Senior Learning Community • Monday 13 February 2017
This term, Hillcrest’s Year 11 Legal Studies class is investigating the thought-provoking question of whether or not juries should continue to decide whether people charged with serious crimes are guilty or not guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
This in-depth, project-based study will culminate in the young ‘legal eagles’ submitting extensively researched, drafted and edited reports, weighing up arguments for and against jury trials, compared with judge-only trials and other reform options, including panels of professional jurors or other legally qualified personnel.
A wonderfully experiential way for Hillcrest’s 2017 Year 11 Legal students to become immersed in the compelling realities of jury trials was to travel to the Brisbane Supreme and District Courts on Monday, 6 February, to observe a panel of jurors being empanelled and addressed by an eminent Supreme Court judge in a high profile murder trial.
It was surreal for the students to be so ’up-close-and-personal’ with the defendant in the dock, the prosecutor and defence barrister at the bar table, and, of course, the judge, judge’s associate, bailiff and 14 newly empanelled jury members (12 in the jury + 2 reserve jurors for the anticipated 8 day trial).
Combined with an excellent ‘Juries vs. Judges’ workshop presented by a Supreme Court Library Education Officer, which featured a mock empanelling of a juror and a highly informative PowerPoint, the excursion proved to be an invaluable treasure chest full of ‘pure gold’ primary source materials for the students’ real world Term 1 assessment task.