By Latrishka Thomas
A role-play of a court hearing in the form of a competition will take place early next month where two schools will be giving their all in a real courtroom.
Students from the Antigua State College (ASC) and the St Anthony’s Secondary School (SASS) will be participating in the second annual Fortis Advocatus Moot Court Competition being put on by the National Mooting Association of Antigua and Barbuda.
The contest is a simulation of court proceedings in the form of a hypothetical mock trial – centred on vaccine mandates – specifically for students interested in law.
Aria-Rose Brown and Kioja Burke from SASS will be going head-to-head with Faith Samuel and Nadisha Jardine of the ASC.
Seventeen-year-old Samuel is pursuing an associate degree in Social Sciences and French in the Department of Liberal Arts at ASC.
“Winning would mean everything to me, to know that I have the potential to follow my dream of becoming a lawyer,” Samuel told Observer.
“It has been my dream to fight for the rights of people and give them the justice they deserve,” she added.
Also desirous of being an artist part-time, Samuel explained that “though there is a larger number of criminal cases, I would prefer to practice civil law to fill the hole in the market”.
Jardine, Samuel’s partner ‘in fighting crime’, also entered the competition to gain experience “as well as the possibility of receiving an internship that will help me in the future”.
“Winning would be extremely rewarding for me. It is a joy to be able to compete in this competition and to have progressed thus far.
“Excelling in the competition will not only provide me with rewards, but it also provides me with the experience and information obtained throughout the process, allowing me to learn more about the law in preparation for my future career as a lawyer.
“I aspire to be a lawyer not because of the prestige or income, but because I believe that a hardworking individual with a creative brain can change the world, and I believe that I have the potential and heart to do so,” she expounded.
Burke, who is representing SASS, said that she is particularly “keen on learning the process of building and executing a case from start to finish”.
However, the 17-year-old Advanced Level student is not interested in becoming a lawyer.
“I saw this as an opportunity to better myself as an individual and also represent my school … my dream is to work in the field of fashion management,” she said.
“This has been my dream for as long as I can remember and taking law as a subject allowed me to broaden my ideas of this career path and the different aspects that may come with it.”
Her teammate, Browne, is also a first year 17-year-old student in SASS’ Advanced Level department.
“Along with my teammate, I joined this competition in order to take a step in trying new things and trying to escape my comfort zone and expand my pre-existing knowledge on law and the law system of Antigua and Barbuda,” she told Observer.
“Winning this competition would be a great achievement for me and would have provided me with great opportunities and further exposure for future job references, as I aspire to become a human rights lawyer or advocate.
“This field has always interested me and I find joy in giving those who are marginalised a voice so that they may be heard, in a system that may not be favourable to them,” she added.
For this intense but exciting debate by young legal minds, each team will present their oral arguments before a panel of judges.
The mock trial will be held at the High Court of Justice on April 2 where learned members of the Antigua and Barbuda Bar Association will judge the competition.
The event is jointly sponsored by Richards & Company which will be offering an internship to the winners, and the Ministry of Legal Affairs which is offering an internship to the second-placed team.
Daniels, Phillips and Associates has also been added to the list of sponsors for this year.
Meanwhile, the parents of J’odette Paige, a finalist from 2021, are also providing a prize which will be in the name of J’odette and her mother.
The directors’ committee of the association comprises attorneys-at-law Andrena Athill, Kemar Roberts, Jeniece St Romain, and Curtis Cornelius, all of whom are practicing in Antigua and Barbuda.