Are you looking for an engaging activity that works for both virtual or physical classrooms? The Charter Challenge is Ontario’s only mock appeal competition for secondary schools, and it adapts well as both a remote and in-person activity for students anywhere in the province.
OJEN will release a mock judicial decision in which complex Charter issues are raised on appeal. Students all over Ontario form teams and choose one side of the appeal to ‘represent.’ They research and write a factum with legal arguments in favour of the appellant or the respondent. Their submissions are reviewed and the best team from each side is invited to make their arguments live by Zoom, to a panel of live judges and Court of Appeal staff.
While exciting, the finale with the Court of Appeal staff is just one benefit of the program. The real value lies in the learning that leads to that point, as students gain an intimate understanding of Charter rights, practice effective thinking, understanding and communication and have the opportunity to engage with each other and with volunteer lawyers online, through OJEN’s Charter Challenge message boards.
For this reason, and in recognition of the challenges of working with quad-mesters and mixed learning contexts, our aim is to make these benefits as widely available and easy to use as possible.
- There is no requirement to complete the program or to submit a final written product to access these resources. Any teacher is welcome to use the resources however best meets their needs. This includes access to the Charter Challenge message boards where students can connect online with each other and with legal experts to help them develop their arguments.
- Teachers should feel free to design mini-hearings to be held during regular instructional time. Students can compete within a class, between classes at the same school, or between schools. OJEN can make suggestions as to how to structure these for physical, virtual or mixed contexts.
- In cases like those above, OJEN can work with teachers to help build meaningful alternatives to the final. For instance, at any point in the year, we are able to find constitutional law experts who can attend classes – virtually or physically – to help develop students’ ideas, coach teams or act as judges and give feedback or render a mock decision when the students make their arguments.
Our legal scenario this fall engages with police power to search cell phones during detention and arrest and legal remedies for when the Charter right to a reasonable expectation of privacy is infringed upon. As always, teachers will find excellent OJEN resources and staff support to assist in delivering this program.