This year, the CHS Mock Trial Team brought their oration and argumentative skills to the San Diego County Mock Trial Competition. Competing against 477 students from 25 schools, 13 of Coronado’s brightest students challenged themselves to argue a case in front of real judges and real lawyers. The case is written and developed by the San Diego Mock Trial Committee and then sent out to all the mock trial clubs of San Diego in September. In the following months, the students work hard to prepare for the competition at the end of February.
This year’s case was “People vs. Klein,” where the defendant was charged with using a social media account to make criminal threats. Furthermore, the defendant was also charged with calling in a false report, commonly known as “swatting.” The prosecution established a motive of committing the crime in response to being “catfished” by some of his closest friends after he became a famous social media influencer. In every case, there is a pre-trial motion that is to be argued by two pre-trial attorneys. This year, the motion was on the issue of the First Amendment and whether the alleged criminal threat is protected speech.
Once the mock trial club received the case packet, they familiarized themselves with every role and the arguments and then divided themselves into two teams: the prosecution and the defense. Each team is comprised of three trial attorneys, one pre-trial attorney, four witnesses, and supplementary roles to facilitate the trial. After they were divided into prosecution and defense groups, the team began meeting during and after school to prepare for the competition. Once they had a solid grasp of the case and the arguments, the prosecution and defense scrimmaged against each other. They also participated in several scrimmages at Cal Western Law School to preview the schools they would be competing against at the real competition in February.
This year at the competition, Coronado faced teams from Oceanside, La Jolla Country Day, Otay Ranch, and Cesar Chavez High Schools, spanning over four competition days. The prosecution team, competing against Cesar Chavez and Oceanside, did particularly well in the litigation aspect. Junior Lauren McNeil joined mock trial this year and “handled the pre-trial motion for the prosecution, which is an extremely demanding role,” says Attorney Coach Bob Balfour. “She responded to the judge’s many questions with poise and professionalism.” The trial attorneys for the prosecution—Sofia Symon, Sasha Jouldjian, and Isabel Tobia—expertly executed their roles, now with two years of experience under their belt.”
The attorney defense team was comprised of mostly new members, but they presented their case just as skillfully. Senior Georgia Ronis Von Helms argued the pre-trial motion and “did an outstanding job presenting the argument and responding to the judge’s questions,” shares Attorney Coach Balfour. The trial attorneys—senior Nick Moffat, freshmen Chloe Williams, and Michelle Croteau—took on this difficult role as first-year members and did an excellent job. Attorney Coach Balfour comments, “Chloe Williams and Michelle Croteau will be returning next year and based on their performance this year we are expecting big things from both of them.”
“Witnesses Josie Morrissey, Tali Peled, Maya Vidal, Sadie Coburn, Kelli Morris, Isabella Whalen, Cole Mullins, and Jonah Haas were part of a witness team that was probably the best we’ve ever had,” says Attorney Coach Balfour. Jonah played the role of the defendant with great finesse, while Kelli relied upon her incredible acting ability for her second year as a witness. Cole similarly did an outstanding job as the investigating officer for the prosecution team. “Aurora Alibozek and Aliya Piearcy did an amazing job as our court clerk and bailiff. We look forward to having them both back next year.”
Leading this group of young lawyers, Head Attorney Coach Todd Haas had re-established the Mock Trial Club at CHS eight years ago and has dedicated much of his time continue the program. Attorney Coach Balfour joined the team six years ago and enjoys helping students develop a number of life-long skills, including “public speaking, critical thinking, and the art of forming a persuasive, cohesive argument,” he says. The CHS Mock Trial Team would like to thank their teacher-coach Heather Bice for coordinating and facilitating the meetings, making it possible for the students to compete.