San Mateo County Mock Trial
2014 Case Brief
People v. Concha is the trial of Rae Concha, a senior at Rosewood High School. Concha faces two felony counts: Count One is second degree murder for the death of fellow student Jason Johnson, and Count Two is possession for sale of a controlled substance (amphetamine in the form of prescription Adderall). The prosecution alleges Rae Concha sold Adderall to other students on campus, and in particular that Concha sold Adderall out of the back of Concha’s SUV on the morning of March 27, 2013 to Jason Johnson in the school parking lot just before the two went to marching band practice. The prosecution argues that Concha sold the Adderall pills to Johnson with full knowledge that Jason suffered from a congenital heart defect and that Adderall would be dangerous to Johnson. There is eyewitness testimony to Concha receiving warnings about the dangers of illegal prescription-drug use as well as to Concha handing drugs to Johnson. A large supply of Adderall pills, both in bottles and in plastic baggies, were found in Concha’s SUV. There is testimony from the medical examiner that Adderall exacerbated Johnson’s heart condition and caused his death. The defense argues Rae Concha had a legal prescription for Adderall for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The defense also argues that the backpack alleged to contain the bottles of Adderall and the baggies did not belong to Concha, but rather to another fellow student and band member, Alex Weaver. The defense argues that Weaver, an eyewitness, had animus toward Concha in relation to both the marching band and an off-campus rock band that involved Concha, Weaver, and Johnson. Concha denies giving or selling any pills to Johnson. There is forensic-expert testimony that a high level of alcohol in Johnson’s blood exacerbated Johnson’s heart condition and caused his death. The pretrial issue in People v. Concha centers on the Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure. The issue in this case is whether or not a vehicle search conducted by undercover police officer Robin Doherty was within the plain view exception to the warrant requirement. If so, testimony about items seen by Officer Doherty during an ongoing narcotics investigation would be admissible in the case-in-chief. Constitutional Right Foundation’s Mock Trial Program
Mock Trial is a high school competition in which students present a criminal case before a judge in a Superior Court. The teams are evaluated by two or more practicing attorneys on a five point scale. Each participant is scored on their performance, the points totalled, and that determines the team’s result. Each school has a prosecution side and a defense side, and in San Mateo County both sides compete in each round. The county competition takes place in January and February, and begins with a round robin of the six or seven teams in two divisions, North and South. The top two teams in each division compete in the Semi-Finals and the winners of those matches compete in the county Finals. The weekend of March 22 – 24, Menlo School represented San Mateo County at the California finals in Riverside. They came in third in the state. Nationals were held for all state winners the weekend of May 9 – 11, 2013 in Indianapolis, IN.
The team pictures for 2013 are now online and can be seen at Team Pages. The 2012 Team Pages will continue to be available accessible through a link on the 2013 Team Page. The 2012 Law Day program is there too. Here is the 2013 Law Day program.
The Constitutional Rights Foundation
California Mock Trial was created in 1980 by the Constitutional Rights Foundation in Los Angeles (CRF) which prepares each year’s case and conducts the state finals. Each California county that participates in Mock Trial has a Coordinator who is responsible for organizing the county’s competition. Rules are developed by both the CRF and each county.
San Mateo County Mock Trial
Mock Trial began in San Mateo County in 1984. In our county the teacher-advisors and the Coordinator meet in the early fall to review the rules, arrange the competition schedule, and consider changes as the competition evolves over time. In the spring they meet again to review the year's competition.
The Case Book
The 64 page case book is available online to team members and can be opened with a password provided by the team’s teacher. It contains a description of the competition, a summary of the case, the sworn statements of the eight witnesses, a pictorial representation of the Exhibits that the Prosecution must prepare for the trial, and a description of the sixteen objections permitted in Mock Trial. There is also a separate section which contains all the material that the pre-trial attorneys will need to prepare the oral argument they will make to the judge. That includes provisions in Constitutional law and prior court decisions. The intention of Mock Trial in California is to provide a level playing field for all participants.Thus everyone has access to the same material. Since the team members are high school students who have not attended university, let alone law school, the legal material that can be applied in the competition is limited to what is in the case book.
CRF has made available for classroom use 27 different Case Books including the 2013 case, People v. Vega, in both a print and an electronic version. In the world of curriculum purchases, CRF offers an incredible deal. Buy one copy of the e-book at $4.95 and make your own additional copies. This is available at CRF's Mock Trial Cases page. CRF also has many other publications which provide educational tools to help create a dynamic, interactive learning environment in the classroom in the areas of Law and Government, Civic Participation, and U.S. and World History. CRF publications. (Yes, this is a plug for the creator of Mock Trial's extensive curriculum materials. If you like Mock Trial, take a look at some of their other materials.)
There is also a courtroom artist competition. In San Mateo County the courtroom scene is sketched during the second round. The artist is judged separately from the trial competition. The winning artist in the county is eligible to compete in the state finals, and often accompanies the winning team. The rules and procedures for the courtroom artist can be found at the Courtroom Artist link on the FORMS page. They are not in the case book.
Sarah Gonzales, who was the 2013 county winner, placed third in the state competition. Her art is on the cover of the Law Day program. Her art and the other state winners are available on CRF's website: 2013 State Winners.
Each school may organize their own pre-season practices with schools outside of San Mateo County. You can list your school and find other Mock Trial high schools that would like to scrimmage from CRF. Usually high school classrooms, which are free, serve as a courtroom and the attorney-coaches serve as judge. It is a great way for your team to test itself against someone besides the other half of your own team.
Law Day Luncheon
The San Mateo County Bar Association holds the annual Law Day luncheon at the beginning of May. Outstanding Performance Awards were presented to the Outstanding Pretrial Attorney, Outstanding Trial Attorney, Outstanding Witness, and the Courtroom Artist. Certificates of Excellence are presented to an additional group of meritorious participants. The Trial Lawyers Association presents three scholarships to the winners of the essay contest.
Law Day Program
The Law Day Program is distributed at the Law Day Luncheon. It includes the names of the people and organizations that support and participate in San Mateo County Mock Trial: students, teachers, attorney coaches, presiders, scoring attorneys, and the honorees who won plaques and certificates. You will find a history of our county's winners and other information. Select the year for the link to the programs: 2012 or 2013.
Our website is for everyone: students, attorneys, teachers and parents. There will be parts of it that you may find useful and parts that you will ignore. On balance, we hope you find it worth your time.
We know that there are more exciting websites out there—pages that have games, discounts, and cartoon characters which jump around. There's nothing like animation to attract attention. We think, however, that we are serving the people we want to serve with a functional site. "Get in, get what you need, and get out," could be our motto. We focus on three goals. First, to provide material that will help our teams to become more effective. Second, to put into one place the full of array of forms, schedules, and rules. Third, to show who we are. We hope that you find the website clean and well organized rather than cluttered and hard to navigate.