Going to court without paying a dime

By Gina Loitz

It’s not a kissing booth, but it’s the next best thing. The Court of Queen’s Bench in downtown Calgary will be setting up an “Ask a Lawyer Booth,” among other displays and events, as part of their 26th annual Law Day.

The event promises a free, activity-filled day dedicated to introducing the general public to key people in the judicial system, while promoting access to justice and challenging some myths around current Alberta law.

While stressing that the event promotes access to justice, Law Day committee co-chair Wayne Barkauskas wants one message to be clear.

“We want to illustrate how the courts are not accessible to the average person,” he said. “You do require a special pass to be a part of the legal system.”

“There will be approximately 40 different booths set up by organizations around the city where one can seek legal assistance outside the courts–including the University of Calgary’s law booth,” Barkauskas said. “However, if you are in a situation where you need to go to court, Law Day offers insight and information as to what can be expected, illustrative through the mock trials and demonstrations.”

Several high school students will take to the bench for the annual Mock Trial Tournament. There will also be the opportunity to witness 150 new Canadians as they are sworn in at the Citizenship Court. Serious court proceedings are made informal and entertaining, such as a family law trail starring Calgary community mascots and “The Case of the Pirate Princess,” a mock trial presentation for the youngsters.

The Court of Queen’s Bench was revamped last year, ensuring the event will be more accessible.

“[The courthouse] is designed with ease of use in mind, like walking into an airport where you can gather information easily on where you need to go,” said Barkauskas. Law Day is free for all and runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sat., Apr. 19.

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