Murder One
2 016
2 017
Class Dates: 
February 1 - 29
Shaun Kaufman & Colleen Collins

Purchase a COFFIN class

“Misdemeanors to Murder: Nothing but the Truth from a Criminal Lawyer and Private Eye” focuses on criminal crimes—lowest misdemeanor to highest felony offenses--from a criminal lawyer’s and PI’s perspectives. Emphasis is on state crimes (versus federal).

Each class tells one or more stories of a real-life criminal case from beginning to end, including such factors as:


  1. Description of arrest and criminal charge.
  2. Criminal lawyer enters case; reasons for retaining a PI.
  3. Lawyer develops a “case theme” (similar to a story theme), and how that theme shapes the defense of a client.
  4. Lawyer + PI strategize investigations for the case, based on case theme.
  5. PI gathers evidence.
  6. Lawyer decides whether to plea bargain or take case to trial, and result of that decision.
  7. Sentencing.
  8. Appeal (class includes a case example of a murder 1 conviction reversed at appeal based on instructors’ investigations).


Instructor Bio: 

Colleen Collins ( is an award-winning author in romance, mystery and nonfiction. Colleen is a member of the Mystery Writers of America (MWA), Private Eye Writers of America (PWA), Romance Writers of America (RWA), and Sisters in Crime.Shaun and Colleen have written several nonfiction books about private investigations and the law profession (available on Amazon): How to Write a Dick: A Guide for Writing Fictional Sleuths from a Couple of Real-Life Sleuths (by Shaun Kaufman & Colleen CollinsHow Do Private Eyes Do That? (by Colleen Collins), Secrets of a Real-Life Female Private Eye (by Colleen Collins) and A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: From Crimes to Courtrooms (by Shaun Kaufman and Colleen Collins). Their blog, Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes https://writingpis.wordpress.comhas been recognized by Ellery Queen magazine as one of the top 3 true-crime blogs, and the American Library Association’s online Booklist site twice named it “Web Crush of the Week” during Mystery Month in 2011 and 2014

Tread Lightly

Tread lightly...But know that while we are all working together here, the conversation can turn quickly to death, destruction and mayhem. And we are fine with that. We'll even abet you as you work to do the same, to become the best spinner of romantic mysteries and thrillers that you can be. So come on in, the water's blood.