Camarillo students take top honors at mock trial competition

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Three members of Adolfo Camarillo High School’s mock trial team earned top honors in the Ventura County Mock Trial competition.

At the March 2 awards ceremony, ACHS students Bhavika Bhagat, Adam Sanderson and Dylan Specht received individual awards for their performances in the event.

Bhavika, a junior, was the winner in the best defense pretrial attorney category. Adam, a freshman and first-year team member, received first-place honors in the best defense group.

Eleventh-grader Dylan came in second in the best defense attorney category.

Bhavika and Adam were part of the school’s 19-person varsity team, the Scorpions. Dylan was a part of the junior varsity team, First Instar, which had 15 members. Both teams competed against 32 other teams from high schools across the county.

The Scorpions finished 11th in the competition, and First Instar placed 12th.

Sean Near, the team’s coach and an ACHS economics and world civilizations teacher, said this year’s competition was extremely close—the eighththrough 12th-place scores were within a half-point of each other.

“Our teams went up against top-level competitors. Ventura County has some of the best teams in the country,” Near said. “Even though we didn’t make the finals, I’m very proud of and impressed by both teams’ performances.”

To prepare for the competition, team members learned about a hypothetical case, studied the witness roles and prepared arguments for the defense and the plaintiff.

This year’s case, People v. Shem, dealt with the theft of an expensive painting and the issue of unlawful search and seizure.

Near said the teams were formed last September and members spent four months putting their cases together.

“They put in the hard work, and we can see it in the team and in the individual results,” he said. The coach said both teams are young—most members on both the junior varsity and varsity teams are sophomores. Near said he’s looking forward to seeing how these talented teams do at next year’s competition.

Almost 500 county high school students participated. Teams were scored by about 150 local attorneys.

La Reina High School won the competition. The Thousand Oaks high school has earned the top spot in the competition for the past five years.

ACHS winning mock trial members were honored at Wednesday’s Oxnard Union High School District board meeting.

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