AR students present a case before court - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

AR students present a case before court

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Members of the Jonesboro High School Mock Trial Team won the State Mock Trial Competition on Saturday. The Arkansas Bar Association sponsors a competition every year.

These mock trials expose students to basic court room procedures. Students are given materials for a case before hand that contain witness statements and exhibits that would be in an actual trial. The students then prepare their case to go before a judge and jury.

Only they have to be prepared for both the prosecution and defense because they don't know which side they'll be arguing until after they get there. Senior Adison Marshall has been with the Mock Team for three years. Adison says participating in a mock trial event is not walk in the park.

"It's a lot of hard work because you have to see both sides of the case. You have to be able to know if I get this objection, how do I respond? What should I be objecting to and it's also a lot about presentation and mind games in figuring out what you think the other team is going to do, so a lot of it is thinking on your feet because you don't know what the other team is going to say or do."

Fellow Senior Brittany Webb says there's definitely a lot to it. "There are so many parts. You can do an opening or a closing. It's like writing an oratory. You write your own speech and memorize it and then try to influence the jury. If you're a witness you have to become that person and if you're an attorney you have to develop your own sense of questions. So, it's a lot of work. We've worked quite a few months on this."

Coach for the Mock Trial Team, Wright Porter, says he's very proud of the work his students have accomplished. "I'm extremely proud of them. The students that do this practice on their own time. They don't get a grade for this and have to balance it with their other activities and class work. These kids do that very well."

Adison says being a part of this team has helped her tremendously when it comes to speaking in public. "I have learned more about how to speak better in public. I've learned how to speak more clearly and deliberately and how to have a confidence and not be scared of speaking in front of people."

Brittany says she learned a lot being a part of the team. "I've learned not only to be a better speaker, but also how to convey emotions when I speak. When I started out I was very robotic. Mock trials have given me more personality when I speak, so it's not as difficult to draw somebody in. But it has also helped me with understanding where other people come from and seeing two sides to everything."

Adison says her favorite part of the debate is the improvising she and fellow team mates must do during competition. "My favorite part is thinking on your feet. The analytical part of it. When you go up against another team and you don't know what kind of answer they're going to give you. So, you have to be aware of what points you want to make, how to get them out and how to respond quickly and effectively back to what the other team says."

Brittany says being part of a mock trial team really help students work together. "When you work on mock trial you really depend on the work that you do, but also focusing as a team. So, you help yourself and you learn how to help others."

Adison says being a part of the Mock Trial Team helps her in other classes and may even be providing her with some valuable life skills. "It's something that's so unique and different. You really get close to your team mates because you're thinking together. You're problem solving together. And it's a different way of thinking. It gives you a broader spectrum of how to tackle problems differently and things like that. So, it really does help you address other academic subjects and things like that."

One thing both girls seemed in agreement on was being in shock when they beat Parkview High School who won the past two years in a row. Adison, "It was a complete shock. I actually don't even remember hearing we won. I remember grabbing Ashton, my team mate, and Brittany and yelling. It was surreal."

Brittany, "I really didn't believe it. I had to look down at the name badge I was wearing to double check and read defense to realize we had really won! It was a wonderful experience to realize all our hard work had paid off."

This team will be headed to compete at nationals the first week in May. They'll be traveling to Phoenix, Arizona.

For more information about Jonesboro High School and it's Mock Trial Team, you can log onto their website.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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