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In Your Defence
2020/10/05 12:11
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Writer:

Sarah Langford specialises in criminal and family law. Sarah also has experience of courts martial, prison adjudication hearings, inquests, Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority cases and other specialist tribunals. She has appeared as a legal advisor for local authority educational appeals and has appeared on behalf of trading standards enforcement teams.  Sarah undertook work for the Treasury Solicitors as part of their scheme for barristers under three years call, which required her to draft advices and statements of cases for the Prison Service. She has also undertaken pro bono work and was junior counsel in an appeal against a conviction for murder in Jamaica. Sarah is happy to give lectures or talks on an agreed topic. Sarah undertakes work on the Western, South Eastern and London circuits. She lives between London and Suffolk. She is a member of the Criminal Bar Association and the Family Bar Association. Sarah is currently on maternity leave.(r.1)

 

Story:

Sarah Langford is a barrister. Her job is to stand in court representing the mad and the bad, the vulnerable, the heartbroken and the hopeful. She must become their voice: weave their story around the black and white of the law and tell it to the courtroom. These stories may not make headlines but they will change the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary ways. They are stories which, but for a twist of luck, might have been yours.

With remarkable candour, Sarah describes eleven cases which reveal what goes on in our criminal and family courts: these are tales of domestic fall out, everyday burglary, sexual indiscretion, and children caught up in the law. They are sometimes shocking and they are often heart-stopping. She examines how she feels as she defends the person standing in the dock. She also shows us how our attitudes and actions can shape not only the outcome of a case, but the legal system itself.

 

Highlights vs self- reflection:

1.p.3: I was more than just a source of advice, or a mouthpiece for my client’s case. I needed to be a pshychiatrist, a counselor, a social worker, a mother, and many other things besides, none of which had appeared on the pages of my law books. I had to learn how to identify mental health problem, victims of domestic abuse, alcohol and drug addictions. I grew to know who might , after court had finished, go home and try to end their life.

What we learn is always not enough to deal with the reality.

2.p.4 burglaries should only ever be commercial , not domestic-it is not right to break into peoples homes. bigger shops were worth less guilt, as they all had insurance and the staff turnover was high, and no one really cared about working there anyway. And if you were stupid enough to get caught. then you pleaded guilty-but only if the evidence was there to get you.

Which crime is more serious, depends on the reality or social value

3.p.69: She is afraid of embarrassing her family. She is afraid that no one else will want her now.

The reason why she could endure the domestic violence comes the sad reasons.

4.p.152:All using their careers as cover for their abuse

The most sad is the wolf clad the sheepskin.

5.p.203:My job has taught me to understand the power of a judgment; how a compromise will not grant the vindication that drive some people to court. No one-not me, nor the judge, nor the law-is able to give them to release they so long for. The court is not the perfect help for us.

p.231: Parents need the law. They need the court to make decisions for them when jealousy, rage and bitterness disable their own ability to do so.

The court could be a little help if we are out of control.

Golden Sentence:

1.p.20: To help people, not to send them to prison.

Conclusion:

1.As a barrister, it renders us a chance to see the truth between sin and the twisted world, dark and white. Behind the stage of the court, we need to start to care of more children of lesser God.

2 It’s not only a job, but a mission! Through justice and injustice, dig up more human concern between good and evil.  "I could not shake off a sense that I had forgotten one of the most important lessons my job had taught me. There was no one truth, there was no one story. Instead there were, behind every case, just webs of messy lives. To look for the truth in a case was to forget my role. It was my responsibility to guide those who came my was as best I could through the law and its systems, with humanity and empathy. It was my job to give them, as far as I was able, what they wanted. And I must try to do this even when what they wanted was not always, in the end, actually justice."

3.What a great patience and passion to the job and human-being. I really respect Sarah’s attitude.

4. Many of the cases she describes are gut wrenching. From police abuse, to paedophile material on a youngsters computer, from two children going to court probably to cover up for their drug dealing mother, to an indebted drug dealer prostituting herself to her suppliers. The cases that affected me most were her description of a searing custody case, where the bitterness between the parents seemed to overrule any consideration of the children.

The other case that particularly touched me was that of a young woman - Maggie - regarded as being an unsuitable parent. Her first child had been taken away from her, and now she had a second child, a son. The social workers wanted to take the second child away too. Initially she had agreed to this, but then she changed her mind. Langford was defending her. In court Maggie spoke of the projects and classes she was doing - the anger management course, the drug and alcohol groups she was going to join. She was desperate to keep her child. Langford is more than sympathetic towards the attitude of the social workers who want to take the child away...but she feels that these mothers are sometimes not given a fair chance to change their situation for better. In this chapter we follow the court cases surrounding the plight of Maggie and her son.

Throughout the book I was impressed with the levels of distress and unhappiness that Langford was able to deal with. She wasnt impervious to it, as her writing shows, but she copes, and she tries to help people.

It was also good to get insight as to what goes on in the courts, and the incredibly difficult issues that are dealt with there. An excellent read.(r.3)

 

5.Life is like riding a bicycle, swinging left and right to keep moving forward,” trial and error” life, if we never give up, we will find our way out.

 

6.As a barrister, she can see the thread between sin and twisted truth, between black and white , with a heart of meticulous leniency, sympathy and passion. Even Sarah got pregnant, still work on her job with all her mind.

7.Explicity, sympathy, passion to mend the holes between law and defendents. 

8.p.270: One day we’ll be proud for we have done.

9.p.269:Our ability to invest could enforce the contract fairly.

In Your Defence shared by Florence Peng:

 

Dear all,

For those of you who already started reading the book “In Your Defense”, you must have found that even though sometimes stopped by vocabularies, you are still deeply absorbed by the evolution of the stories, which were all written based on real legal cases the author had been through. 

Unlike some of the legal books or films we saw before which are normally juicy in describing the cases or scathing in criticizing the legal system, Sarah Langford’s work is more personal. It often reads as a diary or a journal, delving into her emotional responses to the cases that have shaped her career.  She did her best working with the system and providing best possible support in her role more than as barrister.  Beyond that she was also a psychiatrist, a counsellor, a social worker, a mother, and many other things besides, none of which had appeared on the pages of her law books.

She spins the stories of eleven individuals, the details drawn from multiple real-life cases, the line between fact and fiction blurred together in a compelling narrative style. She puts herself in the shoes of the semi-fictional clients, describing the precipitating incidents which led to legal proceedings through their eyes.

Even more importantly, against the backdrop of a justice system in crisis, through the 11 cases she guides readers demonstrating the workings and failings of the underfunded, overburdened criminal and family courts, laying bare the impact of successive funding cuts that undermine justice for victims and defendants and severely reduce access to the family courts for those without means.

In the closing pages Langford warns that further erosion of the legal system threatens the nation’s stability. It is a compelling read for anyone who cares about fairness, justice and humanity and should be on the reading list of all politicians and policy-makers.

 

Chapter 1 – Dominic

 

Sarah represented him as a barrister since Dominic was 18though his first conviction of burglary was just after 11. If he were born in other countries in Europe, he would be regarded as child but in England, 10 years old is the age for criminals.  Most of the crimes he committed has been none major ones – drug using and burglaries.  This other way around – it was them who assaulted him when he tried to escape away when they summoned him during a get-together he was having with his friends to celebrate his birthday.  He told Sarah that he didn’t care about by being disbelieved by the judge or the punishment he got.  What he cared about was pleading guilty to something he did not do.  He showed her photos taken after the day he was assaulted with bruises and cuts on his face and body, which served as strong evidence.  Sarah’s experiences with police have been mostly positive, however “as a defence barrister, my experience of challenging police in court usually involves a different type of officer.  These are the ones who use their badge for no reason other than to legitimize their bullying, their brutality and their deception.” With a smart way to question the last police officer, Sarah caught him lying when saying he detained Dominic in the approved manner.  The final verdict was that neither Dominic’s sister nor himself was guilty.

 

After the first victory, Sarah went to represent him many times.  He has committed many small crimes but he was smart to write beautiful letters to the court, full of pleas and promises of reformation and his commitment to a life beyond crimes. It became so often that Sarah almost met him every week.  She even started to indulge herself in the daydreaming to help him find a job and begin a new life. Six years has passed and it was the last time Sarah represented him, although she didn’t know it at that time.  This time Dom was granted a bail and while waiting for the trial, he already served full sentence that any judge can possibly make, by spending the day with a tagged curfew.  However Dominic asked for community services, which was against Sarah’s plan as according to the law, Dominic should be convicted immediate release as he already served his maximum possible sentence.  The judge nevertheless was convinced Dom needs a community service for a change and he himself did firmly asked for it.  After the court session, Dom was furious as he was obviously misled by the probation officer.  Sarah noticed that he has changed to a sloven outlaw and lost his boyishness.  During his service, Sarah received a phone call asking if she could represent him again as he broke the sentence. Sarah refused as she got disappointed of him, on top of the fact that she got previous commitment already.  She doesn’t want to watch the law system failed to help him and he failed to help himself. Though after that Sarah once thought she saw Dominic working at the restaurant that she went to dinner but she dared not to confirm.  She feared she might be disappointed again. 

※Sarah tried so hard to help Dominic, but still weaker than the society machine. After all the unfair punishment, a boyish child lost the confidence to himself and the world. surrender to the outlaw.

Chapter 2 - Derek

 

In this case, Sarah represented a client who was involved in a homosexual offence.  A man called Ralph complained to the police that there were 3 men having sex in public toilet.  Police found three of them, George, Michael and Derek.  However, George and Michael said they had been there a few times doing the thing described by Ralph, but not that day.  Instead, it was Ralph who invited the deed but George was not interested that day. In order to defend for George and Michael against Ralph, Sarah‘s colleague Catherine found out that a number of defence witnesses all claimed they have been intimately involved with Ralph.

All three defendants pointed out that Ralph was a regular visitor to the secret club. “Catherine made Ralph into evidence – and considered what joyous luck it was to have such easy, hard proof that a witness was lying.”

 

Derek could serve as a strong evidence to prove non-guilty of the defendants.  However Derek, aged 60, had led a double life as a gay and he had a good image in the community.  The British law on homosexual was a crime was only changed when he was 30. To fear the exposure of the fact may bring devastation to his life, he committed suicide before the trial.

※ Law or love is the standard of our life.

 

Chapter 3 Saba

 

Saba is a girl who came from Bangladesh, marrying a man named Asif Choudhurry originally from same country but has lived in UK.  After they got married, Asif started to abuse Saba, together with his mother.  They held her passport so she can go nowhere.  One day when Saba visited doctor because of bleeding, she managed to give the message that she has been a victim of domestic violence and then was sent away to stay with her uncle and aunt.  Asif however used the excuse that he missed their daughter Nazia when she was one year old, and asked her to come back. Saba wanted to settle so she returned to Asif with the daughter.  Asif put the child in the car and drove away, however police found them two hours later; something must have gone wrong.  Police decided to take no further action as Asif did not break the law.  Saba returned to her uncle and aunt’s house as her passport was kept by Asif’s mother and she had no other place to go. Her husband Asif took the action to apply for a course session to place Nazia under his care.  Asif himself did not show up in the hearing, he just buggered off to Bangladesh so the hearing was held without him. Among all the denials Asif made against allegations from Saba, he agreed that he did tear up Saba’s photo book.  In the court, the interpreter actually provided information on top of the interpretation he gave. For example, “Asif pulled Saba’s hair in a way that means more in their culture than the British one.”  He also showed his personal emotions by taking out handkerchief to wipe face, which touched the magistrates.

 

The magistrates finally granted Sara’s request for a Residence Order in Saba’s favour and decided that the responsibility to bring the matter back to court must now lie with Asif.  If he did not do so within three months, his application would be dismissed.  Saba’s passport must, be handed over to her solicitors immediately. 

A great barrister needs to use law not be used by law.

 

Chapter 4 Raymond

 

Raymond Baker, aged 21, and his elder Sister Daniella, aged 17, were charged with burglary by forcing into the victim Mandy White’s apartment.  Although Daniella already pleaded guilty, Raymond however insisted that he wanted to plead not guilty.  When asked by Sarah at the court what happened exactly that night, Mandy admitted that three of them sat down together at her table and she sometimes would have had a puff (drug), which they would have passed around between them. Sarah suddenly understood that Raymond was Mandy White’s drug dealer, also the police officer told her that Raymond’s mother is the biggest drug dealer on their estate.  Instead of paying cash, Mandy gave the DVD-player to them but Raymond could never tell the truth, so instead, he was going to plead to the theft.  He could only admit to something he didn’t do and this was agreed by the prosecutor who knew very well that Mandy’s witness was full of holes.  The conviction ended up with theft which is lighter than burglary.

 

For Sarah, there were questions in this case which were never be answered, for example, why Mandy asked the two young people to come to collect the DVD player but afterwards called the police. “As with so many of my cases, I had to learn to live without a tidy ending.”  One of the most important lessons her jobs had taught her “There was no one truth, there was no one story.  Instead there were, behind every case, just webs of messy lives.”

※ Mandy gave Raymond the DVD-player instead of paying cash of the drug. Raymond couldn’t tell the truth and was accused as burglary. Every case is just like the webs of messy lives. A great barrister needs not only profession but also great empathy of insights

 

Chapter 5 Rita

 

Rita’s husband Nick Johnson, together with his friend Lee Poulter forced into other people’s house and took away some guns, on which Rita left her fingerprint.  The police came to arrest and interview them, then decided to charge her with conspiracy to burgle and possession of firearms – offences so serious that they could only be heard in a crown court.  It was irrelevant that she was not the one making the crime, but the prosecutor said there had been a plan, an agreement to burgle the houses, and that she was part of it.

 

Although Sarah had prepared Rita for a good defendant’s speech and the latter delivered a convincing innocent image, still because of one of the laws saying “a husband cannot conspire with a wife because they are believed to be one mind, of one will”.  The law encouraged the jury to think of Rita as indistinguishable from Nick; to find her guilty by association…as far as the law was concerned, she had no independent will of her own…(In modern Britain, there still stands the very outdated law)The juries were convinced that Rita’s husband Nick was guilty, so consequently Rita was sentenced guilty too for four years in prison.

 

After the court sessions, Sarah began to think about the vows of marriage.  The words were the biggest promises a person could make, and she began to notice her married friends saying the world viewed them as one unit.  Maybe this antiquated rule just reflected a truth – that marriage did bind you together in a way nothing else could. 

Marriage bind us together, include the good and bad. Is it fair for the love of marriage? Law sometimes solve problems and also create another problems.

 

Chapter 6 Maggie

 

“Maggie was a twenty-two-year old young mother, so poorly parented herself that the local authority did not consider she was able to look after either the daughter they had already removed three years beforehand of her or the new baby son. 

 

Years before Maggie, Sarah already represented quite a few young mothers whose fate just repeated one after another.  When social workers came in, they appeared nice and friendly, claiming they were there to help but eventually they took away the babies to foster families.  Once Sarah reminded her that “This must, you know, be your decision.”, “they cannot take just take the baby without your consent”. After a pause, the young girl expressed she would do whatever required to keep the baby. Although a lot hassles were caused, the relevant people including senior barristers and social workers could only accept the decision that the girl wanted to withdraw her consent.  During the three-hour court session, a lot negative evidence was presented against the mother and the lead magistrate made the decision that the baby should be kept by social workers and the mother can only see her 3 times a week, ninety minutes each time.  However the judge reminded the mother that it was not a done deal.  There would be a parenting assessment and if she engaged then the local authority would look to see whether they could place the baby back with her.  Only later would Sarah learn that, nine out of ten, once a baby is removed it will never go back.

 

Maggie is the 4th generation of a family most babies of which brought away by social workers as the mothers were too young; they are not financially independent and the husbands did not take care of the family at all.  Maggie was faced with the same fate. 

 

Also Sarah was troubled by how often a local authority was prepared to spend money on experts to prove a mother couldn’t parent, rather on helping her learn how to do so, and by how often a guardian would simply turn and agree with them. 

 

After Maggie gave birth to the baby boy Aaron, the social worker Andrea this time contacted a woman who agreed to take vulnerable mothers with new babies into her home so this time she left hospital with her baby in her arms and the foster carer would teach her how to be Aaron’s mother.

 

Although the local authority conceded that Maggie was doing well in the mother and baby foster placement, they also pointed out that because of her own family history, she had some weak points to take alone the responsibilities of a mother.

 

The first time Sarah met Maggie was at her interim resolution hearing, some nine months after Aaron was born.  However during the court session, a testimony from a psychological doctor Dymphna and a judge whose name is Nicholas treating the case with a different approach.  She assessed Maggie before and had been highly critical of the local authority’s failure to help Maggie secure her a mother-and-baby foster placement.  Judge Nicholas decided to give Maggie a chance by asking the local authority to support and Monitor Maggie for a further year, so to give the possibility that the cycle of pregnancy and giving baby away can be broken. 

A great barrister is a great angel leading the defendant to get what she can own.

 

Chapter 7 Peter

 

Peter was charged with crime involving possessing photos of children having sexual acts. He was found storing a lot photos in his computer and he was also suspected applying for a voluntary job interacting with children.  However Peter doesn’t look like a typical paedophile that the author normally can spot right away.  Peter was seventeen when he was reported to the police, but it had taken some five months for the court to work through the evidence, so he has come to eighteen and qualified to be charged.  

 

The author has some sympathy toward Peter as he had been lured in this way to lie by others, and he was too young to have his life shattered by a prison sentence; and that the circumstances of his initial involvement in this world were that of a victim, not a predator.  Even the prosecutor tried to charge him with a minor sentence.  The lady judge, although a very warm and funny person out of the court, showed her firmness in observing all the guidelines of law.  She asked to see images and films of Level 4 downloaded and stored by Peter (the gravest one is Level 5), very luckily, the police officer failed to play the CD after a few tries.  The faulty CD also had kept Sarah behind the line she had drawn for herself (she definitely didn’t want to see any of those images and so far she has successfully kept herself out of it). Given all the evidence of the case, she sentenced Peter to one year.  However, she said, “in light of your circumstances, I am prepared to suspect the sentence for two years…” plus seven years of Sexual Offences Prevention Order (a SHPO are those which are necessary for the purpose of protecting the public from sexual harm from the defendant. These can, however, be wide ranging. An order may, for example, prohibit someone from undertaking certain forms of employment such as acting as a home tutor to children. It may also prohibit the offender from engaging in particular activities on the internet.)  You need help to deal with your offending.  You will spend eighteen months of this period completing a Supervision Requirement where you will be asked to attend a programme…” Which means Peter was acquitted with conditions set by the judge.  (bad luck to Peter, last part of page 169)

※The Judge passed a light sentence on Petercos he was too young to be shattered by a prison sentence.

 

Chapter 8 Daniel

 

Dan is an ordinary person with a normal job.  One Friday night, he joined his girlfriend’s brother Kit for a weed smoking and Kit asked him to drive for some of his friends for their drug dealing business.  Dan’s decision to help them changed his whole life.  Altogether they were five persons and a guy nicknamed Murder was the last one to get into the van.  They also collected a girl named Maria who was also a drug dealer like the others.  That night they spent the time at a flat; Maria needed money for drug so she offered to trade it with sex so Dan and Kit had it with her.  Maria had a lesbian friend Lola who later on called the police, reporting the case as rape.  Maria didn’t come into the police for a witness report until some time had passed as she knew it was not really a rape, however she didn’t want to lose her relationship with Lora so eventually she still went to the police, incurring the prosecution of the 5 defendants.

 

During the court session, Dan did not give his evidence, which was totally against the barristers’ advice as the best way for a charged is to tell his own story with his own words.  No reasons were given why he refused to do so.

 

Although Dan was supposed to be the most innocent one among the five, however because of the interpretation of “rape” from the juries (If the prosecution could prove that a complainant was being held against her will when she had sex with the defendant – and that the defendant knew she was being held against her will – then the burden of proof switched.  He was guilty of rape until proven innocent), Dan received the most serious verdict together with Kit, three life sentences, while Murder, the most vicious one, received the lightest sentence,.  Although Sarah filed an appeal for Dan and managed to acquire a less serious sentence for him, which was 16 years in jail, he would spend one half of the period in jail but the time in custody would be taken off.  After that he would be released on license.

Among all the cases Sarah has dealt with, this one probably caused most emotional disturbance to her. Although she did believe to certain degree, Dan did rape Maria and he might be involved in some drug deals, but at the bottom of her heart, Dan doesn’t deserve that punishment.

※Maria is a drug dealer but out of money to buy weed, she accept rape in exchange for drugs. But later she regretted and Dan became the scapegoat and received the serious verdict than the ringleader.

Chapter 9 Helena

 

Helena is a mother of three-year-old twins.  She was fighting with her ex-husband for keeping the children and case was brought to court while Sarah became her barrister.  According to Sarah, “over the last year not a month has passed without husband and wife swinging verbal punches at one another in courtroom”.  What the divorced parents wanted, was their day in court. They believed that the only way bitterness could release its grip was to have this person, answer to their crimes.  What happened between Helena and her ex-husband was no exception.  One of the judges said, “if the people who appeared before me actually put their children’s interest before their own, my court would be an empty one.”.

 

After an interim period that the two kids had to stay with each parent half of the week, the hearing finally came with evidence given and questioned by two parties.  The report and suggestion given by the social worker Samantha Jones from the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) played an instrumental role forming the judge’s decision.  According to her, the kids prefer to go to the nursery in the village where their mother lived and the grandparents on the mother’s side afforded stronger support, although the grandma on father’s side is also doing her best to protect them. Also the mother doesn’t have to work full-time hence can set aside more time with the kids.  The judge finally decided the kids should go to the mother while spending certain time with their father.  The twist of the development was each parent actually built new relationship and the new wife of the father got pregnant. 

※A great barrister could save a broken family, and turn into two sweet family.

 

 

Chapter 10 Chris

 

Just before the hearing trial, Sarah was given the assignment to represent Chris who was charged with raping his wife.  According to Sarah’s description of Chris’ behavior, Chris was mentally disturbed and did not act, or expressed himself in a sensible way.  However two psychiatric doctors reported that he was sane.  Chris claimed that due to the misleading from his previous barrister, he pleaded guilty but he wanted to plead non-guilty now.  During the hearing, the statements he gave contradict with each other hence his application was objected. 

 

By telling the story of Chris, I believe Sarah wanted to expose the facts that some veteran solders do suffer from the trauma of war, and psychiatric doctors are not perfect.

Sarah with explicity of empathy, try to safe a veteran solder with mental problem free from prison. Kate persuade the hasten decision to mislead the guilty plea and can’t set him free from the cell.

Chapter 11 Jude

 

Jude is a young boy whose parents were divorced and he was given to his father per the judge’s decision while his sister was given to his mother.  Obviously his father is a calculating, manipulative and even fearful person who prepared himself and Jude very well during the court proceeding.  Although Jude said everything he could to give the impression that he loved his father very much and he would be very happy to live with him, the judge still gave the verdict that he should go to the mother.  Jude wanted to submit an application to appeal Judge Francis’s decision.  However at last minute, Jude changed his mind and said he wanted to stay with his mother, so Sarah withdrew the application while the lord justices were all relieved from the burden.  One year after the final hearing, Sarah drafted the position statement for Jude in which he said he was happy with the new school and making a lot new friends.  The most significant thing Sarah has ever written is: Jude wants the judge to know that he thinks she made the right decision.

Jude decided to live with father, but he didn’t come up to the contact sessions, so Jude changed his mind to live with mom. It’s so great that the court accept his choice and he started a happy new life with mom. A great barrister needs to have the sense of familiar sensation and mend the holes of the law.

 

 

Questions –

1.    “In Your Defense” is a widely acclaimed book receiving very good reviews from general readers and people from the legal profession.  What do you like the most about the book? Anything you don’t like about?

The other case that particularly touched me was that of a young woman - Maggie - regarded as being an unsuitable parent. Her first child had been taken away from her, and now she had a second child, a son. The social workers wanted to take the second child away too. Initially she had agreed to this, but then she changed her mind. Langford was defending her. In court Maggie spoke of the projects and classes she was doing - the anger management course, the drug and alcohol groups she was going to join. She was desperate to keep her child. Langford is more than sympathetic towards the attitude of the social workers who want to take the child away...but she feels that these mothers are sometimes not given a fair chance to change their situation for better. In this chapter we follow the court cases surrounding the plight of Maggie and her son.

 

From police abuse, to paedophile material on a youngsters computer, from two children going to court probably to cover up for their drug dealing mother, to an indebted drug dealer prostituting herself to her suppliers. The cases that affected me most were her description of a searing custody case.

2.    After you read the book, is there anything that surprises you?

           Throughout the book I was impressed with the levels of distress and unhappiness that Langford was able to deal with. She wasnt impervious to it, as her writing shows, but she copes, and she tries to help people.

3.    Does Sarah have a high regard to her own job? Please share the statements supporting your view.

           "I could not shake off a sense that I had forgotten one of the most

important lessons my job had taught me. There was no one truth, there was no one story. Instead there were, behind every case, just webs of messy lives. To look for the truth in a case was to forget my role. It was my responsibility to guide those who came my was as best I could through the law and its systems, with humanity and empathy. It was my job to give them, as far as I was able, what they wanted. And I must try to do this even when what they wanted was not always, in the end, actually justice."

 

4.    Among all the cases, there are ones which made you feel positive about the legal system in Britain, while there are others on which Sarah cast questions.  Please share your views.

           p.203:My job has taught me to understand the power of a judgment;

how a compromise will not grant the vindication that drive some people to court. No one-not me, nor the judge, nor the law-is able to give them to release they so long for.

The court is not the perfect help for us.

p.231: Parents need the law. They need the court to make decisions for them when jealousy, rage and bitterness disable their own ability to do so. The court could be a little help if we are out of control.

5.    Sarah usually put down her reflections on the case in the context of the legal system, please share with us her views that inspire you or enlighten you the most.

           p.4 burglaries should only ever be commercial , not domestic-it is not

right to break into peoples homes. bigger shops were worth less guilt, as they all had insurance and the staff turnover was high, and no one really cared about working there anyway. And if you were stupid enough to get caught. then you pleaded guilty-but only if the evidence was there to get you.

Which crime is more serious, depends on the reality or social value

 

6.    Sarah is a female barrister.  How does the fact affect her when performing the job, on both good and bad sides? 

(1.)p.3: I was more than just a source of advice, or a mouthpiece for my

 client’s case. I needed to be a pshychiatrist, a counselor, a social worker, a mother, and many other things besides, none of which had appeared on the pages of my law books. I had to learn how to identify mental health problem, victims of domestic abuse, alcohol and drug addictions. I grew to know who might , after court had finished, go home and try to end their life. What we learn is always not enough to deal with the reality.

          (2.)p.268:Instead, I thought of those case and clients that had changed

me. I became aware of a familiar sensation.

         (3)p.269: The law is human justice, designed and enforced. It will therefore always be imperfect.  It makes mistake, it is slow, sometimes chaotic, sometimes illogical. But it remains a pillar upon which our country is founded. Were it to break, the stability of our nation would break too, and we would all be the poorer for it.

7.    If you were given a chance to go to law school and perform a job as Sarah Langford has been doing, would you consider taking the chance?  Why and why not?

          As a barrister, it renders us a chance to see the truth between sin and

 the twisted world, dark and white. Behind the stage of the court, we

need to start to care of more children of lesser God. I feel I am so small

to handle it.

Our Book in Oct. is a wonderful book about law, which has connected with us in our life, I hope the book can help us a lot to know so many real events are happening around us, and these defendants who commit crimes are in need some barristers to help them reduce to minimum imprisonments. Our leader this time is my best friend who always supports our book club in silence, especially help me to sort out the contents of our annual voting booklist. She will lead us via video because she lives in Taipei, and our members still need to attend our meeting in Quibit Coffee.  She will soon send you another brief account of the 11 events in the book.

 

You may have a luncheon in the restaurant before our meeting at 1:00 pm,  we look forward to seeing you.

October Activity:

Book: In your Defence

Author: Sarah Langford

Leader: Florence Peng,   Co-leader: Florence Cheng

Time: 1 p.m.  Oct. 5, 2020

Place: Qubit Cafe (Hanshin Arena) No.6, Lane 50, Bo-Ai 3 Road,

Zuo Ying District, Kaohsiung.  Tel:07-3459477

高雄市左營區博愛三路506

http://qubit.bais.com.tw/

https://www.google.com.tw/

A letter from Florence Peng.

Dear all,

It is anticipated that we will refer a lot to the passages in the book during the discussion, so please have the book with you when you come next Monday.

Best regards

Florence

p.s. If you haven’t finished the book, please at least read the summaries that I sent out a few days ago.

 

Clive  can’t come today, because he needs to take a rest, he had a micro surgery on a very large kidney stone that had brought about a kidney and bladder infection last week. He is resting at home .

 Florences Feedback:

Thanks to Florence Peng for giving us a very sensible and attentive lead, actually we like to hear more opinions or discussions to the book, however time is so short. How eager I wish to continue finishing the questions, the book is different from those books we have usually read , it is knowledgeable, and let me understand the professional occupation that a barrister done for defendants to strive for their rights and rehabilitate their crime to minimum criminal liability, the author writes about her experience that being a barrister sometimes she feels  she would like to help but can’t , whatever she has done as her best from the humanity and empathy for the defendants,  in addition we know the darkness happened in the society, family occurrence, juveniles behaviors, etc, I think a sound and good education is so important in a family.

I would like to hear more from you, I think you still have many thoughts and valuable opinions to the book that you like to share but you dont.

 

Thanks to Emma to supply  us  her conclusion, I always enjoy reading her notes, she is so delicate to analyze and seize some good points from the book and our discussion.

Emmas Feedback:

1.As a barrister, Sarah renders us the light to dispel the darkness and chaos and lead us to care of more children of lesser God.

 

5.Life is like riding a bicycle, swinging left and right to keep moving forward,” trial and error” , if we never give up, we will find our way out.

 

6.As a barrister, she can see the thread between sin and twisted truth, between black and white , with a heart of meticulous leniency, sympathy and passion. Even Sarah got pregnant, still work on her job with all her mind.

 

7. It’s not only a job, but a mission! Through justice and injustice, dig up more human concern between good and evil.

 

8.p.270: One day we’ll be proud for we have done.

 

9.p.269:Our ability to invest could enforce the contract fairly.

 

10.p.26: These are the people who, for one reason or another, have touched my life. These are the people who will stay with me forever.

 

11. Different country , different sentence. In England and Wales, the age of criminal responsibility is 10 years old. In France is 13, in Germany and Italy 14.

 

12.p.67: The law is about more than words and language and weaving a clever argument from the pages of a law book. Maybe it is about more than being able to tell a good story. For. At its heart, the law is about humanity.

 

13.p.93: There was no one truth, there was no one story. Instead there were, behind every case, just webs of messy lives.

 

14.Law protect those who know laws. Law could be harmful, without law could be painful. A great barrister could be helpful, how to walk on the appropriate step is an art.

Please forgive that my disdained hand could distort your great wits for this great topic, please feel free to eleborate your insight and thank you sis for your generous heart to accept my gossip.

Fays Feedback:

 

Fay’s feedback:

Here is my after thought of our discussion about the book “ In your defense”.  Truly appreciated that Florence P introduces the book for us to read and lead us for a very hot discussion.  From the book we have learn about all various court cases . Such as:

(1) Case of burgarly and sentence.

(2) Case of gay people at the public lavatory and been offend by the police.

(3)Case related with two men’s fight and also an family court of an divorce case with kid against an abusive husband.

(4)Two persons was accused for stealing , one was handicap and the other one is a girl, Sara believed they can’t possibly doing the crime, but they pleaded guilty, because there were reasons behind it.

(5) Rita’s husband steals things from people and store in their garage, the wife has to know about it , then the husband and wife should become one for better or for worse.

(6)In a situation that social workers is needed to decide a home for the best interest of child’s well being.

(7) and (8) and so on

Excuse for my lazy ness, I could not finish them all, however by scan one more time through the book, I find it that the book is very interest to read, I was wrong for the first time, because I was carried away by the tennis game on the television. Sorry about my first concept. I owe my apology to all of you girls especially to Florence Peng. Thanks again

Faye

Related Reading:

1.Sarah Langford: https://www.3pb.co.uk/barristers/sarah-langford/

2.In Your Defence: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36643245-in-your-defence

3.In Your Defence Review: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36643245-in-your-defence

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