Bearden’s mock trial is ready to begin this year with successful senior members and several new students.
Seniors Marianne Dodson and Caroline Rogers, who have been members of mock trial since their freshman years, have won best prosecution witness and best prosecution attorney, respectively, at the state level two years in a row.
“Individually, they are unprecedented record-setters,” sponsor Mr. Matt McWhirter said. “But for a school to have best attorney and best witness both in successive years at the state level, I know that’s never been done.”
In a mock trial, students act out a fictional court case as attorneys and witnesses as they make a case and present it in an actual courtroom. Each school represents either the prosecution or the defense, competing against other schools who represent the opposite.
“It’s fun being in a courtroom,” Dodson said. “It’s really scary, but when you’re in the stand and you tell someone off or nail them on a point they weren’t expecting, it feels really good.”
Winning these awards required a thorough knowledge of the details of their assigned case in order to answer questions and cite information on the spot. The recipients at the state level are decided by the mock trial’s presiding judges, who are actual judges in Tennessee courts.
“For them to select Caroline and Marianne two years in a row as best attorney and best witness really says a lot,”Mr. McWhirter said. “These are the highest judicial officials in the state saying ‘these are the guys’.”
This year, the mock trial will see more beginners in addition to those who have been members in previous years.
“We have a lot of new members on the team this year, and I think it’ll be really cool to see the new people and some new perspectives in the club,” Rogers said.
Also, this year’s trial will be a criminal trial, which will likely bring an interesting story to the courtroom. The cases rotate between civil and criminal each year.
Dodson and Rogers began mock trial as freshmen. Now as seniors, they hope to make it to state for their last year.
“They’re to the point where I can’t coach them,” Mr. McWhirter said. “They know it better than I can tell them.”