Mr. District Attorney is a popular radio crime drama which aired on NBC and ABC from April 3, 1939 to June 13, 1952 (and in transcribed syndication through 1953). The series focused on a crusading D.A., initially known only as “Mister District Attorney,” or “Chief”, and was later translated to television. On television the D.A. had a name, Paul Garrett, and the radio version picked up this name in the final years when David Brian played the role. A key figure in the dramas was the D.A.’s secretary, Edith Miller (Vicki Vola). Created, written, and directed by former law student Ed Byron, the series was inspired by the early years of New York governor Thomas E. Dewey.
It was Dewey’s public war against racketeering which led to his election as governor. Phillips H. Lord, creator of Gangbusters, helped to develop the concept and coined the title. Byron lent an air of accuracy and immediacy to his scripts through close study of crime statistics, a library of criminology texts, following the newspapers, and even going around rough bars to gain tips, background, and color from crooks and police alike. His techniques sometimes enabled Byron to predict major crime waves before the news broke. Produced throughout its run in New York City, the series began as a fifteen minute serial, becoming a half hour, self contained series three months later. During 1942, Mr. District Attorney began battling Nazis, leading to conflicts with the FBI when the scripts reflected life too closely.