December 30, 2015. After a drunken night, three young people still decided to get in their car. Julie, the young driver, who was driving well at the authorized speed limit, left the road. He came out unscathed, but this was not the case with his two friends: Anthony died of his injuries, Steven survived, but now has to deal with a serious disability. Cases like this, there are hundreds, every day, in French courts.
To make young people aware of the dangers of alcohol driving but also about an educational exercise, about twenty high school students in the HLP terminal (humanities, literature and philosophy) from Jehan-de-Beauce of Chartres wore. the magistrates in gown, the time of a “serious game”, with all the most serious on the court of Chartres.
Esther, the civil party’s lawyer, pleaded in front of her colleagues. © Quentin Reix
An exercise that was carefully prepared for several months, accompanied by prefecture services. “We determined the case we were going to do in July and, throughout the year, different speakers came to meet the high school students, to present the legal professions, but also the case”, determined Émilie Bathier, professor of project fee philosophy.
“The idea is not to make a play, but a real act of file management and reflection, based on letters from relatives in particular, so that students can read the history of these people.»
Emilie Bathier (philosophy professor)
One way, too, to evoke many of the themes of the philosophy program for final -year students: ethics and morality, or even justice. “The first semester of the terminal also answers the question of self-discovery, by thinking about whether we are defined by our own actions. Dealing with this case allows us to understand many dimensions,” added Émilie Bathier.
High school students from Jehan-de-Beauce in Chartres work together in their living environment
Under live condition
For two hours, high school students followed each other to the bar to tell the story of Julie, Steven and Anthony: from presenting facts to deliberation, the audience was more real than life. Divided into several groups (judges, prosecutors, civil parties, defense), they, until now, were unaware of the arguments and requests of others, each of whom cared to write.
This case, like thousands of others, is especially heard by young people. “This is a confusing case with simple issues: youth, speed, alcohol… It tells them, identifying themselves is very simple for students”, said Pénélope Cardon, deputy prosecutor.
The court was full of attendance at this mock trial. © Quentin Reix
“Avoiding isn’t just TV ads”
For new magistrates, this false trial was successful. “I was very stressed before the hearing started but, in the end, I was happy: I broke my limits and put myself in space”, smiled Esther, the civil party’s lawyer.
Three novelties announced for the start of the 2022 school year at Jehan-de-Beauce high school in Chartres
“We know this type of case is very common. It’s good to be able to file a case that shows how far it can go. Detention isn’t just about TV ads,” Chloé continued.
This operation, which has already been implemented, will have to be repeated next year.