(from left) Sophomore Manson Tung, junior Chien Ho, sophomore Akilan Murugesan, junior George Cvetich, sophomore Emma Brown, and freshmen Jaelan Trapp and John Hansen face the judge at the scrimmage on Dec. 2. (photo by Cissy Shi)

Mock Trial practices for invitational

The Mock Trial team will join teams from 17 other schools attending the San Joaquin County Mock Trial Invitational Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Wentworth Educational Center in Stockton.

This invitational is similar to a scrimmage, as there will be no scoring and no awards, said coach Jeanine Boyers.

“It’s more like a very formal practice,” she said.

At the invitational, the defense and the prosecution will compete twice, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, against different schools, which Boyers said is unusual.

“It’s a lot of experience jammed into one day, which is terrific,” she said.

Junior George Cvetich is looking forward to the event.

“I’m excited for this one,” said Cvetich, co-team captain with junior Aishwarya Nadgauda.

“It will be the first real test for our team and will let us see who our strongest members are.”

Cvetich will be the closing attorney for the prosecution.

Nadgauda has mostly been working on pretrial, but at the invitational, she will be playing the role of closing attorney for the defense, a role she had last year.

“I’m looking forward to getting a chance to do (it) again,” she said.

Sophomore Emma Brown will be opening for the defense.

Brown said she is nervous and hopes to get more familiar with the role of opener.

Sophomore Jenny Kerbs, who is covering pretrial for the defense, said she’s also nervous..

“(The role) is very new to me.” Kerbs said. “I feel kind of overwhelmed because a lot of the other students in the class know more about it because they’ve been doing it for a longer time.”

The case under consideration is People v. Concha. Rae Concha is being tried for murder because he sold Adderall to a student, who subsequently died.

The prosecution must prove both that Concha sold the Adderall to the student and that the student died because of it.

The team’s theory is that another student tried to frame Concha to avoid being a suspect for selling the Adderall.

Their theme (a recurring phrase used to tie the case together) is “Alcohol Not Adderall,” meaning they maintain the student was killed because of alcohol consumption instead of Adderall.

Invitationals also give the team a  chance to watch other schools in action.

“I hope that we see some really good schools,” Boyers said. “(That) will help us to step it up a little bit.”

She said she is most worried about going against Tracy High School and Venture Academy, a team that has come in first or second in the county for the past 10 years.

“I think it’s a great chance to scrimmage schools that we traditionally don’t scrimmage,” Nadgauda said.

“That gives us an idea on different ways to present arguments.”

Boyers said that when students are working on their individual parts, it can be hard to see the big picture. At invitationals, she said, they can really see how everything works.

“I really hope that the students understand what the evidentiary issues are going to be. That’s one of the biggest weaknesses we have.”

Boyers said the team receives a case packet that includes information such as witness statements.

“Usually the most pertinent information will have evidentiary problems,” she said.

For example, certain statements cannot be made because they will be deemed hearsay (an out-of-court statement offered as truth).

Boyers said that the team needs to understand what they can and can’t argue.

There was also a scrimmage held at the school on Dec. 2 against Venture Academy.

Cvetich said that though having a scrimmage and an invitational scheduled close together is a lot of work, he thinks it will be good for the team because during the real competition they have only a day or two between trials.

Though the team had some trouble with objections at the Dec. 2 scrimmage,, Boyers said it went very well.

“(The team) had good dialogue between attorney and witnesses,” she said.

She also said the team relied less on their notes than did Venture Academy.

Brown and Kerbs were portraying attorneys for the first time.

“They made strong arguments, commanded the room, and displayed a quiet confidence that was very effective,” Boyers said.

Boyers was also happy with the performances of freshmen Jaelan Trapp and John Hansen, saying that they portrayed likeable and believable witnesses and seemed comfortable during cross examinations.

“If the trial had been judged, we would have won by a small margin,” she said.

After the scrimmage, the judge told the team that he thought the theme did not match their theory.

Consequently, they will rework their theme for the upcoming invitational.

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