Advocacy at Sussex
What an amazing experience!
Well, that wasn’t my initial reaction. At first, I thought ‘This is scary! Why did I even volunteer?’ The jurors were called to the Jury meeting room and it was announced that someone was needed to act as the defendant which I volunteered to do on the condition I was allowed to be a juror at the second stage. That was of course, before I was told I needed to memorize the facts in 20 minutes. This decision put me in a more terrified state and I wished I could take it back.
As the defendant, I played the role of Marlene Vole, a 37 years old woman who was charged with infliction of poisonous substance on the victim and GBH. Briefly, the incident occurred on Marlene’s way home from work. Due to bad weather conditions she was driving at a slow speed. Suddenly an Audi driver tried to overtake, flashing his headlights, shouting and blasting his horn at her. The defendant was terrified. The driver darted out behind her without indication which sent her spinning into the hard shoulder. With a flat tire, she saw the Audi driver running towards her through her rear view mirror and he yanked her door open shouting ‘ Typical bloody woman drivers’. In self-defence, the defendant brought out a can of de-icer (which I didn’t realise was a spray to remove ice from the car and instead when I was asked why I had it, I said for protection.) and sprayed a quick burst in his face. In that moment, the driver couldn’t see and was stumbling about. The defendant noticed he was about to walk into the inside lane so she quickly pushed him away from the road but unfortunately he hit the bonnet and ended up with severe injuries.
I was called out and made to swear to speak the truth. The Judge and advocates told the claimant and defendant to speak to the Jury directly and the Law was explained at each point by the judge. Then, the blasting began because I was asked series of questions from both sides which I think I handled pretty well aside my stupid assumption about the spray of course but the Jury didn’t mind as they decided I was ‘not guilty’. That was a relief! At the end, playing the role turned out to be so much fun and the judges were grateful I took on the role last minute.
As a juror, we were asked to decide whether the defendant was guilty or not guilty on two points- Self-defence and intention to cause GBH. After deliberation, the jury decided in favour of the defendant.
This experience has given me a whole new perspective. Unlike Mooting, reference was not made to cases, instead the advocates argued and asked questions based on the facts stating the relevant statutes where necessary. Also, they provided ‘Witness Statements’ which the judge explained was admissible evidence in court. Generally, I was marvelled at how confident and relaxed the advocates looked. I am definitely interested in Advocacy and grateful to be given the opportunity to not only witness this but be part of the decision making which felt GOOD!
Final year LLB with Business