By anguillian August 17, 2012 09:25



Justice Don Mitchell

Justice Don Mitchell, who has become a most successful tutor in law at the Albena Lake-Hodge Comprehensive School, told The Anguillian on Monday, this week, that he was pleased to learn that five of his students achieved grade one passes in the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations (CAPE).


The former High Court Judge, now acting as an Appeal’s Court Judge, said: “I was so pleased to hear that five students got ones in law. Some got threes and other marks and others failed, no doubt, but the children did very well.”


Mr. Mitchell started teaching law at theComprehensiveSchoolsome five or six years ago, when he first took over temporarily from Lawyers Tara Carter (now Ruan) and Keesha Webster (now Carty). “I started off with about eight students in the first year. Then the number went up to 16 and the year after that I had thirty students,” he recalled. “I warned the Principal, Mrs. Lake, that she will have to build a very big classroom for me because soon I expect to have a hundred students but it hasn’t reached that high yet. Last year was the biggest class when there were forty-two students registered to do A- level law (nowCAPE).”


Mr. Mitchell continued: “That is the course I am now teaching and I am so pleased with it because the students seem to be enjoying it. I do one unit a year. This past year we did public law and that unit consists of constitutional and administrative laws, criminal law andCaribbeanlegal systems. This year, starting in September, we are going to be doing private law. That unit again consists of three subjects – contracts, torts and law land. I alternate them that way so that every student who wishes to sit one unit in Form 6B can do three subjects in law and, then in Form 6A, they can do the other three subjects so  complete the two units in law.


“Those students who want to do an Associate Degree in Business have to do the unit which we are doing this year because it contains contract law which is obviously important for business. I am looking forward to students joining up this year. I don’t know how many I am going to get, but the class will consist of three different types of students. The 6A students will probably all be the ones who were in 6B this year. I had twenty students in 6B this past year. Some of them will want to do the new unit in private year. Then I will have the new students who are coming into 6B for the first time out of Form 5 where they were last year.


“I will also have the adults. The school authorities have been very kind by allowing adult students to enter the school to attend my law class. Last year I had ten of them registered and I regret that only one of them saw itthrough to the bitter end and did the exam. A lot of them were police officers who had a lot of duties that interfered with their ability to attend classes in the middle of the day. They told me that if it was night classes it would have been easier for them but I really cannot handle doing classes in the day and in the night.”


Mr. Mitchell further explained how he is able to run the classes while serving on the Bench outsideAnguilla. “The only reason I can do it now that I am doing this job of sitting on the Court of Appeal, is with the help of the Bar,” he acknowledged. “There are six or seven Anguillian lawyers who have kindly volunteered to do the lectures for me in the weeks that I am in another island. That is quite frequently because I spend like one week in Anguilla and then one week inGrenada, one week back in Anguilla and one week inSt. Vincent. So I alternate one week in Anguilla with one week out ofAnguillafor most of the year. Therefore, I need volunteer teachers to teach the law course and so the Bar has taken up the challenge. I don’t think a single week of lectures has been missed and for that I am very grateful.


“The same thing will happen this coming year. I do all the marking and grading of the papers. The volunteer teachers only have to take my lecture notes which are fully prepared and annotated. They go into the class and all of the students have a full lecture note in front of them which is nearly completely adequate for the exam. Of course, nothing will beat having your own textbook but the teacher only has to explain my full lecture note to the students who have a copy in front of them.”


Mr. Mitchell continued: “I am looking forward to having a nice full class again this year. There are only three qualifications to join the law class inAnguilla. The first qualification is that you must be able to read; the second is that you must be able to write; and the third is you must be willing to learn. You don’t have to have a good mark in English or in History or in Literature because I am not teaching people who want to become lawyers.


“I am really teaching young people who will be going into private business or private life…I think everybody inAnguillashould know their rights. I don’t believe that we should continue the way we were in the past where nobody inAnguillaknows the constitution…and everybody is supposed to know his or her rights. That is another reason why I believe that teaching law inAnguillais important. When I die of old age, in a few years’ time, I want to leave behind hundreds upon hundreds of Anguillians who will have studied both private law and public law…”


Mr. Mitchell said that his teaching of law was a deliberate and concerted effort to produce young Anguillians knowledgeable about the law. “Regardless of what they are going to do in life – whether becoming police officers, civil servants, secretaries, business people, computer experts, or managers of family businesses – they are going to have a background in law,” he added.


By anguillian August 17, 2012 09:25


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