Mock trial competes in regionals

The Gold and Panther Mock Trial teams took part in the 38th Annual Mock Trial at the Ventura County Courthouse during the week of Feb. 24 to Feb. 28, placing fifth and 12th respectively out of 33 teams.

In preparation for the competition, both teams began practicing in early September. Anandi Kavuri, junior, portrayed the role of an forensics expert witness during the trial and spent months familiarizing herself with the role.

“While preparing for the trial, we got to go to the Santa Barbara courthouse to participate in practice trials called ‘scrimmages’ against other schools. They really help with getting into character and mimicking what would happen in an actual trial,” Kavuri said. 

This year, the case was called “People vs. Matsumoto” in which the defendant, Bailey Matsumoto, was the founder of a startup that produces autonomous technologies. Matsumoto is charged with killing their spouse, who started a political movement against these technologies.

“Every school in the county participated in the competition for two days straight regardless of how they do, although it would determine whether or not they would make it to the semi-finals on the next day,” Zakary Logie, senior and lead prosecution attorney on the Gold team, said.  

On each day of competition, mock trial members had to be at the school in business attire by 3:00 p.m. to be bused to the courthouse. On the first day, the Gold and Panther teams each won both of their trials. On the second day, the Gold team won both trials but the Panther team lost both of their trials and were eliminated from the competition.

Mina Nguyen, freshmen and Panther prosecution attorney, enjoyed the experience of competing even though the Panther team did not move on to the semi-finals. “The top eight teams go on to the third day, then the top 4 go on to the next day, and the 2 winners of that go to finals, the winner goes to state,” Nguyen said. “Even though the Panther team did not move on, it was awesome supporting the rest of our team.”

On Wednesday morning, the Gold team was notified that they would be moving on to semifinals, seeded in third place based off of points assigned from judges. In their first trial, they went against the sixth seed, the Santa Susana Lincoln team. After losing, they faced Oaks Christian, and ended up placing in fifth overall. Many members won individual awards for their respective positions, including: Kian Alamir, Robert Ramirez and Andrew Young, seniors.

“I thought we would go to state, especially with all of the work our team put in,” Logie said. “But what makes our team great is not just their minds, but the exemplary character they demonstrated throughout the competition. I am happy with how we did.”

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