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21 June, 2006

Grand Final of Magistrates' Court Mock Trial Competition

Over 240 12-14 year olds will be appearing in Trafford Magistrates’ Court on Saturday 24 June to take part in the National Final of the Magistrates’ Mock Trial Competition. Teams from sixteen schools from around England, Wales and Northern Ireland have fought off stiff competition at local and regional heats earlier this year to make it through to Saturday’s grand final.

Run by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with the Magistrates’ Association, the Competition aims to demystify the law for 12-14 year olds by providing first hand experience of the legal system. Each team of students will take on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates and court staff and battle it out in a live format. Their performances will be judged by real magistrates and other legal professionals.

Students will prepare the case for the prosecution and the case for the defence using two specially written criminal cases. These will be R v Danny Cook and R v Toni Mitchell - ‘Danny Cook’ is charged with a racially aggravated assault at a football match between England and Scotland, while ‘Toni Mitchell’ will stand accused of joyriding.

The Competition will be opened by the Mayor of Trafford, Cllr Mrs Vivien Ward and Tony Breslin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation. The Closing address will be given by David Greensmith, Director of Legal Services, Justices Clerk for Greater Manchester, and President of the Justices Clerk Society. The prizes will be awarded by Magistrate and Script Writer for Coronation Street Darren Little.

Tony Breslin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation said

“Over 95% of criminals cases are dealt with by magistrates, yet very few people know enough about their vital role. The Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition offers young people a hands-on introduction to the legal system, the role of magistrates' courts in local justice and how laws are administered. All the teams taking part today have done really well to make it to today’s National Final and we wish them all best of luck. I for one am looking forward to seeing them in action.”

As well as being an interesting and engaging way of exploring specific legal issues using active learning, the competition enables teachers to deliver key elements of the citizenship curriculum.

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