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MOCK TRIAL KIT



Edmonton, Legal Resource Centre, 1981.
Distributed by Legal Resource Centre, University of Alberta Extension, 10047 81 Ave., Edmonton, AB, T6E1W7.
Kit. $79.00. Includes student criminal trial book, case notes: Regina v. Fair, resource book.


Grades 9 and up.
Reviewed by John D. Crawford.

Volume 11 Number 4.
1983 July.


This kit has three components. There is a resource book of 137 pages that serves as a teacher's guide. Another unit contains case notes for a trial for theft, together with instructions for the trial participants. The balance consists of thirty copies of a student criminal trial book that provides students with a straightforward guide to the steps involved in the mock trial.

Materials concerning mock trials have been looked askance at by many teachers in the past. Readers of Alice will recall that the Mock Turtle was miserable because he had once been a Real Turtle. Many teachers feel that attendance at a real trial or even studying such trials from printed materials is preferable to a contrived situation. Teachers can also be dismayed at the levels of preparation and commitment necessary for a successful mock trial. It can also be argued that a mock trial as with other dramatic exercises has only a limited number of good parts and many in the class will be relegated to the role of extras, or in this case, jury members.

This kit appears to answer most of the concerns expressed by teachers. In one particular regard it has great merit: it carries out most of the hard preparatory work of teachers by providing a step-by-step guide to all the procedures involved. The disparity in the roles available to class members is set off in part by the provision of detailed instructions for all participants including jury members. Most important is the ability of the basic kit to be adapted for a variety of trial situations, including real trials. Adaptation would obviously require a measure of preparation, but given a successful run through of the mock trial provided, it should be relatively straightforward.

The physical format of the kit is excellent. The resource book and the case notes are contained in loose-leaf binders. The student's guides are well-prepared and provide a simple outline of the course of a mock trial. The materials as a whole are well worth reading on their own merits and contain insights beneficial to teachers and students alike. This is quite the best kit of materials relating to mock trials which I have seen, and an examination of the contents suggests that developer Cheryl Matheson has devoted not only effort but also wisdom and practical common sense to their creation. Highly recommended to secondary school law classes for classroom use.


John D. Crawford, Frank Hobbs P. S., Victoria, BC.
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