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est. 1930

The Wildcat

est. 1930

The Wildcat

est. 1930

The Wildcat

Mock Trial Opens Season With Narrow Loss to Defending OC Champs

Rikhi Joseph
Mock Trial’s Kaylie Choi and Kaitlyn Pulido, seniors, and juniors Lauren Ko and Yousef Alsadek, prior to their Nov. 2 tournament at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Judge Robert A. Freeman turned to face the bailiff and broke a tense silence in courtroom C21: “You may now call the court in session.”

The Nov. 2 trial pit BOHS’s Mock Trial team against defending Orange County champions Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) in round one of The Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange County (CRF-OC) Mock Trial tournament at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Witness examinations, led by juniors Lauren Ko and Steve Ochoa and senior Kaitlyn Pulido, helped score points with deft objections, strategic opening and closing statements, and presenting key evidence, but despite high marks, a slight point differential between the competing teams resulted in the Wildcat’s defeat to OCSA, 51.91% to 48.09%.

The CRF-OC conducts interactive civic and law-related educational programs, connecting youth directly with legal professionals such as practicing attorneys and judges. In the Mock Trial tournament, 40 schools from across Orange County compete at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana throughout November, December, and January. The preliminary rounds take place Nov. 2, 7, 14, and 16.

The day before the first round, teams were notified of the matchups. When BOHS learned they would compete against OSCA, the previous year’s champion, Ochoa acknowledged that he felt anxious to compete against such an established team: “I knew we were up for a challenge, especially considering how far OCSA went [last year], but that didn’t stop us from doing our best.”

Since receiving the People vs. Clark case packet in September, both teams prepared presentations for the prosecution and defense of Tobie Clark, a fictitious defendant charged with first degree murder. The alleged crime involved the murder of a CEO at a billion-dollar medical technology corporation. The high school attorneys of BOHS and OCSA would decide his fate.

The pretrial motion argued the admissibility of the geofence — GPS data — which could be used to gather evidence of where the defendant was at the time of the murder.

Kaylie Choi, senior and pretrial attorney, argued to suppress the evidence based on its violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, in what she felt was an “intellectual conversation with a professional, practicing judge.”

While Choi felt challenged by the judge’s questions, “there was a certain thrill in the back-and-forth questioning [because] I felt that I was able to think in a manner similar to a true lawyer in court,” she said. 

In school, I’m just an ordinary junior. But when I am on the [witness] stand, I become an expert in forensic pathology.

— Nikolaus Yamamoto, junior

Judge Freeman denied the defense’s motion to exclude the geofence data, and both sides were permitted to use it as evidence.

Ko delivered the opening statement on behalf of the defense, arguing that the court could not rule the defendant guilty due to a lack of specificity in the forensics of the lethal weapon and bloody shoe print at the death scene.

Throughout the trial, Wildcat attorneys cross-examined OCSA’s prosecution witnesses, and directly examined several of their own team members.

“In school, I’m just an ordinary junior,” Nikolaus Yamamoto said. “But when I am on the [witness] stand, I become an expert in forensic pathology, able to answer complex questions relating to the forensic evidence found in our case.”

In Ochoa’s closing argument, he referred back to the key evidence his team introduced throughout the trial. “I made sure to incorporate legal elements like calcrims [criminal jury instructions], and used a one minute, impromptu rebuttal to make sure we had that strong last word in the case,” he said.

At the end of the trial, Judge Freeman found that the prosecution met all elements of the charge, and ruled that the defendant was guilty of first degree murder. 

In addition to the verdict, which had no bearing on the competition results, the panel of three practicing attorneys awarded points based on each participant’s performance, contributing to the overall team score. Results were released the next day, revealing the Wildcats’ narrow loss to OCSA.

Despite the defeat, Brittany Eaton, Mock Trial advisor, praised the team’s performance as a whole, as well as each position that contributed to the team’s success. “Our bailiff was complimented on his voice and presence; our witnesses held their ground on cross-examination; and our attorneys were able to get many objections sustained,” Eaton said.

Ko was awarded MVP of the Wildcat team for delivering a compelling opening statement, which set the tone for the trial. She also conducted both direct and cross-examination of the “deceased’s” siblings, “Arian” and “Emari Sunshine,” played by Alexander Chao, senior, and an OCSA team member, respectively.

Christina Pai, junior, and defendant in the trial, described the courtroom experience as “unbelievably professional” as she, and her teammates, got to “deliver cases in front of real judges and attorneys.”

The Wildcats will compete in round two of the competition at the Central Justice Center on Nov 7. BOHS will have to win the next three rounds in the preliminary stages to advance to playoffs.

Pulido believes that the team will be more prepared for the next rounds. “We now know what we need to work on as a team for the future, and I know what I need to work on to help be more confident,” she said.

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About the Contributors
Ellen Kim
Ellen Kim, Editor-in-Chief
Ellen Kim, senior, has been a member of the newspaper staff since her freshman year and is excited to lead the staff as Editor-in-Chief. Alongside her leadership in the Wildcat, Ellen is involved in ASB as Senior Class President and can be spotted in many clubs and organizations across campus including HOSA, Mubotics, Orchestra, and FTOC. Outside of school, Ellen can be found learning the ukulele, listening to her favorite pop tunes, or playing a competitive round of Uno. Ellen has published over 35 pieces for the Wildcat and is thrilled to create lots more during her final year at BOHS.
Lauren Ko
Lauren Ko, News Editor
Lauren Ko, junior, is hoping to gain valuable experience as News Editor during her first year as a member of the Wildcat staff. The current president of Mock Trial, she is also an active member of organizations such as American Red Cross Club, National Honors Society, and Link Crew. Outside the classroom, Lauren delves into the field of law with the International Humanitarian Law Youth Action Campaign. You're likely to find her admiring art in museums while she explores a big city -- two of her favorite hobbies. 
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