Is Luke Skywalker a criminal?
It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the classic Star Wars films, but it’s the question students of KVR Middle School were asked to consider in court today.
As part of 2019’s Law Day, 100 Grade Seven students of KVR Middle School were invited for a tour of Penticton’s court house, and given the opportunity to participate in a mock trial.
“It really captures their attention and makes it more real for them,” said Deb Donoghue, one of the seventh-grade teachers at KVR Middle School. “So when we’re in the classroom, you can have conversations and discussion, but this, being in actually in the facility and in role makes it more real.”
“We see a lot more engagement from the kids,” Lynn Koturbash, who also teaches Grade Sevens and is one of the organizers of the tour and trials. “They’re motivated, and they really love it.”
The tour of the court began with the sheriffs showing students the ins and outs of their vehicles and equipment, as well as talking about the duties they are usually called to serve. Students were able to take a look at the holding tanks on the prisoner transport, as well as step inside them and try out the sheriffs’ handcuffs.
Inside the courtroom, the students got dressed for their chosen roles, and the mock trial was called to order. Mackenzie Luke Skywalker, the accused, was escorted to the prisoner’s bench for the charges to be read, and the trial was on.
The crown and the defence took their turns examining the various witnesses for Skywalker’s “crime” including: Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Han Solo, a Storm Trooper and the Emperor. Each witness was cross-examined, according to the script and practice runs the students had done in their classrooms, and the evidence and statements presented to the judge and jury.
After all of the witnesses had their time at the stand, the jury was escorted to a private room to deliberate, while litigator Ryu Okayama lead the gallery and the remaining students through the deliberation process in the main courtroom.
Luke Skywalker was found not guilty in the end, and the room erupted with cheers from the students. All of the students were smiling and laughing in their costumes and official robes, and for some, the experience is inspiring thoughts of the future.
“I enjoyed it,” said Hugh Tarbet, who served as a Crown prosecutor for the mock trial. “I want to join the Air Force; if that doesn’t work out, or maybe after I retire, it would be fun to become a lawyer. Probably in reality defence, because defending people is better than sending them to prison; at least if they’re, you know, not guilty.”
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