Liberty High wins mock trial

Kristi Winters / Madera County Office Of EducationDecember 13, 2012 

Liberty High School beat out Yosemite and Minarets high schools to win the Honorable Edward P. Moffat Madera County Mock Trial held Dec. 5-8. Yosemite placed second with Minarets coming in third.

Yosemite won last year's event and has won the event 21 times.

Mock Trial is designed to help students understand the workings of legal institutions, simulating a court case with students acting as attorneys, witnesses, clerks and bailiffs. Each school provided a prosecution and defense team. Rounds consist of one school's defense team going up against another school's prosecution team.

Madera County Office of Education held the fictional court case at the Bass Lake Courthouse and the Madera Courthouse. Madera County Superior Court is co-sponsored the competition.

The Honorable Edward P. Moffat Mock Trial began on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Sierra Courthouse in Bass Lake with Judge Charles A. Wieland presiding. Minarets High and Yosemite High Schools will compete.

The second and third trials were held at the Madera Courthouse on Dec. 6, 7 and 8.

"The Mock Trial competition this year was very rigorous," said Cyndy Dolph, Madera County Office of Education associate superintendent. "The participating judges and scoring attorneys commented on how well the teams were prepared."

Liberty High School will represent Madera County at the state competition March 22-24 in Riverside.

Members of the winning team were Tyler Bird, Bethany Buchnoff, Claire Copher, Cody Davis, Chloe Doyle, David Garrett, Alyssa Ghioldi, Michaela Hammond, Andrew Hart, Joaquin Legaspi, David Parker, Jaycob Rousey, Bethany Samarin, Jordan Serpa, and Cheyenne Tex. The student coach is Hannah Little and the team is coached by attorneys Sarah Casillas, Shanna Hesketh and by teacher-coach Mac Blate, a graduate of Yosemite High School.

Yosemite team members were Erin Asis, Victoria Bartunek, Allie Boyer, Margaret Brewer, Daman Gill, Libby Haggard, Kylie Johnson, Christopher Kanaley, Michael Leath, Emma Madsen, Robin Meister, Tara Neill, Sue Sullivan, Nicole Tapia, Matthew Whitecotton, Christian Wick, Sonia Yousfi. The team's teacher coach was Deborah Brown.

The Minarets Mock Trial team members were Aronne Bottorff, Michaela Brost, Matthew Doran, Ealish Ellis, Brett Hendrickson, Haley Honeycutt, Erika Nelson, Victoria Owen, Joseph Parr, Sakura Schweizer and Himanshu Sharma. The team's attorney coach was Bryan Martin and teacher coach was John Martin.

"We commend all the teams, and we have high hopes for Liberty High School who will travel to the state competition in March," Dolph said.

During the fictional case, People vs. Vega, Adrian Vega was charged with a hit-and-run after bicyclist Cameron Douglas was hit by a car. The prosecution alleged Vega hit Douglas while texting and driving.

Mock Trial students also discussed the Fifth Amendment and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miranda vs. Arizona during the pretrial. The issue was whether or not the circumstances surrounding Vega's interaction with the police amounted to custodial interrogation. If so, the officer would have been required to read the defendant the Miranda warnings prior to interrogation.

The Mock Trial is a simulation of a criminal court case in which the students act as attorneys, witnesses, bailiffs and clerks. Attorneys from throughout the Valley score the students' performance.

This was Liberty High School's third year participating.

Each team was coached by attorneys as well as teachers in preparation for the trial.

Yosemite High was coached by teacher Deborah Brown and the Minarets team was coached by attorney Bryan Martin and teacher John Martin.

Judge Ernest LiCalsi, Commissioner Nancy Staggs and Judge Charles Wieland presided over the trials.

The Mock Trial was held on three separate days and teams participated in six rounds of competition.

The Mock Trial and other student academic events are supported by Madera County Office of Education and Madera County Schools Foundation through community and business donations and volunteers.

California Rights Foundation provided the trial cases.

"This is such an important program because it unveils the court system to many students," said Cyndy Dolph, Associate Superintendent, Madera County Office of Education. "For 29 years students have been given the opportunity to participate in this hands-on experience," said Dolph.

The Mock Trial awards ceremony was held on Dec. 8 at Enterprise Secondary School. The winning team was announced and nominated students received honorable mention and outstanding student certificates. All students received a certificate of participation and pin.

Madera County Mock Trial special recognition awards


Liberty High

Andrew Hart- MVP Award Andrew Hart- MVP Award Andrew Hart- Honorable Mention, prosecution witness

Alyssa Ghioldi- Honorable Mention, prosecution attorney

Clarie Copher- Honorable Mention, defense witness

Andrew Hart- Outstanding Defense Witness

Jaycob Rousey- Outstanding Prosecution Pretrial Attorney

Jaycob Rousey- Outstanding Defense Attorney


Yosemite High

Maggie Brewer- MVP Award Michael Leath- MVP Award

Emma Madsen- Honorable Mention, prosecution witness

Michael Leath- Honorable Mention, prosecution attorney

Sue Sullivan- Honorable Mention, defense witness

Matthew Whitecotton- Outstanding Defense Pretrial Attorney

Christian Wick- Outstanding Defense Attorney


Minarets High

Brett Henrickson- MVP Award Michaela Brost- MVP Award Aronne Bottorff- Honorable Mention, prosecution witness

Brett Hendrickson- Outstanding Defense Witness

Michaela Brost- Outstanding Prosecution Attorney

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