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High school students get hands-on experience of Canadian legal system

High school students compete in a mock trial in a Barrie court room on Thurs. April 27, 2023 (Jonathan Guignard/CTV News Barrie) High school students compete in a mock trial in a Barrie court room on Thurs. April 27, 2023 (Jonathan Guignard/CTV News Barrie)

Students from across Simcoe Muskoka were in Barrie Thursday putting their knowledge of the legal system to the test with the help of some well-versed experts.

The annual Simcoe Muskoka Mock Trial Competition took over the courtrooms Thursday evening for the first time since the pandemic. The event sees high school students from across the region act out a mock trial in front of real justices.

"It's great for them to be in a real courthouse, being up facing each other with a real judge presiding," said Justice Stacey Nichols. "If the students are interested in law, I think it's an invaluable experience for them to actually go through this process."

The students were given a fact scenario and had been practicing for months. They take on roles including defence, crown and witnesses, understanding how Canada's legal system operates.

"It was really nerve-wracking, but I think so far we're doing pretty well," said Cassidy Collins, a grade 12 student. "We spent a lot of time on this working hard, working late nights, meetings, lots of it and just trying to put together our case and win."

Eight teams were battling to win the contest, with a total of four mock trials happening. Crown attorneys, defence lawyers and court staff all volunteered their time to help make the competition possible.

Maddy Chiasson says while it started as just a fun activity, she has developed an interest in potentially chasing a future career in law.

"Doing this mock trial it's really interesting," the grade 11 student said. "We got to work with really amazing lawyers who prepped us on everything we needed to know and made us really comfortable with the environment we were in, despite the fact that all of us were super nervous!"

Two Ontario Court of Justice Judges and two Superior Court of Justice Judges volunteered their time in the competition. Top Stories


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