2002 Mock Trial Results

Chattanooga team wins National High School Mock Trial

The national champion team members from Chattanooga are shown here with a second group of compeititor from the school after the two teams won first and second place at the Tennessee High School Mock Trial competition. Coaches are Matthew Hargraves (left) and Jeff Atherton (right). Members of the national title team are (from left) Beth Coleman, Daniel Wilkinson, Joshua Downer, Anna Downer, John Poston, Amber Gruber and Matthew Downer. Members of the runnerup FCA team were (from right) Jon Gibbons, Jesse Blankenship, Mandy Blankenship, Harvey Jones, Laurel Stinson and Joshua Stinson.

The Tennessee State High School Mock Trial championship team won the National High School Mock Trial Championship in St. Paul, Minn., on Saturday evening.

The team, a group of homeschoolers from Chattanooga representing Family Christian Academy, competed in four rounds of competition prior to the championship round. The competition rounds were against teams representing the following states: Rhode Island and Alabama on Friday, Michigan and Indiana on Saturday morning and afternoon.

After four rounds, the teams were scored on won/lost record, total number of points from each ballot, and total number of ballots received. Each round had three ballots available. Of the 12 ballots available in the first four rounds, the Tennessee team received 11 of 12 ballots, and went undefeated. They received the highest number of points and the highest number of ballots of all the teams competing.

In the final round the Tennessee team members were the plaintiff against a Pennsylvania team representing the defense. The final round had five scoring judges. Of the five ballots the Tennessee team won four. The fifth ballot was lost by only one point.

The team consists of Beth Coleman, Amber Gruber, John Poston, Daniel Wilkinson, Harvy Jones, and siblings Anna, Joshua, and Matthew Downer.

The team was coached by Jeff Atherton, an attorney with the law firm of Milligan, Barry, Hensley, and Evans in Chattanooga. Atherton is a homeschooling father of three and the vice president of the local homeschool association. He has coached the Chattanooga homeschool mock trial teams for the past 11 years.

Atherton was assisted by fellow attorney Matthew Hargraves, an associate with the same firm. Hargraves was a member of the first homeschool team coached by Atherton.

The trials were based on a hypothetical lawsuit stemming from the famous shipwreck of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald on Nov. 10, 1975.

Teams from 42 states, Guam, and the Mariana Islands competed.


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