The Dos Pueblos High School Mock Trial team beat the San Marcos High School team 2-0 in the Santa Barbara County finals on February 28, 2009. TheHon. J. William McLafferty and the Hon. Thomas P. Anderle presided over the final trials.
It was the first time in four years that Dos Pueblos beat its cross-town rival in the competition.
Each year, the Constitutional Rights Foundation sponsors a statewide program based on a criminal fact pattern that is as equally-balanced as possible between the prosecution and the defense.
All participating high schools prepare both a prosecution and a defense team, typically four attorneys and four witnesses. This year’s defendant, Leslie Lane, was charged with two counts: arson and inciting riot. Leslie Lane was an aspiring rap star and claimed that her song “Burn ’em Out” was artistic and political in nature and, therefore, constitutionally protected speech. The prosecution contended that she exceeded the bounds of protected speech and that her speech led to the burning of a local cult’s community center.
Dos Pueblos represented Santa Barbara County at the State Mock Trial Competition in Riverside on March 20-22, 2009. The team placed 13th out of a field of 34. Two of the Dos Pueblos defense witnesses were recognized as giving the most outstanding performances for their roles in the entire state. Sophomore Juhi Khemani portrayed the defendant, Leslie Lane, and was the only defendant to demonstrate her rap in the courtroom. Ms. Rashi Singh played the role of the defense arson investigation expert. Scorers noted that it was difficult to imagine that this high school junior was not an expert in her field. She explained “offgassing” to the court with understated authority.
Senior Corinne Dorais and junior Alexis Chasney captained the team this year and were lead defense attorney and prosecution pretrial attorney, respectively. Dos Pueblos was coached this year by English teacher, Bill Woodard, and attorney coaches Joel Block, Scott Campbell, and Maureen Grattan.
Two other Santa Barbara schools competed in the semifinals. Laguna Blanca lost to Dos Pueblos, and Santa Barbara High lost to San Marcos. A total of nine schools competed in the preliminary rounds.
According to the Constitutional Rights Foundation, “The program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. The program currently involves 36 California counties.” Those who have been associated with the program attest to the positive impact participation makes on the lives of the team members.
Many of the students write about their Mock Trial experiences in their college application essays.
The local program could not operate without many volunteers. It is coordinated by Josefina Martinez, secretary to the Hon. J. William McLafferty and the Hon. Brian Hill. Ms. Martinez is assisted by several other members of the court staff in running the courtrooms on competition days.
Each team was coached by teacher and attorney volunteers who started meeting in September with their teams.