Last summer Aiken High junior Carter Hunt realized he wasn’t doing anything with his life.
Through his encouragement, teachers Emily Geyer and Worth Swearingen are sponsoring a mock trial team at AHS.
Hunt and other team members will participate in a regional meet at the University of South Carolina’s School of Law on Saturday.
Mock trials give teens the chance to take part in a trial format – portraying members of the plaintiff and defense teams, witnesses, plaintiffs and defendants. The program is sponsored by the S.C. Bar’s Law Related Education Division.
“I did this at Schofield (Middle School),” Hunt said. “There are a lot of things we don’t know yet, but we’re learning to be creative.”
Aiken High’s team will compete against A.C. Flora, Ft. Mill, Lexington, Mid-Carolina, Nation Ford and Spring Valley.
North Augusta High will participate in another regional at the Lexington County Summary Court Center. The other contestants will be Blythewood, Chapin, Dreyer, Dutch Fork, Irmo, St. Frances Xaiver and York Preparatory Academy. A total of 12 teams from five regional contests will move onto the state finals to be held March 8 and 9.
Brandon Muniz also participated in mock trial at Schofield. He and Hunt will portray attorneys in a fictitious class. Unlike like most actual trials, the teams for the defense and plaintiff split the duties of talking to witnesses.
“It’s different, more in-depth,” Muniz said. “We have to learn a lot on how to present ourselves in court.”
The S.C. Bar’s public relations coordinator, Kylie Morgan, explained in a press release the fictitious case the students are tackling. Essentially, news anchor/reporter Logan Gray is suing a company over bedbugs in its hotel. The company countersues Gray, claiming the news story he wrote about it is defamatory.
When Hunt approached Geyer last fall about sponsoring a team, she was happy to do so.
“I really like the kids and enjoy helping them out,” she said. “But I have no law background at all. I’m like the mother hen.”
Swearingen is a former attorney who has taught at Aiken High since 2000.
“This is fun because it’s a game,” he said. “Doing it for real can be stressful with real consequences for real people. I’m happy teaching, and it’s fun to coach something for them to learn. They are nervous out there, because it’s like being in a play until you get on stage. I’ve really pushed them.”
The team effort has provided another opportunity, said member Cassie Flanders.
“It’s really fun getting together after school,” she said. “We all knew each other, but hadn’t interacted as much before.”
North Augusta High School teacher Rick Gill has coached his mock trial program for several years
“We have a better understanding of what the process includes,” he said. “I have four returning members and some new recruits with much potential.”
Gill also appreciates the contributions of teacher Jane Monroe, who has been a huge help with preparations and practices. A NAHS graduate, Joseph Pippen, is serving as the team’s attorney adviser
“All in all, I’m looking forward to more competitive matches from our squad,” Gill said.