Ten years on and success of Minitrials goes on

This year pupils from schools in Edinburgh, Ayr and Paisley, have been laying down the law, proving that ten years-on MiniTrials are still an educational way for pupils to experience Scots Law.

This evening, the triumph of the trials in Scotland over the past ten years is being marked by an event in the Capital at the City Chambers. It will be attended by those who have been instrumental in setting up and supporting this innovative project.

The Faculty of Advocates' MiniTrial sees students take part in the realistic reconstruction of a criminal jury trial by convening at court, hearing the evidence, and, as jurors, returning their own verdict.

The success of MiniTrials has helped it to reach new horizons - it has been replicated in the Ascension Island in the South Atlantic; and a scenario has been adapted for primary 4 classes, where Goldilocks is charged with malicious mischief.

Marilyne MacLaren, City Education Leader, said: "MiniTrials is a fantastic initiative that helps young people learn about the Scottish legal system and the courts in an enjoyable way and develop their communication and critical thinking skills.

"Well done to all of those involved in the trials that have been running over the past ten years - they have helped thousands of pupils in Edinburgh and Scotland get a real-life taste of our legal system - on the right side of the law! And I look forward to the next ten years."

Lord Kinclaven, MiniTrial originator, explained: "MiniTrials are designed to give some practical insights into how our Scottish legal system actually works.  To date there have been 30 MiniTrial events hosted in real courtrooms throughout the country - with more planned for in future - including a civil jury.

"Literally hundreds of pupils have taken part in MiniTrials every year since 2002. The undoubted success of all these events is down to the enthusiasm of willing supporters from every part of our legal and education systems - but the real stars are the pupils - who always do brilliantly."

Joan Spencer, a teacher at Trinity Academy in Edinburgh who has been involved in MiniTrials from 2002, said: "The MiniTrials experiment in 2002 was such a success that we adopted it into our senior social education curriculum, where it has remained ever since.

"Best of all are the cell visits when it's always the lawyers and teachers who are down first to be locked away.

"Since the first Sheriff Court MiniTrial in late 2002 more than 1,000 pupils have taken part and judging by the response this year the enthusiasm to participate has grown."

Notes to editors:

1. MiniTrial case papers will typically include a summary of the facts, the charge against the accused, the relevant legal principles involved, prosecution and defence witness statements, scripted court procedures and styles for Crown and defence jury speeches.

2. MiniTrials success depends on members of faculty, the law society and the fiscal service, together with clerks of court, court staff, police and Reliance officers giving up their free time at weekends to make the experience for pupils and teachers as realistic as possible.

3. Reliance is the organisation which transports prisoners to and from court and the MiniTrial experience now frequently includes a tour of the cells and a prison van.

4. Pupils, parents or schools who would like to find out more or arrange for an advocate to visit a school to help with a MiniTrial, can now contact either of the Faculty's MiniTrial co-ordinators Ronnie Bain or Michael Upton at james.bain1@ntlworld.com or michael.upton@advocates.org.uk or at The Faculty of Advocates, Advocates Library, Parliament House, Edinburgh EH1 1RF.  Tel. 0131-226 5071.  The MiniTrials website is: http://www.minitrial.org.uk

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