James Hawley, who by many observers was considered to be the best criminal lawyer in the West, had come to prospect for gold in the Boise Basin, northeast of Boise, as a teen-ager in the early 1860's, was appointed as a special prosecutor to prosecute Haywood, Moyer, and Pettibone. He had become co-owner of a rich silver claim, which he and his partner sold in the mid-1860's.
With his substantial profits, Hawley went to San Francisco, where he studied in college for two years. After a sojourn as a seaman and adventurer in the Far East, Hawley returned to Idaho, where he served in the territorial legislature, then studied law, became a lawyer, federal prosecutor, and a very successful defense lawyer. It is said he was involved in 300 murder cases during his career.
In 1910, he was elected governor of Idaho on the Democratic ticket and served two years.
In 1927, he spoke at the dedication of a statue of Steunenberg in front of the Statehouse in Boise. It is said he was the one who convinced those in charge of placing the statue to have Steunenberg face the Statehouse, instead of looking south on Capitol Boulevard. It is said the reason for this was so that the elected officials in the Statehouse would know that the former governor was keeping his eye on how they were governing the state.