Mock Trial team competes in spring competition

“It was a lot of fun because I got to act as an old crotchety lady who’s sassy,” said sophomore Mika Stanghill on her part in the mock trial competition that took place April 19. Stanghill played the role of a 50-year-old expert in accident reconstructionist, Haley Salazar. She said her job was to discredit the prosecution as she was on the defense. Stanghill said she enjoyed being on the Mock Trial team. “I didn’t really know about the justice system before joining,” she said.

Clark’s Mock Trial team was divided into two groups for this spring competition: one acted as the prosecution and the other acted as the defense, with both groups trying the same fictional case.

Four schools participated in the competition at San Marino High School. According to team advisor Melissa O’Gara, this was the first competition that took place second semester and was organized by the Mock Trial teacher/coach from San Marino. The case used in the competition was a case used in 2004. Usually, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF), who organizes and puts together cases written by real lawyers, never reuses cases, but since the second semester competition was “unofficial” and organized by the San Marino teacher, the CRF allowed Mock Trial to use the case.

Having only one and a half months to prepare, the students met on weekends to practice and to consult with Michael O’Gara (Mrs. O’Gara’s husband), a Superior Court Judge who hears criminal cases. Senior David Olvera-Sanchez, the team’s president, also acted as a coach for the second semester competition as a part of his senior project.

One of the challenging aspects of Mock Trial is not knowing what the opposing team is going to argue, according to Mrs. O’Gara. “Mock Trial teaches them to think critically and to think on their feet,” Mrs. O’Gara said.