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What’s happening in Rainbow Schools?

Mock Trial Competition Celebrates 20th Anniversary on June 11th

Grade 12 law students from six Rainbow secondary schools and a team from North Bay will take part in the Sudbury Regional Mock Trial Competition at the Sudbury Courthouse on Tuesday, June 11, 2024.

This year’s case will focus on an individual charged with “second degree murder,” contrary to s. 235(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

The Competition will begin at 8:30 am in Courtroom A, with an opening address by The Honourable Madam Justice K. Erin Cullin from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Trials in the preliminary round will take place at 9 am and 10:30 am. The championship trial follows at 12:30 pm. The awards ceremony will begin at 2:15 pm. The public is welcome to attend and photographs are permitted.

Close to 70 students from Rainbow District School Board and the Near North District School Board will compete for the Hennessy Cup – including Confederation Secondary School, Espanola High School, Lasalle Secondary School, Lockerby Composite School, Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School, Sudbury Secondary School and Chippewa Secondary School. The Hennessy Cup is named after Madam Justice Patricia C. Hennessy, who led the Mock Trial Competition since its inception in 2001. Madam Justice Hennessy continues to support this important experiential learning opportunity for students and will be present to judge the 20th anniversary championship trial this year.

The Hennessy Cup is part of the OJEN/OBA Competitive Mock Trials, a provincial program of the Ontario Bar Association and the Ontario Justice Education Network. The OBA and OJEN support competitions like the Hennessy Cup throughout the province. Teams competing in Sudbury use the same case scenario and format as other teams throughout Ontario.

The tournament is made possible with support from the Ontario Justice Education Network, Sudbury and District Law Association and local judges. This year, presiding Judges will be Regional Senior Justice Karen L. Lische, Ontario Superior Court Justice K. Erin Cullin, retired Ontario Court Justice Randall Lalande, Justice of the Peace Erin Olesen-Schinke, and Ontario Superior Court Justice Patricia Hennessy. Leading up to the event, 18 lawyers and articling students from the Greater Sudbury area, as well as three lawyers from North Bay, volunteered their time to assist and coach students as they prepared their cases. The local office of the Ministry of the Attorney General is also a strong supporter and accommodates the competition in the courthouse with both facilities and staff. To the extent possible, the students enjoy an authentic learning experience presenting their cases in actual courtrooms assisted by experienced court staff.

“The Mock Trial Competition provides high-level hands-on education, where theories learned in the classroom are tested in a real courtroom,” says Madam Justice Karen L. Lische. “Students are given the opportunity to integrate key concepts of the criminal justice system in Canada, such as the presumption of innocence and the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The skills they learn and develop during this process will serve them well in their years ahead.”

“The advocacy displayed by the students in the courtroom has been monitored and guided by volunteer members of the Sudbury District Law Association in a long-standing partnership, for which we are grateful,” says Justice K. Erin Cullin. “The schools and families of participating students should be proud of their efforts.”

Justice Cullin also credits the success of the competition to the efforts behind the scenes of the staff at the Sudbury Courthouse. “The management and staff at the Courthouse play a key role in the success of this competition. There is an extraordinary amount of co-ordination that goes on in the background to ensure that courtrooms are available and that our competition judges and volunteers are supported by courthouse staff leading up to the competition and throughout the day. Their support is an integral part of bringing the competition together.”

Students will have the opportunity to participate in trials throughout the day with the top two performing teams participating in the Championship Trial. In addition to the Hennessy Cup, a number of other awards will be presented – Best Advocate Defense, Best Advocate Crown, Best Witness and the Civility Award for professionalism. Students on each team will determine the recipient of the team’s “Most Valuable Player” who exemplifies leadership excellence.

Rainbow District School Board Chair David Farrow extends thanks to the many volunteer coaches from the Sudbury Crown Attorney’s Office and the Sudbury and District Law Association who, year after year, provide countless hours of their time to this project. “Through the competition, local lawyers are making a critical contribution to student learning by bringing the classroom into the courtroom,” he says. “As a result, many students are inspired to pursue studies in the legal field after secondary school.”

“We commend the legal community for their continued contribution. They are exceptional role models for community service and student success,” says Director of Education Bruce Bourget. “We also applaud the Ontario Justice Education Network and the Ontario Bar Association for supporting an initiative that enhances the student learning experience inside and outside of the classroom.”

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.


Media Contact:

Dr. Tiffany Roberts, Curriculum Coordinator,
Rainbow District School Board, 705-523-3308, ext. 8209.