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For a consecutive second year, Johnston-Edgefield-Trenton (JET) Middle School of Johnston was named the winner of the South Carolina Bar Regional Middle School Mock Trial virtual competition held Nov. 12-13. 

Sixteen middle schools across the state took to their computer screens to present the prosecution and defense sides of a fictitious criminal case before a panel of local volunteer lawyers and judges in the virtual competition. This year’s case was State of SC vs. CJ Lannister, in which CJ Lannister pled not guilty to murder and guilty but mentally ill to arson.  

Mock Trial helps students hone key skills such as collaboration, adapting to different audiences, reading critically and matching material facts with elements of the law. Each team was judged on its presentation skills, rather than the legal merits of the case. 

“I am so incredibly proud of the JET Middle School mock trial team,” said attorney coach Blair Massey. “Their success is due to the hard work and dedication of each and every member of the team. It has been a pleasure coaching them and seeing their understanding of the legal system grow.” 

Dent Middle School of Columbia, which finished as first runner-up, was led by attorney coach Rachel Hedley and teacher coach Allison Rawls. 

“It is truly a privilege to serve as attorney coach to this wonderful group of students,” said  Hedley said. “The students approached every practice with enthusiasm, supported each other as a team, and challenged themselves to put on a great case. Of course, it was thrilling to share in their excitement when they heard the results of their hard work! ” 

During the competition, the teams and their coaches selected Kingstree Middle Magnet School to win the Professionalism and Civility Award. The award was created to highlight professionalism among teams inside and outside the courtroom. 

The Mock Trial Program is sponsored by the SC Bar’s LRE Division, which was developed in 1976 to improve the ability of teachers to instruct law related education. The program is supported by the Bar’s LRE Committee and made possible through a SC Bar Foundation Interest on Lawyer Trust Accounts grant and the SC Bar.  

“Through this program, students not only learn about the court process but critical thinking, problem analysis and teamwork,” said Cynthia H. Cothran, LRE director of the South Carolina Bar. “The best thing to see is students growing up in the program. I have watched middle school students participate in High School Mock Trial, go to college, enroll in law school and then become South Carolina attorneys that volunteer in the very program that gave them their passion for law.” 

If you’re interested in learning more about the Mock Trial program or participating in the upcoming Regional High School Mock Trial competition, visit the LRE website.