Education

Fort Mill High mock trial team wins state title

Fort Mill High School student Sophia Hennessy works with Deputy 16th Circuit Public Defender B.J. Barrowclough during a mock trial practice. The Fort Mill High team won its third state championship over the weekend.
Fort Mill High School student Sophia Hennessy works with Deputy 16th Circuit Public Defender B.J. Barrowclough during a mock trial practice. The Fort Mill High team won its third state championship over the weekend. tkimball@heraldonline.com

The Fort Mill High School mock trial team took its third state championship title Saturday during a competition in Columbia.

Fort Mill defeated Wando High in the state finals Saturday night by a 14-8 decision, said attorney Garrett Johnson, one of several local attorneys who coach the team. The competition was at the Matthew J. Perry Federal Courthouse in Columbia.

“Needless to say, they and we are thrilled,” Johnson wrote in an email.

Twelve high school teams competed in the state mock trial event Friday and Saturday. Competitors included the Nation Ford High School team, which was competing at state for the first time.

The Fort Mill High School team has competed in the state mock trial competition for many years, and attorney coaches say the team brought home previous state titles in 2007 and 2009.

Both Fort Mill teams qualified for the state competition during a regional event two weeks earlier.

The annual event is sponsored by the South Carolina Bar Association.

During the competition, students present the prosecution and defense sides of a fictitious criminal case before a panel of volunteer attorneys and judges.

All teams work on the same case, assigned by the bar association. The 2016 case focused on arson, robbery and the murder of a well-known woman in a small, fictitious South Carolina town.

Students play the roles of prosecution and defense attorneys, witnesses, bailiffs and timekeepers, and each team is judged on presentation skills, rather than legal merits.

Other Fort Mill coaches are Ryan Newkirk with the York County Solicitor’s Office, 16th Circuit Deputy Public Defender B.J. Barrowclough and Walter Dusky with the public defender’s office. Teacher coaches are Beverly DeMayo and Ben Tyler.

Nation Ford coaches are Mindy Lipinski with the public defender’s office and Rock Hill attorneys Nathan Sheldon and Gary Lemel. Teacher coaches are Jimmy Fitzpatrick and Dawn Lisk.

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Jennifer Becknell: 803-329-4077

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