The Successful Defendant, The Unsuccessful Defendant and The Burlington Youth Court

By: M. Biss

Think to your first day of high school, the principals whom all the students feared, the older well-dressed "cool-kids", the popular group of rough bullies that hang around the doors, and then you, a small insignificant little grade nine entering the doors of a society that is completely abstract to you. Don't remember this day? Well, just walk into the doors of the Burlington Youth Court and relive the experience.

The Principals of the courthouse

Fear is an effective influence towards the decision-making of another person. In high school, the principals provided us with a fear of authority. The phrase; "You stop that, or I will call the principal's office" is often used to threaten the actions of a young person. Fear is used in places of authority quite often. Police officers wear guns on their belts in courtrooms, though never used, it is human nature to feel threatened. In the hallways of the court police officers, the judge and the crowns (lawyers who represent the Queen i.e. the people who will accuse you) walk the halls with an aura of understanding of the system. It can be extremely intimidating for a person who does not understand how the system works. Research how the Canadian court system works and especially, discuss your current situation with a lawyer. Though these powerful people can be extremely intimidating, one must remember that if respected they can be a powerful asset.

The older well-dressed "cool-kids"

The older well-dressed "cool-kids" are indeed the lawyers. Some may find the stereotype of a greedy conservative difficult to separate from the reality of most lawyers. If you have a strong one on your side there is no need to fear the Youth Court, they will guide you through the process and explain the system to you. There is another important person/persons to have with you during a trial. This "cool-kid" is your parent/guardian. These person/persons have an incredible influence on our comfort-level within a courthouse. They also give a more remorseful appearance to those we need to impress (i.e. the judge). The appearance of remorse is crucial to a defendant, in that a judge will sympathize and give a more promising sentence towards someone with remorse. Therefore, the amount of remorse we reveal to the judge also plays a large impact on the success of the trial process.

The popular group of rough bullies

There will always be that group of teenagers that just do not care about their futures. Some people in the courthouse will be there on a charge and do not particularly care about the reprimanding. As a successful defendant, one must care about the consequences of their actions. Therefore, they must remember one thing; respect the court and the rules. Entering a courthouse, you WILL be judged upon your appearance and attitude. Just as one is categorized by how they speak, what they look like and whom they are with in a high school, in court be aware of social behaviour. One's social behaviour, however, should be primarily focused on the task put forth (the case) rather then being social amongst those people whom you recognize. Therefore, the most important thing about this group is to not become one of them. Focus supremely on winning the trial at hand rather then how you will look to the people you know afterward.

In conclusion

Courtroom society can sometimes seem like a classroom; however do NOT treat court as such. Bring your parents or guardians, dress conservatively, find a lawyer to be on your side (if you do not have enough funds for one, ask for legal aid on your first court appearance), and respect the establishment and you will have a much greater chance at succeeding.


Checklist for success: