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St. Joe mock trial team advances to regional competition

The St. Joseph High School Mock Trial Team was the runner-up in the Scioto County District Mock Trial Competition Friday in Portsmouth. Front row, left to right, Glenna McClain, coach, Zorada Porter, Katie Compston, Becky Kirk, Ariel Porter, Mark McCown, legal advisor. Back Row, left to right, Elijah Lutz, Hayden Suver, Patrick O’Brien, Austin Leach, Gavin Byerley.


PORTSMOUTH — The St. Joseph High School mock trial team will advance to regional competition after an outstanding showing at the Scioto County District Competition Friday in Portsmouth.

St. Joe was the runner up, coming in second place to Portsmouth High School, which took first and third places with two separate teams. The 29th annual event is sponsored by the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education (OCLRE). Additionally, three St. Joe students won individual awards. Patrick O’Brien and Ariel Porter won awards for outstanding witnesses and Elijah Lutz won an award for outstanding attorney.

“We had a very good team and a very young team,” said attorney Mark McCown, who is the St. Joe team legal advisor. He pointed out that Eli Lutz and Ariel Porter are freshmen; Patrick O’Brien is a sophomore and they won their awards competing against high school juniors and seniors.

Each year the OCLRE creates a fictional case involving a constitutional issue. In this year’s case, a college freshman named Storm Jackson is accused of stealing prescription drugs while attending two real estate open houses and while visiting at the houses of two friends.

The defendant and his parents’ names were on a sign-in list at both of the open houses. Without a warrant, the police subpoenaed and obtained the man’s cell phone GPS records before he was arrested.

Storm Jackson has filed a motion to suppress claiming that the evidence seized was the result of an improper search and seizure that violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

During competition, a team of five to 11 students must play both plaintiff and defendant, and participate in two trials against different high schools. In order to advance to the regional competition, a team must win both trials in the competition.

The regional competition is Friday, Feb. 24. The state finals will then take place March 8 – 10 in Columbus.

St. Joe Mock Trial Team Coach Glenna McClain said she is always surprised and pleased with “how hard these kids work. Nobody knows the hours they put in. They practice two hours a day after school. And then they go in and conduct themselves with confidence and maturity,” she said. “It never ceases to amaze me how well these kids can do and they’re 14 to 18 years old.”

In addition to St. Joseph and Portsmouth, other participating school districts in this year’s district competition were Minford, Notre Dame, Portsmouth West, Sciotoville Community, South Webster, Valley and Wheelersburg High.

The event was sponsored locally by American Legion James Dickey Post 23, American Savings Bank, Portsmouth Bar Association, Portsmouth Rotary Club, Southern Ohio Medical Center, The Honorable Howard H. Harcha, III, and the Scioto Foundation.