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21 June, 2007

Magistrates' Court Mock Trial Final this weekend

Over 250 12-14 year olds from England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be appearing in Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on Saturday 23 June to take part in the National Final of the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition. Run by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with the Magistrates’ Association, the Competition is aimed at demystifying the law for year 8 and 9 pupils in a fun, interactive and educational way.

Teams from eighteen schools (see below) 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.

Each team of students will use carefully constructed witness statements to prepare the prosecution and defence of two specially written criminal cases. They will take on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates and court staff and compete against each other in a live format, with one team prosecuting and the other defending. Their performances will be judged by real magistrates and other legal professionals.

The two criminal cases will be R v Sam Beatter where the ‘defendant’ is accused of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal and R v Marty Dixon, an actual bodily harm case.

The Competition will be opened by Sir Andrew Buchanan, Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire and Tony Breslin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation. The Closing address will be given by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham, Councillor Muhammed Munir and Michael Maclay, Chair of trustees at the Citizenship Foundation.

Speaking about the Competition, Tony Breslin said “Over 95% of criminal cases, more than one million every year, 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 the National Final and we wish them all best of luck.”

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