Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, March 17, 2023

Signal Mountain, Aaron Academy advance to state mock trial finals

Signal Mountain High School senior Adrian Andreescu performs the role of an expert witness. - Photo by David Laprad | Hamilton County Herald

Two teams – Signal Mountain and Aaron Academy – will represent Hamilton County in the 2023 State High School Mock Trial Competition taking place Friday and Saturday in Nashville.

In locally organized matches that took place March 8 in courtrooms at the Joel W. Solomon Federal Building – including the one in which Jimmy Hoffa was tried for jury tampering in 1964 – Judge Shelley Rucker presided over Signal Mountain’s victory against GPS, and Judge Tom Greenholtz presided over Aaron Academy’s victory versus CSTHEA Green.

Judge Alex McVeagh, director of the Chattanooga Bar Association’s Hamilton County Mock Trial Competition for the last eight years, says he’s proud of the teams that reached the final matches.

“The level of competition this year was phenomenal. The students worked hard over the last few months to prepare for the competition and it showed. The vast majority of the teams went into the last preliminary round with a good shot at making the finals.

“Kudos to these students and their hard-working teachers and volunteer attorney coaches who helped them prepare.”

The competition began with 25 teams – making it the largest local competition in the state – and required close to 40 attorney and judge volunteers each night to preside over the rounds, which in courtrooms in both the historic and criminal courthouses.

McVeagh also congratulated the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences (CSAS) and East Hamilton for winning the Judge Curtis Collier Spirit of Civility Award. The award is presented to teams that exhibit the ideals of civility and sportsmanship during the competition rounds.

Looking ahead to the state competition, McVeagh expresses confidence in Hamilton County making a strong showing.

“Signal Mountain and Aaron Academy will make us proud in Nashville. Chattanooga’s teams have a long history of performing well at the state competition – and even winning it in recent years.

“These students know the problem inside and out, so they need to be prepared to pivot when necessary and think on their feet when thrown a curve ball. Both of our finalists have already showed they’re capable of doing that.”

For this year’s competition, students competed as the attorneys and witnesses contending over the fictional civil case of Kat McNable, who was thrown from his electric scooter when he encountered the sand spilling from the defendant’s beach-themed party wagon.

The competition committee consisted of attorneys Melody Shekari, Mary Frances Devoe, John Jolley, Logan Threadgill and Brian Bush.

“They worked for months preparing for the competition and also worked late each night during the competition helping facilitate the rounds,” notes McVeagh.

McVeagh also thanks the attorneys and judges who spent up to four nights volunteering and serving as judges and jurors for our mock trial rounds, Honorary Competition Chair Judge Curtis Collier, Collier clerk Carrie Stefaniak, Sheriff Austin Garrett and his deputies for providing security and logistical support during the competition, and the coaches – all of whom were attorneys and judges – who prepared the students for the competition.