High School Mock Trial Update

On March 3, 2018, the team from Jonesboro High School won the state championship in the Georgia High School Mock Trial competition, a program of the Young Lawyer’s Division. Jonesboro faced off against Union County High School in the final round, a program that made its final round debut in 2018.

The 2018 “problem,” the case devised by mock trial committee members and tried by high school students, had echoes in Georgia true-crime history. The fact pattern was modeled after the T.K. Harty case, an infamous murder-for-hire in Athens, in which a bar owner, John Mooney, contracted to have a rival, T.K. Harty killed. In the real case, both the bar owner and the hit man were convicted, see Mooney v. State, 243 Ga. 373 (1979), but in mock trial, a team’s success does not rise or fall with whether they’ve secured a guilty verdict or an acquittal. Instead, volunteer attorneys judge teams based on their presentation.

Jonesboro will make its ninth trip to the National High School Mock Trial Championship, beginning May 10, 2018 in Reno, Nevada. Georgia—and the YLD in particular—should have great interest in the national tournament this year, as Georgia will be the host state for the 2019 competition.

This will be the third time in almost 30 years Georgia has hosted the tournament, but the first time the tournament will be held outside of Atlanta. Beginning May 16 teams from across the country—and a few from beyond the United States—will convene in Athens for the national championship. The High School Mock Trial Committee is looking forward to showing off the Classic City and looking forward to recruiting help from the YLD to staff the tournament with evaluators and judges. The Committee expects that—as with the state competition—CLE credit, including professionalism and trial practice credit, will be available for attorneys who volunteer.

As for Reno this year, Jonesboro is expected to represent Georgia, which has a history of success at the national competition, well. In addition to its state championships, Jonesboro has more than a handful of runner-up titles, and the Jonesboro program has helped Georgia distinguish itself as a consistent standout in the national tournament. Georgia teams have won the national title four times: 1995, 1999, 2007, and 2008, with the latter two championships held by Jonesboro. Georgia has placed in the top ten at the national competition 16 out of the last 28 years—arriving there more times than not. Jonesboro High School last sent a team to nationals in 2016, and three students from that team will help lead the squad at this year’s national tournament.

Much of the Jonesboro program’s historic success can also be attributed to consistency in its coaching squad, all local members of the Clayton County bench and bar. The team is coached by Clayton County State Court Senior Judge John Carbo, Superior County Judge Katie Powers, and Solicitor General, Tasha Mosely. They’re assisted by a team of teacher coaches—Anna Cox and Andrew Cox. The team will incur significant travel expenses for Reno, and tax-deductible donations are welcome. Checks may be made payable to the “State Bar of Georgia Foundation” and sent to the State Bar’s Mock Trial office directly.

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