Students fought it out in front of magistrates in a case of common assault.
Groups from Worthing, Chichester and Horsham, aged 12 to 14, took on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates, court staff and a defendant in the 2016 Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition.
The 23rd annual competition is run by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with the Magistrates’ Association and organised locally by Worthing magistrate Brian Rigby.
The foundation says more than 95 per cent of criminal cases are dealt with by magistrates but few people know much about what the work they do.
Mr Rigby said: “The students enact a specially written case in which the defendant stands accused of common assault, contrary to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 section 39.
“The competition enables students to learn about all aspects of the criminal justice system – the law, procedures, consequences and the staff – and to develop confidence in personal skills such as public speaking, analysis techniques and working as a team.”
Magistrates, law students and other legal professionals help the teams prepare for the mock trials by giving information on the everyday workings of courts and hosting court visits.
Students can also take part in court reporter and court artist competitions.
The Worthing Magistrates’ Court heat on March 19 involved three schools, Bishop Luffa School in Chichester, Millais School in Horsham and Chatsmore Catholic High School in Goring.
Mrs Katy Bourne, police and crime commissioner for Sussex. presentated the trophy and certificates.
One of the teachers described it as ‘an invaluable experience for our students that you simply cannot get anywhere else’.
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