OAKHURST — Yosemite High School won the 2018-2019 Honorable Edward P. Moffat Madera County Mock Trial competition held on Jan. 17, 24 and 26 in the Madera Superior Courthouse.
YHS battled Liberty, Madera, and Madera South High Schools in what turned out to be YHS’ second consecutive County championship and 28th win overall in the 35 year history of the program.
Yosemite High’s defense team defeated Madera South’s prosecution team in the championship round held on Saturday, Jan. 26. Yosemite will represent Madera County at the State Mock Trial competition Mar. 22-24th in Sacramento.
“Teams this year were extremely competitive,” says Dr. Cecilia Massetti, Madera County Superintendent of Schools. “The competition was fierce and all students did a great job!”
YHS team members include 4th-year team member Sophia McGoldrick, 3rd-year team members Mia Adelizi, Isabella Peter, Jasmine Tanoury, Madison Washburn, Abby Williams, and 2nd-year members Skylar Bates, Macy Bazzar, Linnea Leinau, Maya Magdaleno, Leslie Ramirez, and Cale Sweeney. First year team members include Hannah Beaumont, Lauren Bernardi, Lack Dindia, Emma Fries, Makayla Jeffries, Gannaen Skeahan, Stevie Trujillo, and Kaelo “Mo” Mohulski. The team is coached by YHS teacher Matt Skeahan, former YHS teacher Deborah Brown, and attorney coach Bernie McGoldrick.
“This year’s team was an interesting mix of experienced Mock Trial members and those who have never done it before, and everyone was very willing to help one another,” notes Abby Williams, who is said to be one of the best performers in the history of Madera County Mock Trial, according to numerous judges and attorneys.
Mock Trial is a simulation of a criminal court case in which the students act as attorneys, witnesses, bailiffs and clerks. Attorneys from throughout the valley score the students’ performances.
This year, during the fictional case People vs. Klein, Reagan Klein (played by Bates) was tried for making a false report of an emergency and making a criminal threat.
The case involved many cutting-edge legal issues: Klein was accused of making a false 911 report via text message, and the charge of criminal threat stemmed from a post Klein made on a social media website. Online bullying also featured prominently in the case. In pre-trial arguments, the defense (McGoldrick) argued that the threatening online post made by Klein was free speech protected by the First Amendment. The prosecution (Bernardi) countered that the social media post was specific, unequivocal and showed an intent to do physical harm, thereby making it a crime and not protected free speech.
Madera Superior Court Judges Dale Blea, Ernie LiCalsi and Michael Jurkovich presided over the trials.
“Mock Trial is by far the most valuable program I’ve been involved in at YHS,” says student Abby Williams. “There are few things more daunting than arguing in front of a real judge. Once you have done it, any other public speaking becomes significantly less frightening. Not only have I greatly improved my public speaking skills, but also my ability to think on my feet.”
Sophia McGoldrick concurs.
“Arguing with a real Superior Court Judge is an experience I will never forget,” McGoldrick specifies. “Mock Trial has pushed me intellectually and has been a thrilling experience. My favorite part is watching our team’s hard work and mastery of the case on display in the competition.”
YHS individual award winners include: Outstanding Defense Witness — Cale Sweeney; Outstanding Court Clerk — Isabella Peter; Outstanding Pre-Trial Defense Lawyer — Sophia McGoldrick; Honorable Mention Best Defense Attorney — Abigail Williams; Honorable Mention Best Defense Attorney — Hannah Beaumont; Honorable Mention Best Prosecution Attorney — Jasmine Tanoury; Honorable Mention Best Pre-Trial Prosecution Attorney — Lauren Bernardi; and Honorable Mention Best Prosecution Witness — Cale Sweeney.
Attorney Coach Bernie McGoldrick has high praise for this year’s team.
“These students are outstanding. The core group of senior attorneys we have had for three or four years — Williams, McGoldrick, Adelizi and Tanoury — are probably the strongest group I have ever coached. All four of them would make excellent attorneys in the real world. But what makes this team so good is that there are no weak links — every person on the team performed at a high level and showed real talent and character. I’m excited to see how we do at State.”
Arlene Aoki and the Madera County Office of Education contributed photographs for this article.