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'The Write Report' Helps Fictional Characters Realistically Navigate the Law

Via the PrawfsBlawg I came across an interesting blog called The Write Report. On The Write Report, Donna Ballman, author of The Writer's Guide to the Courtroom: Let's Quill All the Lawyers, analyzes law as it is portrayed on television and responds to writers' questions about how they can accurately have their fictional characters navigate the civil justice system.

For example, a person named J Katrin asked how a character with amnesia might realistically be able to obtain gainful employment in the real world:

If a character cannot remember who she is, and authorities are for whatever reason unable to discover her identity, what options are there for obtaining gainful employment, etc.? Without a birth certificate, you can't be issued an SSN, so what can you do if you don't have someone to take care of you and aren't considered dangerous enough to house in a prison or psych ward?

Ballman conducted some research and responded that J Katrin's plotline did have a potential solution:

In these days of Homeland Security, immigration concerns, and crackdowns on employers hiring undocumented workers, your character with amnesia will have a tough time. Their best bet will be to hire a lawyer to try to get a court order to issue a new Social Security card. Otherwise, they’ll have no driver’s license, passport, work permit, entitlement to government benefits – nothing.

The Write Report includes a number of other interesting posts for writers interested in touching on legal topics, including "Who Might Your Murderer Character Want to Kill Off (Besides Lawyers)? Six People Who May Just Need to be Murdered" (sorry, legal secretaries, but you are No. 1 on this Hit List).

Posted by Bruce Carton on February 27, 2011 at 05:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)


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