Redlands High beats crosstown rival to be county Mock Trial champs
Beau Yarbrough, San Bernardino Sun
Rancho Cucamonga >> It’s deja vu all over again.
Once again, Redlands High School’s mock trial team is heading to the state championship. It was going to be a Redlands team from San Bernardino County no matter what, though, as the Terriers were facing their cross-town rivals at Redlands East Valley High on Saturday in a first-floor courthouse at West Valley Superior Court.
Redlands High has won a record 12 county Mock Trial titles, and has made it to the county finals 17 times in the past 18 years. This was their second win in three years.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” Redlands High adviser Donna St. George said. “Every year is different and I am so happy with the five kids that were part of last year’s team. We lost by a very narrow margin to a team from REV last year, and we won by probably the same margin against them this year.”
Redlands East Valley has won six county titles, including three of the past four. It has been 10 years since a school other than one of the two has won the competition: Upland High School in the 2003-2004 school year.
The case at the center of this year’s competition was People v. Concha, a fictional case in which Rae Concha, a senior at Rosewood High School, is accused of supplying the prescription drug Adderall —popularly abused as a study aid by high school and college students — to a fellow student and bandmate with a heart defect, Jason Johnson, inadvertently leading to his death. Concha is charged with second-degree murder and possession for sale of a controlled substance.
The day began with Redlands East Valley serving as the defense team and Redlands High prosecuting the case. After lunch, the teams switched sides and argued the case again.
“I went to Principal McAllister and told her I believed Rae sold Jason Adderall,” Redlands High student Archana Sivanandam, playing the part of student Alex Weaver, testified.
The Redlands East Valley defense said the drugs that killed Johnson actually came from fellow student and bandmate Weaver.
“That morning, I saw Rae hand Jason something,” Sivanandam testified.
“Ms. Weaver, you’ve never participated in a drug deal, is that correct?” Redlands East Valley student Blake Berich, serving as one of the morning’s defense attorneys, asked. “But you still know what a drug deal looks like?”
Despite the seriousness of the case, the students had a bit of fun with it.
“I consider myself a ‘princi-PAL,’” Redlands High student Siena Frost, playing Principal Riley McAlister, said. “I contacted Officer Dougherty and asked him to search the defendant’s car. ... I then power-walked over there.”
In the end, it was a split decision in the morning case: San Bernardino County Presiding Judge Marsha Slough found Concha not guilty of second-degree murder but guilty of possession with intent to sell.
According to St. George, about a quarter of the mock trial team members she has coached in the past 29 years (including 24 at Redlands High) have ended up going to law school. Another quarter go on to medical school.
“You have to be very bright, think on your feet and change at a moment’s notice” to excel in mock trial competitions, she said.
It’s a comparable future for Redlands East Valley competitors, according to adviser Ed Berman.
“This is their academic sport,” Berman said. “And they like that.”
Students also like the one-on-one time with the attorneys who mentor each team, he said.
The event attracts high-profile members of the legal profession. One of the two scoring judges watching from the jury box on Saturday was District Attorney Michael Ramos. (His office co-sponsors the event, along with the county Superintendent of Schools Office.)
Click here to read the rest of the story.