The verdict following this week’s 35th Annual Stanislaus County Mock Trial Competition was one of success for Turlock High School, which finished in second place and nabbed a couple of individual wins.
“It really is a team effort, and these kids really gelled and helped each other,” Mock Trial Advisor Jill Ogden said. “Even the prosecution and defense, who are completely separate, worked together to help each other and build the strongest possible case on each side.”
In the County competition, each trial is conducted by a Superior Court judge. The teams are rated by attorneys practicing in Stanislaus County, giving students the opportunity to apply skills like listening, speaking, reading and reasoning while gaining an understanding of the link between the nation’s constitution and the substance of law.
Students on each team play the roles of prosecution and defense attorneys, witnesses, clerks and bailiffs.
The THS Mock Trial team began in October with tryouts, Ogden said, and from there the students practiced twice a week through February, with a few scrimmages sprinkled in between. The case that the students played out during Wednesday’s competition was named People vs. Kline.
“This case was about ‘catfishing,’ and a criminal threat SWAT incident between two teenagers,” Ogden said. “Every case is different each year. Sometimes it’s about murder, and a year or two ago it was human trafficking.”
Ultimately, THS lost by just two points to Beyer High School, earning the silver medal out of about nine schools.
“It could’ve gone either way,” Ogden said. “Our kids were disappointed, but we feel like they put their best foot forward and did their best in all the rounds.”
Earning first place in the competition’s Journalism Contest and Artist in the Courtroom were Julian Aguilar and Anna Lima, respectively. Each of these subcategories of the competition are individual contests, with the Journalism Contest asking a student to take on the role of a courtroom reporter, writing an article about the case, and the Artist in the Courtroom requiring a student to become a courtroom sketch artist and depict a scene from the trial with an illustration.
Aguilar and Lima would occasionally sit in on Mock Trial practices to get a feel for the competition, Ogden said.
“I’m extremely proud of them,” she said. “I’ve had both of them in class and they’re exceptional students, so I’m happy they’re able to move on to state.”
Team awards, voted on by the Mock Trial members, were awarded to Joven Hundal (best pretrial attorney), Izzy Romero (best prosecution attorney) and Elle Price (best defense witness). On March 22, Aguilar and Lima will travel with Beyer up to Sacramento for the State Mock Trial Competition.