Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Battle in Court Competition Tests Legal Savvy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Battle in Court Competition Tests Legal Savvy

Article excerpt

BRUNSWICK -- About 75 high school students spent yesterday in

Glynn County's five courtrooms.

No, they weren't in trouble. The students, representing five

Southeast Georgia high schools in the Coastal Georgia Regional

Mock Trial Competition, competed in hopes of making it to the

state championship rounds in Lawrenceville March 14 and 15.

Last year's juggernaut, Ware Magnet School, which won the state

title and went to nationals, won the regional competition again

this year, defeating Wayne County High in the finals. Also

competing were Ware County High, Coffee County High and S.C.

Johnson High from Savannah.

Eating a sandwich lunch in mid-afternoon, Devon Jackson of

Coffee County said team members miss a lot.

"We've sacrificed many days for practice. We're used to staying

inside for two hours when it's bright and sunny," she said.

The seriousness of the competition was apparent when, before

competing, Johnson students Ylonda Stephens, Joi Stevens and

Michole Williams huddled and held hands in a quick prayer.

"We're praying we'll do well. We're hoping everything will go

as planned," Joi said.

In mock trial, the teams are split into defense teams and

prosecution teams. They face off against other schools in

courtrooms where a lawyer presides as judge and two or three

other lawyers, mostly from the Glynn County Bar yesterday,

evaluate their performances and give points. The points from two

initial rounds were tabulated to pick two finalists.

The evaluators must judge the performance of witnesses as well

as those portraying lawyers.

Joe Cornelius, Ware Magnet's lead prosecutor, presented his

opening case as if to a jury.

As a result of a hazing incident, freshman Jamie Johnson died

during an hazing ritual at Metropolitan University, Cornelius

said.

It didn't matter whether Johnson wanted to participate,

Cornelius said. Defendant Pat Peterson, the pledge master,

should be found guilty of hazing and manslaughter, he said. …

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