Yosemite High School fell just short of beating out last years champions, Liberty High School, in the Honorable Edward P. Moffat Madera County Mock Trial held Dec. 4-10.
Yosemite who has won more than 20 mock trial titles showed competitiveness in the competition under the supervision of coach Deborah Brown and attorney coach Bernie McGoldrick.
The Mock Trial is a simulation of a criminal court case in which students take the role of attorney, witness, bailiff, clerks a courtroom reporters in a fictional case. Mock trials are designed to expose students to the legal system and help them understand protocol and what it's like given a real life court case environment.
During the competition each team provides a prosecution and defense team. Each team then competed against one another during a made up trial in a two-round competition. During each day of competition the schools are given two different attempts to show their court case strategies, once as a prosecuting team and once as a defense team.
The Madera County Office of Education held the fictional cases on three separate dates at the Bass Lake Courthouse and Madera County Courthouse.
"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 on opportunity to receive immediate feedback from local judges and attorney on their performance."
The Honorable Edward P. Moffat Mock Trial initially began on Wednesday, Dec. 4, at the Bass Lake courthouse and continued at the Madera Courthouse on Thursday, Dec. 5. The third day of competition was originally scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7, but was postponed until Tuesday, Dec. 10 due to weather conditions.
The trials included scoring judges all of which were formally or are currently practicing law, who are in place to examine and grade the students on their quality of information and quality of presentation as well as the outcome of the case.
The fictional trial case during the competition involved a former high school student, Rae Concha, who was on trial for the murder of a fellow student. During the fictional case, Concha was tried for second degree murder and possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. In this case Concha was accused of selling a controlled substance in the form of Adderall that resulted in the death of a fellow classmate. Throughout the case teams had to use several argumentative techniques and arguments to either prove the innocence or guilt of their client, depending on which stage of the competition they were in. This allows students a better understanding of what to expect from each side as the trial continued.
McGoldrick said he was impressed with Yosemite's ability to argue the case and really understand each side of the argument with such little time to prepare.
"The team has exceeded my expectations. We only have two team members with prior Mock Trial experience. Fortunately, we have a lot of bright, hard-working students who have managed to learn a tremendous amount in a short period of time," McGoldrick said.
Yosemite's first trial took place at the Bass Lake Courthouse against Liberty High School and was presided over by the Honorable Judge Charles Wieland. There were two active attorneys who oversaw the trial and graded each individual as well as the teams. At the end of the trials the scoring judges gave their advice and thoughts on the case to help the students learn what they had done right and what could have been done better.
The trial also included a pre-trial argument focused on the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against unlawful searches and seizures. The initial pre-trial motion argument was whether or not the police officer who made the report legally searched the car in which prescription pills were found.
It was up to the defense to argue that the evidence had been obtained illegally and was therefore inadmissable in court. The prosecution at the time of the motion argued the officer was completely within his jurisdiction when he found evidence in Concha's vehicle and did not violate Concha's reasonable expectation of privacy.
Throughout the trial students from both schools were placed on the witness stand and gave their expert advice on the situation.
Yosemite's second case took place at the Madera County Courthouse on Tuesday, Dec. 10, before the Honorable Judge Ernie Licalsi where Yosemite took on Madera High.
Members of Yosemite's second place team included Erin Asis, Victoria Bartunek, Jocelyn Boe, Allison Boyer, Joel Bradshaw, Angelina Clark, Bobby Crabtree, Sabrina Garcia, Libby Haggard, Ben Hartesveldt, Tara Neill, Sophia O'Meara, Olivia Pearson, Ellen Saunders, Katelyn Sudermen, Mia Summers, Sarah Swan and Jessica Tanoury.
Yosemite's Mia Summers won the Courtroom Jounralist competition and will be attneding the state competition.
McGoldrick said he was impressed with the Yosemite team and thought they all did a tremendous job.
"I'm proud of the entire team. They're given barely two months in which to learn the skills they need to conduct a trial. We're basically asking them to act like real trial lawyers, and they pull it off," McGoldrick said.
Individual Mock Trial Results
Students who received multiple nominations from scoring attorneys and judges.
Honorable Mention Roles:
Students who received one or more nominations from scoring attorneys and judges
Prosecution Pretrial Motion Attorney
Defense Pretrial Attorney
Students were nominated by the opposing team because they displayed outstanding role portrayal, attitude, demeanor, sportsmanship, helping hand, etc.
Liberty High selected:
Ally Boyer from Yosemite High School
Madera High selected:
Jocelyn Boe from Yosemite High School
Mia Summers from Yosemite High School won the Courtroom Journalist competition.