Partner Susan K. Roberts Leads Indiana Team to National High School Mock Trial Championships

Susan K. Roberts , the State Coordinator of Indiana’s High School Mock Trial program, has led the state championship team to a national victory. An attorney and partner at Stuart & Branigin LLP, Roberts is a Board member of the National High School Mock Trial Championship, Inc. and was recently elected Secretary of the organization. Assistant State Coordinator, Ann Marie Waldron, an attorney with Robinson, Wolenty & Young in Indianapolis also helps run the state and regional competitions.

The National High School Mock Trial Championship began in 1984 to provide students with a hands-on experience to learn about the legal system. In addition to learning how our legal system operates, students also develop critical thinking and communication skills. Roberts has spearheaded the program for 15 years coordinating the regional competitions of more than 70 teams that determine Indiana’s overall winning team that competes at the national finals.

After two days of grueling competition, the Indiana team comprised of students from John Adams High School in South Bend, Indiana, took home the first place title on May 9 at the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Georgia State Bar hosted the law-based academic tournament in Atlanta. The winner of each State’s Mock Trial Competition advanced to the National Championship competition. Forty-two teams, including teams from Guam, South Korea, and the Commonwealth of Northern Marianna Islands, participated in the competition. Each team competed in four mock trial rounds, culminating in a final round to determine the overall winner.

The championship round matched Indiana against Minnesota and its team from Lakeville North High School. In the final round, Indiana’s team acted as the defense with Minnesota serving as the prosecution. Indiana’s first place finish was awarded to students Josh Courtney, Jenn Deeter, Adam Kern, Chris Silvestri, Eilis Smyth, and Gabriel Young, all seniors at John Adams, and were helped by student coaches Allie Soisson and Kieran Neal, and timekeeper, David Kern. Among the 300 plus student participants, Chris Silvestri received special recognition at the award ceremony as one of four top performers in his roles as witness for the prosecution and the defense.

Judith Overmyer, a cooperative education teacher at John Adams High School, served as the team’s teacher coach, while Jay Tidmarsh, a professor of law at Notre Dame, taught students the ins and outs of trial techniques and advocacy as the attorney coach. Assistant Attorney Coach John Scanlan, a professor of law at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, and Lucas Brukett, who served as drama coach, also aided the team.