Jonesboro mock trial continues success

By Greg Gelpi

Continuing its tradition of success, the Jonesboro High School mock trial team again proved its legal prowess.

Jonesboro High's practice before school, after school and weekends paid off as the team finished in second place in the field of 15 teams at the state championship competition Saturday.

The perennial success of the Jonesboro High Mock Trial team can be attributed to attorney volunteers, the students and the momentum the team has gained through the years, team sponsor Matt Ford, who has been with the team for three years, said.

"I have what I consider to be one of the best attorney teams in the state," he said. "They dedicate more than 12 hours a week to the kids."

And the students themselves are "very enthusiastic, very teachable," Ford said.

"It helps that just about every student on our team is a workaholic," Ford said. "The major work gets done outside the courtroom between students."

Senior Rachel Holmes, 18, said the team spends so much time together, in fact, that it has become like a family.

The combination of the students and volunteers has created a rolling "ball of success," Ford said. "That big ball is behind us, pushing us along."

Jonesboro High knows what it takes to be successful and is sticking to that guide, Ford said.

"Someone who can think on their feet," Ford said. "That's a good mock trial member. What makes a good team is a group of those people."

For senior Cory Henry, 17, mock trial is practice for what he plans to do as a career, calling the legal profession one of his goals. Ultimately, he wants to be a juvenile court judge.

"It has helped me to make sure that this is something that I really want to do," Henry said.

Although it has been more work than he expected, it has been a "good opportunity" to learn more about the legal system, he said.

"You have to set a higher standard of dedication," Henry said.

Clayton County State Court Judge John Carbo, who volunteers as a team attorney coach, said that Jonesboro High has enjoyed a tradition of success for 15 years. The school won the state championship in 2002 and 2003 and was runner up last year.

"This transcends legal education," Carbo said. "It's really much more than that."

Mock trial helps participants organize their thoughts, organize their time and prepare, he said.

Mock trial also requires good actors and communicators, Ford said.

"Perhaps only a few of our kids will actually end up being lawyers," Ford said, but added that many will be better prepared for whatever career they choose.

Holmes, who hopes to pursue a career in singing, said that it is beneficial to her career as well, explaining that the skills necessary for the public performance of mock trial translates to those needed for the public performance of singing. Mock trial also helps her acting skills, since she has to become her character during competition.

Jonesboro High team members are Lindley Curtis, Chris Wood, Cannie Braswell, Britt Walden, William Marshall, Michelle Kennel, Henry, Maggie Benefield, Ashley Winsor, Nikki Lane, Holmes, Laura Parkhouse, Gary Chavis, Cynthia Clemmons, Amanda Malcom, Christine Sawyer and America Salomon.

The team's teacher and attorney coaches are Ford, Dan Greer, Carbo, Tasha Mosley, Bonnie Smith, Katie Powers and Thomas Florio.