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18 Sep 2022

Mock Trial for Student-paralegals in Adjara

Student-paralegals had the opportunity to serve as jurors at a mock trial entitled State v. Bakar. The Legal Aid Service (LAS), with the support of the USAID Rule of Law Program, organized the mock jury trial, which focused on protection of the best interests of the child, at the Batumi City Court.

In his welcoming remarks, USAID Rule of Law Program Deputy Chief of Party Neil Weinstein addressed the student-paralegals stating: “In July, you learned about human trafficking, the best interests of a child and women's rights, and had career talks with judges, representatives of the Ombudsman, practicing lawyers, and civil society representatives. The second stage of the project starts now, when you will participate in the mock trial and, together with the LAS lawyers, visit the highlands of Adjara and meet with the local population to inform them about their rights and the services available for their protection. I am confident that these activities will provide you with worthwhile learning and interpersonal experiences.” 

“The whole idea of this project is to help people understand and know their rights. Therefore, we trained student-paralegals to help them decide about their profession before starting their legal career, and now we are giving them the opportunity to serve as human rights ambassadors and share their knowledge with communities in Adjara’s mountainous villages.” said Razhden Kuprashvili, LAS Director. 

The opposing parties to the criminal trial were represented by an experienced LAS lawyer Davit Simonia and a prosecutor from Tbilisi Ketevan Vashakidze. American Judge James Redwine and Batumi Court's criminal law Judge Levan Kolbaia acted as judges in the mock trial. It is noteworthy, that this was the first time an American judge participated in a mock trial held in Georgia and had the opportunity to observe the actions and strategies of the parties involved in the litigation process. 

“A jury trial is democracy in action, and a mock trial allows students to understand the importance of that democracy. My advice to students entering the legal profession is to be sure that you have the right motivation for going into the profession. If you are a dedicated lawyer or a dedicated judge, you have many opportunities to help many people; so, make sure you want to help people with your life, and if you want to help people then the legal profession is the number one place to help the most people.” – Judge Redwine told the students.  

“I had heard about the jury process, but never had an opportunity to observe how court cases with a jury are implemented. Throughout the mock trial, I felt like I was in a real court proceeding and was about to decide a person’s fate – life imprisonment, 4 to 8 years in jail, or freedom. Indeed, being at this process today was an invaluable experience for me. I had already made up my mind about my future profession, I want to become a lawyer, and this mock trial enabled me to observe how lawyers and prosecutors act and defend the best interest of a child and their clients in the name of the law. Being on a jury, I also realized how challenging and also interesting it is to be a judge.” - said student-paralegal Nino Gogitidze. 

Among those invited to the mock trial were representatives of local non-governmental organizations, students and lecturers of local higher education institutions, as well as local residents interested in the process.


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