By McKenna MIDDLETON
The Crescenta Valley High School (CVHS) mock trial team completed its competitive season in late November.
The CVHS mock trial team has been a club at the school for the past 18 years. The club encourages students to explore a career in the area of law, even while in high school. Attorney coaches Patti Choi, William Monterroso, and Mark Winn share their knowledge of the legal system with CVHS students. Each summer, the team meets once a week to learn legal procedures and mock trial competition rules. In early September, the group receives a case packet that details the hypothetical case they are to study.
The team is split into two sides that examine the prosecution and defense side of the case. Some participants portray attorneys while others act as witnesses, bailiffs, or clerks.
This year’s case, “People vs. Shem,” followed an art history graduate student accused of stealing a valuable painting from his professor and replacing it with a forgery. The CVHS mock trial team analyzed the case for months, discovering new angles and arguments for both the prosecution and defense cases.
“We have assembled the most competitive team in CVHS history. I am extremely proud of everyone,” Monterroso said.
On Nov. 3, the Los Angeles County Courthouse hosted 94 high school mock trial teams. Each school is guaranteed two rounds to compete so that each side of their team, both defense and prosecution, can compete. Judges presided over the case, listened to the trial and rendered a verdict. The verdict has no bearing on which team wins the mock trial competition; there are two or three scorers that give attorneys and witnesses points. These points determine which teams will move beyond the preliminary rounds.
CVHS mock trial president and lead defense attorney Taylor Middleton led her sub-team to victory in the “Sweet-16″ round against St. Francis High School. In the quarterfinals round, CVHS mock trial vice president and lead prosecution attorney Matthew Schetina had equal success against Arcadia High School. The team made it all the way to the semi-final round this year before being beaten by Palos Verdes High School.
Last year, the team placed fifth in the Los Angeles County competitions and this year, the club ended the season as the third place team. The victory is supplemented by the bond that was forged among teammates over the past few months.
“When we all started, we were strangers coming from different places, but when we ended, we were a family and a team,” Middleton said.
Many of this year’s competitors will participate on the CVHS mock trial team next year, but there will be auditions to accept new members for the 2015 mock trial season in a few months.