Court is in session!
Our TY students who took part in a mock trial as part of their legal studies module were in court this morning.
Every week, Form 4 students have a module called Enterprise, from which they can choose an elective, including Legal Studies.
There are two Legal Studies classes, each with its own discreet subject matter.
Class A focuses on Civil Law, and Class B focuses on Criminal Law.
They spend two weeks learning about the Irish legal system, from its Norman origins in England in 1066 and the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169, all the way up to the legislative process and legal practice and procedure of the modern era.
They then vote by majority on what branch of law they wish to undertake for the year: Constitutional Law, the Law of Tort (Civil Law), or the Criminal Law.
Students undertake the same course of study (less the intensive extra-curricular study required of college students) as any law student in any college or university.
The Criminal Law starts off with learning about the foundational principles of the Criminal Law: The physical and mental elements of a crime, and the criminal liability of perpetrators and accomplices.
Students then proceed to learn about each of the homicide offences, the non-fatal offences against the person, the sexual offences, and the defences to criminal charges.
Under each of the offences and defences, students learn about different cases in which a prosecution was secured or an appeal granted in order to inform them as to how the law operates in practice.
In December, students are given five cases with which they must familiarise themselves.
The five cases are ones in which a person has been convicted of a homicide offence and, if for the Defence, they must appeal the conviction to mitigate the punishment; or, if for the Prosecution, resist the appeal and impose a more severe punishment.
In January, in addition to continuing their legal education, they are assigned one of those five cases by lot, and then they must prepare their legal arguments.
Every couple of weeks, students undergo training in structuring a legal argument, instruction on how to construct a logical thought process, and how to speak effectively in public.
Then, in May, the students must present their argument before a fictive Court of Appeal, presided over by the Headmaster (as Chief Justice), the Form 4 Co-ordinator, Mr. Noel Cunningham (as President as the Court of Appeal), and the Legal Studies Class A Tutor, Ms. Stephanie Tierney, Solicitor (as Judge of the Court of Appeal).