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Mock trial event enlivens courthouse
Mock WEB 1
Justin Kalin, left, Abigail Dillon and Alexa Osterloh work together during the regional mock trial event. - photo by Autumn Vetter

North Forsyth High Mock Trial Team

• Student members: Tosha Brown, Emma Browning, Chelby Coley, Abigail Dillon, Kaitlyn Doyle, Vanna Galbreath, Davis Galland, Justin Kalin, Josh Kimbral, Steven King, Joel Knost, Emmalee Lightcap, Brittany Mashburn, Emily Mueller, Alexa Osterloh, Chad Smith and Marina Wolff

• Attorney coaches: Frank Hamilton, Ellie Lauren Terry, Ryan Klee, Ginger Wills and John Terry

• Teacher coach: Kathy Vail

North Forsyth High School won this year’s regional Georgia Mock Trial Competition.

The event, held Saturday at the Forsyth County Courthouse, featured teams from Forsyth Central, Lambert and North, South and West Forsyth high schools, as well as Pinecrest Academy.

Melissa Banker, an attorney who serves as coordinator for the region, said about 120 students from the six schools took part.

The Georgia Mock Trial Competition gives students an opportunity to participate in a fictional court case.

Every school in the state is given the same scenario and alternate between acting on the side of the defense and prosecution.

“This year the case was a criminal case,” Banker said. “The prosecution was trying to prove murder and the defense was trying to prove self-defense.”

Real judges and attorneys evaluated three rounds of competition Saturday to determine the champion.

All teams competed in two preliminary rounds, while the top teams advanced to the championship round.

Attorneys also worked with each of the school teams as they prepared for competition.

“Without those attorneys and judges there would be no mock trial,” Banker said.

State Court Judge Alan Jordan from Cherokee County volunteered Saturday.

He said participating in mock trial is something he looks forward to each year.

“As a judge I usually see people who are in trouble,” he said. “Seeing young folks doing something positive is a nice change.

“All the teams have been outstanding. I’ve been very impressed with all of them.”

Banker agreed all participants did a great job Saturday.

“They all go through two rounds of competition, so that’s like working two full trials in one day,” she said. “Even if they don’t win, that’s a major accomplishment.”

Each team includes students who portray attorneys and witnesses. They are evaluated based on their ability to present a logical, cohesive and persuasive presentation.

Banker, who took part in mock trial while a student at Central, said the experience gives students a wide range of positive experiences.

“It’s acting and playing a role. It’s like drama, but you get to write your own script,” she said. “But you also have to be able to think on your feet and make adjustments based on what the opposing team does.”

North will compete at the state competition the weekend of March 17-18 in Lawrenceville.

The top Georgia team will move on to national competition May 3-6 in New Mexico.

Banker said she was pleased to see North take top honors, since it’s led by teacher coach Kathy Vail.

“Those of us who grew up in Forsyth County know that we have mock trial here because of Ms. Vail,” Banker said. “She brought it to the area back when there was only one high school here.

“She’ll be retiring after this year, so it was very nice to see her team get to go on to state competition.”