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Dos Pueblos High Takes Fifth in State Mock Trial Championships

Team title proves elusive but Chargers win three individual awards in 34-school tournament

The Dos Pueblos High School Mock Trial team capped its outstanding season over the weekend by capturing the fifth-place medal at the 29th annual California Mock Trial championships in San Jose. The Chargers also won three individual awards in the tournament, which brought together the 34 California county champions.

Dos Pueblos went 3-1 in the tournament, just barely missing out on competing in the final championship round.

Dos Pueblos juniors Juhi Khemani and Connie Phung and sophomore Emma Steinkellner had award-winning individual performances at the competition.
Dos Pueblos juniors Juhi Khemani and Connie Phung and sophomore Emma Steinkellner had award-winning individual performances at the competition. (Lian Fumerton-Liu photo)

After the Chargers defense team defeated Enterprise High of Redding (Shasta County) on Friday evening, the Chargers prosecution team defeated Dos Palos High (Merced County) on Saturday morning to move Dos Pueblos closer to Sunday’s championship round.

Saturday afternoon, the prosecution team came up just .4 percent point short against Redlands East Valley High (San Bernardino County). The Chargers prosecution team then defeated Amador Valley High in Pleasanton (Alameda County) in its final match Saturday evening to secure a fifth-place finish. Hillsdale High of San Mateo (San Mateo County) was eventually crowned champion.

Dos Pueblos was the most decorated team in the 34-team tournament, winning three individual awards to go along with its fifth-place medals.

For the second year, junior Juhi Khemani took home an award for most outstanding witness, this year winning for her portrayal of prosecution witness Ryan Howard. Khemani joins just a handful of students in the 29-year history of the tournament to have captured individual awards in different years.

And despite the Chargers defense team only competing in one trial, sophomore Emma Steinkellner made such an impression on the scoring attorneys that she was named most outstanding defense witness for her portrayal of comedian Dani Levinson.

Junior Connie Phung wrapped up the Chargers’ haul of individual awards by winning the third-place medal in the courtroom journalist competition.

This year’s case of People vs. Bratton focused on the first-degree murder trial of the fictional Jordan Bratton. In the case, Bratton is accused of strangling notorious critic Preston Palmer after a review Palmer had written of Bratton’s act severely damaged his chance to achieve stardom.

Sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of society.

Last month, Dos Pueblos edged San Marcos High for the Santa Barbara County title and the right to compete in San Jose.

The Dos Pueblos team included:

Pretrial Attorneys: Connie Wang, Noah Connally, Rashi Singh, Connie Phung

Prosecution Attorneys: Philip Bildner, Nathanial Block, Megha Manjunath

Defense Attorneys: Jeff Campbell, Cheryl Wilson, Richard Cheng, Olivia Campbell

Prosecution Witnesses: Sean Guthrie, Juhi Khemani, Morgan Lunt, Alix de Gramont, Paige Brenner, Jackie McGuan

Defense Witnesses: Corinne Ruth, Christina Li, Emma Steinkellner, Collin Clarke, Chloe Hunt

Clerk: Patrick Holmes

Bailiff: Michael Baik

Courtroom Artists: Lian Fumerton-Liu, Yibing Zhang

Understudies: Chloe Warriner.Alison Mally, Paisha Fellows

Attorney Coaches: Maureen Grattan, Scott Campbell, Joel Block

Teacher Coach: Bill Woodard

— Bill Woodard is a Dos Pueblos High English teacher and the school’s mock-trial coach.

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