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News Nebraska’s Duchesne Academy Takes National Title at High School Mock Trial Championship in North Carolina

Nebraska’s Duchesne Academy Takes National Title at High School Mock Trial Championship in North Carolina

Front row: Natalie Taylor, Ariana Haddad, Collette Hanusek, Divya Nimmagadda, and Elizabeth Matthews. Back row: Attorney Coach Mark Laughlin, Molly Laughlin, Taylor Anderson, Claire Benedix, and Attorney Coach Patrick Cooper.

The Mock Trial team from Omaha's Duchesne Academy won five rounds of competition at the National High School Mock Trial Championship last week in Raleigh, North Carolina, and took the national title. The final round on Saturday matched the Duchesne team, representing the defense side of the case, against the Northview High School plaintiff's team from the state of Georgia. The case, Andy Archer v. Detail Security, Inc., was a fictionalized account of an actual historical event surrounding the theft, and the return, of North Carolina's copy of the Bill of Rights.

Both the Nebraska and Georgia teams won four rounds of preliminary trials to advance to the finals where nine judges from North Carolina, Idaho, and Pennsylvania scored their performance before a presiding judge. In the preliminary rounds, the Nebraska team met other Mock Trial teams from the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Arkansas, and Virginia. Forty-six teams were entered in the National Championship, having come from as far away as Guam, the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands, and South Korea.

Members of Duchesne's National High School Mock Trial Championship team are Taylor Anderson, Claire Benedix, Ariana Haddad, Collette Hanusek, Molly Laughlin, Elizabeth Matthews, Divya Nimmagadda, and Natalie Taylor. The team's teacher coach is Adam Klepper. Attorney coaches for the team are Mark Laughlin and Patrick Cooper of the Fraser Stryker law firm and Gerald Laughlin, of counsel, with the Baird Holm firm. At a later date, Duchesne Academy will honor the national achievement of its Mock Trial team, three members of which will graduate this spring.

The Nebraska team finds out they will face Georgia in the National Finals.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Nebraska's first Mock Trial Championship. In 1985, five states participated in the All States Mock Trial Championship, and the Ogallala, Nebraska, team took the top honors. In 2013, Omaha's Skutt Catholic High School team represented Nebraska in the National High School Mock Trial Championship and brought back the third place honors. Since 2010, Nebraska teams represented by Duchesne and Skutt have won 21 rounds out of 25 at the National Championship.

The Judge Lyle E. Strom High School Mock Trial Project is a program of the Nebraska State Bar Foundation. Annually, the Foundation funds and administers this statewide program in which more than 1,000 students from 53 schools participate. More than 400 lawyers and judges volunteer for the program. The State Championship is conducted each December, and the winning team goes on to represent Nebraska at the National Championship in May. Bar Foundation Executive Director Doris Huffman is the State Mock Trial Coordinator who accompanies the team to nationals. Bar Foundation President Stanley C. Goodwin of McCook thanks the Nebraska Council of School Attorneys for their generous contribution that helps defray the cost of traveling to and participating in the National High School Mock Trial Championship.


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