Penticton students learn legal system basics at local courthouse

Kids learn legal savvy

Casey Richardson

It was "Law Day" at the Penticton courthouse Wednesday, where middle and high school students learned the ins-and-outs of the justice system.

Students from KVR École Entre-Lacs schools were led through a mock trial, a fitness test used for law enforcement, learning activities, and a service dog demonstration.

“We did a bunch of physical stuff like an obstacle course and the beep test and push-ups and planks. Then we went into one of the police trucks and then we learned how to cuff people with handcuffs. And I also got cuffed,” Ella Sandham, a seventh-grade student at École Entre-Lacs, said.

“And we learned what [law enforcement officers] do in certain situations when [they] can pull out [their] gun or baton or something, and stuff like that.”

Kathryn Robinson, a family lawyer at Interior Law, said the day is important to use as an opportunity to introduce kids at young ages to what the legal system entails, but in a positive and fun atmosphere.

“The courthouse and the justice system is one of the cornerstones in our society,” she said. “We want to introduce kids as early as possible, and we want it to be a positive experience for them.”

One group participated in a bail hearing where their teacher was looking for bail after allegedly giving too much homework.

Students from École Entre-Lacs also had fun holding a Star Wars-themed mock trial for Luke Skywalker, who was put on the stand for 5,999 murders after exploding the Death Star.

Grade 8 students Aubrey Whitney and Bella Woodbeck said their favourite part of the day was acting out scenes in the courtroom.

Their group found Skywalker ‘not guilty.’

Whitney said she enjoyed her role as the judge for the day.

“I had to say a lot. It was a lot to say. I don't know how they [real judges] would memorize all of that,” she said, adding a career in the courts may be in her future.

“I was actually thinking about it and it seems pretty interesting to be a part of the law.”

Woodbeck echoed that sentiment.

“I’d be more interested in the court career. But the sheriff career is not my kind of thing. But a court career sounds fun because it's so intense,” she added.

Provincial Crown counsel, members of the local bar, judiciary and courthouse staff all participated in showing the kids the ropes of their work.

“It's a nice fun way to introduce the kids to the aspects of law and our legal system and what kind of happens,” Ryu Okayama, a litigation lawyer with KOKM Lawyers, said.

“There are children that interact with the criminal justice system, youth criminal justice system, as well as through family law. And I think even though, hopefully, you don't have to interact with the criminal justice system or any justice system, if it's needed, then hopefully you have a better understanding of what it is and what the people are.”

The hope from the day is students will leave with an introductory understanding of the court system, as well as what's involved and what it could mean to work within the justice system one day.

“We hope that some consider careers in the various aspects of law or all of the other careers that intersect with the justice system,” Robinson said.

Law Day, part of Law Week, is a collaborative project organized through the partnership of the B.C. Branch of the Canadian Bar Association, the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, the Law Foundation of British Columbia, the Law Society of British Columbia and the Penticton and District Bar Association.

This year Law Week has received financial contributions from the Penticton and District Bar Association and in-kind contributions from Penticton Rotary.

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