Mock trial

Crescenta Valley's Sarah Hnschel, Kathryn Moser, Maggie Connell and Adam Wolcott, from left to right, prepare to participate in semi finals of mock trials, beating out 80 other schools at Stanley Mosk Courthouse. (Photo by Libby Cline / December 4, 2012)

Adrian Vega and Toni Deluca were driving home on a mid-April night when their car struck bicyclist Cameron Douglas.

But the matter of who was driving the car was the topic of debate that took over a Los Angeles courtroom this week.

Both Vega and Deluca are high school swimmers, aspiring Olympians and hopeful UCLA athletes, and each insisted they were not behind the wheel.

Their testimony, in fact, was given on behalf of a Crescenta Valley student and a Louisville High student pretending to be Vega and Deluca during the semifinals of the Los Angeles County mock trial competition this week.

Crescenta Valley's 20-member team won the semifinals Monday after playing the defense and will compete against one remaining school Wednesday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.

Crescenta Valley's Maggie Connell played a defense attorney out to prove Vega could not be held for Douglas' permanent knee damage as a result of the accident.

A total of 84 Los Angeles County high schools began the competition on the same case in early November.

Crescenta Valley math teacher Sierra Vasquez — who has advised the group since August, along with three volunteer attorneys — said she hasn't known a team from the school to advance this far in at least 10 years.

“I am so proud of the students,” she said. “These memories are memories that will last a lifetime.”

Crescenta Valley student Andrew Kaila, who played witness Aubrey Fox in the case, said that the Louisville High team articulated themselves in new, creative ways by exploring angles of the case the team hadn't yet considered.

As for the other side of the courtroom, Louisville High student Megan Munro said the Crescenta Valley team was “really good at objecting when they thought what we were saying wasn't right. They put up a good fight.”

Marjorie Steinberg, a Los Angeles County retired judge, presided over the trial and complimented both teams at the end of the three-hour mock event.

“It is not easy. It's a lot of work and you all did splendidly,” she said. “Let that be a lesson to you. There's nothing you can't do when you put your minds to it and you put as much time as you all worked on this.”

---

Follow Kelly on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.