Pictured are, from left: Anna Kate King, Kristen Vigilant, Suzanne Norman, Zach Grate, Kathryn Dismukes, Wesley Smithart, Allyson Argo, Ashley Williamson and Amelia Hanan.
MONTGOMERY, ALA. (January 21, 2010) – A team made up of seven Junior and Senior level students from Saint James High School in Montgomery, Ala., has been selected to represent the State of Alabama at the National Mock Trial competition May 5-9 in Philadelphia. The students came out on top of 66 teams from throughout the state that competed during the annual YMCA Youth in Government Youth Judicial event, held Nov. 16-18, 2009. Beasley Allen attorney Clay Barnett is the team’s head coach.
The Alabama YMCA Youth in Government Youth Judicial Program is Alabama’s only statewide high school mock trial competition. Students from throughout the state participate in the three-day event in Montgomery, where they try an actual case and are scored by elected student judges. Approximately 500 young people participated in the recent event.
Student teams work with professional attorneys from the community who volunteer as coaches, working with the teams over the course of several months to prepare them for the mock trial competition. Students may participate as attorney, witness, bailiff or sheriff, or be elected as a judge, as they work with their coaches to learn the judicial process.
Barnett has been head coach of a team for the last six years, and has coached this St. James team for the past three. In fact, this team will be the second Alabama team Clay has prepared and taken to Nationals.
“I am excited and honored to take these kids to Philadelphia,” Barnett said. “This is a talented group, and we take our responsibility of representing Alabama very seriously. My team understands the importance of being both strong competitors and worthy ambassadors for our state.”
The students, who competed as part of the St. James Junior/Senior Defense Team, are Zach Grate, Kristen Vigilant, Wesley Smithart, Anna Kate King, Kathryn Dismukes, Allyson Argo and Suzanne Norman. They will learn in April what case they will try at the national event, with one month to prepare. At Nationals, teams must prepare to try the case from both the defense and the plaintiff/prosecution sides, as they will rotate sides throughout the competition.
Coaches for the Junior/Senior team are Clay Barnett, Kevin Davidson and Scott Green. Kevin and Scott are both seasoned prosecutors with the Montgomery County District Attorneys Office. Clay is a former prosecutor, meaning all three coaches will continue to draw on their courtroom skills to build this team into a true contender.