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Student team learns about the law

Del Oro Mock Trial team competes
By: Staff Report
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The Del Oro High School Mock Trial team recently presented their case at the Superior Courthouse in Sacramento.

Del Oro sisters Libby and Ellie Runte both participated on the academic team and said they plan to return next year.

Libby Runte, a junior, said, "I mostly do sports and leadership, so this was a change of pace."

Libby Runte argured the pre-trial motion for the Del Oro team and called the experience fun. She said it made her more confidant in her public speaking.

"You get to be theatric," she said.

Sophomore Ellie Runte said, "It was a fun way to learn about being a lawyer."

Ellie Runte competed as a witness and said she memorized a fact pattern and then answered questions posed by opposing student lawyers.

High school students nationwide competing in the annual event all received the same fact pattern for a criminal case and the students learned and performed the roles of prosecuting and defense attorneys, as well as witnesses. 

The Del Oro team presented their side of the case to a real judge and included the opening and closing arguments, motions and the questioning of witnesses.  They competed against teams from both Rocklin and Oakmont high schools. 

This year, the fact pattern involved a hit and run accident where the accused was an Olympic hopeful swimmer. Superior Court Judge Mark Curry and Placer County Deputy District Attorney Doug VanBreemen were the coaches for the Del Oro team, along with Del Oro teacher Carole Pitre. 

“The students learn basically the equivalent of a first year law school class in trial advocacy,” Curry said. “Not only do they learn a lot about how to present a case in court, but they also have fun.” 

Members of the Del Oro team are Race Nelson, Mason Curry, Alexandria Jones, Ellie and Libby Runte, Richard Moore,  Jonathan Newman, Nikolas Georgiou, Hunter Lang, Jack Tjornhom, Isaac Jorgensen and Andrew Edwards. 

“This year was a learning process and we were able to practice at the historic Courthouse in Auburn,” Curry said.

“It was amazing how much the students improved this year on their confidence in public speaking and thinking on their feet.”

Curry said next year’s team will be formed in the fall.