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UniSA makes Supreme
Court history

by Heather Leggett

Law students James Caldwell (L) and Sara Jaric (R) get in the action at the Supreme Court Trial. It was history in the making at UniSA’s Moot Court early this month as Law School students witnessed the first ever Supreme Court case to be heard at UniSA.

With precedent establishing that the Supreme Court may sit wherever it chooses, Justice Gray, a highly regarded Supreme Court Judge, chose the newly launched facility as the location for a judicial review matter over which he was presiding.

Present at the event was third year Bachelor of Laws student Sara Jaric. The 19 year old, who enjoys competing in Mooting activities at the University, says that it was an exciting opportunity.

“To have an actual case heard on University grounds is such a rare event,” she says.

“It shows us exactly where our study is taking us and gives us a chance to showcase to the public the amazing new Mooting facility that we have at the University.”

Along with the chance to see real barristers – and a judge – in action, students were given access to written material relating to the case, such as outlines of arguments and any remarks or judgment on appeal.

James Caldicott, also a third year Bachelor of Laws student, says that access to the court sitting and to written materials allowed him to put himself in a real barrister’s shoes more than ever before.

“As part of our degree we all compete in Mooting events. These mock trials, where we have to think on our feet, speak to a ‘judge’ and present arguments as a ‘barrister’ are a great way to experience what it’s like in the courtroom,” he says. “But nothing beats the real thing.”

“This was an opportunity to engage in a real life event that’s relevant to our study.”

The Law School’s Director of Professional Programs Rachel Spencer says that students had the benefit of attending a real court sitting in the comfort and security of familiar surroundings.

“Most courts are ‘open’, meaning that any member of the public is entitled to observe proceedings,” she says. “However law courts are sometimes intimidating places and even law students, who know what goes on inside them, can be daunted by the idea of walking into a court to watch barristers in action before a judge.”

“For many students, US television shows provide the only insight into the everyday workings of the courts and such programs are often unrealistic. For students to see how barristers actually work is vital for their professional development.

“There is really nothing like watching real lawyers in action to fully comprehend what it means to be an officer of the court.

“By introducing students to the realities of legal practice in this way, we hope to encourage them to continue to observe court hearings and to engage in experiential learning.

“With this sort of experience behind them, our students will ultimately have the skills and confidence to walk into any court and address a judge or magistrate appropriately and professionally, in the best interests of their clients.”