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5th Annual Tuolumne County Mock Trial Competition Results

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Sonora, CA– The Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office hosted the fifth annual Tuolumne County Mock Trial Competition at the Tuolumne Courthouse. The Mock Trial program features high school students from three local schools, Sonora High School, Summerville High School and Tioga High School. Each high school had three groups of students, assisted by attorney coaches, arguing this year’s fictional case three times with case details created by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. Each school got a turn representing the prosecution or defense team. Students operate as attorneys, witnesses, a bailiff, jewelry expert, clerk, journalist, and courtroom artist.

This year’s case was People v. Franks, with the defendant, actor Jordan Franks, charged with battery of fellow actor Billie Scher and robbery of a signet ring said to have been owned by William Shakespeare and valued at $170,000. It was a bench trial, meaning a judge makes the final decision in the case after hearing the evidence. A student also presents a pretrial argument centering around the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Specifically, whether the detective unreasonably coerced Frank’s consent to open a safe or if the evidence should be dismissed.

The student’s performances were scored by local attorneys Samantha Arnerich, Dana Gross, Eric Hovatter, Clint Parish, Christopher Schmidt, Carrie McKernan, Sabrina Creekmore, and Maria Sullivan who awarded points for each performance and each team’s performance overall.

Three trials of the same case were held with Judge Kate Powell Segerstrom hearing the first trial on January 18, 2023 by Tioga High School students acting as the Prosecution and Sonora High School as the Defense. On January 25, 2023 there were two trials; Judge Donald Segerstrom heard Summerville High School as the prosecution with Tioga High School as the defense and Judge Laura Krieg heard Sonora High School as the prosecution and Summerville High School as the defense.

The Tuolumne County winning team was Summerville High School. They will receive the perpetual plaque and advance to the state competition, which will be held March 17-19, 2023 in Los Angeles. Audrey Patey from Summerville won the journalist competition, and Natalie Harris from Summerville won the artist competition with second place going to Evan Hawks from Sonora High School.

The Mock Trial program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of the judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and absorb an understanding of their civic duty and responsibility as participating members of our society.

  • Mock Trail Sonora Team