After a closely contested final on Saturday, February 27, San Marcos High School emerged the winners of the Santa Barbara County Mock Trial competition, narrowly edging out Dos Pueblos. San Marcos will represent Santa Barbara County at the virtual state competition on March 18-21. This year, the competition looked different, with trials being held virtually via the Zoom platform.
The Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO) sponsors this event, now in its 38th year, with the Santa Barbara County Superior Court’s support. It takes place over two successive weekends with nearly 60 local attorneys from private law firms, the district attorney’s office, and the public defender’s office serving as volunteer scorers. Six teams from five public and private Santa Barbara County high schools competed throughout the trials, acting as both prosecution and defense on a case developed by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. Participating schools were Carpinteria, Dos Pueblos, Laguna Blanca, San Marcos, and Santa Barbara high schools.
“The Mock Trial program is a unique, irreplaceable high school learning experience for participants. The County Education office, local bar, teachers, and parents collaborate to produce one of California’s top programs. This year presented special challenges, as trials were conducted by Zoom, which required extraordinary effort by all involved. The Santa Barbara Superior Court applauds these efforts and is committed to supporting this important educational activity,” said Judge Brian Hill, who presided over one of the final round trials.
“Each student demonstrated significant preparation through their delivery of compelling arguments and presentations during the competition,” said Dr. Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools. “Thank you to all student participants and community volunteers who contributed to this meaningful hands-on opportunity for students to gain real-life virtual courtroom experience.
SBCEO’s Assistant Superintendent Ellen Barger commended the students saying, “The intense preparation, critical analysis, and reasoned arguments demonstrated by our students is inspiring. It’s easy to forget that we are watching high school students and not experienced attorneys when listening to their carefully crafted testimony, cross-examinations, and motions citing case law. “
Luke Ohrn, Hilary Dozer, and Jim Kreyger coached the San Marcos Team while Hannah Krieshok, Lisa Rothstein, Christine Voss, Chris Horowitz, Glenn Miller, Addison Steele, Nina Steele, and Lina Somait led the Dos Pueblos teams.
The law firm Rogers, Sheffield, and Campbell, LLP, donated medals awarded at the end of the first round of competition to 28 students for their exceptional performance.
Special thanks go to those who presided over the four rounds of competition: Judge Thomas P. Anderle, Judge Clifford Anderson, Retired Judge George C. Eskin, Judge Donna Geck, Judge James Herman, Judge Brian Hill, and Commissioner Steve Foley. Additional presiders include Steven Amerikaner, Danielle De Smeth, Michael Hanley, Jerry Howard and, John Thyne III.