Mock trial underway

December 3, 2013 

Former high school student, Rae Concha, will be on trial for murder this week during this year's Honorable Edward P. Moffat Madera County Mock Trial, People vs. Concha.

During the fictional case, Concha will be tried for second degree murder and possession for sale of a controlled substance (amphetamine in the form of prescription Adderall).

The prosecution alleges that Concha sold Adderall to Jason Johnson out of Concha's SUV with full knowledge that Johnson suffered from a heart defect. The defense argues the backpack alleged to contain bottles of Adderall and baggies did not belong to Concha, but rather to another student. Concha denies giving or selling any pills to Johnson.

The Mock Trial is a simulation of a court case with high school students acting as attorneys, witnesses, clerks and bailiffs.

High School students from Yosemite, Liberty, and Madera high schools will be competing. Yosemite High has won the competition 25 times in the last 29 years.

Yosemite's team consists of Erin Asis, Victoria Bartunek, Jocelyn Boe, Allison Boyer, Joel Bradshaw, Angelina Clark, Bobby Crabtree, Sabrina Garcia, Libby Haggard, Ben Hartesveldt, Caden McCoon, Tara Neill, Sophia O'Meara, Ellen Saunders, Olivia Pearson, Katelyn Suderman, Mia Summers, Sarah Swan, and Jessica Tanoury.

Yosemite's team is coached by attorney Bernie McGoldrick and YHS teacher Deborah Brown.

Mock Trial students will also be discussing the Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure. The issue is whether or not a vehicle search conducted by undercover police officer Robin Doherty was within the plain view exception to the warrant requirement.

"We are proud to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Mock Trial competition in Madera County," said Dr. Cecilia Massetti, Madera County Superintendent of Schools. "This established tradition of excellence continues to offer students a glimpse into our court system and an opportunity to receive immediate feedback from local judges and attorneys on their performance."

Madera County Office of Education and Madera County Schools Foundation will hold this fictional court case at the Bass Lake and Madera Courthouses.

Madera County Superior Court is co-sponsoring the competition.

The Honorable Edward P. Moffat Mock Trial began Wednesday at the Sierra Courthouse in Bass Lake. Judge Charles A. Wieland presided. Madera High and Yosemite High Schools will compete.

The second and third trials will be held at 1:30 p.m. at the Madera Courthouse today (Thursday), and 8:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 7. Liberty and Madera High Schools will compete on Thursday. Judge Michael J. Jurkovich will preside. Liberty and Yosemite High Schools will compete on Saturday. Judge Ernest J. LiCalsi will preside over the trials on Saturday.

The Mock Trial awards ceremony will be held on Saturday, December 7 at 1:30 p.m. at Madera County Office of Education. The winning team will be announced and nominated students will receive honorable mention and outstanding student certificates. All students will receive a certificate of participation and pin.

Each school will provide a prosecution and defense team.

Rounds consist of one school's defense team going up against another school's prosecution team.

The Mock Trial is designed to help students understand the workings of legal institutions. The teams are coached by volunteer attorneys in courtroom procedures and trial preparations.

Attorneys from throughout the Valley will volunteer as scoring attorneys at the trial. Volunteers include: Nanette Beaumont, Julia Brungess, Bruce Francis Kennedy, Noah Marshall, David Linn, Steven Mortimer, Doug Nelson and Kevin Schwin.

The winner of the competition will advance to the state competition in San Jose March 21-23.

In 2010 the Mock Trial was renamed to the Honorable Edward P. Moffat Madera County Mock Trial in honor of Judge Moffat who was a longtime supporter of the program.

"At this 30 year mark, we also remember the legacy of Judge Moffat and his commitment to open up the legal profession as a career option for our students who have participated in the Mock Trial," said Massetti.

California Rights Foundation provided the trial cases. Details: Kristi Winter, events developer, Madera County Office of Education, (559) 662-3873.

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