Madras Mock Trial Team captures third place
By Suzanne Callahan
Mock Trial advisor
The 2006-2007 Oregon High School Mock Trial performed by the Madras High School Mock Trial Team on Saturday, March 3, at the Deschutes County Court House was an extremely difficult case on all levels -- legally, politically and emotionally
The original case happened in 1990, Berhanu vs. Metzger, et. al, and it happened in Portland.
The fictitious Mock Trial was based on this civil case, although some of the fact patterns were changed as well as the names of the case and witnesses.
In the real case the judgment was for the plaintiff who won nearly $12.5 million against Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance (WAR) for the unprovoked racist attack against Ethiopian immigrant student Mulugeta Seraw by Skinheads WAR was recruiting.
The judgment bankrupted WAR, but the organization still exists and continues to promote its racist agenda.
This year Madras teacher Suzanne Callahan, coaching the teams for the past seven years, once again had lawyers who volunteered their time to help as attorney coaches. Timothy Gassner, of Glenn, Sites, Reeder and Gassner, volunteered for the third year, and a new assistant district attorney, Robert Ickes, gave input and traveled to Bend to give support.
The trial was particularly difficult for Madras High School students, who had to confront the issues of hate, hate crimes, bigotry, and violence as attorneys on both sides of the case. Some Hispanic students were placed in extremely difficult positions as defense witnesses, role playing unsavory and distasteful characters for the White Aryan Supremacists Party (WASP).
MHS Mock Trial has never scored so high as they did this year. They tied on wins with Redmond, on ballots with Redmond and came in third, by a point under Redmond who won second. Summit High won first place.
For 21 years in Oregon, Mock Trial has been one of the most effective strategies of law-related education. LRE has always been intended to provide a way for teachers to deal with society's most controversial issues in a classroom setting, and this year's case was no exception.
Students from all over Central Oregon competed on both defense and plaintiff sides to try the case.
The Classroom Law Project which sponsors the Mock Trial believes it is far better for young people to be exposed to these societal problems in a structured format, working in small groups with the guidance of professional educators rather than develop their attitudes in isolation, or under the intense pressures of peer influence.
In the case portrayed by the students, Johnson v. Brewster, et al., Martha Johnson believes her son Leon was brutally murdered because he was African American. The defendants say it isn't so -- there was an altercation, but Johnson had it coming. And they claim one of the defendants wasn't even there at the time.
Free speech collides head on with racial prejudice in this civil, wrongful death case.
The attorneys on both sides of the case were: Jessica Blanco (cross and direct for defense), Daniel Bueno (opening for defense, Freddy Hernandez (cross for defense), Erik Leon (direct for defense), Amar Patel (direct for plaintiff), Isabel Ponce (direct and cross for plaintiff), Andrew Saldana (opening and closing for plaintiff, closing for defense), Daniel Serrano (cross for defense).
Witnesses: Daniel Bueno ( eye-witness, Frankie Sherwood, for plaintiff), Rogelio Galaviz (main defendant and Aryan Supremacist member T. Brewster, for defense), Andrea Marcotte (expert witness Dr. Kim Gonzales, for plaintiff), Javier Pineda (defendant and leader of the Aryan Supremacist group, Michael Miller for the defense), Isabel Ponce (last minute fill in as expert witness for defense), Ema Reynoso (Andy Barrett ex-supremacist, for the plaintiff).
The bailiff and timekeeper was Yvette Escalante, court clerk was Samantha Brierley, and court photographer was Jason Garcia.
Understudies included Cristy Davalos, Anayelid Serrano, Ana Serrano, and Jessica Pineda.