EL CENTRO — A roar of excitement is not always something one expects from the halls of a courthouse, yet a cheer erupted from the Imperial County Superior Courthouse as the final result of the Imperial Valley Mock Trials was read — Central Union High won and will move on to represent the Imperial Valley in the State championship in Riverside.
What started as a competition between five Imperial Valley schools was whittled down to two in a classic Brawley versus Central final. After hours of going back and forth on a case that has been repeated for three weeks with roles perfected to the point that it was a toss up on both sides, Central came on top for the third year in a row.
“It’s really overwhelming. I thought I was going to cry immediately,” said Natalia Rojas, a senior and one of Central’s star attorneys.
“It was really nerve wracking,” said Tony Martinez, also on Central’s team, at the end of the trial. “It feels really good and we worked really hard.”
Judge Pete Lewis, the federal judge who oversaw the finals, had only shining remarks for the students, even joking that they had performed better than the professional lawyers at the Imperial County Courthouse. He said he expected to see many a lawyer come out from both teams.
“This is going to make you all strong players as you go on in your future careers,” Lewis told the teams once the trial was over.
Central’s lawyer co-coaches Marco Nunez and Miriam Shoval were more than impressed with all the progress their students had done since the beginning of the season.
“I’m sure they are going to go on to conquer a lot of the world, and I hope I hear about it in the future,” said Nunez.
But this victory does not mean Central has time slow down, according to coach Ana Vizcaino. They have plans to make it all the way to the Nationals this year, and that requires practice, practice, practice, she said.
“It involves a lot of weekends, so I know for sure we will be working then,” said Vizcaino. “It’s a lot of hard work, but in the end it pays off.”
Mock Trial is a role-playing activity in which the students learn about the process and content of law in an exciting and fun way with participants assuming the roles of lawyers, witnesses, bailiffs, clerks, and jury, to act out past court cases.
The last time an Imperial Valley team made it to Nationals was in 1998.
The Mock Trial State competition begins on March 24 and ends on March 26 in Riverside. The winner of State will go on to compete in the Nationals in Hartford, Connecticut.