Headlines: June 23rd, 2008

Over 250 12-14 year olds from around the UK appeared in Leeds Magistrates’ Court on Saturday 21st June 2008. They were taking part in the National Final of the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition run by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with the Magistrates’ Association.

Over 300 schools and 5000 young people entered the competition which started in September 2007. The finalists, who made up 18 teams, survived local and regional heats. The winning team was Penyrheol Comprehensive School, Swansea. The runner up was Colchester County High School for Girls.

The teams used carefully constructed witness statements to prepare the prosecution and defence of two specially written criminal cases. Students took on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates and court staff and competed against each other in a live format, with one team prosecuting and the other defending. Their performances were judged by real magistrates and other legal professionals.

The day started with a harassment case involving a land dispute. The second case involved a drink driving where the accused had recently passed the driving test and crashed a car after consuming alcohol above the limit.