For the Justice Education Society, September means gearing up its Justice System Education Program (JSEP) to introduce BC students and others to the province’s courts. For over 25 years, the Society has helped students learn about the rule of law and engage in experiential learning about the justice system. In 2014-2015, the JSEP introduced 19,000 students to BC courts. Judges and lawyers made over 400 presentations to some 700 groups.
The program offers teachers and students a wide range of activities. But many of its options are also available to service clubs, community groups, and others interested in the court system.
Photo credit: Justice Education Society of BC
Court orientations provide an introduction to BC’s court system - how it works, why it is important, and the legal terms and concepts used in court. The Society’s coordinators have years of experience working within the courts. They provide information about court protocol, the structure of BC’s justice system, and on topical subjects like cyberbullying, gang violence, legal capacity and more.
Students and other groups go to courtrooms to watch real trials in progress and to observe the different roles of justice system professionals - judges, lawyers, sheriffs and court clerks. Participants may see witnesses and an accused person in court. They have the chance to see first-hand the practice of justice as it unfolds in actual cases in Provincial and Supreme Court.
Teachers tell the Society that this experiential learning is often the most impactful field trip their students take.
Hundreds of judges, lawyers, sheriffs and other justice system professionals volunteer their time through the program to meet with students and other groups and share information about their careers. Participants have the chance to ask questions about their work and their roles in the justice system.
Dave Nolette, the Justice Education Society’s Digital Projects Director, acknowledges the central importance of the support provided by BC judges and lawyers for the last quarter-century. “This program could not happen without the generosity of those who work in the system”, he points out.
Simulated trials are a highlight for students visiting the courts. These mock trials teach students about the legal process and provide an unforgettable experiential learning opportunity. Students of all ages can dress up in costumes and take on roles in a variety of trials – from a gang trial to a trial of Little Red Riding Hood for breaking and entering. Groups can even arrange to perform their trial in a real courtroom.
Book a Court Visit
Teachers and others can use the Justice Education Society’s website to book court visits by telephone, or for some court locations, online. If your service club, book club, or other group would like to visit a courthouse and arrange a Q & A session contact the Justice Education Society.
The Justice Education Society
The Justice Education Society of BC is a non-profit organization that creates innovative programs and resources to improve access to and understanding of British Columbia’s justice system. Its website offers a wealth of information, videos and self-help tools for teachers, families going through separation, youth, First Nations, Small Claims litigants, immigrants, victims and others.