Visalia students rule Tulare County mock trial

(Tulare County Office of Education)

Redwood High School students win county-wide mock trial competition which prepares, educates students on judicial system

VISALIA — With the decisive pound of the gavel, Redwood High School has emerged victorious in the legal arena of the Tulare County Office of Education’s (TCOE) annual mock trial competition.

On Feb. 13, the Redwood High School silver team defeated University Preparatory High School in the 2024 Tulare County Mock Trial Finals. The finals were held at the Granite Hills High School Legal Justice Center in Porterville.

“It’s a great experience for them to compete in a respectful, structured setting with students from other schools so that exposure to their peers from other districts is great,” Chris Meyer, assistant superintendent of district support services for TCOE, said.

Even further, winning the county mock trials is just the tip of the iceberg for these students. According to Meyer, the winning team is able to continue to compete at the state level. The state competition will be held March 22-24 in Los Angeles, where Redwood will represent Tulare County.

This year, Redwood entered two teams in the annual competition. The winning team was comprised of Priscilla Andrew, Janna Asunto, Ester Calderon, Alina Cervantes, Camila Chavez, McKenzie Chavez, Harley Davidson, Thai Dinh, Midnight Espinoza, Amelia Fultz, Jacob Hutchison, Leilani June, Morgan Kane, Susana Perez, Indira Renkema, Hector Robledo, Michael Rodriguez, Briana Romo, Haleigh Sasin, Chloe Seals and Evan Silva.

The team was coached by Jennifer McFadden and Tina Moran, with assistance from attorney coaches Andre Gaston and Chris Gomez.

For the mock trial, the teams consisted of 10 to 20 students who assumed various roles such as lawyers, witnesses, court clerks and bailiffs. The teams presented their cases based on identical hypothetical case materials. Coached by local attorneys and school personnel, each team presented the case for both prosecution and defense twice during the competition.

“(They are) working with people who are actually in that career field, so being able to interact with legal professionals and people who are actually practicing themselves, it provides students with opportunities to get knowledge and experience and career fields that they’re interested in,” Meyer said. 

The teams presented their cases before actual judges and attorneys, with three attorneys scoring the trial. Members of the public, parents, students and teachers were in attendance at the trials.

For their assignment, which is the same for all students throughout California, the students had to present the fictitious case of People v. Clark – the trial of “Tobie Clark,” someone who works as in-house counsel for Sunshine Medical Components, Inc., a billion-dollar medical technology company. In the case, Clark is charged with the homicide of SMC’s chief executive officer Kieran Sunshine.

The prosecution argued that Clark should be convicted of first-degree murder. They made the case that Clark murdered Kieran because Kieran was backing out of Clark’s plot to commit fraud against SMC’s board of directors.

The Mock Trial Program was sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation and co-sponsored by the California Department of Education, the State Bar of California, the Young Lawyers’ Association and the Daily Journal Corporation. TCOE coordinates the program locally, with assistance from local attorneys and judges.

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