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RT @felicitygerry Delighted to see our article on medical, drug and food related deaths in @CounselMagazine - the drive for factual tests in manslaughter has not made the task of determining liability any simpler - see here lnprodstorage.z35.web.core.wi… @BristolUniLaw @DeakinLaw @LibertasChambe3 pic.twitter.com/VTYewNkJZm

About 3 days ago from LibertasChambers's Twitter via Twitter for iPhone

Latest News
Libertas Chambers’ delegation is Florida-bound in July Three members of Libertas Chambers will be heading to the University of Gainesville, Florida, next month as part of the South-Eastern Circuit (SEC) initiative to participate in a unique training programme. Caroline Goodwin QC will lead the delegation, supported by Laura Jane Miller, Syam Soni and two Circuit juniors to deliver the five-day course which aims to develop participants’ trial skills and hone their approach to evidence. Caroline Goodwin QC said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of an international program designed to reflect the skills and bespoke approach to trial advocacy which we value so highly and is the envy of the world. We will be there at a time when there have been extraordinary decisions made by the US Supreme Court, as in the case of Roe v Wade. We will be afforded a unique insight into the legal system and its associated dynamics, at a time of considerable interest and debate.”
Libertas Chambers
Striking Barristers – Our open letter to the Times Sir, The lord chief justice has issued a warning shot to the Criminal Bar by raising the prospect of severe disciplinary sanctions against any barrister who strikes (“Top judge wants striking barristers to face misconduct charges”, Jun 23). Although he says in his latest memo sent to all judges that “the judiciary is not a party to the dispute”,which is set to escalate to court walkouts next week, he has instructed them to report the names of any barrister who takes such action. The guidance is being read by many of us who prosecute and defend as an attempt to intimidate us. We are concerned that the independent office of the lord chief justice risks being seen as doing the job of a partisan enforcer for a government whose degrading of the justice system has been draining it of the very professionals on which it relies: barristers to prosecute, defend and provide judges. Our action is about protecting these professionals, and the lord chief justice clearly cares about them, but his warning may have the effect of condemning the courts to a painful asphyxiation rather than providing the oxygen that we all, judges, barristers and those unwillingly caught up in the system, so urgently need. Times Letter: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/ Caroline Goodwin QC also appeared on Time Radio with Henry Bonsu – Follow the link below – Caroline Joins Henry at 37 Minutes and 45 Seconds:  https://www.thetimes.co.uk/radio/show/20220623-12128/2022-06-23 Caroline Goodwin QC, Trinity Chambers, former chair of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA); Chris Henley QC, Mountford Chambers, former chair CBA; Mark Whitehall, Colleton Chambers; Emily Pitts, Colleton Chambers, Andrew Wilkins, Cornwall Street Chambers, Oliver Woolhouse, Cornwall Street Chambers; Roderick Johnson QC, Goldsmith Chambers; Anthony Metzer QC, Goldsmith Chambers; Gordon Cole QC, Goldsmith Chambers; Barry Grennan, Kenworthy’s Chambers; Jonathan Laidlaw QC, 2 Hare Court; Christopher Coltart QC, 2 Hare Court; Ieuan Rees, Angel Chambers; Andrew O’Byrne QC, St John’s Buildings; Ella Embleton, Broadway House Chambers; David McGonigal, Broadway House Chambers; Nicola Hoskins, Broadway House Chambers; Peter Joyce QC, 1 High Pavement; David Brooke QC, KBW Chambers; Nicholas Campbell QC, KBW Chambers; Keir Monteith QC; Garden Court Chambers; David Emanuel QC, Garden Court Chambers, Rajiv Menon QC; Garden Court Chambers; Anya Lewis QC, Garden Court Chambers; Henry Blaxland QC, Garden Court Chambers; Mark George QC, Garden Court North; Mark Kimsey, Castle Chambers; Simon Eckersley, Castle Chambers; Julia King, Castle Chambers; Susan Meek, Rose Court Chambers; Mark Fraser, Rose Court Chambers; Allison Hunter QC, 23 Essex Street; Paul Bogan QC, 23 Essex Street; Christian Moll, Blackfriars Chambers; Jonathan Mole, 9 King’s Bench Walk; Shabeena Azhar, 9 King’s Bench Walk; Martin Rutherford QC, 15NBS Chambers; Tana Adkin QC, 15NBS Chambers; Gavin Holme, 4 King’s Bench Walk; Simon Csoka QC, Libertas Chambers; Siobhan Grey QC, Libertas Chambers; Adam Kane QC, Libertas Chambers; John Morgans, Octogon Chambers; Ben Knight, Central Chambers; Tony Shaw QC, Red Lion Chambers; Kate Bex QC, Red Lion Chambers; Reil-Karmy Jones QC, Red Lion Chambers; Christopher Paxton QC, Red Lion Chambers; Adam Wiseman QC, Red Lion Chambers; Jane Bewesey QC, Red Lion Chambers; Michelle Nelson QC, Red Lion Chambers; Simon Spence QC , Red Lion Chambers; Steven Kay QC, Head 9BR Chambers; Abbas Lakha QC, 9BR Chambers; Elizabeth Marsh QC, 9BR Chambers; Peter Glenser QC, 9BR Chambers; Justin Rouse QC, 9BR Chambers; Karim Khalil QC, Drystone Chambers; Michael Magarian QC, Drystone Chambers; Toby Hedworth QC, Trinity Chambers; Michael Holland, Furnival Chambers; Sally O’Neill QC, Furnival Chambers, Former Chair of the Criminal Bar Association; Mark Rhind QC, Exchange Chambers; Scott Brady, 3TG; John Femi-Ola QC, 3TG; Adam Davis QC, 3TG; Jeremy Wainwright QC; Timothy Hannam QC, Citadel Chambers; Katherine Goddard QC, Bank House Chambers; Mark Rainsford QC, 33  Chancery Lane
Libertas Chambers
Libertas Barrister Successfully Opposes Attorney General’s Reference in Court of Appeal Sarah Day appeared at the Court of Appeal to represent the respondent in an Attorney General’s Reference. The defendant had been sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for an s18 grievous bodily harm following a trial at Leicester Crown Court.  The complainant in the case required a titanium plate in her eye socket as a result of her injuries and the defendant had relevant previous convictions. Following detailed written and oral submissions, leave for the reference was refused.  The court held that the sentence was lenient, but not unduly so, and upheld the sentence imposed by the trial judge. News on the original case can be found here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-60662696
Libertas Chambers
Latest Insights
The Use of Rap Lyrics in Criminal Trials As the New York State Senate debates Senate Bill S7527, to limit the admissibility of evidence of a defendant’s creative or artistic expression against such defendant in a criminal proceeding, this article sets out some of the issues we discussed in our Libertas Lecture / Webinar. We raise concerns about the way rap lyrics are used in criminal trials in a way that does not appear to arise in relation to other genres. The issues outlined below are explored in more detail in A Owusu-Bempah, ‘The Irrelevance of Rap’ [2022] Criminal Law Review 130. For decades, rap has been one of the most popular and profitable genres of music worldwide. While some subgenres of rap, such as ‘drill’, are characterised by first-person accounts of criminality, this should not be taken at face value. Rap relies heavily on hyperbole, figurative language and dark humour. It can operate as a form of social commentary, but much of the content is fictional and driven by commercial interests, as violence sells. For many, rapping is seen as a route to financial security, but it can also be cathartic, and generate a sense of belonging, particularly beneficial for those who come from marginalised communities. As well as being a vibrant part of youth culture, rap music has become a target for police and prosecutors, with lyrics and music videos seemingly offering a means of linking suspects and defendants to crime. However, when rap is presented as evidence in court, the artistic conventions and social influences of the genre are often overlooked, and the use of (often irrelevant and unreliable) rap as evidence at criminal trials risks unduly prejudicing jurors against defendants. This is evident from the case law. An analysis of over 30 reported judgments in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales (Criminal Division) in which rap lyrics or rap videos were used as evidence at a criminal trial or treated as an aggravating factor at sentencing shows that rap music is used almost exclusively as evidence against young Black men and boys (usually teenagers) who are accused of serious offences (namely weapons offences and violent offences, including homicide) in London and other urban areas. Often these are cases of ‘joint enterprise’ or alleged secondary liability, where rap is used to link defendants to each other and the crime, and often, or at the same time, as evidence of gang involvement, to place an offence in a gang context and to highlight association through music as a question of character, not culture. It is an extra burden for defence counsel to deal with such tropes, especially in highly charged murder or conspiracy to murder trials where some accused persons are associating on the periphery of a group through music. This profile of cases, properly analysed, is concerning: Prosecutors may benefit from themes and aesthetics within rap music, by erroneously taking rap literally and using it to help build a case in which Black boys and men represent, or fit into, stereotypes of what a criminal looks or behaves like, including by branding them as ‘gang members’.  The term ‘gang’ is vague and has been disproportionately applied to Black young people, including many who are not involved in crime, and in a way that does not correlate to the commission of serious youth violence.[1] This disproportionate application equips the term ‘gang’ with the ability to evoke images of Black criminality. Rap music can be used to amplify those images and further link Black men and boys to crime. It is also concerning that, in their capacity as ‘gang experts’, police officers are often relied on to interpret and contextualise rap lyrics and videos. Being an expert on gangs does not, without more, make one an expert on rap. Unless the officer has studied the history, culture and conventions of the genre, has kept up to date with ever-changing slang, and/or is actively involved or immersed in rap culture, it would be more appropriate for the court to hear from musicians, industry insiders and social scientists, particularly scholars of hip-hop, rap and popular culture. We must also question the extent to which police can act impartially in this role.  The organisation JUSTICE, has gone as far as to say that, in the context of explaining drill music, ‘the use of police officers as experts amounts to no more than the prosecution calling itself to give evidence.’[2] In one homicide trial, in which Dr Felicity Gerry QC defended, one lyric relied on by the prosecution to impute bad character appeared in a search on Lyrics.com in 74,283 lyrics by 46 artists, and in 48 albums. Spelt another way, it appeared in 1,836 lyrics by 100 artists, and in 3 albums. These searches were undertaken by the defence, not the police officer who gave evidence. In that case, some music evidence was excluded by the trial judge but evidence of ‘nicknames’, hand signals and postcodes were admitted – suggesting at least the ‘ghettoization’ of young people in certain locations, even though Felicity’s client lived elsewhere. Her client and another were acquitted. A co-defendant, an emerging rap artist, was convicted. Perhaps of most significance to criminal lawyers is the seemingly relaxed approach that the courts have taken to assessing the relevance and prejudicial effect of rap music as evidence of a crime. While lyrics that are directly connected to the crime charged could be relevant, in that they make it more likely that the author of the lyrics has some knowledge of (or connection to) the offence, rap was usually not presented in this way. Most often, generic and common-place lyrics about weapons and violence were used to help prove: state of mind (e.g. R v Soloman [2019] EWCA Crim 1356); criminal association and presence at the scene of a crime (e.g. R v Lewis [2014] EWCA Crim 48); propensity for violence or familiarity with firearms (e.g. R v O [2010] EWCA Crim 2985); and motive (e.g. R v Sode [2017] EWCA Crim 705). In Sode, a two-year-old music video in which the appellant was said to make gestures and remarks consistent with support for a gang (created when he was 14-years-old), was used as evidence of gang membership, which then went to the motive for an apparent gang rival attack. Likewise, it has been reported that at a first instance ‘joint enterprise’ trial, a rap video made as part of a community project was used as evidence against the young people who made it, which seems a remarkable approach by the prosecution. Importantly, the same approach is not taken when groups of rugby fans emulate Sir Tom Jones singing about killing Delilah. The research by Dr Owusu-Bempah thus far shows that gang membership cannot be as easily inferred from rap music as the case law suggests. Assuming lyrics or videos are interpreted correctly, references to gangs is common in some rap subgenres, and non-gang affiliated young people participate in gang-themed music for a variety of reasons, including for fun, to appear more authentic, boost popularity, or as a ‘nod to’ their local audience. Also, Amnesty International found that identifying with a gang is ‘porous, fluid and often “for show”’,[3] making it difficult to draw a reliable inference of current affiliation from past indicators of support for a gang.  That the age of the video in Sode was said not to ‘reduce its impact or diminish its relevance’ also demonstrates a lack of scrutiny of factors surrounding the creation of rap which affect relevance and probative value. As for prejudicial effect, several empirical studies in the U.S. have found bias against rap music, rooted in racial stereotypes. For example, a 2018 study by Dunbar and Kubrin gave participants identical lyrics, with some being told it was rock, some country and some rap. The participants were ‘more likely to assume that a rapper is in a gang, has a criminal record, and is involved in criminal activity than are artists from other music genres, and this is based merely on the genre of the lyrics.’[4] These studies reveal the risk of rap music reinforcing biases, as well as the risk of rap being taken too literally. Yet, the racialised nature of rap evidence was not mentioned or addressed in any of the cases analysed, and the judgments tend to only go as far as acknowledging the potential for prejudicial effect, taking the view that admission was not ‘unduly prejudicial’, with little explanation as to why (e.g. R v Awoyemi [2016] EWCA Crim 668). Moreover, while directions to the jury are important (R v Rashid [2019] EWCA Crim 2018), they need not include information that will assist jurors to make sense of rap, such as the broader cultural context, artistic conventions, or the social influences within the rap music genre. This lack of context increases the risk of both improper reasoning and moral prejudice. In other words, discriminatory inferences from musical interests do not help juries to reach safe verdicts. Fortunately, the increased use of rap as evidence has been accompanied by increasing pushback from academics, lawyers and NGOs, arguing for a far more rigorous approach to the admissibility and use of rap evidence. While the CPS is drafting new guidance on the use of drill music as evidence,[5] it is instructive to look to the proposed Bill in New York.[6] Under the proposal, evidence of a defendant’s creative or artistic expression would be inadmissible unless it is proven with clear and convincing evidence that it: is literal rather than figurative or fictional; has a strong factual nexus indicating that it refers to the specific facts of the crime alleged; is relevant to a fact in issue; and has distinct probative value not provided for by other admissible evidence. Importantly, any criteria for admission must not become a tick-box exercise to justify the admission of rap as evidence. Rather, we should strive to understand how approaches to ‘character’ ignore culture and to keep irrelevant, unreliable and/or highly prejudicial evidence out of the courtroom by not using rap lyrics in criminal trials.   [1] Amnesty International, Trapped in the Matrix (London: Amnesty International, 2018); See also P. Williams and B. Clarke, Dangerous Associations: Joint Enterprise, Gangs and Racism (London: Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, 2016). [2] JUSTICE, ‘Tackling Racial Injustice: Children and the Youth Justice System’ (London: JUSTICE, 2021), para. 2.51. [3] Amnesty International, Trapped in the Matrix (2018) p.9. [4] A. Dunbar and C.E. Kubrin, ‘Imagining Violent Criminals: An Experimental Investigation of Music Stereotypes and Character Judgments’ (2018) 14(4) Journal of Experimental Criminology 507, 521. [5] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-60070345 [6] https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/bills/2021/s7527   Download Article now To stay up to date with insight articles, webinars and chamber news why not subscribe to Libertas Lens (our periodic newsletter) – Click here to register
Libertas Chambers
Chambers Article: Miscarriage of Justice – The importance of the Crime Scene in Murders Siobhan Grey QC examines the implications of the recent case of R v Patryk Pachecka and the important role played by the media in overturning a conviction for murder and the significance of scientific and pathological evidence in changing the forensic narrative and leading to the unanimous acquittal of the Defendant. Siobhan Grey QC represented Patryk Pachecka and was instructed by Jason Lartey of Lartey and Co. Click below to read in full. Download Article now To stay up to date with insight articles, webinars and chamber news why not subscribe to Libertas Lens (our periodic newsletter) – Click here to register
Libertas Chambers
Gross Negligence Manslaughter; Medical, drug and food related deaths This short article draws on a recent Libertas webinar featuring Dr Oliver Quick and our Felicity Gerry QC which reviewed recent cases involving medical, drug and food related deaths and identified areas of ongoing uncertainty and controversy. Felicity defended the appeal in Rebelo where the Court of Appeal of England and Wales considered manslaughter in the context of a diet pill bought online and the scope of women’s autonomy in eating disorders. She has long experience of appearing in cases of homicide involving complex legal and medical issues. Oliver Quick is Reader in Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Health, Law and Society at the University of Bristol. He has written widely about law and patient safety with particular expertise on gross negligence manslaughter. His research was heavily cited in the Independent Review of Gross Negligence Manslaughter and Culpable Homicide established by the General Medical Council.   Download Article now To stay up to date with insight articles, webinars and chamber news why not subscribe to Libertas Lens (our periodic newsletter) – Click here to register
Libertas Chambers
Latest Events
Libertas Chambers’ delegation is Florida-bound in July Three members of Libertas Chambers will be heading to the University of Gainesville, Florida, next month as part of the South-Eastern Circuit (SEC) initiative to participate in a unique training programme. Caroline Goodwin QC will lead the delegation, supported by Laura Jane Miller, Syam Soni and two Circuit juniors to deliver the five-day course which aims to develop participants’ trial skills and hone their approach to evidence. Caroline Goodwin QC said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of an international program designed to reflect the skills and bespoke approach to trial advocacy which we value so highly and is the envy of the world. We will be there at a time when there have been extraordinary decisions made by the US Supreme Court, as in the case of Roe v Wade. We will be afforded a unique insight into the legal system and its associated dynamics, at a time of considerable interest and debate.”
Libertas Chambers
Challenges for Victim Participation in International Criminal Courts – Webinar Video This webinar presents the research of Dr Rudina Jasini on the role, scope and implications of victim participation in international criminal proceedings. In this webinar, we discuss the importance of this research to all counsel, including those acting for the defence. Presented by Dr Felicity Gerry QC and Dr Rudina Jasini  Felicity is on the list of counsel at The International Criminal Court and the Kosovo Specialist Chambers in The Hague and recently led an Amicus Curiae brief in the Dominic Ongwen Appeal. Dr Jasini (Oxford and NYU) led a joint project between the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford and the International Criminal Court Bar Association (ICCBA), aimed at creating a platform for exchanging knowledge and co-designing resources for the education and training of legal practitioners.   To ensure you don’t miss out on future events please register for our newsletter by clicking here.
Libertas Chambers
Pathology and the Crime Scene – Webinar Video Siobhan Grey QC in Conversation with Dr Claas Buschmann. Dr Claas Buschmann is a Forensic Pathologist and Deputy Director of the Institute of Legal Medicine at the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. Siobhan Grey QC defends in Murder cases and has extensive experience of dealing with expert witnesses in homicide trials.   To ensure you don’t miss out on future events please register for our newsletter by clicking here.
Libertas Chambers