What’s the connection between judges and Star Wars?

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BC Provincial Court judges spent evenings and weekends meeting the public in a variety of Law Week activities earlier this month. Around the province there was a distinct Star Wars theme to some of the activities.

For example, in Victoria on Saturday April 16 from 10:00 to 5:00, Law Day included tours of the courthouse cells, displays of a sheriff’s van and police vehicles, and a K-9 demonstration. Provincial Court Judges Carmen Rogers and Adrian Brooks joined Supreme Court Master Carolyn Bouck in a panel to speak about the judicial system and their roles in it and answer questions posed by members of the public.

Judge Rogers than donned her judicial robes to preside at a mock trial. This year Poe Dameron and Finn were charged with theft and mischief for stealing a TIE fighter, damaging the Star Destroyer, and destroying the planet Jukku. Local lawyers and Crown staff played the roles of counsel and witnesses, with young jurors selected from the audience. About 340 people attended these Law Day events in Victoria, with great representation from local Scouting groups.

Star Wars accused and witnesses in Victoria

Judge Rogers next displayed her stamina and energy by presiding as judge in the finals of the BC Provincial High School Mock Trial Competition. 150 students, coaches and parents took part in or watched the competition. Two teams from Glenlyon Norfolk School in Victoria faced off in the finals – a desirable outcome for any school.

In Kamloops, Law Day activities took place from 5:00 to 8:00 pm on Tuesday April 12. Events included a treasure hunt, cell tours, and a K-9 demonstration. After presiding in court all day, Judge Len Marchand spoke to Sparks, Brownies, Girl Guides, Beavers, Cubs, Scouts, and other members of the community young and old. He covered the topics necessary for Guides to obtain their “Law Awareness” badges and then was lucky enough to present the badges. Obviously an engaging speaker, Judge Marchand was kept busy for two hours speaking to groups and individuals and answering questions ranging from the qualifications needed to become a police officer to “why laws are not dumb” to the types of cases the Provincial Court deals with and the “worst” and “weirdest” cases he has heard.

In Kamloops, it was Luke Skywalker who was on trial for treason and willful destruction of property before BC Supreme Court Justice Sheri Donegan. Courtroom 2D was packed, with children sitting in the aisle and even outside the doors. Luke was charged with 5,999 counts of murder arising from his destruction of the Empire’s Death Star. Witnesses for the Crown included an RCMP officer, a storm trooper, the Emperor, and Darth Vader. The defence called Princess Leia, Han Solo and Luke himself as witnesses – all in character and in costume. The audience served as jury. Since it could not reach a unanimous decision, the judge broke the tie and acquitted young Skywalker, finding the evidence did not prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Haida Gwaii celebrated Law Week for the first time this year on April 11, with students from the local high school participating in a courthouse tour and a scavenger hunt in Masset. Displays in the courthouse foyer offered students the opportunity to talk to volunteers involved in the justice system, including an RCMP member and a Legal Services Society representative.

Judge Seidemann presiding in Masset mock trial
Photo credit: InnoNative Media & Design

Judge Herman Seidemann III, the regular circuit court judge in Masset and Queen Charlotte City, took part in a panel discussion of careers in the justice system. He and other panelists emphasized the opportunities for people from small, remote communities to study for and become part of the justice system, and then to return to work in small communities. Judge Seidemann also conducted a mock trial in which “the glove did not fit, and the judge was required to acquit”.

During the day, Suzette Narbonne, President of the Legal Service Society, and Jennifer Chow, President of the Canadian Bar Association - BC Branch, spoke to the students about their organizations’ activities in smaller communities.

Chief Judge Crabtree and students at Law Day in Masset
Photo credit: InnoNative Media & Design

Chief Judge Thomas Crabtree also attended Law Day in Masset. He said, “The Law Day event provides a wonderful opportunity for justice system participants to interact with students and teachers in "an up close and personal way" and to demonstrate the important role law plays in every BC community each and every day. The presentations by the police officer, restorative justice worker, indigenous lawyer and judge in Masset put a human face on the justice system and showed the dedication and passion that those who work in the system bring to their work.”