It’s the ‘crack of dawn’, no it’s actually still dark, on Thursday 18th May as the Legal Studies group makes its way to Melbourne for an immersion into our legal system the like of which Echuca College has not seen before. And, it’s Law Week too!!

First stop was the County Court and a presentation from Judge Salamandris who was both fascinating and informative. She has only been a Judge for a relatively short time but has become an expert in compensation cases, which blends well with a social conscience, as she has been a leader in trying to gain compensation for the ‘Stolen Generation’. We were then escorted to Court 5 – in between which Chealy had to jog the 3km’s back to the bus to turn off the lights then meet a belated Bonny at Southern Cross station – for a plea hearing where an Echuca man(what a coincidence) was pleading ‘guilty’ to a rather nasty charge of aggravated burglary. Following submissions from both parties, prosecution and defence, the judge (Judge Quin) again offered some of her time to us so we enjoyed a really interesting Q and A before she went to lunch.

Following food and drinks(and a little power shopping) at Melbourne Central our group headed for the Melbourne Justice Experience where the students performed in a Moot Court playing all roles from judge, barristers, solicitors, tipstaff even the accused, in a culpable driving case based on a real case. Perhaps the most light hearted moment was when Riki-lea, playing an Islamic witness, thought, when swearing in on the Koran, that she had to “pick up the Korean”!? The whole group was then ‘committed’ to the City Watchhouse where infamous 19th and 20th Century prisoners were locked up awaiting their trials, such notorious criminals including Squizzy Taylor, Mark “Chopper” Read and Julian Knight. This was a great fun role play experience.

Following another short time of retail therapy we went to our Mock Trial at the Supreme Court celebrating Law week in which two of our students – Jamie Hore and Adelle King – were to serve on the jury, which they did with admirable commitment. It was a drug trafficking case in which all roles were played by actual Justices and practising lawyers! What a legal extravaganza!

All that was left now was to find the bus, parked in an obscure location, and hope the battery was okay! Fortuitously it was and, after a Calder ‘Mac attack’, we headed home at 10.40pm exhausted but thoroughly satisfied that we had squeezed as much as possible into our day at the courts. The students were, as always, brilliantly co-operative and appropriately inquisitive.


Stewart Cheal