Redwood’s two Mock Trial teams go head to head in county finals

Two Mock Trial teams at Redwood High School compete against each other in the county finals, one will go on to represent Tulare County in the state finals

VISALIA – Two different teams from Redwood High School in Visalia battled it out at the 2022 Tulare County Mock Trial finals on Feb. 17. Redwood’s A team prevailed over the B team and will represent Tulare County at the state finals in March.  

Most of the students on Redwood’s two Mock Trial teams are enrolled in the school’s Academy of Law and Justice, a college and career readiness program that provides students with an intensive law curriculum in addition to their other courses. The teams are coached by Academy of Law and Justice teachers Jennifer McFadden and Zachary Adams.

“One of the most remarkable things about last week’s competition is that it was Redwood versus Redwood,” McFadden said. “As far as I know, that has never happened before.” 

Redwood’s B team is made up entirely of students who started Mock Trial for the first time this year, while the A team is composed of more experienced team members. The school has two teams due to a large amount of interest–about 75 students tried out this year for one of each team’s 22 spots. 

“There wasn’t any angst about the two teams competing against one another,” Adams said. “[Competing students] were talking about being nervous, and I said, ‘guys, stop and think about it–you’re standing next to your competition. And they both looked at each other and smiled, and gave each other a hug.’”

Redwood has a track record of high rankings at local Mock Trial competitions, and placed fifth at the statewide Mock Trial finals in 2014. McFadden and Adams attribute this history of success partly to the unique education students receive through the Academy of Law and Justice and to assistance from Andre Gaston and Chris Gomez, local attorneys who volunteer time to help coach the teams. 

“They are phenomenal, and they volunteered an awesome amount of hours to coach the kids,” McFadden said. 

Adams is also an attorney. After teaching at Exeter Unified School District for 12 years, he studied at UC Irvine’s School of Law and then practiced for an international law firm before returning to Tulare County to teach at Redwood. 

“It’s the best of both worlds,” Adams said. “I get to talk about and teach something that I’m very passionate about, and get to satisfy that academic side of myself as well.” 

Following the Mock Trial competition, winners of the courtroom artists competition and the courtroom journalists competition were announced. 

The winning artists advancing to the state competition were Rylee Correa and Brooke Ramirez of University Preparatory High School (Visalia). Jennifer Muller of Tulare Western High School was the alternate. The winning courtroom journalists advancing to the state competition were Kari Pendegraft of University Preparatory High School and Redwood’s Grace Buckley. Adam Jeffries from Redwood was the alternate.

McFadden says Redwood’s winning team hopes to place in the Top 10 at the state finals, which will be held virtually from Mar. 17-20.

“There’s so much good spirit and camaraderie on our teams that I think that the students truly do become like a family,” McFadden said. “And they’re able to stand up in front of not only their peers and their parents, but a group of professional adults. So being able to have that kind of confidence, to experience that kind of success–you can’t beat that.” 

For the complete list of winners and their winning projects, here.

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