Grade 11 and 12 students recently participated in a mock trial for their Law class. Picking real-life cases from the Justice Education Society of BC, the girls used three blocks of class time to prepare for the trials.
The Block G class chose R. vs. Hudson. Michael Hudson was accused of first degree murder of his mother-in-law. His defence was that he was sleepwalking and therefore lacked the intent to be criminally responsible. During the mock trial, the girls found that there was not enough evidence to proceed with a first degree change. Instead, they found Hudson guilty of second degree murder as they did not believe his sleepwalking defence. Hudson was sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of parole for 10 years.
In real life, the accused was acquitted as it was proven by neurological experts that he was sleepwalking. This was a precedent setting case that first established sleepwalking as a defence.
The case the Block H class chose was R. v. Girard. Nicole Girard shot her live-in boyfriend from behind and was charged with second degree murder. She claimed self-defence; she was in an abusive relationship and constantly feared for her life. At the mock trial, Nicole Girard was found guilty of manslaughter. The girls recognized that Girard did suffer from “battered woman syndrome” and reduced her charge from second degree murder. Manslaughter carries no minimum sentence and as such, the girls decided to only imprison Girard for one year, in recognition of her years of abuse.
In real life, the accused was acquitted. This was also a precedent setting case that first recognized “battered woman syndrome” as a means of self-defence.
The mock trial is an excellent culminating experience of the criminal law unit. The girls can apply everything they have learned about various offences (and the key elements needed for a successful conviction); the various defences (and the key elements needed to prove those); as well as understanding courtroom roles (lawyers, judges, witnesses, etc.) and the criminal trial process.
The students were very passionate about the project and did a superb job!
Social Studies / Law Teacher