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Year 8 Legal Eagles take their case to court

Months of meticulous preparation led up to the exhilarating moment when Co-op Academy Stoke-on-Trent stepped into the courtroom for the Young Citizens' Magistrates Mock Trial. As newcomers to the competition, the anticipation was palpable as our team embraced the challenge ahead as one of six teams competing on the day, with only one winner progressing to the next round.

The programme itself, organised by Young Citizens, offers a platform for aspiring legal minds to immerse themselves in the intricacies of the magistrate system. 

In our debut appearance, our team took our positions for Round One in Cannock Magistrates’ Court with a blend of nerves and excitement, after a nerve-wracking and chilly wait to see whether we would make it through security. The atmosphere crackled with excitement and determination as we set out to prove, over two rounds, whether Jo Goodwin was innocent of the crime of which she was accused.

With two teams in each courtroom, the pressure was on as we faced off against formidable opponents. Yet, armed with months of preparation and unwavering determination, we tackled each trial with gusto, leaving no legal stone unturned.

Amidst the courtroom drama, Amelia found herself in the dock, taking on the role of the accused with aplomb. Phoebe and Rosalie put across stirring arguments as her defence lawyers, captivating the courtroom with their witness cross-examinations and expertly summing up their defence case in the closing statement. Phoebe was especially impressive at deftly balancing the roles of both lawyer and usher on the day.

Our magistrates, Fabbrino, Luo Chen and Emma, spent the case scrawling copious notes ready for their discussion with the lead magistrate. Whilst we weren’t party to the behind the scenes arguments which led to the verdict, we’re reliably informed that Co-op’s representatives remained fair yet passionate and deftly argued the letter of the law.

After a quick chocolate break, we were back in Court 3 for our second trial. Scarlett opened proceedings as legal advisor to the court, showcasing barrister-level legal knowledge incredibly impressively, especially as she had only stepped in days before. Laura and Ibraheem were unshakeable as hotshot prosecution lawyers, finding gaps in the opposition’s argument and leaving witnesses making all sorts of contradictions.

As the day unfolded, the courtroom buzzed with the passionate arguments of young legal minds, each team presenting their case with flair and conviction. Despite the nail-biting tension and fierce competition, our team stood tall, making our school proud with our debut performance.

As we waited for the results, all the schools involved had the chance to hear from several legal professionals, with our students asking some fantastically incisive questions. The day culminated with every team being awarded certificates by the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, King Charles’ official representative in the county. 

The Young Citizens' Magistrates Mock Trial not only tested our legal prowess but also instilled in us a deeper understanding and appreciation for the judicial process. Though victory may have eluded us on this occasion, the experience was invaluable. 

A huge well done to our fantastic team for both their performance on the day and the months of preparation, and massive thank you to Ms Goodwin, whose hard work and inspiration made it all possible. As we reflect on our first foray into the world of mock trials, we do so with heads held high. Co-op Academy Stoke-on-Trent may not have emerged victorious, but we have laid the foundation for future success and forged lasting memories that will inspire us on our journey in the legal realm.