BASS LAKE – In the case of a grad student accused of stealing valuable art work, teenagers from Yosemite, Liberty High, Madera South, and Dos Palos High Schools will be competing during this year’s Honorable Edward P. Moffat Madera County Mock Trial, People vs. Shem. The Mock Trial is a simulation of a court case with high school students acting as attorneys, witnesses, clerks and bailiffs.
On December 9, 10, and 11, graduate student Evan Shem will be on trial for theft of the famous painting, Treason. During the fictional case, Shem will be tried for theft by larceny. The prosecution alleges that Shem stole Treason during a Fourth of July party, replaced it with a fake, and intended to sell the original to pay off school debt. The defense argues Shem did not steal the painting and is an intern who loves art. The defense alleges Shem’s roommate was overly interested in Treason and had access to the painting in the unlocked gallery.
The Honorable Edward P. Moffat Mock Trial begins on Tuesday, Dec. 9, at the Madera Courthouse. Judge Dale Blea and Judge Ernest LiCalsi will preside over three rounds.
The second trial will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the Sierra Courthouse in Bass Lake. Judge Charles A. Wieland will preside.
The last trial will take place on Thursday, Dec. 11, at the Madera Courthouse. Judge Michael Jurkovich and Judge Nancy Staggs will preside.
All trials will begin at 1:30 p.m. and all schools will be competing each day.
Madera County Office of Education and Madera County Schools Foundation will hold this fictional court case at the Bass Lake and Madera Courthouses. Madera County Superior Court is co-sponsoring the competition.
Mock Trial students will also be discussing the Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure. The issue is whether or not Shem’s roommate, Charlie Gibbons, could consent to the search of a storage cabinet located in an unattached parking carport.
“Students are able to gain understanding of the inner workings of our court system and learn valuable information from judges and attorneys in our community,” said Dr. Cecilia Massetti, Madera County Superintendent of Schools. “We are excited to see the growth of our competition in its 31st year and include more students in this hands-on learning experience.”
The Mock Trial awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m. at Madera County Office of Education. The winning team will be announced and nominated students will receive honorable mention and outstanding student certificates. All students will receive a certificate of participation and pin.
Each school will provide a prosecution and defense team. Rounds consist of one school’s defense team going up against another school’s prosecution team. The Mock Trial is designed to help students understand the workings of legal institutions. The teams are coached by volunteer attorneys in courtroom procedures and trial preparations.
Attorneys from throughout the Valley will volunteer as scoring attorneys at the trial. Volunteers include Regina Adams, Ashley Allred, Nanette Beaumont, Brooke Bergman, Julia Brungess, Sandi Gravano, James Lee, Sally Moreno, Steven Mortimer, Doug Nelson, Ramnik Samrao, Nicole Silveira and Caitlin Smith.
The winner of the competition will advance to the state competition March 20-22, 2015 in Riverside, CA.
In 2010 the Mock Trial was renamed to the Honorable Edward P. Moffat Madera County Mock Trial in honor of Judge Moffat who was a longtime supporter of the program.
California Rights Foundation provided the trial cases.
For more information contact Kristi Winter, Events Developer, Madera County Office of Education at (559) 662-3873.
Pictured are YHS Mock Trial participants from 2013, photograph by Jessica Tanouri.