Bloor CI's Law Society is this year’s top entry in the Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN) province-wide Charter Challenge competition after winning its case at the Ontario Court of Appeals at Osgoode Hall. In the annual challenge, submissions from two finalists are selected from hundreds of high schools all across Ontario to present arguments regarding a human rights/Charter issue to a panel of real judges.
This year, the case was presided over by Justice Lois Roberts of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, with support from in-house legal counsel and the 2018-2019 judicial clerkship program at the appellant court. The Bloor CI team, an all-female group comprised of grade 12 students Yasmin Adina, Rahma Binth Mohammad, Natalie Tateishi, and Sadie Tremblay, faced a well-prepared team of grade 12 students from Richmond Hill. Sadie Tremblay also received the Justice Gloria Epstein Award for Oral Advocacy.
The issue highlighted this year addressed the question of whether defendants in Ontario are entitled to a jury roll that is exactly representative of a given population. In the case before the court, a criminal defendant facing a trial had been granted a temporary one-year stay of proceedings by a trial judge, arguing that the jury roll was not proportionally representative of their community.
The Bloor team made oral arguments as the appellant, submitting a 21-page factum asserting that no Charter violations were committed. In winning its appeal in a majority decision, two of the three judges noted that the appellants did a good job of arguing no Charter violations had occurred, and that the previous judge erred in their application of the law. They ultimately agreed with the appellants’ suggested suspended declaration of invalidity as a solution to the central issue of the case. The judges also remarked on the fact that, at many points throughout the hearing, they had lost sight of the fact that both teams were comprised of students – a high level of praise that explained the difficulty of the questions the judges presented to the students throughout their oral arguments. The case was a complicated one, and has been used in a previous year for a third year law school student mock trial competition.
“They've been shortlisted three times in the last two years,” said teacher and staff advisor Luis Filipe, noting that this was the first time the team was selected as a finalist. “There are hundreds of submissions for this competition from high schools all across Ontario, so having a TDSB school make the finals is pretty special.”
All four students are set to continue their studies at universities this Fall. Rahma Binth Mohammad is interested in further exploring the field of law and will be attending U of T as an undergrad. Yasmin Adina in interested in Political science and will be at Ryerson. Medical Science at Western University is on the horizon for Natalie Tateishi, while Sadie Tremblay heads off to Scotland and the University of Dundee for Forensic Anthropology.