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Mock Trial competition echoes Pistorius case

The case fought by high school students in this year's city Mock Trial Competition echoes the Oscar Pistorius trial.
Lockerby Composite School's girls' team was victorious in the city's Mock Trial Competition Jan. 11. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.
The case fought by high school students in this year's city Mock Trial Competition echoes the Oscar Pistorius trial.

Pistorius, the South African Paralympic and Olympic sprint runner from South Africa, fatally shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

The double-leg amputee — who was christened the "Bladerunner" for the special prosthetic limbs he used to run in — said he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder hiding in the bathroom. He was convicted of culpable homicide in 2014, but last year, that verdict was overturned, and he was convicted of murder.

The Mock Trial Competition's case features an aspiring Olympic curler who is charged with second-degree murder when he shoots a gun through a bathroom door, believing that a burglar is inside.

Instead, the curler's partner, who was in the bathroom, is killed.

Close to 65 students from seven local high schools participated in this year's competition Jan. 11, but the championship round was between Lockerby Composite School's girls' team and Lasalle Secondary School.

In the end, the Lockerby team, which presented the Crown's case in the championship round, was victorious.

They were presented with the Hennessy Cup, named after Justice Patricia Hennessy, who is involved in organizing the event, and who presided over the championship round.

“Congratulations, Crown,” Hennessy said, adding that both teams did a “remarkable job.”

For the first time in the competition's 16-year history, she said she would have convicted the defendant.

“On the basis of the trial I just heard, I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed murder,” Hennessy said.

Grade 12 Lockerby student Abigail White came home from the competition with a pile of hardware, as not only did her team win, but she won two individual awards — best representative of the Crown and and her school's most valuable performer.

“I've always been very passionate about law and about mock trial,” White said. “Winning here just means so much to me.”

White said she's planning to become a lawyer, and preparing for the competition has taught her a lot.

“This taught me etiquette, it taught me to be a team player, it taught me so many skills I want to learn in the law field as I'm older,” she said.

Even if students aren't planning to go into law or another field related to the criminal justice system, Lockerby law teacher Janet Laliberte said the mock trial competition is a valuable experience.

“They'll take these skills — the public speaking, the preparation, the critical thinking skills — and they'll be able to apply those in whatever field they go into,” she said.

The local competition is part of a provincial program of the Ontario Bar Association and the Ontario Justice Education Network.

The teams competing in Sudbury use the came case scenario and format as about 100 teams throughout Ontario.

The tournament is made possible with support from the Sudbury and District Law Association and local judges. This year, 21 lawyers and articling students volunteered their time to assist students as they prepared their cases.


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Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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