The teams of 12 students competed all day Saturday at the Cobb State Courthouse for the right to move on to the state mock trial competition. From Cobb, teams came from Harrison, Kennesaw Mountain, South Cobb, Sprayberry, Walton, Mt. Paran Christian, North Cobb Christian and the Walker School. Teams from Chapel Hill High in Douglasville and Northview High in Duluth also participated.
After a day of competition, Northview advanced to the March 16 to 17 state finals in Lawrenceville, narrowly beating out Mt. Paran.
“Apparently, the region over in Duluth had too many high schools, so they had to come over here to compete,” said Judge Toby Prodgers, who oversees the competition.
Even though Cobb came up short, Prodgers said the event serves a valuable purpose. He compares the 11th annual Cobb Regional Mock Trail Competition to a team sport.
“Not everybody can compete in football or basketball, but this is the same idea,” he said. “Students have to work together as a team to be able to work against each other as adversaries.”
Each school breaks into two teams for the mock civil negligence case, with six students working as plaintiffs and the other six on the defense. The two teams would face different opponents, but their scores are combined.
The teams went through two preliminary rounds before two finalists met Saturday evening. Each trial involved the case of a band teacher at fictional Milton County High School who was sued because one of his students fell ill after being forced to run outside on a hot day.
Some students have participated in the event for years. This year marked the second competition for Walton senior Alex Waldron, 17.
“I like the matching of wits against the other team, and finding specific pieces of information that are damaging to the other team,” he said.
For the South Cobb High team, this was the school’s first time participating.
“I feel like we’re setting the bar for every competition our school ever does,” South Cobb junior Esther Osim, 16, said before serving as defense attorney. “I want to do really well so our school can look good.”
Prodgers said the key to the competition is the 50 attorneys and judges who volunteer to coach the kids in the months leading up to the competition, and also grade them or serve as judges during the event.
“They put in a lot of time,” he said. “It’s a real commitment on their part to do that.”
Marietta criminal defense lawyer Steve Cook has participated in the event each year it’s taken place. The coach of the Sprayberry team said he has seen several of his students go on to law school.
“It creates a spark that they might want to do this,” he said. “Really, most of the students aren’t going to be lawyers, it’s just something that’s good for them to participate in. It’s the best academic experience in high school.”