Deaths in Custody
All lawyers at Bhatt Murphy find time for the privilege of working with families of those who have died in custody or other controversial circumstances. We have devoted our resources in particular to deaths in custody by reason of restraint or self harm. We work closely with non-governmental organisations outside the court room to highlight patterns of preventable deaths and to contribute to public debate in this regard in order to achieve progressive change.
It is our experience that the primary objective of any bereaved family in such a case is to find out as much information as possible about the circumstances of the death; to make sense out of their grief at the loss of their loved one; and to ensure that lessons are learnt from their own tragedy so that others may not have to suffer as they might have done.
In that light, our work with a bereaved family is shaped by the need to ensure that they are able to understand, participate in and contribute to the entire process whereby the circumstances of the death are to be ascertained on behalf of the state and, thereby, on behalf of the public at large.
To that end, we provide advice, assistance and representation in relation to the initial investigation into the death, and any inquest that might have to take place before a Coroner's Court. Throughout, we liaise with those responsible in an effort to encourage a process that is as open, transparent and accountable as possible.
From the outset, we help the family to direct to the relevant state agencies all necessary questions and requests for relevant documents. We work closely with independent pathologists and other relevant experts to ensure that all available forensic evidence has been captured and interpreted properly. Where appropriate, we seek to ensure that any other independent evidence that might be available from witnesses is obtained and made available to the official investigation.
In the event that individual officers are suspected of having caused or contributed to the death, actively or through a failure to take care, we seek to ensure that those officers are brought to account for their conduct. Where necessary, we provide advice, assistance and representation in relation to any formal complaint process that kight have to be initiated or any challenge that may have to be brought against decisions made by the relevant authorities.
At an appropriate stage, we provide advice, assistance and representation in relation to other routes to achieve redress, including claims for compensation where necessary.