Around British Columbia Provincial Court judges engaged with their communities during Law Week. Some judged mock trials in which students acted as witnesses, lawyers, and court staff in trials of Harry Potter, Superman or Peter Rabbit. Others participated in public panels, open discussions, or question and answer sessions.
For example, at the Victoria Courthouse on April 18th Provincial Court Judge Adrian Brooks, Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Gaul and Master Carolyn Bouck spoke to a standing room only crowd on access to justice. The judicial officers outlined their different roles and discussed the challenge of providing accessible justice. The audience responded with lively questions. The session concluded with a straw poll on whether or not court proceedings should be televised. An overwhelming majority favoured televising!
In Kamloops, Judge Stella Frame was delighted to preside over the trial of R. v. Superman, accused of break and enter. He was alleged to have broken down a brick wall to a warehouse where Lois Lane was held by armed men about to shoot her. Local lawyers argued the case. The jury of at least 12 (although it seemed more like 30) eager children accepted Superman’s testimony that the wall broke without his help and found him “not guilty”.
Superman thanks Judge Stella Frame
Judges Len Marchand and Steve Harrison conducted a session of “Ask a Judge” where children and adults could explore a court room and question the two judges about judging, lawyering and the like. Beavers, Cubs, Sparks and Brownies were present in large numbers, some working hard on their law badges.
Also in Kamloops, Judge Rose Raven met with a group of first year students from Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Law School to discuss the role of judges and the experience of students in a relatively new law school. The students had recently completed their first “moot” (a mock appeal case in which students present arguments and are judged by members of the local bar and judiciary). They were inspired by the performance of TRU students who recently won the BC Law Schools Competitive Moot.
Judge Raven and TRU students
Meanwhile, in North Vancouver Judges Joanne Challenger, Bryce Dyer and William Rodgers participated in panels discussing family court, First Nations court, criminal court process and an orientation to Canadian courts for newcomers at the courthouse open house. In Vancouver, Judge Carmen Rogers took part in a question and answer session at the conclusion of a Law Court tour. And on Bowen Island, Judge Judith Gedye moderated an open meeting on the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision on assisted suicide. Judge Gedye summarized the evidence heard by the trial judge and the reasons of the Supreme Court before participants discussed the issues. They left with Judge Gedye’s strong recommendation that they read the Court’s well written decision.
These are just some of the ways in which Provincial Court judges work to inform people about the justice system. Law Week activities continue – the Grinch goes on trial in Terrace on Friday April 24th, Girl Guides are the defendants in a Kelowna mock trial on Saturday April 25th, and the Fort St. John Courthouse open house on April 25th includes free hot dogs!