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Mock Trial students prepare for court

Reagan Klein will be charged with two felony counts: making a false report of an emergency and making a criminal threat on social media during this year’s Honorable Edward P. Moffat Madera County Mock Trial on Thursday, and on Jan. 24 and 26.

The Mock Trial is a simulation of a court case with high school students acting as attorneys, witnesses, clerks and bailiffs. This year, students will try the fictional case People vs. Klein.

Mock Trial students will also be discussing the First Amendment during the pretrial and whether or not the social media post was a “true threat” or if it is protected under the First Amendment.

High school students from Liberty, Madera, Madera South High and Yosemite high schools will be competing.

“We have been fortunate to offer this incredible learning experience for students in Madera County for 35 years,” said Dr. Cecilia Massetti, Madera County superintendent of schools. “Students have acquired knowledge about our justice system and demonstrated effective public speaking skills in their performances.”

Madera County Superintendent of Schools and Madera County Schools Foundation will hold this fictional court case at the Madera Courthouse. Madera County Superior Court is co-sponsoring the competition.

The Honorable Edward P. Moffat Mock Trial begins Thursday at the Madera Courthouse. On Jan. 24, the trial will be held at the Madera Courthouse. Both weekday trials begin at 1:30 p.m.

The championship trial will take place on Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Madera Courthouse, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The top two highest-scoring teams will compete in a winner-take-all competition to advance to the state finals in Sacramento.

The Mock Trial awards ceremony will be held at 11:45 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at the office of Madera County Superintendent of Schools. The winning team will be announced, and nominated students will receive honorable mention and outstanding-student certificates. All students will receive a certificate of participation and pin.

Judge Dale Blea, Judge Michael Jurkovich, and Judge Ernest LiCalsi will preside over the trials this year.

Each school will provide a prosecution and defense team. Rounds consist of one school’s defense team going up against another school’s prosecution team.

The Mock Trial is designed to help students understand the workings of legal institutions. The teams are coached by volunteer attorneys in courtroom procedures and trial preparations.

“This hands-on program provides immediate feedback and assessment from experts and connects students with local attorneys who serve as mentors for school teams,” said Massetti.

Attorneys and legal professionals from throughout the Valley will volunteer as scoring attorneys at the trial. Volunteers include: Cavan Cox, William Fjellbo, Barbara Liss, John Malmo, Steven Mortimer, Doug Nelson, Miranda Neal and Kevin Schwin.

The winner of the competition will advance to the state competition March 22-24 in Sacramento.

In 2010 the Mock Trial was renamed the Honorable Edward P. Moffat in honor of the late Judge Moffat, who was a longtime supporter of the program. California Rights Foundation provided the trial cases.

For more information contact Kristi Winter, coordinator of student events, Madera County Superintendent of Schools at 662-3873.

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