Courtroom Champs: North Atlanta’s Mock Trial Team Brings Home Competition Gold 


Laura Collins

Legal Eagles: The North Atlanta Mock Trial team took first place in all categories at a competitive mock trial event on March 12 held at the State Bar of Georgia. Shown here are (first row) Emily Holmer, Serrae Moore, Elizabeth Browman, and August Schmoll. Second Row: Annalise Yeagle, Claire Collins, Katherine Mason, Julia Promoff, Joi Gonzalez, Ellie Tavani and faculty adviser Chantel Lowe. Third Row: attorney coach Miriam Brossard, attorney coach Asad Ansari, Jordyn Hawk, Nathaniel Dyer and Eliana Nonami.

When it comes to order – and domination – in the court, the jury is unanimous: North Atlanta is tops. On March 12, the North Atlanta Mock Trial team emerged victorious in the Grady District Invitational competition, winning the judge ballot across the board for every round along with first place overall. 

The team had been relentlessly training for months, spending hours pouring over legal documents and witness statements, practicing its cross-examination skills, and perfecting closing arguments. The hard work, exceptional legal skills and critical thinking abilities of these mock trial champions certainly paid off. Parents of these mock trial experts will be glad that their teenagers’ arguing skills – possibly on serial display during tense moments in households across Atlanta – are now being put to good use.  

While most students were still in bed, sleeping soundly at eight a.m. on that given Sunday, the Mock Trial team was getting ready to compete in a fiercely contested competition at the State Bar of Georgia in downtown Atlanta. The team, consisting of 12 North Atlanta students, entered the competition with both excitement and trepidation. The one-day competition features eight teams from around Georgia, including perennial Mock Trial powerhouse schools like Midtown and Riverwood high schools. For each round of pitched competition, a panel of lawyers acted as competition judges. Needless to say, for the North Atlanta future lawyers, the whole event was a testing and nerve-wracking affair. “The competition was incredibly intimidating,” said Mock Trial team member Katherine Mason. “Every single person in the courtroom looked like an actual lawyer, regardless of the fact that the majority of the people there were merely high school students.”

For the one-day competition, the team was split into two categories – or “benches,” to use competition parlance: prosecution and defense. The first team to compete was the defense, led by lead attorney Eliana Nonami. The trial commenced just as any real trial would, with an opening statement that was delivered by Nonami, a senior. After the opening statement, direct questioning and cross examination began. The case in question was a fictional civil case in which character Reginald McIntosh was attempting to sue his neighbor, Wesley, for poisoning his service dog with Xylitol. After questioning, freshman Julia Promoff delivered her closing argument and the case was closed. 

The team eagerly awaited the verdict, with all of the members unsure of how they had done. Round Two proceeded in a similar manner at the conclusion of a short lunch break. “After the first round I felt very uncertain because I didn’t think there was any ‘clear’ winner or loser,” said freshman Joi Gonzalez. “ At the same time, I felt a huge amount of relief because the biggest part of the day was over, and there was nothing I could do about my performance other than to wait for the awards to be announced.” 

After the conclusion of both rounds, the team waited for what seemed like an eternity for the results. Then the results came in and it could not have gone better for North Atlanta. The team won every single judge ballot of every round they competed in. Every judge thought that North Atlanta was the strongest team. Not only did the team bring home an overall first place win, several team members won individual awards as well. Freshman Claire Collins was honored as one of the event’s most outstanding attorneys. Also, sophomore Emily Holmer and freshman August Schmoll received outstanding witness awards. In their roles as witnesses, Holmer and Schmoll were asked to act out as a certain character and the experience was completely analogous to a theatrical role. “Undoubtedly, the best part of being part of the Mock Trial team was getting to talk in a funny accent almost every week,” said award winner Schmoll. 

Of course, a victory of this magnitude doesn’t happen by accident. The team’s success is, in large part, due to the tireless efforts of its teacher sponsors, literature teacher Chantel Lowe and social studies teacher Brooke Dozier. The North Atlanta team is also coached by its community coach attorneys, Christy Lambden, Miriam Broussard and Asad Ansari. Collectively, all coaches put in countless hours of hard work to ensure that the team was well-prepared, well-versed in the law, and ready to compete at the highest level. “It took a lot of time, blood, sweat, and tears – and then a few more tears, but I am very proud of what the team has accomplished,” said Lowe. 

The resounding victory on the part of North Atlanta’s contingent of future barristers is testament to hard work and significant talent. The future looks bright for North Atlanta’s Mock Trial Team. And if these youthful legal eagles eventually do become lawyers, it could be that the future will remain bright for the legal profession.