Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Magistrate Court Mock Trial Debate 2015/2016

Hello! My name is Amy and I am a year 7 student reporter.

On Saturday 19th March 2016 I joined the students of years 8 and 9 to take part in the Coventry Magistrate Court Mock Trial Debate. I learnt that each team needed to have 12 students who played different roles including prosecution and defence lawyers, prosecution and defence witnesses, legal advisers and magistrates.

It was a cloudy but dry Saturday morning. We all arrived at the Magistrate Court before 10:00am feeling excited and nervous. It was our school’s first time taking part and there was no wonder why Mrs Nguyen took us to the wrong entrance! We managed to find our way to the Court at the end.

In the first round our year 8 met the year 9 from Rugby Grammar School. Everything was new and strange to many of us. We were divided into two teams: Prosecution and Defence and went into two different rooms. The two teams of magistrates went to sit with a real Magistrate who helped us to run the debate.

In the court room, we saw the long bench where the magistrates from two schools sat, in our round it was of course our Whitley Academy one side and Rugby Grammar School the other side. The bench was placed beneath a royal coat of arms (which of course showed that the work of the court was done in the name of the Crown). We were told that when the magistrates entered the courtroom, it is customary to stand to show respect for the magistrates.

In front of the magistrates sat the legal adviser, our Sean Walton of year 8. Sean had to read out a long statement during the second part of the trial.

The Rugby Grammar school surprised me about the way they acted. Their defence lawyers spoke up with very loud voices and it seemed they had a lot of time to prepare beforehand. I was very impressed. Their defence lawyers kept being reminded by the Magistrate to avoid asking leading questions. We then learnt we should not ask leading questions, in a way, it meant we should focus on facts that were written in the statements of witnesses and defendants.

After the questioning part, all the six magistrates were taken away to discuss the final verdict.

Around 20 minutes later we welcomed the magistrate panel back into the room. The verdict was read out: NOT GUILTY.

After a short break we entered the second round of the competition. It’s the year 9’s turn. And it’s now time for the result of the competition. Everyone gathered in the main entrance to the Magistrate Court. We were very excited and nervous even Mrs Nguyen told us the most important issue was taking part. We realised we have learnt a lot on the day. 

This is the reflection from our team members: 

Michal (Prosecution witness): 
"This was something completely new to everyone including Mrs Nguyen."

Amy (Magistrate): 
“My favourite bit was when the magistrates went into another room to discuss if the defendant was guilty or not guilty.”

Holly (Defence lawyer): 
“It’s an amazing experience for all of us. My favourite part was when the defendant and witnesses went to the stand and were questioned by the lawyers.” 

At the end of the day we found out that we did not win the competition. However the Best Magistrate prize went to our Kian Rose of year 8