Though Yosemite High School earned favorable verdicts during all four rounds of the Honorable Edward P. Moffat Madera County Mock Trial last week, Liberty of the Madera Ranchos was crowned the winner by only two percentage points.
At a score of 51 to Yosemite’s 49 by judges, Liberty returned to its winning ways after the Badgers won last year.
Liberty has won three times in its six years participating, while Yosemite has 26 wins in the event’s 32-year history.
First year coach Eric McLane said he was proud of his team, despite the loss.
“In the real world, with those verdicts in our favor, we would have been undefeated,” McLane said. “I want my kids to remember they should all be very proud of that fact.”
“It was a close competition and all teams were extremely competitive,” said Cecilia Massetti, Madera County Superintendent of Schools. “Mock Trial allows students to demonstrate their learning in a powerful way.”
McLane said he was surprised his Badger team, which had no senior students, didn’t earn first place for their successful in-trial performances.
Elise Keeler and Laura Pearson, juniors and the only returning team members, complimented Liberty’s strengths but said they were excited to take back the winning plaque next year.
“I definitely think that we have a much bigger chance of winning,” Keeler said. “We’ll have much more experience and be better prepared ... it felt great that we did so well when we have basically a brand new team.”
McLane added Judge Ernest LiCalsi said 2015 was possibly the best year of mock trials yet.
“To me that was the ultimate compliment, both for us and for Liberty because we had teams that were well prepared and strong,” McLane said. “Next year is going to be awesome for this friendly rivalry. We have mutual respect, but we want to win.”
McLane said he enjoyed his introduction to a role as coach, in his first year teaching government at the school, and hopes to return next year.
“It was definitely worth it,” McLane said. “It showed me a lot, and I definitely want to do it again. We all want to be champs next year.”
For their roles as outstanding witnesses, Amber Persson and Isabel McGoldrick received honors, along with honoroable mentions to Keeler, Pearson, Sophie McGoldrick, and Jerome Garcellano.
MVP awards, selected by opposing teams, went to Keeler, Isabel McGoldrick, and Alex Williams.
Yosemite’s team also included: Dylan Allen; Kourtney Allen; Natalie Guynn; Nichole Joice; Caden McCoon; Jennifer Mengitsu; Luci Montoya; Kelly Ravel; Gabriel Rivas; Matthew Roberts; Jennifer Springer; Rylie Sullivan; Cale Sweeney; Amethyst Wages, and Abby Williams.
Bernie McGoldrick of Oakhurst firm McGoldrick & McGoldrick provided attorney coaching, which McLane said was “invaluable help” in his first year.
Judges who presided over trials included LiCalsi, Dale Blea, Michael Jurkovich, Joseph Soldani, and Charles Wieland.
Yosemite, Liberty, Madera, Madera South, and Dos Palos high schools all argued in the case of People vs. Hayes, where university student Jamie Hayes was charged with felony murder for striking a security guard with a baseball bat.
Hayes claimed the homicide was justifiable to protect a student under threat from a security guard known for violence. Students also argued in a pre-trial motion over the Fifth Amendment and protection against self-incrimination, as one of Hayes’ statements to investigators indicated the attack could be seen as malicious.
Each high school team participated both as prosecutors and defense over the three-day event from Dec. 8-Dec. 10.