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10th anniversary: Students participate in Mock Trial January 10, 2011

Close to 110 students in Grade 12 will don legal gowns at the Sudbury Courthouse on Monday, January 10, 2011, when the Mock Trial Competition marks its 10th anniversary in Sudbury. Participating school boards include the Rainbow District School Board, the Sudbury Catholic District School Board and the Conseil scolaire catholique du Nouvel-Ontario.

“We are proud of the accomplishments of the graduates of the Mock Trial program,” says Madame Justice Patricia C. Hennessy. “We know that the Mock Trial experience has sharpened their oral argument and critical thinking skills which prepare them for further study or to make a contribution to community life.”

Secondary schools participating in the 2011 competition include Chelmsford Valley District Composite School, Confederation Secondary School, Espanola High School, Lasalle Secondary School, Lockerby Composite School, Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School, Sudbury Secondary School, St. Benedict’s Secondary School, St. Charles College, and Collège Notre Dame. 

For the Mock Trial, students will prosecute and defend the case of Her Majesty the Queen versus Alex Sebastian. Alex Sebastian stands charged that s/he, on or about the 1st day of October, 2010 in the City of Yourtown in the Region of Yourtown, did, while her/his ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by alcohol or a drug, did operate a motor vehicle, contrary to S.253(a) of the Criminal Code.

Participants will be vying for the coveted Hennessy Cup, named after Madame Justice Patricia C. Hennessy, Mock Trial Project Leader since its inception a decade ago. A number of additional awards will be presented – Best Advocate Defense, Best Advocate Crown, Best Witness and the Civility Award for courtroom decorum.

Rainbow District School Board Chair, Tyler Campbell, thanks the volunteer coaches from the Sudbury and District Law Association and the Sudbury Crown Attorney’s Office who, year after year, provide hundreds of hours of time to this project.  “As we mark the 10th anniversary of the local Mock Trial Competition, we celebrate and thank the local lawyers who continue to make an invaluable contribution to student learning, taking it from the classroom to the courtroom.”

He adds: “Over the years, local lawyers have ignited in many students a passion for the law, inspiring them to work hard in university and continue their studies in law school.  As an added benefit, students see first-hand the community service commitment that these professionals make, which enhances and enriches our community.”

The Mock Trial Competition is well established within the Grade 12 Law curriculum. In addition to meeting curriculum expectations, mock trials develop other skills in students, including public speaking, teamwork, presentation, preparation and critical thinking skills.

“Open courts and open justice are necessary for citizens to have confidence in the administration of justice.  Most people will not go to courts to watch trials. They are more likely to read about them in newspapers or other media,” says Justice Hennessy. “As these students prepare their own trial and act out a full case, they see how the fundamental principles of proof beyond reasonable doubt and the presumption of innocence affect both the prosecutor and the defense.”

She adds: “This experience increases their understanding of the process and allows them to follow media reports of local or national events with a critical eye. It is our hope that these students will be engaged citizens, whose experience of the court process will give them an understanding of important events in the life of the community.  We also know that this experience creates confident advocates, whether as students, citizens or professionals.”

The Mock Trial Competition will begin at 8:30 am in Courtroom A, with an opening address by area judges. (Observers must arrive on time in order to gain entry for this portion of the proceedings.) Trials will continue throughout the day and culminate with the championship trial at 3:30 pm. The Awards Ceremony will begin at 5 pm. The public is welcome to attend. Photographs will be permitted throughout the proceedings.

Local winners will go on to the Northeastern Mock Trial Competition to be held in early March. Regional winners will compete in the province-wide finals in Toronto in the spring.

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Media Contact:
Tiffany Roberts, Curriculum Co-ordinator,
Rainbow District School Board, 705-523-3308, ext. 8209.