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Oakmont slays courtroom competition

Mock trial team heads to state challenge
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After several days of fierce courtroom competition, the verdict is in: Oakmont High School’s Mock Trial team is the best in Placer County. The team took top honors — beating out Rocklin High School — in the local 2011 Gordon D. Schaber Mock Trial and Moot Court Competition, making them eligible for the California Mock Trial competition March 25 to 27 in Riverside. Oakmont’s 21-member team also received the School Sportsmanship Award. Teams from 20 Sacramento County high schools, and four teams from El Dorado, Placer and Yolo counties competed in the 32nd annual event, held in late February and early March. Volunteers from more than 60 local law firms and other legal organizations served as scoring and presiding judges for the five-day event. The Mock Trial competition simulates a trial-level proceeding in which students portray pre-trial counsel, prosecuting and defense attorneys, witnesses, court clerks, bailiffs and jurors before a single presiding judge and two scoring judges. It includes courtroom art and journalism competitions. The case, “People v. Woodson,” involved the trial of a man named Jesse Woodson charged with assault with a deadly weapon and with violating a new anti-bullying and cyber-bullying statute. The pretrial issue considered whether this (hypothetical) California statute violates the First Amendment freedom of speech and expression. The statute bans harassing, threatening and intimidating language made to students. Elk Grove High School placed first in Sacramento County, River City High School placed first in Yolo County and Ponderosa High School took top honors in El Dorado County. Bella Vista High School earned first place in the Moot Court competition, an appellate-level proceeding in which students prepare and argue a case before a panel of three judges. Participants are evaluated on the quality and persuasiveness of their legal reasoning and presentation, and their unscripted responses to spontaneous questions from the bench. California does not hold a statewide Moot Court competition. The California Mock Trial Competition is sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, community-based organization dedicated to educating America’s youth about the importance of civic participation in a democratic society. ~ Sena Christian