Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book recommendation: The Great Defender: The Life and Trials of Edward Marshall Hall KC, England's Greatest Barrister by Edward Marjoribanks (Author) and Gary Bell QC (Introduction)

When Sir Edward Marshall Hall died in 1927 it was the end of an era. Tall, strikingly handsome and charming, the barrister was the finest advocate ever seen in the English criminal courts. Known as 'The Great Defender' as he fought tooth and nail for his clients, those in the shadow of the hangman's noose were often saved from execution by his dramatic and eloquent defence. His closing speeches to rapt juries were legendary and there was never a free seat in the public gallery or on the press bench when he was in the Old Bailey. Marshall Hall did not win every case - the 'brides in the bath' murderer George Smith and poisoner Frederick Seddon were sentenced to death - but not without a fight from the amazing advocate. One of his finest victories came in 1894 when he saved the life of Marie Hermann, a former Austrian governess who had resorted to prostitution to feed her three children, one of whom was blind, after her husband abandoned her. Charged with the murder of an elderly client, even she believed she would be hanged. Marshall Hall gave an impassioned plea to the jury which ended with him, with tears on his cheeks and pointing to her in the dock, begging, 'Look at her, gentlemen of the jury, look at her. God never gave her a chance. Won't you?' They did, and she was found not guilty of murder. Despite success in court, Marshall Hall's personal life was tragic. His first wife, Ethel, whom he adored, informed him on their honeymoon that she could never love him and died in agony following a botched, secret abortion after getting pregnant with her lover's child. This biography, written by his friend Edward Marjoribanks, with an introduction by criminal barrister Gary Bell QC, details many of the advocate's famous trials and his life outside court. Available from Amazon.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Book recommendation: The Silk Brief (The Silk Tales Book 1) by John Burton

David Brant QC is a newly appointed Queen’s Counsel, a “Silk”, a Criminal Barrister struggling against ever-dwindling legal aid funds and a lack of work. His Chambers is also suffering internal and external pressures and his Senior Clerk seems to only serve a select few. Life at the Bar is more challenging than ever before. His personal life is not much better. Having faced an acrimonious divorce after an inadvisable liaison with a female Solicitor, his life has become a mixture of enforced rest and ever increasing consumption of Claret and Rioja Reserva. However, after a night out with his Senior Clerk, he is instructed to defend in a Murder trial, leading one of the instructing solicitor’s firm’s In-House Barristers. The client is a Mr Damien Clarke, a cocaine addict charged with killing a known associate, Usman Hussain, after a night of smoking crack together in Hussain’s flat. The evidence against Damien appears almost overwhelming and as the case progresses towards trial it is strengthened by further forensic scientific evidence. David Brant QC must use all his forensic skill to combat the array of damning evidence against Damien and to pit his wits against a highly competent Prosecutor and a Judge who has a personal dislike for him. The Silk Brief takes us from before David Brant QC is instructed, through his early preparation of the case and conferences with the client in the High Security Belmarsh prison, through to the trial and verdict. It provides the day by day record of a murder trial including the examination and cross-examination of lay and expert witnesses, Counsel’s speeches, the Judges summing up and finally the jury’s deliberations and verdict. Although a work of fiction, the author draws extensively on his knowledge of the Criminal Bar of England and Wales, having practiced as a Criminal Barrister for over thirty years, latterly as Queen’s Counsel, conducting many trials, including murder trials in the Central Criminal Court, known colloquially and fondly as “The Old Bailey”. Available from Amazon.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Book recommendation: Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel

Is killing sometimes morally required? Is the free market fair? It is sometimes wrong to tell the truth? What is justice, and what does it mean? These and other questions are at the heart of Michael Sandel's Justice. Considering the role of justice in our society and our lives, he reveals how an understanding of philosophy can help to make sense of politics, religion, morality - and our own convictions. Breaking down hotly contested issues, from abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage, to patriotism, dissent and affirmative action, Sandel shows how the biggest questions in our civiv life can be broken down and illuminated through reasoned debate. Justice promises to take readers - of all ages and political persuasions - on an exhilarating journey to confront controversies in a fresh and enlightening way. Available from Amazon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Book recommendation: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman is set during the mid-1950s and features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood. Available from Amazon.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Book recommendation: A Certain Justice (Inspector Adam Dalgliesh Book 10) by P.D. James

From P.D. James, one of the masters of British crime fiction comes the tenth novel to feature commander Adam Dalgliesh. A Certain Justice is a chilling murder mystery packed with forensic detail, set in the treacherous legal world of London. Venetia Aldridge QC is a distinguished barrister. When she agrees to defend Garry Ashe, accused of the brutal murder of his aunt, it is one more opportunity to triumph in her distinguished career as a criminal lawyer. But just four weeks later, Miss Aldridge is found dead at her desk. Commander Adam Dalgliesh, called in to investigate, finds motives for murder among the clients Venetia has defended, her professional colleagues, her family - even her lover. As Dalgliesh narrows the field of suspects, a second brutal murder draws them into greater complexities of intrigue and evil. P.D. James, the bestselling author of Death Comes to Pemberley, Children of Men and Death In Holy Orders, once again explores the mysterious and intense emotions responsible for the unique crime of murder, with authority and sensitivity. A Certain Justice is set in the legal world of London and possesses all of the qualities which distinguish P.D. James as a novelist. Available from Amazon.