Mock Trial students know this to be true: you don’t leave this group unchanged. Through practice and preparation, students become more polished, confident, professional, and able to speak publicly. Whether they will go on to pursue a career in law or not, they are better for the time they spent on the Mock Trial team.
What sets Mock Trial apart from the many co-curricular teams at GAC are the volunteer attorney coaches who support it. When our students went to the Georgia Mock Trial Competition recently, they were well prepared due in major part to the countless hours that attorney Joi Fairell, other members of the Fairell Firm, and Judge Tangela Barrie of the Superior Court of DeKalb County spent coaching the students. Ms. Fairell has enjoyed giving back as a Mock Trial coach for the last eight years. “I got my start while in law school and credit Mock Trial as the thing that helped me be a good litigator. You are required to process difficult scenarios and think outside the box. Were it not for Mock Trial, I think I would be afraid of the courtroom. I’ve seen lawyers do anything to avoid the courtroom, to the point that they will settle the case (to their clients’ detriment) just to avoid it. When judging job applicants, I actually favor people who have Mock Trial on their resume. Mock Trial teaches you how to think on your feet. You also learn confidence and how to speak boldly which is the crux of advocacy. The ability to stand strong in your position is something that you will have to do in life, whether for yourself, your child, or someone around you.”
With the support of the legal professionals and the work of faculty coaches Gary Crane and Mary Lynn Huett, GAC students placed second in the region and several students earned individual awards.
Eunice Park, two Outstanding Attorney Awards
Parker Hallock, two Outstanding Attorney Awards
Jena Vo, Outstanding Witness Award
Jessica Israel, Outstanding Attorney Award, Championship Round
Vincent Huynh, Outstanding Witness Award, Championship Round
Students advanced to the District Tournament on February 23. There they battled it out in four different courtrooms to finish the season. Eunice Park and Parker Hallock each received an Outstanding Attorney award, and Vanessa Huynh was honored with an Outstanding Witness award.
Reflecting on the season, Ms. Huett says she loves being a Mock Trial coach, mainly due to the incredible growth she sees in her students as a result of the experience. “When they arrive for individual tryouts, students are visibly nervous just to ask or answer a couple of questions. Five months later, participants deliver a flawless, 5-minute statement to a jury of adults with clear passion. Or we get to see witnesses testify with great confidence, artfully keeping opposing attorneys from discrediting their stories. These moments are always an amazing glimpse into the future of these young people.”
Eunice Park, a senior who has been a part of Mock Trial for the last three years, has watched Mock Trial change from something she was nervous about to something that she has a really fun time participating in. This year she is a defense attorney in charge of the closing argument after starting off as a witness her first year. Victoria Huynh, another senior, had this to say: “The fact that we all get to talk about the case together and each person has a different perspective on the same facts is one of the most interesting aspects. Because it’s a case designed that both sides have enough evidence, it’s challenging. You have to be able to make connections in new ways.”