In the matter of Her Majesty the Queen versus Harry Potter, the jury needed only 10 minutes to deliberate.
The boy wizard faced a charge of second-degree murder inside Yellowknife’s courthouse on Thursday, watched by more than 30 grade nine students from Sir John Franklin High School.
Lawyers and a judge staged the mock trial to show students how the territory’s real legal system operates.
The 90-minute trial saw Potter accused of murdering Professor Quirinus Quirrell in events approximating those of JK Rowling’s first book.
The prosecution called three witnesses: Rubeus Hagrid, Severus Snape, and an alleged mass murderer and dark lord who cannot be named for evil reasons.
Potter, taking to the stand himself, admitted he had “blacked out”, blaming that for his hazy recollection of the precise manner of Quirrell’s death.
Given the mess of conflicting testimony from the prosecution witnesses, it was no surprise when an impromptu jury – plucked from the onlooking students – swiftly acquitted Potter.
“I’m a big, big fan of Harry Potter’s,” jury foreman Pyper Ann Legge, 15, slightly rashly admitted to Moose FM at the trial’s conclusion.
“It was really interesting and fun. I thought it was cool.”
Legge said all but two of the jurors had immediately been in favour of a not-guilty verdict.
The remaining two had been persuaded by Legge’s encyclopedic knowledge of the Harry Potter series – introducing extraneous evidence that might, ordinarily, be grounds for a Crown appeal.
“There were a couple of things, facts from the films, that kind-of diverged,” she said.
“Also, Harry Potter was 10 years old when that took place [in the book and film]. I’m imagining they aged him up a bit.
“All of the witnesses supporting that Harry murdered Quirrell kept on changing their stories and making mistakes in their stories.”
Nick Leeson, the chair of the Young Lawyers’ Committee for the local branch of the Canadian Bar Association, helped to organize the trial as part of Law Week.
“The purpose of Law Week is to get rid of some of the mystique and mystery that goes along with the legal system, and help to spread public knowledge of the legal system as far as we can,” Leeson told Moose FM.
“This is an opportunity to introduce the students to the legal system and see how a criminal trial goes, as realistically as possible, without actually going to a real trial here.
“[Harry Potter] is something that all young people understand – and I’m not embarrassed to say older people know and love it, too. It makes it that much more exciting for the students, and at the same time it’s a learning opportunity.”