: 6WHAT TO LISTEN TO: Jim Reeves’s 
“Welcome to My World”If you want to see, smell, and taste the Deep South, look no further than East Texas. Start your drive in Uncertain, but before you even get behind the wheel, take a short

Feature |
January 21, 2013

Trials and Errors

Over the past two decades Texas has exonerated more than eighty wrongfully convicted prisoners. How does this happen? Can anything be done to stop it? We assembled a group of experts (a police chief, a state senator, a judge, a prosecutor, a district attorney, and an exoneree) to find out.

Texas History |
January 21, 2013

The Paper Chase

Houston attorney Bill Kroger and state Supreme Court chief justice Wallace Jefferson are on a mission to rescue thousands of crumbling, fading, and fascinating legal documents from district and county clerks’ offices all over the state. Can they save Texas history before it’s too late?

Feature |
January 21, 2013

Who Killed Mary Eula Sears?

In 1982 a man named Wayne East was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of one of Abilene’s most prominent citizens. To this day, he maintains his innocence. And one member of the victim’s family believes him.

Web Exclusive |
January 21, 2013

The Verdict

Another defendant in the Mineola child sex ring crimes is found guilty.

Letter From Tyler |
January 21, 2013

Trial and Error

The wheels of justice (or injustice) continue to turn in the shockingly bizarre Mineola swingers club case.

Feature |
January 21, 2013

Across The Line

Was the quaint East Texas town of Mineola home to a horrific child sex ring? Were the three people sent to prison last year for running it guilty? Was justice served? Depends on which district attorney you ask.

Sports |
January 20, 2013

Lance Armstrong Has Something to Get Off His Chest

As he readies himself for this summer's Tour de France, the two-time winner is battling allegations in Europe and elsewhere that he uses performance-enhancing drugs. He insists he is clean. But proving that is turning out to be one of his toughest challenges yet. He doesn't use performance-enhancing drugs, he

Music |
January 20, 2013

Three Chords and A Station Wagon

In the years before anyone had heard of Woodstock or Altamont, teenagers across Texas started bands in their parents’ garages, banging out earnest rock songs on cheap equipment and hoping to hit it big at the local skating rink or VFW post. For some, those dreams won’t fade away.

Feature |
January 20, 2013

The Slow Life and Fast Death of DJ Screw

He was one of the most influential cultural figures in Texas—–a generous godfather to a generation of rappers, an entrepreneur of Houston's mean streets, the master of a scene fueled by codeine cough syrup and hip-hop beats. When he overdosed in November at the age of 29, it was easy

News & Politics |
January 20, 2013

The Exonerated

Thirty-seven men, 525 years behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit. Thanks to DNA testing, their claims of innocence have finally been proved—but what happens to them now?

News & Politics |
January 20, 2013

Separated At Death

Ernest Willis spent seventeen years on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. And he has a few things to say about the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 for a strangely similar crime that many experts believe he didn’t commit either.

Feature |
January 20, 2013

Weird Science

As the peculiar case of a Fort Bend sheriff’s deputy and his bloodhounds makes clear, the techniques of crime-scene investigation are not as infallible as the TV shows would have us believe. How a misplaced faith in some forensic experts is putting innocent people behind bars.

Books |
January 20, 2013

Desperately Seeking Cormac

Cormac McCarthy’s birth date and birthplace are just two of the facts about him that have eluded his rabid fans—until now. A dossier on the most fiercely private writer in Texas.

Music |
January 20, 2013

The Soul of a Man

For nearly sixty years, a succession of obsessed blues and gospel fans have trekked across Texas, trying to unearth the story of one of the greatest, and most mysterious, musicians of the twentieth century. But the more they find, the less they seem to know.

Music |
January 20, 2013

Let There Be Lightnin’

Twenty-five years after his death, Sam Hopkins is still one of the most influential bluesmen in history—that much we know. But we don’t know nearly enough about who he was.

Music |
January 20, 2013

Birthplaces of the Blues

Want to see the Texas of Leadbelly, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mance Lipscomb, and other pioneering musicians of the twentieth century? Your trip through time begins near Washington-on-the-Brazos.

Health |
January 20, 2013

About a Boy

The short life and tragic death of Johnny Romano, the youngest professional skateboarder ever.

Music |
January 20, 2013

Home Girl

Most people from Dallas who make it big in the music business get out of town as soon as they can. “That’s what celebrities do,” Erykah Badu says. “I never wanted to be a celebrity.”

Music |
January 20, 2013

Viva Fort Hood

Before Elvis Presley became an overweight entertainer in a rhinestone jumpsuit, there was a brief, more innocent time when he wore khakis as an Army private in Central Texas. It was his last chance to be a normal human being. And to be happy.

Feature |
January 20, 2013

The Judgment of Sharon Keller

Her decision to close the door on a death row inmate’s final plea has earned the state’s top criminal judge lasting infamy and a misconduct investigation that goes to trial this month. But was she wrong?