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From the OJEN Blog

Durham’s Virtual Law Day Program

The Durham Committee’s annual Law Day event has been a popular program for Grade 5 classes for many years.  When the Covid-19 pandemic made in-person activities at the Durham Region Courthouse impossible, the Durham committee successfully adapted the event to deliver it virtually. This year, they delivered the program twice on Wednesday, April 20th, including once in French for the very first time. 

After a brief welcome from Justice Leef, courthouse staff guided students through a virtual courtroom tour, highlighting the special precautions implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic. They also showed students the holding area where the prisoners are held when court is not in session.

One of the highlights of the program: a video produced by the committee  that featured some of the children of courthouse staff.  The video showcased a mock trial involving the theft of a candy bar. After the Crown and defense lawyers had questioned the witnesses and presented their closing arguments, they polled the student participants for their opinion as to the innocence or guilt of the accused. This turned into an interesting discussion about factors that might go into determining a verdict.

Next, students had an opportunity to meet a judge, justice of the peace, assistant Crown attorney, defense lawyer and court officer.  Each legal professional gave a short description of their work and answered students’ questions. 

The program culminated with a fiercely fought battle of “Are you Smarter than a 5th Grade Student?” Individual teachers challenged the students to a series of multiple choice questions related to the law. Students answered the questions by Zoom poll.  Even though teachers and students seemed to have identical answers, in the end, the students won by a landslide. 
Although the Durham Law Day event was originally conceived as an in-person activity, it translated extremely well to a virtual format. Offering the program online made it accessible to a greater number of students. Over 70 classes registered for this year’s virtual Law Day program!  The event was a huge success thanks to the many Durham committee members and volunteers who dedicated their time and effort to this amazing justice education initiative.

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