Beckman’s Mock Trial Team Found Guilty of Victory
The defense team wins the trial against Fountain Valley High School after months of preparation for this year’s murder case
November 18, 2019
SANTA ANA – Beckman’s Varsity Mock Trial Team competed last Thursday, Nov. 14, at the Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana at the second of the four preliminary rounds this season. The team, a member of the Constitutional Rights Foundation Orange County (CRF-OC), went head to head with Fountain Valley High School after its victory in the first round against Tarbut V’Torah (TVT) Community Day School.
Team members arrived at the courthouse at 4:30 p.m., preparing outside Courtroom C52 before the trial at 5:15 p.m. The team is split into the defense and prosecution with Captains Ashley Cavecche and Aditya Agarwal leading the defense attorneys and Captain Bryan Choi directing the prosecution. Thursday’s round saw the trial of Bailey Matsumoto, a fictional defendant on trial for the murder of Taylor Matsumoto, the defendant’s spouse.
It was Beckman’s first defense round following the prosecution team’s victory at the first CRF-OC round. Senior Blaine Samson played the defendant, Bailey Matsumoto, while sophomore Christina Peng and juniors Kaitlyn Wallace and Rumjhum Hemnani played the remaining defense witnesses.
The trial opened with the pre-trial motion that defense attorney Dylan Phan, a Beckman sophomore, presented to the court. Phan, with case evidence provided by CRF-OC’s case packet, argued that the police had violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. In a four-minute opening speech, Phan appealed to precedents from four federal and state cases to demonstrate how prosecution witness Detective Micah Eisenberg had violated the defendant’s right to privacy in the former’s search of her property. Phan then used his reasoning to explain the need to take the evidence out of the trial.
“The argument went very well, and the judge only asked [me] one question, so it made the pre-trial motion way easier,” said Phan. Ultimately, the judge denied the pre-trial motion, and the evidence was allowed into the trial. Phan admitted that he tripped up on his words in the concluding sentence of his two-minute rebuttal speech. “I definitely lost points for somehow screwing that up,” Phan laughed.
Despite the initial pre-trial loss, the defense team continued strong into the trial. Senior Shivani Shah delivered the opening statement as the first defense attorney following the prosecution’s opening. “My opening statement turned out to be a little longer than what we expected, but other than that I thought I did well on delivering the opening,” said Shah. The rest of the trial carried on smoothly as witnesses from Fountain Valley answered quickly without delaying their responses–a strategy that some teams use to deflect or waste the opposing side’s time.
Kaitlyn Wallace, a defense witness who played the defendant’s friend Val Glick, agreed that the trial, though challenging, went by relatively smoothly. “I was surprised that the prosecution attorney only asked me three or four questions,” said Wallace. “They were a lot more professional than the other team we played last week.”
Wallace, a replacement for her teammate who could not make Thursday’s trial, played a prosecution witness in the first round and noted the differences in her two opponents’ styles. “TVT broke CRF-OC Mock Trial rules and weren’t respectful to us when an objection would get overruled,” said Wallace. Regardless of the team’s demeanor, Beckman won last week’s trial after confronting the opposing side’s unexpected style.
During Thursday’s trial, the team also noticed Fountain Valley’s unexpected style–one that was strangely very similar to Beckman’s own. “They had similar techniques as us: the witnesses said the attorneys’ names during cross-examination and the attorneys were able to control the witnesses,” said Wallace. “It was pretty surprising. They were respectful, their witnesses were committed and knowledgeable–even the attorneys were three girls and one boy like ours.”
In the end, Beckman won by a total of 20 points with one judge only giving the team a one-point victory. “All of the judges that were scoring us said that the points were very similar and that it was a really close game,” said Shah. The judges gave Beckman attorneys and witnesses very positive feedback, complimenting them on their conviction, emotion and clarity.
The team is now preparing for the next two rounds of the season and will be heading in with a winning record of 2-0. Prosecution attorneys Bryan Choi, Derrick Teshiba and Brianna Pham as well as witnesses Kaitlyn Wallace, Madison Morgan, Archis Shankaran and Evan Josten will be competing in the next round this Tuesday, Nov. 19. The defense team will be heading back to the courthouse the following Thursday, Nov. 21, before Thanksgiving Break for a chance to break to the elimination rounds.