On Saturday April 25, 60 Kelowna Girl Guides were arrested, lodged in cells, and tried in a crowded courtroom on charges of car theft, destruction of personal property and trespassing. To the relief of their families and friends the girls were found not guilty after a lively trial. The judge accepted that they were just trying to do a good turn when they accidentally set a car in motion, saw it damage a house and garden, and tried unsuccessfully to make things better. Fortunately for the Girl Guide movement, the whole exercise was part of Law Day 2015 in Kelowna - the charges were trumped up, and it was a mock trial designed to teach the participants about the criminal justice system. The Guides got an up-close view of a criminal court and found it an eye-opening experience.
This was just one of the events held at the Kelowna courthouse for Law Day. Groups from the community contributed hot dogs, snacks and drinks while local lawyers tended the BBQ. In addition to displays set up by 12 social service agencies, various RCMP units, fire department, and emergency services showed off their equipment. Sirens blared whenever children found the right button. Provincial Court Judges provided passports to be stamped at each station, and children whose passports were fully stamped earned a chocolate reward.
Judges Anne Wallace and Lisa Wyatt hosted “Ask a Judge” in a courtroom. Visitors were able to speak to the judges as they sat in their robes on the bench, and ask about those things they’d always wanted to know but were afraid to ask. Events at the courthouse were very well attended. Judge Anne Wallace said, “It was obvious that members of the public are interested in how the justice system works, and wanted to see it firsthand. It really was a wonderful day!”
Courtrooms in British Columbia are generally open to the public and people can sit in our courtrooms and watch court proceedings. To find the nearest courthouse, see Court Locations