Student legal eagles ready to soar

Published 9:50 pm Friday, January 29, 2010

Watching the Brookhaven High School Mock Trial team might strikefear in the heart of a parent who doesn’t want to negotiate curfewor car key possession.

The seven-member team is currently in the final stages ofpreparation for the regional mock trial competition to be held inHattiesburg Saturday. They have honed the imaginary courtroom to afine art, which is what it is to some of the participants, likejunior Haley Allen.

“I like that I can be a speaker and actress in this,” she said.”I love both and I’ve found a passion for both, and I love that Ihave the ability to write and analyze these characters.”

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For some participants, it’s more about the legal system. SeniorWalker Minter has been on the mock trial team for three years, andhe said his interest came straight off the hit show “Law &Order.”

“I got in because I wanted to see how it works on an intimatelevel,” he said. “I watched ‘Law & Order,’ and I wanted to knowhow they know what to do in the courtroom.”

Meanwhile, the team is operating with a minimal number ofcompetitors, as three team members recently quit. This left theteam in a place that would cause others to scramble, but BHS’ legaleagles took it as a challenge, letting some team members play dualroles.

“It did and it didn’t hurt us at the same time,” said Minter.”You learn who you can count on, but now with a lot of us having toplay two parts, it also helped us grow.”

BHS Forensics Coach Carol Clanton said the team has always had astrong showing at regional competitions.

“We’ve won regionals more than we’ve lost, and we won thenational competition in 2006,” she said. “We’re always verysuccessful.”

Assistant team coach and local attorney Jason Barrett saidcompetitions tend to be a fun experience for the BHS team becausethey have a reputation to uphold.

“Our track record is good enough that everyone knows who weare,” he said. “They kind of shoot for us.”

Minter said the team is also optimistic about their chances.

“I expect we’ll do very well, all things considered,” he said.”We worked hard – we all did – and in my experience this is thebest team I’ve been on.”

Clanton agreed that she has a group of standouts this year,saying there really doesn’t seem to be a weak link.

“This is as good a cross-section of students as I’ve had, andone of the most talented groups of kids across the board,” shesaid. “And they’re all equal in talent and ability.”

The team competes at the University of Southern MississippiLiberal Arts Building on Saturday, with round one beginning at 10a.m.