Guns, Gams & Gumshoes

A blog for PIs and writers/readers of the PI genre

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Archive for the ‘History of Trials’ Category

Upcoming Virtual Book Blog Tour for HOW TO WRITE A DICK

Posted by Writing PIs on June 16, 2011

A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths

eBook Available in July!

Upcoming Virtual Book Blog Tour Schedule

Below is our current schedule for HOW TO WRITE A DICK, with more blog stops coming. At each stop, we’ll be posting new articles on investigative tips and techniques (with the occasional true-crime PI story).  Mark the dates, baby.

BOOK BLOGGERS: If you have a blog geared to writers who write sleuths or readers who love reading about sleuths, crime and gumshoe techniques, and you have a spot for us in July or August, drop a comment and we’ll get back to you (be sure to leave an email address and your blog url).

Thursday, July 7: Jungle Red Writers

Thursday, July 14: Mystery Writing Is Murder

Wednesday, July 20: Poe’s Deadly Daughters

Thursday, July 21: Cold Case Squad

Friday, July 23: Stiletto Gang

Tuesday, August 2: Mystery/Romance Writer Terry Odell Terry’s Place

Thursday, August 11: Defrosting Cold Cases

Thursday, August 25: Mystery writer Patricia Stoltey’s blog

Date TBA: The Biting Edge, a blog shared by authors and vampire experts, Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein

Posted in History of Trials, Writing About PIs, Writing Legal Characters/Stories, Writing Mysteries, Writing PIs | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Writing Legal Characters/Stories: History of Trials

Posted by Writing PIs on April 21, 2010

Besides teaching classes about writing private investigators, we sometimes also teach classes about writing legal characters/stories (thanks to one of us being a retired trial attorney, and to various attorneys and judges who’ve graciously offered additional material for the classes).  We thought we’d share some of that class material, starting with some background of how trials came to be.

History of Trials

“A trial is still ordeal by battle. For the broadsword there is the weight of evidence; for the battle-axe the force of logic; for the sharp spear, the blazing gleam of truth; for the rapier, the quick and flashing knife of wit.”
-Lloyd Paul Stryker, American attorney, quoted in reports of his death June 22, 1955

Our modern system of justice has roots in medieval Germanic and Anglo-Saxon conflict resolution, which these people of yesteryear called trial by ordeal.  Trial by ordeal was a battle that pitted appointed representatives of two disputing sides against each other. The entire premise behind this institution was based on the belief that God would not allow the guilty or the wrong to prosper. Like today’s trial system, the parties to the dispute did not enter the “field of combat” but instead, each chose “champions” to fight in their place (see the similarity to modern trial lawyers?).  Each champion would take an oath and swear that the cause they were undertaking was in the right, with the medieval belief being that God would strengthen the arm of whoever had sworn to uphold the more just position.

Trial by ordeal persisted in the English system of laws until its abolition in the nineteenth century. The basic principles and some of the details (for example, that the trial by ordeal was presided over by the coroner in English law, and that all trial systems provided for a presiding judge of some kind) persist in modern systems in America and England.  Imagine this system in today’s world—perhaps a television series where WWF champion wrestlers become trial lawyers!

Just like combatants in trials by ordeal, characters in the law still remain arrogant, independent, and ready for battle.

Have a great week, Writing PIs

Posted in History of Trials, Writing Legal Characters/Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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