Nov 18 2009 by Iain Howie, Stirling Observer Wednesday
FOR the past five years Stirling Sheriff Court has been giving students a glimpse of how things run behind the scenes.
As well as trips to the cells and the custody van, the mini trials event includes a mock trial, where willing students at the schools involved take up the roles of sheriff, fiscal depute, defence solicitor, clerk, court officer, police, witnesses and the accused. Pupils are also invited to take on the role of the court reporting journalist and asked if they want to submit their account of the day to the Stirling Observer.
This year’s winning entry is that is St Modan’s High School pupil Lisa Feeney. Her viewpoint of the day’s proceedings is below.
“The third of November, just another typical school day for most but not for a select few from St Modan’s, Stirling and Wallace High Schools.
“We were engaged in a programme set up to develop awareness of how the criminal justice system works. For us at St Modan’s, where 29 pupils took part, this entailed two visits to actual court hearings and then participating in a mini trial designed and written for our school group.
“Pupils from each school played the variety of roles involved in a trial from victim and accused to sheriff and prison officers.
“The case was based on an incident that is far too common nowadays: knife crime. The mini trial highlighted the danger of knife crime to the youth of today.
“I was thrilled to take my place as the press representative for the day and write this report. It has given me an understanding of how difficult a journalist’s job is and how to decide what is important information and what is irrelevant.
“From a personal perspective I have found it to be an enriching experience as I got to meet a professional journalist from the Stirling Observer (Iain Howie) who passed on some pearls of wisdom during his time with us.
“The trial went very well and showed a lot of potential for the pupils to pursue careers of the judicial system. Each pupil received help from a member of the judicial system during the trial to make sure the case ran smoothly.
“The accused, our own depute head girl Emily McColl, pleading her innocence, opened the trial with an unconvincing story about bird-watching in Thistle Park. She claimed she was clothed identically to the vast majority in the park. She was quite readily convicted as guilty from this story with the majority of the jury in disbelief of her innocence.
“Defence lawyer Michalina Rebisz-Bahra made an attempt to save her client from being put in custody, but failed. She then watched her client being dragged to the depths of the court where she was imprisoned in the cells.
“It was a tough experience for our depute head girl but I think she has recovered from the trauma.
“Overall, the mini trial was a brilliant example of how a courtroom works and was a highly valuable experience.
“Due to the hard work and co-operation from the Procurator Fiscal, Stirling Sheriff Court and its hard-working staff we have been able to participate as a community in this event for the past five years.”