High School Students to Compete in State Mock Trial Competition This Weekend

Schools from across the state to compete March 18-19 in Nashville

NASHVILLE, March 16, 2016 — High school teams from across Tennessee will put their legal skills to the test during the Tennessee Bar Association's 36th annual mock trial championship in Nashville this weekend, March 18-19. Media is welcome to attend the event at the historic Davidson County Courthouse.

Rounds on Friday begin at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. On Saturday, the competition continues with rounds at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to determine which two teams will compete in the final match up at 5 p.m. Sitting judges in Tennessee will preside over the four preliminary rounds and Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee will preside over the championship round.

Awards for teams placing third through 10th place and for students named best attorneys and best witnesses will be presented at a ceremony beginning at approximately 3:30 p.m. in the ballroom of the downtown Doubletree Hotel, 315 4th Ave. North, Nashville 37219. TBA President Bill Harbison will be on hand to give remarks.

“The high school Mock Trial program has long been a centerpiece of the Young Lawyers Division of the Tennessee Bar Association,” Harbison said. “I am looking forward to attending as President of the TBA, both to see the great work of so many volunteers and talented students, and to celebrate these achievements of the YLD.”

To reach the state championship, the 16 teams had to win district competitions by playing the roles of attorneys and witnesses in a fictitious case developed by the TBA’s Young Lawyers Division.

The following schools will be represented at this year’s state competition:

  • Unicoi County High School, Erwin  
  • Jefferson Co. High School, Dandridge 
  • Clinton High School, Clinton  
  • McCallie School, Chattanooga 
  • Chattanooga SE TN Home Education Association (CSTHEA), Chattanooga
  • Beech High School, Hendersonville 
  • Pope John Paul II, Hendersonville  
  • Eagleville High School, Eagleville 
  • Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville 
  • Harpeth Hall, Nashville 
  • Ravenwood High School, Brentwood 
  • Agathos Classical School, Columbia 
  • Dyersburg High School, Dyersburg 
  • Home Life Academy, Jackson
  • St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Memphis 
  • White Station High School, Memphis 

This year, teams are presenting the case of Stepinghuf vs. Thorobern. The fictional case is a products liability lawsuit against Thorobern, a manufacturer of appliances for recreational vehicles. The suit is being brought by Ashton Stepinghuf, a semi-professional rodeo junkie and walking horse aficionado who shows horses and rides bulls. In 2011, Stepinghuf purchased a top-of-the-line customized horse trailer that included a luxurious living room, bedroom, full bath and kitchen with a gas range and stove, refrigerator and microwave. In 2014, a fire (which was later determined to have begun near the refrigerator) damaged the trailer and an adjacent barn. While searching for information about Thorobern, Stepinghuf learned that several similar fires had occurred across the country – all tied to the company’s refrigerator. Stepinghuf hired an attorney and filed suit, alleging that the refrigerator was defective and spontaneously caught fire, and that Thorobern acted intentionally, maliciously, fraudulently and/or recklessly. Thorobern denied all liability, asserting that its product was not the cause of the fire, and arguing that Stepinghuf intentionally altered the cooling unit to cause a fire.

About 200 students, teachers and coaches will participate in the event. Another 200 volunteers – mostly judges, lawyers, paralegals and law students – will give of their time and expertise to make the competition run smoothly.

We welcome press coverage at the event and cameras are permitted. For entrance to the courthouse, please use the doors off of James Robertson Parkway and come to the Registration Desk on the ground floor located near the elevators.

          | TBA Law Blog

The Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) is the largest professional association in Tennessee with more than 13,000 members. Founded in 1881, the TBA provides opportunities for continuing legal education, professional development and public service. The TBA’s dedication to serving the state’s legal community is evidenced by its membership roll, which represents the entire spectrum of legal practice: plaintiff and defense lawyers, corporate counsel, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, government lawyers and legal services attorneys.