Schools From Across the State to Compete at State Mock Trial Competition - Articles

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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Mar 12, 2008

Two-day event to be held in Nashville

NASHVILLE, March 12, 2008 -- High school teams from across Tennessee will put their legal skills to the test during the Tennessee Bar Association's annual competition in Nashville this weekend, March 14-15. This year's competition is being held at the newly renovated, historic Davidson County Civil Courthouse downtown. To reach the state competition, the 16 teams had to win district competitions by playing the roles of attorneys and witnesses in a fictitious case developed by the Tennessee Bar Association Young Lawyers Division.

This year, teams presented Sidney Young v. Riley Gardner, a civil case resulting from a car accident involving teenagers. The teenage driver was allegedly speeding and text messaging while driving a car filled with high school students. When the teen's car skidded off the road and hit a telephone pole, the front seat passenger sustained significant injuries. As usual, the case presents quite a few twists and turns. Conflicting testimony sheds doubt on whether it was the driver or the passenger who was "texting" at the time of the accident. Also, questions are raised about the roles that alcohol, road conditions, and a tire blowout may have played in the crash.

This year's case is relevant to current events in the community as it highlights some of the difficulties that legislators and other community leaders face when trying to create ordinances prohibiting texting while driving. The case materials include a sample statute on texting while driving that was adopted from another state's proposed legislation on the subject. While Tennessee has no current law prohibiting texting while driving, community leaders and lawmakers have routinely expressed interest in curbing the growing risk of cell phone usage on the roads.

Competitions in mock trial routinely attract students from various backgrounds. While some students may be interested in pursuing a legal career, many are drama students. The state competition brings out some of the most talented and bright students from our state high schools. About 200 students, teachers and coaches will participate in the event. The program would not run without the 200 volunteers -- mostly judges, lawyers, paralegals and law students -- who give of their time and expertise.

Sitting judges in the state will preside over the four preliminary rounds on Friday and Saturday, while Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch Jr. will preside over the championship match Saturday evening. The rounds are scheduled as follows:

Round 1 begins at 3 p.m. on Friday
Round 2 begins at 6 p.m. on Friday
Round 3 begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday
Round 4 begins at 12:30 pm on Saturday

The following schools will be represented at the state competition (listed in alphabetical order):

* Brentwood High School, Brentwood
* Clarksville High School, Clarksville
* Dobbyns-Bennett High School, Kingsport
* Dyersburg High School, Dyersburg
* Family Christian Academy (2 teams competing), Chattanooga
* Hume-Fogg Academic High School, Nashville
* Jefferson County High School, Dandridge
* Memphis University School, Memphis
* Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville
* South Greene High School, Greeneville
* Springfield High School, Springfield
* St. Mary's Episcopal School, Memphis
* Tullahoma High School, Tullahoma
* Warren County High School, McMinnville
* West High School, Knoxville