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Santa Clara County High School Mock Trial Tournament Championship Round Approaches

Posted By Paula Collis, Monday, February 23, 2015

Prospect and St. Francis High Schools face off February 24 at the High School Mock Trial Finals 


San Jose, CA (February 23, 2015) - Santa Clara County continues its venerable high school mock trial tradition with 22 high schools competing in this year’s tournament.  The seven-round, four-week tournament is presided over by sitting superior court judges and is scored by hundreds of area attorneys, culminates in the finals to be held at 6pm on February 24, 2015, at the Historic Old Courthouse at 161 N. 1st Street in Downtown San Jose. The program, which gives students an authentic litigation experience, is sponsored by the Santa Clara County Bar Association, the Santa Clara County Office of Education, and the Santa Clara County Superior Court.  The program runs from September through February.

Each team is made up of 18 students who must be prepared to either defend or prosecute the case depending on the night, and to fulfill the roles of pre trial attorneys, prosecutors, defense attorneys, witnesses and court staff.  This year’s participating schools are BASIS, Cupertino, Downtown College Prep, Gunderson, Homestead, Leigh, Leland, Lincoln, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Lynbrook, Archbishop Mitty, Monta Vista, Mountain View, Pioneer, Prospect, Santa Clara, Santa Teresa, Saratoga, Sobrato, St. Francis, West Valley, Wilcox, and Willow Glen.

Of these schools, Prospect High and St. Francis High advanced to the finals.  This year’s final round will be presided over by the Honorable Julia Alloggiamento, a former Deputy District Attorney.  As in prior years, the final round scoring panel is comprised of top legal luminaries from the community, including: Chris Burdick, CEO and General Counsel of the Santa Clara County Bar Association; Claire Cormier, Assistant U.S. Attorney; Richard Doyle, San Jose City Attorney; James Gibbons-Shapiro, Assistant District Attorney;  Hon. Roberta Hayashi, Judge of the Superior Court, John Mlnarik, SCCBA President, Ory Korb, Santa Clara County Counsel,  and Dianne Sweeney, partner with Pillsbury, Winthrop & Shaw.

The winner of the County tournament will go on to compete at the State tournament in Riverside on March 20-22.  This year’s case is named in honor of long-time attorney coach of Lynbrook High and current SCCBA Law Related Education Committee Chair, Mark Shem.  It also features a student-artist rendition of The Honorable Erica J. Yew on the cover.  Judge Yew presided over the 2014 state finals held in San Jose.

In this year’s case, the defendant, Evan Shem, an aspiring artist, is accused of grand theft in connection with the alleged swap of “Treason”, an original painting by Fletcher Yazoo, with a forgery.  Evan Shem was charged with the crime after Shem’s professor and mentor, Marty McCulloch, discovered the alleged swap the morning after a Fourth of July party in which Shem acted as a docent in McCulloch’s gallery.  After police had concluded it was an inside job, Detective Reese Barron searched Evan Shem’s apartment and found what the prosecution contends is the original Treason.

For its part, the defense contends the painting found in Shem’s apartment is merely one of Shem’s many student replicas. The defense will call art expert, Jaime Sardegna, to call into question which painting is the original.  The defense is also expected to point fingers at Charlie Gibbons, an old friend and roommate of Shem’s with a dubious past.  The defense has sought to exclude a list of art collectors found in Shem’s storage cabinet as an unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The Santa Clara County Bar Association's Law Related Education Committee is a key component in the continued planning and execution of the are Mock Trial each year. Additionally, the SCCBA provides administrative support throughout the competition.

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