Turlock, Pitman and Denair high schools competed with eight other high schools recently at the 28th Annual High School Mock Trials event sponsored by the Stanislaus County Office of Education.
Turlock High earned runner-up behind Enochs High from Modesto. THS student Henna Hundal was the winner of the Journalism Contest and Denair student Crystal Belcher was the winner of the Artist in the Courtroom.
This year’s fictitious case, People v. Buschell, was the trial of Ryan Buschell, a resident of Emerald City. Buschell was charged with murder and violating the California Concealed Carry Statute.
At the Mock Trails event students from each school are broken up into roles such as witnesses, defense and prosecution attorneys, pre-trial attorneys, clerks, bailiffs, sketch artist and reporters. Students receive the case in late September and begin refining their roles and researching applicable courtroom rules and California law. In the courtroom trials are conducted by a real superior court judge and teams are scored by attorneys practicing in Stanislaus County.
Mock Trials provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate listening, speaking, reading and reasoning skills. Working in teams, students study the hypothetical case, conduct legal research and receive guidance from volunteer attorneys. By portraying each of the courtroom characters students gain a working knowledge of the judicial system as well as an understanding of the link between U.S. Constitution and the substance of the law and legal system.
At Denair High mock trial is an elective class open to students interested in the legal process.
“The kids really learn and gain quite a bit from this experience like critical thinking, the fundamentals of the courtroom and public speaking,” said Mock Trial Advisor Joe Esquivel.
Turlock High’s Mock Trial team is an extra-curricular activity. Advisor Jill Ogden said the club is like an athletic team with tryouts and practice. Students try out and 18 are selected for the team, nine on prosecution and nine for defense. Practices were held two to three times a week.
“The kids learned a lot, I’m so proud of how well they did. They worked hard and they worked together. It was a tremendous effort. This is the best finish THS has had yet and we’ve had our team for seven years,” said Ogden.
Team awards for THS: Best Pre-Trial Motion Attorney, Natalia Lima; Best Prosecution Attorney, Eric Smith; Best Prosecution Witness, John Silva; Best Defense Attorney, Jonas Trevethan; and Best Defense Witness, Nicole Larson.
To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.