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Mock trial competition this weekend
Eight schools will spar in Cumming
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Forsyth County News

If you’re going

The Georgia High School Mock Trial Competition is free and open to the public. The first round starts at 6 p.m. Friday and will last about two to three hours. Saturday’s second round will begin at 9 a.m., with the final round scheduled for 2 p.m. Trials will be held at three locations in downtown Cumming — the Forsyth County Courthouse, Forsyth County Administration Building and Cumming City Hall.

On Friday, 48 witnesses will take the stand in eight Forsyth County trials.

The defendants and plaintiffs in each of the cases will each be well represented by three attorneys.

But in these proceedings, it’s not about guilt or innocence, it is performance that matters. The cases are part of the Georgia High School Mock Trial Competition.

More than 60 attorneys are volunteering for the two-day event, which is being held at the Forsyth County Courthouse, Forsyth County Administration Building and Cumming City Hall. Among them is Melissa Banker, regional mock trial coordinator.

“The attorneys always give me feedback that it’s always enjoyable to watch this. It reminds us of why we do what we do,” Banker said. “We love it.”

The first round of the event will begin Friday night. The eight participating high schools — Lambert, North, South and West Forsyth, Pinecrest Academy, Cambridge, Lanier and Christian Home Educators Encouragement Resource — will be randomly paired against each other, Banker said.  

Jodi Gardner, Forsyth County government spokeswoman, said “students play the roles of attorneys and witnesses and professional attorneys and judges serve as the presiding judges and evaluators” during the trials.

The four teams with the highest scores Friday will be pitted against each other for what Banker called power matche when the event continues Saturday morning.

The four lower-scoring teams will also get to compete in the second round Saturday morning.

Following that round, the two top teams will compete Saturday afternoon for the right to advance to next month’s state competition.

According to Banker, students have prepared for everything in advance and get no help from teachers or attorneys during the actual trials.

“The only thing that lawyers do is judge the performances,” Banker said.

Students — the event will feature about 120 of them — are responsible for opening statements, examining witnesses and closing arguments. They’re allowed to object and must explain their objections before the judge.

Banker said “a lot of the schools have been practicing in the courthouse to get everything ready.”