Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 8:10 pm | Fog/Mist 51º


Dos Pueblos High Mock Trial Team Ready to Make Its Case at State Championship

Students representing Santa Barbara County will be tackling a first-degree murder trial while vying against teams from 34 other California counties


Anything is possible at a mock trial competition.

More than 20 students of the Dos Pueblos High School mock trial team will travel to Santa Ana this week to compete in a three-day competition against other high schoolers at the 37th Annual California Mock Trial Finals held in Orange County Superior Court.

Dos Pueblos, which won the Santa Barbara County title earlier this month, will be one of 34 schools representing their counties at the state championship.

The team began preparations in September, and to get ready for the March 16-18 competition, the group practiced Sunday in Department Four of the Santa Barbara County Superior Court at the historic county Courthouse in downtown Santa Barbara.

“We have come a long way from the beginning of the year at our first tournament ... we have grown,” said Hoku Kern, 17, a DPHS mock trial team member who has been involved for all four years of high school.

“We have a good team and a good chance.”

Each year, mock trial teams argue a fictional case in which the students take turns portraying both the prosecution and defense sides, the court clerk, as well as those who participate as witnesses. The experience provides them an opportunity to hone their acting skills.

In a mock trial, the students are given a full case, complete with evidence.

“It’s experience that not a lot of people get until they go to law school,” Kern said. “It’s a lot of fun. It has given me more insight into what happens and how real trial proceedings work.”

This year’s fictitious case is People v. Davidson, a first-degree murder case. The trial involves Casey Davidson, who is accused of killing Alex Thompson, a member of an extremist nationalist group.

“It’s a contemporary case,” said Glenn Miller, a DPHS mock trial coach. “Other than the judge and the people scoring (which are typically attorneys or law students), the students take all the roles.”

The inner workings of the criminal justice system, the Constitution, the U.S. legal system, and boosting communication and problem-solving skills are some takeaways from the educational experience.

“There needs to be the ability to think on your feet and understand the big picture of the case,” Miller explained. “There are positive skills students get from competing in a mock trial.”

He said he couldn’t be more proud of the group.

“Kids who compete in mock trial are high-achieving and bright,” Miller said.

Volunteer mentors and local attorneys serve as the team’s coaches.

Attorney coach Tyrone Maho, a partner at Maho | Prentice LLP, was the judge at Sunday’s practice.

“Your personality as lawyers and success as lawyers will be shown by you taking over the courtroom and making it your own,” he told the students.

For Maho’s daughter, Paige, mock trial is more than just an extracurricular organization. The 18-year-old senior has been involved all four years of high school.

“I’ve always had an interest in law,” she said. “From being involved in this program, I’ve worked with amazing people, been part of this team and it’s taught me a lot about my future. I want to bring justice to our community and our city. It has taught me a lot about how to do that.”

The award ceremony will take place Sunday at the end of the competition. Plaques and medals will be given to the top eight teams, and the first place group receives the James A. Cobey Trophy.

“As a team, we are so cohesive,” Paige Maho said. “We have worked hard, and feel fortunate to go against such great teams and represent our county.”

Dos Pueblos High has won three California state championships and has four second-place finishes.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.