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Students shine in mock trial competition
Lambert High student TJ Hodge takes notes while competing with the school’s mock trial team in the Forsyth County regional competition at the courthouse in downtown Cumming. Lambert faced North Forsyth in the first round. - photo by Autumn McBride

High school students gathered in downtown Cumming on a recent morning to test their legal skills in Forsyth County’s first mock trial competition.

Until this year, local students had to travel as far as Athens to compete in the event, which is sponsored by the State Bar of Georgia.

Teams from all five local public high schools participated, as did students from Pinecrest Academy, a private school in south Forsyth.

In the end, West Forsyth edged Lambert for the title. The Wolverines’ legal skills will be tested next month, when they compete for the state title in Lawrenceville.

Clay White, staff attorney for Forsyth County Superior Court Judge David L. Dickinson and a coordinator for the event, said 95 to 100 students took part.

The competition spread from the county administration building and Cumming City Hall to the county courthouse.

About 42 attorneys and judges from Forsyth and other counties also participated.

“Some regions have more than one county and I think that certainly in the future if schools from a surrounding county ask to be in this region that would probably be approved, but this year it was the six teams just from Forsyth County,” White said.

He explained how the students tried a mock case involving a detective who had been fired from his job.

White said the detective’s employer held that the termination was the result of poor work performance. The detective felt it was because of something he had posted on a social networking site.

Although the case wasn’t real, White said it was meaningful to the students because of the cutting edge legal issues involved.

The students played various roles, such as witnesses and attorneys, in the proceedings.

Ann Reid, social studies coordinator for the Forsyth County school system, said having a local region had been a goal of late Superior Court Judge Richard “Stan” Gault.

She said Gault was involved in the mock trial competitions and coached a team from Forsyth Central High School.

“He had always talked about it, but it was just something that took many years to happen,” Reid said. “A number of attorneys and judges were involved with getting the approval from the state bar to actually have a region here. It was a wonderful thing.”

Reid, who helped coordinate the event, said the competition was well-supported by community groups, including local Rotary clubs, businesses and the county bar association.

“It was just a great experience for the kids to be in their community and to be able to participate,” Reid said.

“It allowed a lot of people to be able to watch the competition that might not have been able to go with them somewhere else.”