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Public school's mock trial wraps up today

Five District high school teams have registered to compete in the 2013 Region Eight Mock Trial Competition to be held over a two-day period at the Harold Banke Justice Center in Jonesboro.

Competition teams from Morrow, Elite Scholars, Riverdale, Jonesboro, and Lovejoy High Schools were to argue this year’s civil problem in simulated court cases that were set to begin Friday at 5 p.m. and continue today at 9 a.m.

The fictitious case before the court, Cowell v. Roberts, is a negligence suit filed by a high school student against the band director for the student’s injuries during practice.

Team members are currently working out the legal issues before they take their case to the courtroom, where they will act as attorneys, cross-examine witnesses, and dispute evidence.

There are no scripts for the students and the competition is judged on student presentations. Team members are evaluated on their ability to make a logical, cohesive and persuasive presentation, rather than on the legal merits of the case.

The team that wins the regional competition will join winners and two wild cards from 18 regions throughout the state that will attend the Georgia High School Mock Trial Competition on March 16-17 at the Gwinnett Justice Center. Some 125 schools have registered to compete in region competitions.

The state champion will advance to the National Championship to be held May 9-11 in Indianapolis.

Jonesboro High won the region championship last year, and continued to win its way to state and national tournaments. The team’s participation in the national contest, Empire Invitational, was punctuated by an unexpected extended stay in New York City after being directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Members were left stranded, unable to fly back to Jonesboro.

“We are excited about the region competition,” said Anthony Jackson, coach of Riverdale High’s team who placed second in last year’s competition. “We lost our veteran team last year, and we are relatively young, but we will be competitive again this year.”

Participation on mock trial teams helps to increase students’ understanding of and appreciation for the law, court procedures, and the legal system. It gives students the opportunity to learn firsthand about the law, and the judicial system while also helping with interpretation, critical thinking, and public speaking.

Mock trial competition began in Clayton County more than 25 years ago.