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Temecula Prep Seniors Hold Sixth Annual Mock Trial Simulation

This year’s event was a murder trial involving three defendants.

The defense team, led by Brandon Davis (standing) and Anthony Ortiz (sitting down), attempts to discredit an expert witness. (Courtesy photo)
The defense team, led by Brandon Davis (standing) and Anthony Ortiz (sitting down), attempts to discredit an expert witness. (Courtesy photo)

Winchester, CA – 12/6/2013; Starting Wednesday, Dec. 4 and wrapping up on Thursday, Dec. 5, Temecula Preparatory School’s senior class participated in TPS’ Sixth Annual Mock Trial Simulation which was kicked off by the prosecution’s team, led by Omar Khaled, as they attacked the defense team, led by Anthony Ortiz and Brandon Davis, and attempted to paint the three defendants as guilty of murder.

Headmaster Scott Phillips, J.D., was a litigator for several years and then worked at the appellate level in both state and federal cases up to the US Supreme Court before deciding to make a career change and become an educator and school administrator – believing he could make a greater difference in students’ lives working in education as opposed to the courtroom.

Dr. Phillips leads the school’s mock trial simulations from year to year and acts as the “judge” in the proceedings. The simulations have become a major highlight for the high school students. It educates them on the need for justice in our legal and judicial system, including the roles and responsibilities of prosecuting and defense attorneys; witnesses who are sworn in for testimony and cross-examined; and jurors who feel the weight of deciding someone’s guilt or innocence. 

The entire high school student body is given the opportunity to view the proceedings during the course of the 2-3 day exercise which increases the competition and excitement for the project year after year.

This year’s event was a murder trial involving three defendants. The event opened with a short discourse from Dr. Phillips, on the importance of virtue and justice in our society, and he addressed the senior class in particular regarding the huge responsibility they would be carrying. The trial kicked off with an immediate confrontation by one team of defense lawyers regarding the integrity of another team and the prosecution. From there things stayed heated as numerous expert witnesses and parties were called to the stand in an attempt to prove that each of the defendants had motive and opportunity.

The trial ended after two full mornings of deliberations. The jurors were hung in all three cases against the defendants. Despite motive and opportunity, some jurors could not overcome their reasonable doubt. The prosecution asked for an immediate retrial. Judge Phillips responded, “You are welcome to re-try the cases, you will just have to come back as alumni next year.”

—News release submitted by Denee Burns, director of development for Heritage Classical Charter Schools 

About Temecula Preparatory School

Temecula Preparatory School is a K-12 public, non-profit, charter school which earned the title of a California Distinguished School in 2012 and has been named by US News and World Report as one of “America’s Best High Schools.” It is supported and managed by Heritage Classical Charter Schools (HCCS). For more information, visit TPS’ website at: www.temeculaprep.com

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