Exeter high represents county in state mock trial finals

Exeter Union High School argues their way to state finals after their successful defense in the “People v. Franks” case at this years mock trial finale

EXETER – The fourth time’s a charm, as the coach of Exeter’s mock trial team Heidi Carmen said, as Exeter high school’s mock trial team will be moving onto state finals after three prior defeats at county finals.

This month, Exeter Union High School (EUHS) defeated University Preparatory High School (UPHS) at this year’s mock trial finals held at Granite Hills High School’s Justice Center in Porterville. Exeter will now represent Tulare County at state finals, which will take place on March 17 – 19 in Los Angeles. Exeter’s team is coached by Carmen, with assistance from real attorneys Adam Clare and Roger Wilson.

“Winning at the championship round was a thrilling experience, having come so close three times before,” Carmen said. “More recently they’ve practiced up to four nights a week, so they were very prepared for competition, and it showed.”

This year’s fictitious case was People v. Franks. The case involves a man who is accused of stealing a fellow actor’s signet ring – a ring once owned by William Shakespeare. The prosecution team argued the violence was intentional, the ring was stolen by the defendant, and it did in fact, belong to Shakespeare. Meanwhile, the defense team argues the violence was unintentional. They argued that the ring was stolen by someone else, and through the testimony of the expert witnesses, never belonged to Shakespeare. The prosecution was presented by UPHS, and the defense by Exeter.

“I thought that our whole team did a really good job, and I was really proud of everyone’s witness performances and their arguments,”competitor Gaby Rodriguez, who is a senior at EUHS said. “I feel really proud of my whole team.”

Mock trial is an extracurricular academic team that allows students to work with actual attorneys as they dig deep into the judicial system to craft opposing arguments to explain a reported set of events. A little over half of a mock trial team consists of witnesses in roles like character witness, scientific experts, police detectives, the defendant and victim. 

Carmen said she is confident that the teams will be more than competitive once state finals roll around. They continue to practice two nights a week and will scrimmage with other teams for some final practice.  

“Needless to say, they’re pretty excited, and exhausted,” Carmen said. “Our community should be incredibly proud of these kids. They’re proof that despite some of the deficits that distance learning left on students’ educational and academic experiences, kids are ready to rebound and excel.”

Exeter’s team was comprised of:

  • Gaby Rodriguez (Attorney)
  • Gemma Valero (Attorney)
  • Ethan Gonzales (Attorney)
  • Mia Regalado (Attorney)
  • Eden Diaz (Witness)
  • Ryder Stimpel (Attorney and Witness)
  • Megan Thompson (Witness)
  • Carter Lang (Expert Witness)
  • Holly DeCraemer (Bailiff & Clerk)
  • Marin Parker (Bailiff & Clerk)
  • Trinity Elliott (Attorney)
  • Wyatt Jardon (Expert Witness)
  • Alex Romero (Detective)
  • Natalie Oneto (Witness)

There are also three prosecution attorneys and three defense attorneys who perform direct and cross examinations of opposing teams’ witnesses, object to opposing counsel, and otherwise argue their case before scoring judges in an actual courtroom. A pre-trial attorney argues preliminary motions to either include or exclude evidence collected by police, based on a series of 4th amendment court rulings.

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