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Judge Alison McCarty Bids Mock Trial a Fond Farewell After 15 Years

With the conclusion of the 2016 Regional Mock Trial Competition on February 19, Co-Chair Judge Alison McCarty ended her long and faithful volunteer stint as Co-Chair on the ABA’s Mock Trial Committee.

We invited Judge McCarty to reflect on the 15 years she spent helping to illuminate the law for dozens of high school students.

Examiner: What inspired you to get involved in Mock Trial? Had you been a participant when you were in high school?

Judge McCarty: I joined the Mock Trial Committee in 1999 right after I became a judge. As a former trial prosecutor, it was very difficult for me to make committee meetings and so I was looking for ways to become more involved with the Bar Association. It turns out, I loved the Mock Trial Committee and the role it played in encouraging young people to get involved and show interest in the legal system.  We did not have anything like Mock Trial when I was in high school or college, although I did serve on the National Trial Team and Moot Court Team when I was in law school (at Wake Forest) and I really enjoyed the experience.

Examiner: What had been the most rewarding part of participating?

Judge McCarty: By far, the most rewarding part of this position has been sharing in the excitement of these young people as they try cases and argue before the judges. The final awards ceremony becomes a huge pep rally for the law. It’s hard to believe unless you are there to see it for yourself. I also enjoy bringing a diverse group of lawyers together to judge the trials, and share stories over the lunch hour in between the two trials. There are many lawyers that I would not have met had it not been for my involvement with Mock Trial.

Examiner: Are there any teams who have particularly stood out in your mind? Was there any event that took place at a Mock Trial competition that stood out?

Judge McCarty: We have had many excellent teams over the years. I specifically recall Ellet High School doing very well in my early years, and now they don’t even have a team. I have greatly enjoyed watching the Hoban Team become such a reliable powerhouse, and I believe their success has inspired numerous other schools to step up and compete at a higher level. Now there are so many good teams in Summit County I really believe we have one of the most competitive Districts in the State. If you can make it through Summit County’s District and Regional Competitions, you have an excellent chance of winning the whole thing. The worse thing that has ever happened during a competition was when a blizzard hit (it has happened more than once) and half of our teams didn’t show up. We had to scramble to realign the matches and make the experience worthwhile for everyone who made it there.

As far as my most memorable experience, I have to credit the Bar for agreeing with my suggestion that we re-name our Regional 1st and 2nd place trophies for Jeff and Peg Schobert who were tragically taken from this world. They were great Mock Trial supporters, specifically the Hoban teams, but generally they exemplified the best about Mock Trial from the coaching perspective. Their students loved them and they produced great teams. When we first dedicated the trophies and awarded them to the winners, Jeff and Peg’s family members attended and their daughter Jessica, spoke. It was incredibly moving.

Examiner: What will you miss about your time on the Mock Trial committee? Is there some other activity that your resignation is making way for?

Judge McCarty: I will most miss the excitement of organizing 200+ students and rallying 60 lawyers and coordinating 10 courtrooms, twice within 30 days. It is extremely rewarding to feel all the support for this competition, from all of the lawyers and judges. Every year, we basically turn over the bulk of the courtrooms here to high school students, twice. I will also miss the comments from the lawyers afterwards, who I had to arm-twist to get involved for the first time, as they tell me how much they enjoyed it and that they will volunteer again without hesitation.
I do not have any specific plans for future involvement, but I am interested in doing something that continues to promote goodwill toward our profession with the younger generation.

I want to add my tremendous thanks to Pat Weigand (ABA Services to the Profession Assistant) for all of her tireless work over the years – she is the secret weapon of the Mock Trial Committee – the engine that makes things work. Also, special thanks to Tom Bown, my Co-Chair, and fellow committee members Keith Malick and Rick Kasay for their great work over the years.

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