One thing that really inspires me as a photographer is being participate in some awesome activities within the Toronto, Burlington and Hamilton communities, and his past Thursday was no exception. I was thrilled to be invited along with Barton Secondary School and their Grade 11 Law Class to grab photos for them as they joined with the Hamilton Justice Education Network to participate in Law Day. Throughout Canada, Law Day is a national event celebrating the signing of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and is aimed at educating and informing students about the role and importance of the law and justice system.
The highlight of the week of education is a ‘mock trial’, simulation of a real court hearing with students playing the roles of lawyers, witnesses, accused, court staff and judge. Along with the students taking participating roles, writing their own opening and closing remarks, and creating their own examination strategies; volunteer lawyers, court officers and a real judge assist the students with the court proceedings. During the ‘mock trial’, Barton students vs. the law students from Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School re-enacted the real life case of a girl accused of shoplifting an MP3 player from a music store. The students acted out the roles of the Crown and Defense, and prepared the opening/closing address, examination and cross-examination of the witnesses and presentation of legal arguments.
I was so lucky to be the only photography professional with permission to be allowed in the courtroom — normally the no-camera policy is strictly enforced, just as it is with regular court proceedings. I was given free reign to move around the courtroom and grab photos that no one else would be able to get normally — it was so much fun!!
We had the entire seventh floor of the Hamilton courthouse at our disposal that day – and the first thing I learned right off – real-time courtrooms are nothing like the TV and movie versions of those big, elaborate courtrooms with high ceilings, huge natural light windows and tons of architectural details — and if they are — well — the courthouse in downtown Hamilton was hiding them well!
Modern vs. classic courtroom aside, it was so great to see the students really getting into the case and taking such an active interest in something that could lead to a possible career choice.
Huge thanks to the Hamilton Justice Educational Network for letting me come and take photos, and thanks too to the Barton Secondary School law class. I had a fab time with you all — and I hope to see you all again at next year’s competition! 🙂
xx’s and oo’s