Luke Skywalker, not guilty. That was the verdict delivered after students from the Entre Du Lacs school got up close with the legal system on Law Day at the Penticton Courthouse.
Around 90 students from the school came down on May 24 to participate in a range of activities, including mock trials of the Star Wars protagonist, tours of the cells at the courthouse and seeing what the role of sheriffs are.
The trials saw students don the robes of judges and lawyers, as well as jury members, witnesses and of course the accused mass murderer Luke Skywalker in a trial over the destruction of the Death Star.
Judge Greg Koturbash also led students through a mock bail hearing, where their teachers were facing punishment for being hard on their students. .
“I think that was my favourite part, when my teacher came in and it was just like a real court meeting,” said Jorja Kozar, one of the students. “We all had to go sit down in the gallery and we saw our teach go to detention for giving us too much homework.”
Out of the trials that were held, with multiple required because of the overwhelming response from interested students, Skywalker received not guilty verdicts with a first for Penticton’s Law Day of a hung jury in one trial.
Just like a real case, the members of the jury weighed the evidence presented to them before making their call.
“The Crown needed to prove all their points to say he was guilty, and they didn’t prove them as much as they should have,” said Brooklynn McMillan. “I had lots of fun and learned quite a bit, like how it works and stuff and how I probably don’t want to ever go to jail or have to go to court.”
Members of the local legal community shared their time with the kids inside and outside the courthouse. Kathryn Robinson, a family lawyer at Interior Law, was one of the counsel assisting in the mock trials.
“The justice system is one of the cornerstones of our society, and it’s really important to us to introduce kids at young ages to what we do in a positive and fun atmosphere,” said Robinson.
The day was part of Law Week, the national celebtration of the signing of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This was the first time the event has been able to be held since the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the changes for 2023’s celebration was a large change included a mock trial done in French, with French-speaking counsel members assisting.
The Penticton and District Bar Association and Penticton Rotary both contributed to the running of Law Day in Penticton.
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