Many of you have probably noticed that, despite the seriousness and intensity of the cases worked in New York by Ellie Hatcher and JJ Rogan and in Portland by Samantha Kincaid, I often include more humorous law-enforcement-related tidbits along the way. I like to think these give the reader some comedic relief from what can sometimes be dark subject matter. They also help illustrate the duality of law enforcement, where police and prosecutors learn to laugh, even when surrounded by misery.
When it comes to these (hopefully) hilarious stories, there is no shortage in the real world of inspiration. My most recent favorite? This Long Island guy who plowed into a cop (on DUI duty, natch), wearing this t-shirt. (It’s OK to laugh. The officer was fine. Phew!)
In the books, I often recount tales from my own experience at the D.A.’s Office. The drug dealer who got shorted and went to the police to ask for help getting restitution? Yep. That was real. Trying to shoot an old boyfriend with a bow and arrow? Yep. Real.
In 212, Ellie refuses to believe Max when he says a murder defendant wouldn’t plead guilty unless the judge got him some fast food. Totally real! Not my case, but my friend’s, and here’s the news coverage to prove it:
“Durham, 33, struck a plea bargain last month in which he was guaranteed a meal of KFC chicken, Popeye’s chicken, mashed potato, coleslaw, carrot cake and ice cream – in return for pleading guilty to murder. As part of the deal, and after receiving a life sentence this week in court in Portland, Oregon, Durham will also get a second feast, this time on an Italian theme, with calzone, lasagne, pizza and ice cream.”
Given that my work stories these days involve the Socratic method and soporific faculty meetings, I’m thankful that my cop and lawyer friends continue to keep me up to date on these unbelievable, yet completely real, shenanigans. (Hat tip for the fast food story to my pal, Josh Lamborn, former prosecutor and now private lawyer to crime victims. Any Oregon readers need an attorney?)
Now, how might Ellie come across that funny, drunk T-shirt in the next book? Back to work!