Chattanooga State and UTC to Participate in Mock Trial Competition

January 21, 2009 | | Internal Press Release

Students, majoring in paralegal studies from Chattanooga State Technical Community College and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, will participate in a mock trial competition on Saturday, January 31, 2009. The simulated trial begins at 9 a.m. at the Hamilton County Courthouse with Circuit Court Judge W. Neil Thomas, III, presiding over the competition. The event is open to the public free of charge and should conclude by 12 noon. Students, interested in learning about judicial procedures, are urged to attend.

The Southeastern Chapter of the Tennessee Paralegal Association (TPA) is sponsoring the event.  According to chapter president Melissa Ledbetter, TPA is extending its programming to include paralegal students. “By sponsoring the mock trial, TPA establishes a connection with future paralegals and showcases its commitment to excellence in the local paralegal industry,” notes Ledbetter.

Ed Nanney is an attorney who teaches in the paralegal studies program at Chattanooga State. Nanney is coaching the Chattanooga State students who are involved in the trial. “This experience fuses the excitement of a contest and with the importance of academic achievement, providing our students a window into the legal profession and the judicial system,” says Nanney. “The opportunity ignites the competitive spirit and requires a deep commitment to study. I am pleased that Chattanooga State and UTC are partnering for the good of our students.”

Karen McGuffee, who oversees the paralegal studies program at UTC, underscores the significance of a mock trial as a valuable learning experience.  As an attorney and a professor, she strongly endorses the project. “A mock trial competition is intense, and the expectation is that students are prepared when they enter the courtroom,” says McGuffee.     “The experience provides a venue through which paralegal students sharpen their critical thinking and debate skills, develop their presentation talents, and learn courtroom rules and protocol.  Furthermore, students gain a self-confidence and poise that is essential to their success in the legal community.”

Each competing team consists of five students who will select jurors and present combined opening statements and closing arguments. The focus of the proceedings will be jury selection and effective presentations to the jury. Once the teams have concluded their remarks, students will observe the jury deliberations by way of a closed circuit television. Students will listen to the jury’s discussion about what they considered important and persuasive. Members of the Tennessee Paralegal Association will act as the jury and will decide the outcome of the competition. However, Judge Thomas will be offering students critiques on their presentation techniques.

For more information about the paralegal studies program at Chattanooga State or about the mock trial competition, contact Ed Nanney at or at 423.697.2637.

For information about Chattanooga State and its educational programs, call the Chattanooga State information hotline at 423.697.4404 or toll free at 1.866.547.3733 or visit the college’s Web site at

Chattanooga State is a comprehensive, regionally accredited community college, operated under the policies and guidelines of the Tennessee Board of Regents College System.  Founded in 1965 and serving a six-county area in Southeast Tennessee, Chattanooga State offers a wide array of programs and services.