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Santa Barbara Mock Trial Team Showcases new Talent

Santa Barbara High School’s mock trial team spent Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Santa Barbara Courthouse battling local high schools in a simulated murder case. The Dons demonstrated their legal skills as attorneys, witnesses, bailiffs, and clerks, while taking on San Marcos High School, Dos Pueblos High School, Carpinteria High School, and Laguna Blanca School in the trial. 

This year’s competition marked the Dons’ second time competing in Mock Trial with advisor Tanner Stark, our AP Government teacher. The team performed remarkably well, even with over half of the 20 members being new. Team co-president and lead defense attorney, Mary Moses, reflected on their work, saying, “I think we worked really hard. We were still competing with a lot of the other teams, even though they have a lot more experience.”

At the post-trial awards ceremony, four members of the Santa Barbara team received well-deserved recognition for their accomplishments; sophomore Zander Pinnell was named best pre-trial defense attorney, junior Danika Mislang was recognized as best overall court clerk, and senior Olivia Battles and junior Mary Moses received honorable mentions for their roles as prosecution and defense attorneys.

The dedicated group began their preparation process in November under the guidance of Mr. Stark, meeting one to two times a week to rehearse their trial and study the details of the case. Mentored by local attorneys and judges, the team got a taste of what working in an official courtroom is like. 

“I’m extremely proud of our team,” said Stark. “I think they did amazing. My expectations were high, and they exceeded them.” When asked about the team’s plans for next year, Stark said, “Hopefully, I keep the same people because they’re amazing. The only thing I would change is adding more students to the team.”Students looking to gain insights into the judicial system and enhance their resume should take advantage of this fantastic opportunity. Anyone interested in joining Mock Trial next year can visit Mr. Stark in Room 31 or reach out via email at [email protected].

The 2024 Santa Barbara High School Mock Trial Team outside the Santa Barbara Courthouse after their preliminary competition Saturday, Feb. 24. [Image Credit Caroline Rogers]


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    Caroline is a junior at SBHS. She plays on the girls varsity tennis team and enjoys going to the beach and hanging out with her friends. She loves to write and is excited to be on The Forge.

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