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Tesla on trials-by-jury

"It’s nice to have a foot in the door of the rest of the world."

Deakin law student, Tesla Kavanagh's 2015 Governor-General’s Prize submission has been shortlisted.

An annual essay writing competition, the Governor-General’s Prize  gives any locally-enrolled undergraduate or Juris Doctor student the opportunity to explore questions on a set theme. This year’s topic was in celebration of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.

Tesla’s essay explores: ‘What is the nature of the “trial” that section 80 of the Australian Constitution protects? Why does the right to trial by jury have a different constitutional status at Commonwealth and State levels? Does this matter?’

'I chose this question because I had studied jury trials before. I wanted to further dip my toes into researching on my own and see if I was capable of doing something on my own.

'I started writing this essay about two weeks before my trimester one law exams, obviously I didn’t have enough on my plate with four law exams. Why not write another essay?

'Trial-by-jury, being judged by our peers, is surprisingly uncommon. It matters because trial-by-jury is symbolic of democracy. Where people from the community listen to all the facts on offer and judge the merits of the case on their own.'

With graduation looming close, Tesla says studying at Deakin has been a great experience, having learnt a lot and making many lifelong friends.

‘The people you study with, and the people you learn from at Deakin, are real people.

‘It’s nice to have a foot in the door of the rest of the world.’

Tesla is also very involved with Deakin student life. Tesla is one of the founding members, and current president, of the Deakin Philosophy Society, as well as the founder of Deakin University PoliticalSpace.

‘These groups have been a great forum for meeting new people, with different experiences and backgrounds, and for exploring new ideas in a congenial environment.’

Tesla definitely recommends that students consider competing in the Governor General’s Prize essay competition next year, ‘because it was such a good challenge, to show yourself that you can take a topic, run with it, and have a Justice of the High Court read your work. Maybe they’ll even enjoy it.’

‘The due date was about a week and a half after our trimester one exams finished, 30 June. Which meant that you actually had time to dedicate to churning out something really good, and it has been so awesome to be able to produce something that you are really proud of.’

The next step for Tesla’s submission is an interview panel on Thursday 29 October.

For more information on the Governor General’s Prize visit the CEFA website.

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