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Verdict is in–DP Mock crowned Santa Barbara County champions

By Bill Woodard

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The DP Mock team poses with Judge Brian Hill after winning the Santa Barbara County championship (Photo courtesy of Tess Cruz).

Bill Woodard for Dos Pueblos Mock Trial | March 4, 2012

After six months of practice, eight trials, and another classic showdown with their arch rivals, the Dos Pueblos High School Mock Trial team heard the verdict they had been hoping to hear all year as they were crowned Santa Barbara County champions Saturday afternoon after defeating San Marcos in the final round of the Santa Barbara County Mock Trial tournament.

The standing-room-only crowds which packed Departments 1 and 2 on Saturday afternoon were treated to another nail-biting final round between the two schools. Last year, the final round ended in a tie and both schools were named co-champions.

It was the fourth straight county championship for the Chargers, who earned a coveted spot in the California Mock Trial championships to be held March 23-25 in Sacramento.

Senior prosecution trial attorney Paisha Fellows demonstrates how the victim was killed during her closing statement as her as prosecution attorneys Madeleine Centrella (left) and Alison Mally (right) look on. (Photo courtesy of Dos Pueblos Mock Trial)

This year’s finals didn’t disappoint as the Royals and Chargers exchanged arguments in what one of the attorney scorers described as “an epic heavyweight prize-fight.”

Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Donna Geck, who presided over one of the final trials agreed.

“I want to echo what the attorney scorers said in that each of these teams should be thankful for the other,” said Geck in addressing the court after the final round. “San Marcos wouldn’t be the team they are without Dos Pueblos, and Dos Pueblos wouldn’t be the team they are without San Marcos.”

For sophomore defense attorney Madeline Matthys, the finals were the culmination of months of hard work.

“Going into the final round was extremely nerve-racking because I couldn’t help thinking that this one final round would determine the outcome of six months of hard work,” said Matthys. “But as soon as I stepped into the courtroom and began the trial, all my nervousness faded away, and I realized that our team could not have been better prepared.”

“I think our whole team is ultimately grateful to San Marcos for being as talented a team as they are,” said prosecution pretrial attorney and team co-captain Connie Wang. “Our own team wouldn’t be where we are today if we weren’t constantly motivated by the knowledge that right across town, another mock trial team was spending long hours preparing for competition as well.

“It’s an intense and exciting experience to be able to compete in the finals against another top tier team. Although there is rivalry between our two teams, I think it’s a beneficial rivalry that just makes both of us that much better.”

Senior members of DP Mock pose with their first place trophy. (Photo courtesy of Cristina Wilson)

Senior lead prosecution attorney Paisha Fellows was thrilled with her entire team’s performance in the final round.

“I loved watching our team work as such a unit yesterday,” said Fellows. “There are individuals that stand out like our unbeatable pretrial attorney Connie Wang, but winning that trophy took the whole team–clerk, witnesses, understudies, and attorneys. That’s what sets our team apart.”

The teams argued the fictional case of People vs. Buschell in which the defendant is charged with the second degree murder of Becca Ables, a childhood friend of Buschell’s (played by Ray Cothern) who had threatened to get the defendant expelled from college and thus deny the defendant a 20 million dollar trust. The victim is found dead of a stab wound at a Coachella-like music festival.

Our own team wouldn’t be where we are today if we weren’t constantly motivated by the knowledge that right across town, another mock trial team was spending long hours preparing for competition as well. – Connie Wang

In Department 2, lead defense attorney Cheryl Wilson argued in closing that the evidence presented by the San Marcos Prosecution team did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Buschell was guilty of murder, in part because they could not definitively identify the murder weapon.

“Your honor, it’s not maybe, it’s not probably, it’s not even most likely” argued Wilson. “The prosecution’s burden was to prove that my client’s knife was indeed the weapon that killed Ms. Ables. And they have failed to do so.”

The Chargers now move on to the state tournament where they have finished in the top eight in each of the past two years.

But this year, Wilson says that her team will approach it differently.

“In past years, the state competition has just been an added bonus for our team,” said Wilson. “None of our team members had ever competed before, so we were essentially rookies. This year, we’re ready to bring home a state title, and take DP mock to nationals.”

The California Mock Trial Finals are organized by the Constitutional Rights Foundation.

The Dos Pueblos Mock Trial team:

Prosecution Pretrial Attorney: Connie Wang
Prosecution Attorneys: Paisha Fellows, Alison Mally, Madeleine Centrella (understudy: Sean Strong)
Prosecution Witnesses: Emma Steinkellner, Nadine Pearson (playing Devin Lin), Hannah Cruz (playing Kai Mauer), Agnetta Cleland, Sophia Zheng (playing Dr. Marion Schwartz), Wes Cooperman (playing Detective Kennedy Shephard).
clerk: Ami Thakrar

Defense Pretrial Attorney: Jake Wiener (understudies: Delia Bullock, Niranjanna Jeeva)
Defense Attorneys: Cheryl Wilson, Madeline Matthys (understudy: Bela Lafferty)
Defense Witnesses: Ray Cothern (playing Ryan Buschell), Nimisha Shinday (playing Sasha Fain), Brian Pinner (playing Dr. Jan Shartsis, AG Prout (played by Ryan Polito).
Bailiff: Camille Wyss

Attorney Coaches: Joel Block, Scott Campbell, Maureen Grattan






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15 Responses to “Verdict is in–DP Mock crowned Santa Barbara County champions”

  1. Linda Perlin on March 4th, 2012 2:29 PM

    Kudos once again for an outstanding performance by the Dos Pueblos Mock Trial Team. Good luck as the team heads to Sacramento to represent Santa Barbara County. Your strong work ethic and cohesiveness as a team will continue to pay big dividends. Thanks to the efforts of Coach Woodard and the volunteer coaches who give so much of their time outside of their day jobs!


  2. You're wrong on March 4th, 2012 9:25 PM

    san marcos won the county championship last year…nice try though


  3. In response to You're wrong on March 4th, 2012 11:20 PM

    As the article states, DP and SM tied for the county championship last year and were named co-champions (even sharing the trophy throughout this year. Thus, DP has indeed won four in a row.


  4. Liz Bush on March 5th, 2012 6:28 AM

    In the teacher emails of congratulations that have been bouncing around since the Saturday win, two common themes emerge: that this is an extraordinary group of young people and they have a wonderful leader. I just couldn’t agree more. I’m so excited for this win for you all and I totally get the maybe-not-ready-for-state-last-year-but-lookout-here-we-come-this-year. Go team!


  5. Misinformed on March 5th, 2012 7:08 AM

    San Marcos and DP tied last year at the County championships, and then San Marcos won the tie breaker round to become the County champions.


  6. Alisa Haley on March 5th, 2012 8:07 AM

    To be clear, DP and SM tied last year. A play-off was subsequently scheduled as tie-breaker, and SM won. DP went on take an opening at State (there is always an extra spot available and offered to 2nd placers. DP took the spot after 4 other schools turned it down) and placed behind SM in the state finals.
    The prior year was also a tie, and after MUCH deliberation, judges flipped a coin to allow DP to go on to State.


    In Response to Alisa Haley and An Applause to Both DP and SM Reply:

    The Dos Pueblos and San Marcos High School mock trial teams both deserve a round of applause for their efforts this year and in the past. Ms. Haley, please recognize that there was absolutely no coin flip involved in the decision making process two years ago. Both judges of the trials agreed that Dos Pueblos would better represent Santa Barbara county in the state competition, and they did so well, securing a firth place finish. Also Ms. Haley, both San Marcos and Dos Pueblos are fabulous teams that make each other better because they both strive for excellence. Whomever represents Santa Barbara county in the state competition is evidently strong. Last year, DP and SM were co-champions, and SM did win the tie breaker round to determine who would go to state. San Marcos did receive a fifth place finish, and after receiving a wild card, Dos Pueblos received an eighth place honor. It is important to note that Dos Pueblos was able to secure this honor after only two days preparing for their competition. Yet overall, Santa Barbara county would be proud to have either team represent it in Sacramento this coming year, and we applaud Dos Pueblos for their win.


  7. Concerned Community on March 5th, 2012 10:05 AM

    I’m shocked by some of the comments on this feed. We’re all adults and we should act as such. Instead of deepening the divide between local children, we should be celebrating a program that enhances our local students’ thinking and speaking abilities.


    Cameron Reply:

    I agree with Concerned Community. The last thing we need is a flame war.


  8. Kelly on March 5th, 2012 2:54 PM

    I would just like to add that BOTH teams did excellent jobs, and as Ms. Wang stated, BOTH San Marcos and DP enrich each other’s experiences and improve each other’s skills because BOTH are blessed with high quality preparation and talent. BOTH are extremely privileged to have come this far!

    That said, DP won fair and square, and nursing old wounds from past years is irrelevant. Credit where credit is due. No matter who wins, respecting the judges’ decisions and behaving in a gracious manner is what’s important.


  9. Proud SM Parent on March 5th, 2012 6:41 PM

    Round of Applause for Concerned Community. Reading this article as the proud momma I am, I still think of myself not just as a San Marcos parent but as an element in the environment in which we are all raising our children. I think the programs at Dos Pueblos and San Marcos are credits to that environment. I think Mock Trial as an institution is a credit to that environment. And I think that “Concerned Community” is a credit to that environment. Congratulations to the bright students at DP, and to the figures that make Santa Barbara such a positive place to raise a kid.


  10. Urbashi Mitra on March 5th, 2012 7:16 PM

    Fantastic news — as a member of the first mock trial team that DP fielded in 1984, I am so proud to see DP continue to lead in this competition. We owed much to our advisors, Ken Larson and Ron Magnuson, for their guidance. In those days, everyone had multiple roles: Kate Wulfsberg and I were both the prosecuting and defense attorneys (it got a little confusing at times, 🙂 ). Other team members included Vince Buchanan, Brian Gersho and Karin Sylvester.

    I look forward to reading about future wins for this current excellent team.


  11. Clearing up the confusion on March 5th, 2012 8:12 PM

    I’d like to add my thanks to Concerned Community for his or her efforts to keep this discussion mature. As someone who has been involved with the Mock Trial community in Santa Barbara for many years, I feel like previous commenters have been absolutely right: Mock Trial is a fantastic program for our children that gives them the confidence and skills they need to bloom into strong, articulate adults. As someone who has observed and scored many different trials by different schools, I can say that the students who do these trials are truly impressive. I was present for the trials and decision of the past two years, so I can hopefully help “You’re wrong,” “Misinformed,” and Ms. Haley with their confusion. Last year, both teams tied in the country round, and San Marcos won the tie-breaker that determined who went to state, but both teams were co-champions, which is why both names are on the trophy. Two years ago, the teams also tied, but I can assure Ms. Haley that there was no coin flip; DP was allowed to proceed when both the presiding judges agreed that they had outperformed San Marcos.

    The most important thing is that the students at San Marcos worked very hard, and even if their season is over, they should be proud of everything they accomplished this year.


  12. Bottom Line on March 5th, 2012 10:24 PM

    The bottom line is that it is improper for the article subtitle to read, “Chargers capture their fourth consecutive county title…” Last year Dos Pueblos and San Marcos did indeed tie in the county championships and were declared co-champions, however, San Marcos was victorious in a tie-breaker round that advanced them onto State as the Santa Barbara County Champions. With that being said, Dos Pueblos won this year fair and square, there is no disputing that, the sole discrepancy is in that fact that Dos Pueblos was considered the Second Place team in Santa Barbara County, as they did not move on to State as a county winner, rather, as a second-place, wildcard team.


  13. TW Borden on March 6th, 2012 11:13 AM

    “You’re Wrong,” “Misinformed,””Alisa Haley,” and “Bottom Line” doth protest too much, methinks.


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Verdict is in–DP Mock crowned Santa Barbara County champions