Susan Wright

Year of Call: 2013

“Susan is a fearless fighter, defending the underdog and insisting their rights are protected. A sharp and clever advocate.”

Liz Sargeant, Needham Poulier

“The most outstanding very junior advocate at the Bar. She deals with the most difficult of clients with respect and care. I really couldn’t recommend her enough.”

Lydia Dagostino, Kellys Solicitors

Contact

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Susan Wright is a crime and human rights barrister and an American lawyer whose career has included representing one of the first accused at the war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone as well as the first accused in the United States facing the death penalty after a cold hit DNA match.

Criminal Defence (Mental Health, Youth, Protest)

Overview

In addition to serious crime, Susan is experienced at dealing with clients requiring additional support, including youths and those with mental health difficulties.

She acts for clients detained in high security, other forensic services and general psychiatric unites and helps young people (under 18 years) detained under the Mental Health Act. With knowledge of all aspects of mental health and criminal law, she is skilled in deadline with medical experts and clinically complex areas of law. This enables her to provide expert advice on sentencing, hospital orders, diversion, fitness to plead, diminished responsibility, insanity, drug induced psychosis and automatism.

She represents youth charged with serious offences and is particularly skilled at taking judges through the complex sentencing guidelines and authorities, highlighting alternative sentences wherever possible.

Notable Cases

Notable cases

Mentally Unwell

R v MP, Harrow Crown Court (2018)
Represent defendant charged with rape of 12-year-old whose ABE the Crown seek to rely upon, on basis of unfitness by virtue of a 'mental condition'.

R v EK, Oxford Crown Court (2018)
Led by Clare Wade QC, represented first defendant charged with violating 44(1)(b) of Mental Capacity Act, following the death of her mother. There were complex issues of capacity which were the subject of repeated submissions during trial. The Court of Appeal ultimately reversed the conviction, accepting those submissions. The case received national news coverage including the BBC, Metro and Gazette.

R v SA, Croydon Crown Court (2018)
Represent defendant charged with sexual assault, relying upon defence of non-insane automatism in the form of “sexsomnia”.

R v AA, Inner London Crown Court (2017)
Mentally unwell defendant convicted of Sec 18 GBH, Aggravated burglary and ABH, sentenced to Hospital Order.

R v MM, Oxford Crown Court (2017)
Led by Di Middleton QC, successfully defended on the basis that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 'Battered Person Syndrome'. The case received national news coverage, including the BBC, ITV and Metro.

R v MA, Croydon Crown Court (2016)
Mentally unwell defendant charged with dwelling burglary granted bail and released from civil commitment.

R v FW, Croydon Magistrates’ Court (2016)
Assault conviction of vulnerable and mentally unwell defendant successfully re-opened and defendant given absolute discharge.

Youth

R v KK, Harrow Crown Court (2018)
Vulnerable defendant acquitted of Firearms Act offence.

R v LS, Luton Crown Court (2018)
Represented defendant charged with Attempted GBH and Affray who was 17 at the time of the offence and 18 at the time of sentencing. The case received national news coverage, including the BBCDaily Telegraph, and Daily Mail

R v JM, Lewes Crown Court (2017)
Youth charged with multiple counts of rape of 4-year old complainant. Sentenced to Youth Rehabilitation Order.

R v TA, Harrow Crown Court (2017)
Youth charged with kidnapping and rape of 12-year old stranger. The case received national news coverage, including the BBC.

Protest

R v NS, Chelmsford Crown Court (2018)
Represent one of the Stansted 15, charged with violating the Aviation and Maritime Security Act.

R v MH, Lewes Crown Court (2018)
Represent defendant charged with multiple Stalking offences stemming from monitoring the movement of a hunt club’s hounds.

R v MG, Reading Magistrates’ Court (2017): Successfully challenged the lawfulness of a Section 60AA Order, defendant acquitted of Refusing to remove face covering.

R v BW, Cardiff Crown Court (2017): Represented protester at Weapons Fair acquitted of Assault PC in circumstances where he was intervening to protect another protester from a PC using excessive force. 

R v NW, Westminster Magistrates’ Court (2015)
Represented first defendant prosecuted for flying drones in violation of Air Navigation Order (Guardian). Susan was interviewed by Joshua Rozenberg on the subject of drones and was featured in BBC Radio 4 Law in Action.

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Administrative and Public Law

In addition to crime she has a Public Law practice, acting for defendants, NGOs and other organisations, building on her experience in the NGO sector.

As the Director of Rights Watch (UK) she was responsible for advocacy, campaigning and strategic litigation to hold the UK government to account for human rights abuses in conflict settings. Her evidence to the Select Committee on Inquiries Act 2005 was repeatedly cited in their report and recommendations.

As Director of Médecins du Monde UK she oversaw delivery of humanitarian aid and submitted evidence at the UN level (Human Rights Commission, Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants) and European level (Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights).

Public Law - terrorism and countering extremism

National College of Teaching and Leadership v WH (2016): Represented teacher charged with professional misconduct as a result of his role in the ‘Trojan Horse’ affair. All but one allegation dismissed, no further action taken despite NCTL seeking lifetime prohibition (BBC).

  • Acts for individual subjected to torture while in detention for Terrorism offences
  • Advises medical professionals on applicability of Prevent duty 
  • Drafted Prevent Referral Policy for charity with 75 frontline staff
  • Advised parents of children subject to Prevent referrals
  • Advised charity in connection with ongoing Charity Commission investigation
  • Advised individuals subject to Security Services harassment
  • Developed and delivered training on Rights and Obligations Under Schedule 7

As Head of Rule of Law for the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia, advised the Bosnian government on the applicability of human rights standards on domestic criminal legal framework and helped developed the policy and legal framework which enable national courts to try war crimes case in conformity with national and international standards.

The Prosecutor v AK, Special Court for Sierra Leone (2007): Represented client accused of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and grave breaches of the Geneva Convention. Had primary responsibility for preparation of research memoranda and pleadings, including trial brief.

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Publications

Chapter author on Health and Human Rights textbook The Right to Health, Theory and Practice (Studentlitteratur) 2012.

Chapter author, Law and Mental Health Professionals (APA Publishing) 2002.

Training and Seminars

Gaza: a legal analysis and response (The School of Law at Queen Mary University, London 2014).

International Obligations to Investigate Human Rights Violations (Doughty Street, London 2014).

Represented Israel in debate on legality of Gaza conflict, Society of Asian Lawyers (2014)

Fulbright Professor, University of Sarajevo Law School, International Criminal Law (2002-2005)

Awards

Fulbright Scholar

Marquand Prize

Harvard University Merit Scholar

Howard University Merit Scholar

United States

Susan is admitted to practice in New York and Massachusetts. She worked for five years as a court-appointed lawyer in the US where she represented a juvenile charged with capital murder in a trial that raised novel DNA issues. She represented defendants in over 500 trials, on charges ranging from sexual offences to complex financial conspiracy. She was often required to research, brief, and argue issues of first impression.

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Education

  • Harvard University (Master's)

  • Howard University (Juris Doctor)

  • Muhlenberg College (First degree)

Languages

  • French
  • Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian

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