Stu­dents learn more about the court sys­tem

Whitsunday Times - - BETTER BUSINESS | LOCAL NEWS -

HOW penal­ties are de­cided and what hap­pens when a per­son fails to show up in court were just two of the ques­tions asked of mag­is­trate Ron Muir­head and po­lice prose­cu­tor El­iz­a­beth Cas­sells by stu­dents from Proser­pine State High School (PSHS) on Mon­day.

The Year 10 stu­dents took a field trip to the Proser­pine Mag­is­trate’s Court where they sat in on the weekly pro­ceed­ings as part of their le­gal stud­ies course.

Dur­ing their time at the court the stu­dents were able to see the jus­tice sys­tem at work in a va­ri­ety of cases and when the callover ses­sion was fin­ished, there was an op­por­tu­nity for a ques­tion-and-an­swer ses­sion.

“How do you come up with a num­ber for the fines?” one of the stu­dents asked.

“It’s a good ques­tion,” Mr Muir­head replied, ex­plain­ing that that there were a range of penal­ties for var­i­ous of­fences, with min­i­mum and max­i­mum amounts.

Ms Cas­sells went on to ex­plain the types of cases that could be dealt with in the Mag­is­trate’s Court and those that must be com­mit­ted to a higher court, such as the dis­trict or supreme courts.

“[But] ev­ery­thing starts in the Mag­is­trate’s Court,” she said.

“You might ul­ti­mately end up in the Supreme Court [but] it starts here, so we see ev­ery­thing ba­si­cally.”

PSHS teacher Ian Bell said the field trip pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents to see how the law worked in prac­tice, not just in the­ory.

“They gained a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the dif­fer­ent lev­els of se­ri­ous­ness of crimes and the way the court sys­tem deals with cit­i­zens and I think the other thing they gained from it is the way the court sys­tem is very open to the pub­lic,” he said.

15-year-old Pa­trick Ma­hood said it was cer­tainly an in­ter­est­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. “We’ve learned all about it in class so it was good to ac­tu­ally be there,” he said.

LESSONS IN LAW: Proser­pine State High School stu­dents Dean Searle and Pa­trick Ma­hood (left) and Cassie Thomp­son and Chloe Van Ber­gen (right) and teacher Ian Bell (cen­tre), at­tended the Proser­pine Mag­is­trate's Court on Mon­day as part of the Year 10 le­gal stud­ies course.

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