Garces wins Mock Trial


Garces Memorial High’s Camille Angeles-Castle, the defendant, and her attorneys (from left) Jenna Bowman, Kyle O’Malley and Chelsea Lewis had tense moments hearing the judge’s verdict.


Centennial High’s Jacquelynne Vaughan raised some crucial questions during closing arguments.


Garces Memorial High School, 2008-09 Kern County Mock Trial Champions

Garces Memorial High School culminated an undefeated Mock Trial season by emerging as the best among 16 county high school teams who competed in the Jan. 24 2008-09 Kern County Mock Trial Super Saturday championship final in Bakersfield's Kern County Superior Courts of California. Garces will represent the county at the California Mock Trial, March 20-22, in Riverside, CA. Finishing second was Centennial High and the third place team was last year’s champion, Stockdale High. Other teams finishing in the top 10 were:

Fourth — Liberty High
Fifth — Foothill High
Sixth — Ridgeview High
Seventh — West High
Eighth — North High
Ninth — Bakersfield High
Tenth — East High

The top two students from each team who consistently performed the best throughout the course of the four-month competition were named to the Honor Court. They are:

Bakersfield High — Nicole Johnson and Andrew Green
Centennial High — Amy Shavinsky and D.J. Stout
Delano High — Jeanette Lara and Jarvis Dalere
Desert High — Steven Dillon and Christopher Bessette
East High — Flelicya Parnell and Karla Castro
Foothill High — Adam Lewis and Erick Bautista
Frontier High — Kris Negrete and Devin Ramos
Garces Memorial High — High Chelsea Lewis and Kyle O’Malley
Golden Valley High — Samantha Matamoros and Edward Loera
Robert F. Kennedy High — Paula Madrid and Magaly Pineda
Liberty High — Cherrity Ahrens and William Zimmer
North High — Justin Castillo and Ariel Huff
Ridgeview High — Holly Dunn and Mona Gupta
Rosamond High — Tiffany Johnson and Robert Adams
Stockdale High — Deepa Kannappan and Rebecca Struzyna
West High — Lucia Salazar and Selma Habebo

Team members from competing high schools acted as defense and prosecution and provided witnesses and courtroom officials in the fictitious case of People v. Lane, involving an alleged act of arson and inciting a group to riot. The prosecution charged radical group leader Leslie Lane had held a rally in which she sang a song called “Burn ‘Em Out” and burned an effigy in an effort to force a group of new settlers out of town. Shortly afterward, a fire broke out on the settlers’ property, and Lane was charged with arson and inciting a riot. The case, used in each round of the competition, was prepared by the Constitutional Rights Foundation.

Garces’s Camille Angeles-Castle gave a convincing performance as the defendant, although Centennial’s prosecution attorney Amy Shavinsky made it tough, repeatedly objecting that the defendant was being “non-responsive.”

“That was tough,” Angeles-Castle said afterward. “I had all this good evidence prepared to help my team win the case, but the judge instructs me to just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ I was disappointed that I couldn’t provide more evidence during her cross examination, but when my defense team was questioning me, I made some points. That’s the fun of mock trial.”

Shavinsky said she was looking for an opportunity to turn the case her team’s way.

“It’s one of my favorite objections, and I have it immediately in mind before the witness takes the stand,” Shavinsky said. “My goal is to keep the witness from getting in that vital piece of information that could help the other team’s case.”

In the annual competition, students have the opportunity to address serious and timely issues young people face today. Under the guidance of teachers and coaches, students use critical thinking and interpersonal skills to prepare and argue the case. An objective of Mock Trial is to give students a better understanding of the link between the Constitution, the courts and the legal system.

The closing was a cat-and-mouse game with Centennial’s Jacquelynne Vaughan laying out a perfect chronology of events including placing the defendant at the scene of the crime after the fire started. Then, Garces’ Kyle O’Malley planted seeds of doubt hinting that a former follower of the defendant’s could have set the fire out of revenge or possibly the leader of a cult who wanted to collect insurance might have set his own property on fire.

“I got on the team to learn more about the law, and found out there is so much to it that makes it both exciting and challenging,” Vaughan said.

Angeles-Castle found another reason to get involved.

“I used to get nervous in front of crowds and felt very self-conscious,” Angeles-Castle said. “This has given me an interest in law, too, and the experience is an asset.”

Kern County Mock Trial is sponsored by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, Kern High School District, Kern County Bar Association, Kern County Superior Courts of California, Kern County Sheriffs Department and Sheriffs Reserves with a grant from the Harry and Ethel West Foundation.

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