Off the Record: Learning the courtroom ropes

Our Grade 12 law class has been learning the ins and outs of the law system in Canada.

Since school has started up this year, our Grade 12 law class has been learning the ins and outs of the law system in Canada.Countless hours have been devoted to memorizing charges,how arrests are supposed to be performed, and how our court house is set up. In the last month or so, we’ve had the opportunity to sit in on a couple of court days in Invermere. I mostly witnessed cases to do with family court and traffic violations. I’m sure it dragged on for some, with a majority of the cases before the judge adjourned until a later date for one reason or another, but I definitely enjoyed the experience.Not only did we sit in for a couple of hours the first day, but we were also given the opportunity to sit and discuss court with both the judge and the two sheriffs. The court granted us all access and gave us an idea of what working in law enforcement is really like. The class was escorted around the back of the courthouse, allowed in the cells and in the back of the sheriffs’ transport truck. I even had the opportunity to experience what it was like to get handcuffed!Our law teacher, Andrea Dunlop,had a mock-court activity planned for our class after we had experienced first-hand what a real court set-up was like. I’m sure Mrs . Dunlop’s mock trials have seen better days, but there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of fun in the courthouse,right?The class was split into two teams of crown and defense lawyers, as well as sheriffs,witnesses, a judge and myself as the court clerk. Our trial played out much like those that new lawyers must experience, with numerous silly mistakes and awkward transitions. There were changing witness statements, dramatic throwing out of evidence, and, of course, a judge more than happy to mess with the lawyers in any and all possible ways. We then got to see how the professionals do it once again,and I’ve got to tell you that they seemed a lot more seasoned than we did. Although we may not all be experts in the trade yet, we did have quite the time playing court.

Caitlin Fuller is a Grade 12 David Thompson Secondary School student volunteering one day a week at The Valley Echo and Pioneer as a student reporter.