SCDS Mock Trial sweeps Vista Del Lago in first round of county tournament

Country Day Mock Trial won their first trial 460-406 against Vista Del Lago, scoring victories across all three ballots during the first round of the Sacramento County mock trial competition on Jan. 24.

The tournament, located at the Gordon D. Schaber County Courthouse, is the first in-person county competition since the beginning of the pandemic.

The case concerns two actors, Billie Scher and Jordan Franks, on board the cruise ship Heart of the Ocean.

Scher, who owned a signet ring once belonging to William Shakespeare, alleges that Franks broke his arm and stole the ring in an altercation on board ship.

While the prosecution argues that Franks is guilty of robbery, battery and larceny, the defense posits that Franks is wrongfully accused.

The Cavs — acting as the defense on Tuesday — began with what scoring attorneys described as “a clear, concise and convincing opening argument” from junior case-in-chief attorney and team co-captain Grace Zhao.

Zhao, along with senior case-in-chief attorney and co-captain Samhita Kumar, lead the defense in points; Kumar netted near-perfect scores for her direct and cross-examinations.

Zhao said that the first round felt like the culmination of months of work.

“It showed how dedicated the whole team has been this year and how much Samhita and I in particular have worked together on this case,” Zhao said. “I could probably do that open in my sleep.”

Zhao also praised senior co-captain Jacob Chand, who plays the defendant, for serving as an exemplary and reliable witness.

“Jacob’s really playing a valuable role and showing the younger team members just how impactful a good witness can be,” Zhao said.

Sophomore Garrett Xu also had his county debut against Vista del Lago, serving as the third case-in-chief attorney. Xu dealt with the expert witnesses in the case, scoring an average of 8 out of 10 points across both his cross and direct examinations.

“When it came down to being in county I was nervous,” Xu said. “But in general, the whole entire team stuck together and we were doing what we were supposed to do.”

Xu commended a fellow underclassman, freshman Ike Reynen, for rising to the higher stakes at the county tournament.

“Ike is a freshman up there, sounding like he’s a seasoned mock trialer and witness,” Xu said. “If you were to show anyone his testimony, you wouldn’t think it was his first year.”

Xu also attributes the team’s level of preparedness to the Bay Area Bash, a tournament on Jan. 8 that allowed Country Day to experience competition with historically strong, out-of-region teams like former national champions Tamalpais High School.

“They were great competition for us,” Xu said. “They really prepared us for county, because the people in the Bay Area Bash are just out of this world.”

The Cavs placed fifth at that tournament, with Chand achieving first place as best witness and Zhao and Kumar placing third and fourth as best attorneys, respectively.

With the strong result on Jan. 24, Country Day is looking forward to seeing younger teammates step into the spotlight.

“It’s going to be Anika Nadgauda’s first time at county and she’s a freshman attorney, which is a rarity,” Zhao said.

“Having been in her position I understand the pressure, and I understand that it’s really tough to be up there, but I 100% believe in her. I know she’s been working so hard.”

Country Day will face Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep High School at the Gordon D. Schaber County Courthouse on Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. as the prosecution

— By Adam Akins

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