By Ashley Rader
A small group of Elizabethton High School students faced judgment Tuesday afternoon in a Carter County courtroom as the fate of a texting driver being sued over another driver’s injuries was decided.
But while the texting motorist was found at fault, the driver faced no real penalty.
That’s because the accident, the lawsuit and even the driver weren’t real.
What was real were the lessons learned by the students: The whole court proceeding was a mock trial exercise for the law and legal issues class at Elizabethton High School.
Class teacher Sarah Beth Kerr said the mock trial was a learning activity to help students learn the steps involved in a trial. Students were assigned to be attorneys or witnesses through the process to help decide the fate of the fictitious driver.
In the mock civil suit, Kerr said a driver was injured in a car accident, which could have been caused by the other driver texting. The students assigned to be lawyers had to gather information from the witnesses to determine who was at fault in the created crash.
“There was a lot of reading to prepare for the mock trial,” Kerr said. “There was a lot of material to go through and witness statements to get. They had to narrow down the facts to get to the most important ones.”
Sophomore Taylor Banks acted as an attorney and said the exercise helped improve her confidence. She wants to pursue a career as a judge advocate general.
“I learned to be more confident and to be able to trust the information that is given to me,” Banks said.
Junior Jenny Dieffenbacher was also cast as an attorney, and said she believes the mock trial experience will be beneficial to her in the future.
“I really enjoyed it,” Dieffenbacher said. “I think it will help me with public speaking.”