Clovis High's mock trial team retains county championship

The Fresno BeeFebruary 8, 2014 

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COL___ Clovis High School Mock Trial team, which came in fourth last year (2013) in the state competition: Lina Khoeur, Vina Nguyen Ha, Carragan Huerta, Peter Vera, Katie Bourdo, Jesse Nieves, Gabby Guaglianone, Connor Hamilton, Rachel Martinez, Sarah Kutzner, Alexis Morales, Sammy Carey, Christian Henry, Matthew Walters, Danny Ashley, Chyna Mullikin, Karen Avalos, Adrianna Gutierrez. Photo submitted by coach Andy Dominguez

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Clovis High School has retained its Fresno County mock trial title by successfully arguing a case in which a student was accused of killing another student with prescription drugs.

"It was a tough competition because there were a lot of great teams," said English teacher Andy Dominguez, who coached the Clovis High squad.

In a match of unbeaten teams, Clovis High beat Clovis North in the final competition Thursday night at the federal courthouse in Fresno.

Clovis High now heads to the state competition in San Jose in March, said Lisa Birrell, spokeswoman for the Fresno County Office Of Education, which co-sponsored the event with the Constitutional Rights Foundation.

Clovis High came in fourth at the state competition last year, Birrell said.

Mock trial, in its 32nd year, is an annual event that draws high school students from all over Fresno County.

Each team is composed of up to 20 students who play the roles of court clerk, bailiff, prosecutor, defense lawyer and witness. Superior Court judges and attorneys score the students' performances, giving them points for how well they know case law, perform their roles and present their case -- either in defending the accused or prosecuting the defendant.

Twelve teams totaling more than 250 students competed this year in four rounds in Fresno County Superior Court during the evening hours.

The top four teams (determined by percentage of points earned over the four nights) competed in the semifinals on Feb. 4. The final four were Clovis High, Clovis North, Edison High and Buchanan High, Birrell said.

Dominguez said his team practices after school and on weekends and benefited from a tournament in the Bay Area prior to the Fresno County competition. "We came in fifth out of 12 teams, but it helped sharpen our skills," he said.

Clovis High beat Buchanan in the first round, Central High in the second, University High in the third, and Clovis East in the fourth. In the semi-finals Clovis High had a rematch with Buchanan.

The case this year was "People v. Concha," in which a student was accused of second-degree murder for selling the drug Adderall to a student with a heart problem.

The Clovis High team was assisted by Robert Mangano, Jeff Hill and Dan Walters -- prosecutors with the Fresno County District Attorney's Office.

In a majority of the matches, Dominguez said, the accused was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of drug possession. "It was a battle of medical experts, who created a lot of reasonable doubt," he said.


Clovis High School's Mock Trial team: Lina Khoeur, Vina Nguyen Ha, Carragan Huerta, Peter Vera, Katie Bourdo, Jesse Nieves, Gabby Guaglianone, Connor Hamilton, Rachel Martinez, Sarah Kutzner, Alexis Morales, Sammy Carey, Christian Henry, Matthew Walters, Danny Ashley, Chyna Mullikin, Karen Avalos, Adrianna Gutierrez.Lina Khoeur

Coach: English teacher Andy Dominguez

Assistants: Fresno attorneys Robert Mangano, Jeff Hill and Dan Walters.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6434, plopez@fresnobee.com or @beecourts on Twitter.

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