Lee Vining High School’s Mock Trial team defeated Coleville’s team of high school attorneys in a hard fought competition at Bridgeport’s historic courthouse last week.
The two teams squared off in a fictional murder trial where the prosecution tried to convict a college student accused of murdering a classmate to cover up a cheating scandal.
The defense worked to show that several people could have committed the murder that evening. Each side called witnesses to help support their cause and offered arguments, objections and motions to see that justice was carried out. Judge Mark Magit presided over the trial, hearing all the testimony and delivering a verdict of guilty in both trials and before lunch, Lee Vining’s prosecution team sent Coleville’s Matthew Clark to jail for murder and possessing a concealed weapon without a permit.
After a break, Coleville’s team convinced Judge Magit to find Lee Vining’s Alek McKee guilty of murder, but Lee Vining’s Cory Forbes got the gun charge dismissed in a pretrial hearing.
Scoring each team’s attorneys and witnesses was a panel of local lawyers. Stacy Simon and Marshal Rudolph of the County Counsel’s Office and assistant District Attorney, Todd Graham, graded each student’s performance over the course of the trial and when the scores were all added up, Lee Vining edged out Coleville in both trials. With the victory, Lee Vining earned the right to represent Mono County in the state competition for the second year in a row.
The Mock Trial competitions got their start as a way to encourage high school students to increase research, critical thinking, and public speaking skills.
Each year the Constitutional Rights Foundation creates a new casebook for teams all over California. More than 8,000 students study the witness testimonies, analyze evidence and learn the legal precedents needed to bring their argument to life. Competitions are then held at the county level with the winners traveling to the state competition in Sacramento.
This was the second annual competition held by the Mono County Office of Education and was organized by Tammy Nguyen and Debie Schnadt.
A teacher with Mammoth High School said Mammoth High also was invited to participate in the event, but a lack of volunteers to coach students has so far prevented the high school from being a participant.