By Richard Rourk
The Unicoi County Courthouse gallery was full of spectators with eager eyes on Sunday, March 8, as the Unicoi County High School 2020 Mock Trial Relay for Life competition brought out many citizens to hear a special case.
“The case is very interesting. This was a civil case that involved an injury that was sustained from a screw that was placed in a chicken sandwich,” Town of Erwin Judge Sarah Shults said.
Shults was joined by Presiding Judge Lisa Rice, Town of Unicoi Attorney Lois Shults-Davis and Unicoi County bailiff constable Arthur Metcalf to oversee the mock trial.
“We really want to thank everyone that is involved with this including Unicoi County Schools Director John English, Debbie Black, Robert Roller and Thaddeus Higgins,” Shults said.
The day’s events broke down into two trials, which saw the UCHS varsity and junior varsity mock trial teams trading places between the two trials.
“One team will have to both serve as defense and plaintiff lawyers and witnesses so we had to do two trials,” Shults said.
For Shults, it was very important for the students to gain experience for future mock trials but it was equally important to raise money and awareness for Unicoi County Relay for Life.
“This was a Relay for Life event and the first year we got involved with Relay was 2011,” Shults said. “There was a suggested donation of $5 to witness the trial and a donation could be made to be a juror during the trials and all proceeds went to the Unicoi County Relay for Life.”
According to Shults, the event gave the students valuable experience.
“We were so honored to have Judge Lisa Rice join us and this gives our students a chance to hear solid feedback from one of the finest judges in the area and to hear from a jury box prior to our yearly competitions,” Shults said.
Shults acknowledged that working with UCHS students is a wonderful experience.
“It’s amazing. These are some very sharp young men and women. They are impressive lawyers and I enjoy seeing them through on their journey,” Shults said.
The UCHS students who participated in the mock trials included Trent Allen, Alycia Blangin, Meagan Buskey, Thomas Byrd, Andy Cole, Leah Delp, Ashleigh Edwards, Atom Garcia, Emma Jones, Emma Ledford, Bernice Luquin, Ethan McQueen, Wyatt Miller, Mairead O’Hare, Daniel Shults, Matthew Sutphin, Brandolyn Thomas, Javier Castellon Villanueva, Alexis Whaley, Sammy White and Trent White.
For Rice, the opportunity to see the UCHS students in action was very impressive.
“Sarah (Shults) and Lois (Shults-Davis) have developed this program into a powerhouse program and the students are so invested in this and I personally appreciate the hard work by the students and the support from Sarah (Shults) and Lois (Shults-Davis); it’s just phenomenal,” Rice said. “For the community to come out and support this program is wonderful. What you’ve seen in this trial should show you how well this team does. I judge a competition for the University of Tennessee Law School for first-year law students and they cannot touch the arguments that this program presents.”
According to Shults, the UCHS Mock Trial team recently competed in Knoxville, but is still awaiting the results.