The scene was set: Birkenhead on a crisp and sunlit March morning, hurriedly entering the court room, a hush fell as everyone took their seats, ‘All Rise’ came the call from Litherland representative Court Usher, Mia Hankinson and formalities began. Two teams, head to head both assuming roles of defence and prosecution in a knock-out competition, the pressure was on.
The Judges seated on high above the court benches included, Joel Thornton, Lily Burns and Mia Gilfoyle were holding sway beneath the imposing golden, gilded Lion and the porcelain unicorn of British justice. All proceedings under their scrutiny as The Mock Trial began in the austere surroundings of the wood-panelled Court Number 6, what stories these walls could reveal!
Immediately, it was clear that the opposition realised there would be no mercy from the ACE team from Litherland High School. Mr Green’s Dream Team were ‘on fire’.
Court Usher for The Prosecution formally announced proceedings and the mock trial got underway. On the stand, the defendant was under interrogation. Litherland High School candidates began strongly. The opposition battled on and a high quality performance ensued with teams trading intellectual wrangling and evaluative analysis. Nothing was being overlooked in the sifting through the evidence, and ‘grillings’ that ensued - interrogation by Prosecutor Chelsea Aron was electric. Her questioning was incisive, forensic and relentless; the witness cracked under the pressure. It is no surprise to learn that Chelsea achieved an Individual Star Award at the end of proceedings.
As the tables were turned, Jess Hesketh-Jones on the other hand, for Litherland remained calm and collected under intense scrutiny and questioning – her classy exterior, fully formed answers and quick analytical brain did not falter, the prosecutor did not ‘crack this nut’ and Litherland points soared.
There was a ‘toe-curling’ moment when Legal Advisor, Lilly Cowen took charge, stepping into her role with utter conviction and reminding the slovenly defendant on entering the courtroom that, ‘This is a court of law, may I request that you take your hands from your pockets immediately!’ Her precise instruction was met with an immediate and shame-faced response from the defendant.
This was no unruly or chaotic debate on a Saturday morning. This was Litherland leading laudible quest for truth, to uphold justice and to fight for the freedom of innocent citizens. Hannah Devine was alarming in her assertion that no stone would remain unturned, Judge Judy, watch out!
From thereon, the session ascended into a scintillating search for secrets and lies of the case put forward with The Litherland Dream Team at its centre. The opposite team took every opportunity to battle back, the public gallery held their breath. Hannah and Chelsea saved the bulk of their ire in their respective roles as prosecutor and defence over two lengthy rounds. At one point there was an audible gasp when the accused brazenly asked, ‘Do I have to answer that?’ Chelsea Aron’s response as Public Prosecutor was immediate, direct and superb- she asserted, ‘Yes you do, because I am the one who asks the questions, not you!’’ She sent the accused into his shocked shell and demolished his defence. Brilliant!
Litherland had been training for this for months, they were ready, they showed team-work at its best, they were there to make a mark, they meant business. All stayed calm, cool and collected. All knew the parts they played in this astounding spectacle of unity and flair.
After a nail-biting hour awaiting the decision, proceedings reconvened in Court Number 4 for the winners to be revealed and the Award Ceremony. The High Sherriff of Merseyside, dressed in full military colours, a stunning uniform, red coat resplendent which included him clutching a spectacular silver, embellished sword responded to the event: ‘The calibre and credibility of the young people in this room have been of the highest standards I have ever witnessed’.
The District Judge in attendance shared in his summing up, the fact he had been working in the legal industry in all aspects of court life for more than 36 years, and honestly declared that, ‘the skills he had witnessed would be fitting for a real-life court ‘. He spoke of the execution and the advocacy from the Litherland defence which he said had been ‘astounding’. He added that he firmly believed he was looking at budding prospective lawyers of the future. He asserted that it was clear from the event that students were likely to study law at university and potentially follow legal careers. He said he was in awe of the calibre of the candidates and congratulated the Litherland team generously. He asserted the proclamation that ensuring the continued cycle of, ‘qualifying as lawyers ensured the maintenance of freedom and justice which is essential for the following of a civilised life for us all’.
His references to Shakespeare and William Pitt The Elder, who stated, ‘Where law ends tyranny begins’ were offered in his firm belief that he was witnessing the next generation who would secure society and protect justice and freedom for all civilised citizens.
He asserted that our students had delivered breath-taking and complex skills in their handling of both defence and prosecution arguments. Their ability and professional awareness of roles adjudicating court proceedings were of the highest standards as they assumed their other roles of Legal Advisors and Court Ushers, bringing forth both witnesses and The Accused during the 3 hours of mock trial.
He was thoroughly impressed throughout the event and applauded the ability of the winners – Litherland High School.
He thanked our students fully, exerting: ’The particular ability of the students we saw today to present both sides of a complex case were rigorous, enthusiastic and a delight to the observers’. He reminded us all that in the session today there were a total of 20 magistrates who had volunteered to judge and support the proceedings who had all been completely impressed by the students.
His final sincere wish to Litherland winning team was, ‘I wish you every success, you have shown you have the ability to make it through to the High Courts of London’.
This session will be remembered by stand-out performances of our students, all were an utter credit to us and especially to Mr Greene. We witnessed bitter exchanges, when opposition team student ‘lawyers’ harangued witnesses and victims. All was to no avail: Litherland Dream Team stood firm, poised and professional.
They scooped a beautiful silver trophy, certificates and gifts and an additional Individual Star Award for Chelsea.
WELL DONE to Hannah Devine, Chelsea Aron, Lilly Cowen, Lily Burns, Mia Hankinson, Jess Hesketh-Jones, Mia Gilfoyle and Joel Thornton. AND of course, to the indefatigable Mr Greene for making this happen.
Mrs Porrino and Mrs Mckenna have never been more proud, it was a pleasure and a privilege to have been invited to watch the process – absolutely AMAZING ! We CANNOT wait for 14th May round to be held at Crewe Magistrates Court!
Key Dates to come: Next Round - Venue Crewe Magistrates Court 14th May, fingers crossed for success - onwards to the High Court in London !