After months of rehearsing, preparing and practicing two criminal cases, we finally had the honour of progressing to the National Finals of the Magistrates’ Mock Trial Competition held in the Royal Courts of Justice in London. This year, we managed to win both the local and regional heats of the competition and it was an absolutely amazing experience to be able to try our cases for the final time in real courts.
We caught a train early on Saturday morning that took us up to London and from there we walked to the Courts. The Great Hall, which was the first room we walked into, was a spectacular, huge space with beautiful stained-glass windows and enormous stone pillars and staircases - it was both inspiring and intimidating!
We had just over an hour to prepare ourselves for our first trial which was R v Young, a case about a student who had been accused of theft of an Iphone X, whilst on a moped. It was the job of our defence lawyers to make sure the Magistrates could not be sure of their guilt, with reasonable doubt quite easy to create from identification evidence. We also met Shaun Wallace (from ITV’s The Chase), he was a judge in the local heats in Worthing and remembered us from then. He told us that, even though he was unbiased, we were his favourite school!
In the first case, our school was represented by the defence, meaning that we took in two defence lawyers, two defence witnesses, a court usher and three magistrates from our team. The court itself was huge with a beautiful wooden interior and was lined with lots of old books of law but it had a sinister feel with metal bars around the dock which separated the defendant from the rest of the court. We faced some tough opposition from the prosecution, who were from another school, but we managed to achieve a not guilty verdict from the Magistrates. We were all pleased with how it had gone.
After the lunch break we had our next trial, which was R v Smith, a case about a young person who had been accused of assaulting a taxi driver. This case was represented by the prosecution from our school and in the trial the prosecution lawyers valiantly argued the Crown’s case which was that the defendant had assaulted the taxi driver. They faced tough opposition from the defence who were from another school.
During both trials, there were judges who marked each section or person out of a score of ten, which would later determine who had won the competition. Once all of the schools had gathered in the Great Hall, we were told the results of the finals. Unfortunately, we didn’t win but we are so pleased to have been able to take part in the competition and delighted to have been placed in the top 16 in the country out of the 230 schools that applied.
On the way back, we stopped for a lovely meal and then got on the train where we played a big game of UNO!
We have had an amazing time preparing for the competition and have loved every minute we have spent preparing our cases and arguing them in court. Even though we didn’t win, we are still very proud to have reached the finals. It has been an incredible experience and we have made some great friends through it. We are so grateful to Mr Thomas and Mrs Duke for giving us this opportunity and teaching and helping us to get all of the way to the finals.
This experience has sparked an interest in law for all of us and there could be some potential lawyers of the future among us!
Alex Webb (9Burrows) and Iona Hamilton (8Story)