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In September 2010 Silvana Marasco arranged for two groups of first year criminal law students to attend the Victorian Court of Appeal to observe some real cases on appeal.
Here is a report from Karina Milshtein about this excursion.
Justice Weinberg and Justice Ashley addressed us before the trials and handed out the respective parties' submissions to be heard that day. After some general questions about court proceedings and expectations, the action began.
The first case was a lady appealing her sentence for brutally assaulting an elderly man at a train station. The next was about a man who stole cheques and cashed them in. Luckily we got to see a top barrister in action and view a practical application of law in its finest form.
Both sentences were reduced, however the lady's total sentence was less then the man's.This fuelled heated arguments amongst an opinionated bunch of first years. Luckily we had the opportunity to drill the judges after and ask for justifications!
It became evident that in reality, sentencing is an extremely contentious area of law. To be able to juxtapose our views with the views of such highly regarded judges, so openly, was an extremely educational and rare experience.
We finished the day off with a group lunch and plenty of chatter about what we all would have done differently as future legal professionals. It was really great to see what we have been learning in class being argued in practice, and amusing to be able to critique the barristers for not speaking loud or confidently enough, as we learned in our PLS tasks! It was clear from these discussions that everyone was envisioning themselves as the new generation of barristers and judges!
This experience put my law degree in the context of the practical legal profession and gave me a taste of what's in store for the future. This will be a key motivator for the following four years. It even opened my mind to the possibility of pursuing a career path towards becoming a judge. Hey, there's nothing wrong with aiming high!!!
The Victorian Court of Appeal