The Justin-Siena Mock Trial team represented Napa County at the California State mock trial competition for the ninth straight year, March 17-20.
This year’s competition was held virtually through the offices of the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) in Los Angeles.
Each year, CRF creates and produces a new set of Mock Trial materials based on an important issue facing America's youth.
This year’s case involved a landlord-tenant dispute that escalated to murder when the landlord was bitten by a rattlesnake concealed in his mailbox authorities said had been placed there by the defendant.
This year’s Justin-Siena team was led by senior Kaela De Guzman, a four-year veteran of the program who’s considering college choices among UCLA, Pepperdine and others.
Kaela brought home the award of best defense trial attorney, awarded to but three of the 96 defense trial attorneys in the competition.
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Seniors Jarell Rafael Cervantes as Deputy Sheriff Toni Garrett and Maya Yermekova as the defendant Jaime Cobey were likewise outstanding.
A surprise only to the other competitors, freshman Tosca Pott was the best of the 32 students who portrayed witness Danni Emling, the defense’s alternative suspect.
“Each year, I continue to amaze at the confidence and poise our students develop over the season and throughout their time in our program,” said Charles Dell’Ario, a Napa attorney who has been a volunteer coach for the team since 2012.
“Their efforts in this extra-curricular program, reap great benefits to them and great satisfaction to those of us who guide them. I know I share the sentiments of my fellow coaches, Napa attorneys David Diamond and Nancy Miller, who joined the team last fall and without whom we would not have been so successful.”