Chatham High School’s Business Law class went on a local field trip to the Tracey Memorial Village Hall, where the class conducted a mock trial of the case The State of Florida vs. Casey Overstone. Under the guidance of CHS' business teacher, Mr. Loomis, the class worked for two weeks to prepare for the trial. Each class member was assigned or chose a role. National Honor Society members and three additional staff members made up the jury while NHS senior Wil Spencer took to the bench as the judge.
The case the class selected was a charge of Second Degree Murder and attempted Second Degree Murder, which they brought to trial on March 16. Senior Bella Tarbox acted as the defendant, who was accused of cutting her ex's brake lines causing the death of one person and causing serious injuries to her ex, Reece Brooks, played by junior Nathan Opshanski.
Junior Brandon Gearing took on the District Attorney role and was assisted by sophomore Grace Brennan. Senior Nikki Myers was the team's paralegal for the endeavor. The defendant was represented by the lead attorney, sophomore Taylor Van Wie, assisted by senior Jonah Howard. The defense paralegal was senior Lucas Martin.
Through opening arguments and witness testimony, the jury members' opinion on the guilt or innocence swayed with each new argument. Attorneys objected to properness and relevance of witness questioning. Evidence showing pictures and maps of the accident were shown along with records of text messages made by the involved parties.
Witnesses who gave testimony included senior Diana Castellanos as Sergeant Quinn Laughlin, and junior Cameron Elcox and senior Jacob Baccaro as eyewitnesses. Senior Ryan Wilson acted as an expert witness on vehicle crash reconstruction and analysis.
The jury took into consideration that the accident could have been caused by Reece Brooks' intoxication from drinking at a bar prior to taking the wheel and that the brake line could have been cut as a result of the car going off the road and flipping over. They heard about how Casey Overstone was identified at the rear of Reece Brooks' car while he was in the bar before the fateful event.
In the end, the defendant's attorneys were able to place reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury members and she was found not guilty on both charges. Jury members included foreperson Mr. Assimakopoulos along with Ms. Keegan, Ms. Pegarella, Jillian Silver, Sam Hoffman, Amelia Scheriff, Eudora Brennan, Hannah Pinto, Gracie Gebel, Ethan Halpin, and Emma Braley.
Though District Attorney Gearing was adamant that his side's case had flawlessly proven beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of Casey Overstone, jury members were swayed by the evidence of the case. His Honor, Wil Spencer thanked the jury for their service, and the court adjourned, returning to the school.
ABOUT BUSINESS LAW
Business Law is a full year, 1-credit business class taught by Michael Loomis. Though the class primarily focuses on civil law, contracts, and sales law, students also learn about criminal law and court procedure.