Mock trial defeated by last year’s champions

BP Photo by Rachel Lester

Ari Feuer, Deputy Editor-In-Chief

After advancing to the final 16 teams out of 70, Shalhevet’s Mock Trial team fell to the eventual winner of the annual Constitutional Right Foundation Los Angeles County Mock Trial Competition, Arcadia High School, on Monday, Nov. 21.

Having advanced to the “sweet 16,”  matches the 2008 team’s performance as Shalhevet’s all-time best.  Both the Prosecution and Defense teams had to win their respective competitions against Notre Dame High School and Archer School of Brentwood to advance.

Seniors Justin-Brandt Sarif and Michael Silver also earned Honorable Mentions in their roles as Defense lawyers, and senior Leona Fallas secured an Honorable Mention in her role as A. G. Prout, a witness on the Defense team.  Shalhevet had only ever earned one Honorable Mention in Mock Trial competition before this year’s slew of awards.

“Every person on our team gave it their all,” said Silver, who led the team as captain this year.  “I couldn’t be happier with our team’s dedication and performance in this year’s competition.”

All contests took place in the real courtrooms of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Downtown L.A. Only teams with 2-0 records like Shalhevet’s could advance to the second round.

The Defense team, led by seniors Michael Silver and Justin Brandt-Sarif as lawyers, scored a Shalhevet-record 179 points out of 200 possible in the first round on Oct. 31, and the Prosecution, led by senior Adam Ashkenazi and junior Rose Bern, also secured a comfortable win with 224 out of 300 Nov. 7.  The scorers were randomly selected from a pool of volunteering legal experts.

With only Rose having filled a lawyer position previously, the team entered the competition with three first-timers lawyers—the roles that earn the most points.

“I didn’t have such high hopes at first because of the lack of experience at the lawyer positions,” Mr. Buckley said.  “But Adam, Michael, and Justin all really stepped up, and that was key.”

After both teams emerged victorious in the first round, a coin flip determined that the Defense would face Arcadia in the next round in a win-or-go-home format.

Arcadia, a 3,500-student public school located in the San Gabriel Valley, used sharp arguments and also technicalities to propel themselves to a victory margin of 12 percent of the 485 awarded points — a “rout” according to many Mock Trial members.

“They were extremely polished and disciplined,” Mr. Buckley said.  “But at the end, they mentioned four violations on our team that were kind of ridiculous.

“It left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth,” he continued.

After Shalhevet’s earlier Nov. 7 bout against Archer, opposing coach Tim Rule said both teams had fought hard.

“The competition was really heightened tonight,” Mr. Rule said after the meet.  “Both teams clearly knew their facts and prepared.”

In every competition, the teams argued the same case: accused murderer Ryan Bushell, played for Shalhevet by sophomore Sarah Saroudi on the Defense team, vs. the People of California over a fatal stabbing at a music festival.  In all three competitions, judges found Ms. Bushell guilty of the murder and of carrying an unlicensed concealed weapon. But the verdict did not affect either team’s scores.