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Before the court
May 16, 2014, 05:00 AM By Susan Cohn Daily Journal

Tom Jung/Daily Journal
MENLO SCHOOL WINS 2014 CALIFORNIA STATE MOCK TRIAL CHAMPIONSHIP. Law Day was celebrated May 1 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Burlingame during a luncheon that honored Menlo School, the winner of the 2014 California State Mock Trial Championship and the 30th Annual San Mateo County Mock Trial Competition. Pictured at the event are (seated, left to right) Menlo School team members Tara Saha, Kate Park, Kathryn Hurd and Christina Wadsworth with (standing, left to right) team member Samantha Frenkel-Popell; attorney coach Chris Lagod; team member Thom Scher; faculty sponsor Dan Devitt; team members Colton Conley and Mackenzie Bressie; and luncheon guest speaker Associate Justice Miguel Márquez.

MENLO SCHOOL MOCK TRIAL TEAM VICTORY HONORED ON LAW DAY. Menlo School’s Mock Trial Team members beamed as they were honored at the May 1 Law Day Luncheon for winning the 2014 California State Mock Trial Championship and the 30th Annual San Mateo County Competition. On its way to the California championship, Menlo defeated three-time defending state champion LaReina High School from Ventura County and other teams that had, collectively, won six of the last seven state championships. A week after the Law Day luncheon, the Menlo Mock Trial Team went for the first time ever to Mock Trial Nationals, held May 8-10 in Madison, Wisconsin, ending up in fourth place, with a 3-1 record that included wins over Massachusetts, Arkansas and Connecticut. Menlo’s Mackenzie Bressie (‘15) also won an award for best witness portrayal.

In 1980, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) created the mock trial program to help students acquire a working knowledge of the judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of society.

Each year, CRF creates and produces a new set of mock trial materials based on an important issue facing America’s youth. The materials include a hypothetical criminal case (including summaries of case law, witness statements, official exhibits and simplified rules of evidence); lesson plans on the central issues in the case; and competition rules and guidelines.

With the assistance of teacher-sponsors and attorney coaches, CRF’s Mock Trial program engages more than 8,000 student-participants across the state of California. Students actively experience the excitement of working in teams, exchanging ideas, setting goals and examining issues, while interacting with positive role models from their communities. By studying the case and preparing strategies and arguments for trial, students also develop presentation skills, analytic ability and team cooperation.

County competition occurs in late fall or early spring, with anywhere from two to six rounds of trials. The winners of the county competitions go on to the state finals in March. In May, the winner of the state competition represents California at the annual National High School Mock Trial Competition, involving teams from 54 states and territories.

Each year thousands of members from California’s bar and bench volunteer their time to make the mock trial an educational and exciting experience for students. Attorneys serve in a variety of roles, acting as team coaches, scoring and presiding over trials.

Menlo School Mock Trial Team Faculty Sponsor and history teacher Dan Devitt said: “The students and coaches all worked incredibly hard to prepare for and compete in one of the most competitive mock trial events of the year. As faculty sponsor, I am incredibly proud of this year’s team, especially our senior attorneys (Kathryn Hurd, Christina Wadsworth and Kate Park) that led us to our first ever state championship and trip to Madison, Wisconsin, for Nationals.” Devitt has served as the faculty sponsor for the Menlo School team for 13 years. Volunteer coaches were Chris Lagod, head coach; Fred Herold, pretrial coach; Abby Horrigan, coach; Thom Scher, coach; David Larson, coach; Susan Hoerger, JV coach; Carmella Huser, JV coach; and Dana Kleiman, JV coach.

San Mateo County Law Day sponsors included the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the San Mateo County Bar Association, the San Mateo County Office of Education and the San Mateo County Trial Lawyers Association. Keynote speaker for the Law Day Luncheon was Associate Justice Miguel Márquez of the California Court of Appeal for the Sixth District.

Susan Cohn is a member of the State Bar of California. She may be reached at



Tags: trial, state, county, coach, california, menlo,

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