Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Angel On My Shoulder, But In The Courtroom?

by Debra Mares

Television has no problem allowing angels and witches to work their magic in classrooms or at crossroads. Touched by an Angel, which ran for over 200 episodes, brought angelic messages of hope to individuals at a crossroads and gave them guidance. The Secret Circle unites teens at a high school, who descended from witches, and hones their magical powers. But shows like Law & Order and CSI have nothing resembling angels, ghosts or witches in the courtroom or in the crime lab. And proponents of writing traditional detective fiction advocate crimes should be solved by natural means. Since the reader must match his wits with a rational detective, not a world of spirits, angels are thought of as taboo. But fiction, by its definition, is a literary work whose content is produced by the imagination. So what should a crime fiction protagonist do when she has an angel on her shoulder? Ignore it? Or liberate it?

The Mamacita Murders incorporates angels into courtroom drama. Latina sex crimes prosecutor, Gaby Ruiz, is strapped with an angel, namely her deceased mom. She is sent messages and given guidance, even in prosecuting her own cases. And Gaby’s angel is certainly allowed in the courtroom. Some would say having an angel on your shoulder when dealing with crime scene investigation and courtroom drama is not a far stretch from reality. Surviving family members of real life crime victims have reported seeing warning signs and premonitions of the impending tragedy of their loved one. Other times in losing a loved one, the survivors turn to spirituality looking for answers.

Some would argue the criminal justice system is fraught with angels who protect and guide human beings. Everyday, people go the extra mile to solve a crime in the pursuit of justice. Persistent investigators work tirelessly to solve cases. Judges make rulings to protect the public. Prosecutors guide jurors to the truth. Defense attorneys protect the rights of their clients. Victim and witness advocates use their own tragic pasts to offer strength to surviving victims and next of kin, sitting next to them in court and letting them cry on their shoulder. Young abuse victims muster up the courage to come forward and testify, something most adults can barely do. The jury comes together to reach a decision holding someone responsible. It’s a miracle and a mystery that the criminal justice works as it does.

No one can deny a big part of real life crime investigation and courtroom strategy is good old fashioned gut intuition. It’s an age old friend that is no different from an angel. When at a crossroads in making a decision, an investigator, prosecutor, defense attorney or judge has to tap into their gut. This happens when deciding whether to cut a defendant a break or predict future dangerousness. It happens when deciding whether to trust a jail house snitch or whether someone is telling the truth. Defense attorneys listen to their gut when it tells them their client is innocent. In most instances, gut intuition is supported by cold hard facts. But sometimes it comes from no other place than deep within you that resonates when sitting in quiet silence -- no different from listening to that angel on your shoulder.

What do you think? Do angels have a place in crime fiction? Or in the courtroom? Does The Mamacita Murders effectively incorporate angels into a courtroom drama? Email Debra @DebraMaresNovels and let her know what you think.

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