The suspense continued to build after a baseball bat unfortunately became a weapon. The question remained: Is Jamie Hayes a murderer or a hero?
What began with the schools Pacific Grove, Alvarez, Palma, Santa Catalina, Salinas, Carmel and Soledad was narrowed to just two finalists at 2pm on Saturday, February 6th: Pacific Grove and Carmel. Real attorneys, judges and teachers came together to coach, guide and instruct high school students, thus leading yet another successful Mock Trial. Professionals were committed to providing experiential learning to these students by finding time after-hours and on weekends to usher in the 18th Mock Trial at the Monterey County Courthouse.
Upon entering the court room, it was incredibly challenging to find a seat due to the enthusiastic and supportive audience. Cameras were rolling, parents were eager to witness their kids' courageous performance, and pom poms filled the courtroom. “Aaaallll riiiisee” was voiced by the honorable Judge as he officially inaugurated the show.
A thrilling case of "The People vs Hayes," a crime that took place at the fictitious "Central Coast University on May 15th 2014, was about to unravel in a mentally stimulating verdict. The spiral of events that led to a 19-year-old student hitting the campus security guard, which lead to his death, was depicted over the next two hours through professional competency, impeccable performances, and clear communication. The defendant, "freshman Jamie Hayes" sat quietly as witness after witness shared their accusations by pointing out the young man in the blue sweater. The fate of a college student involved in nonviolent rallies against police brutality was in a fearful pendulum, in the hands of the law. “Do you solemnly swear…” was repeated as 8 witnesses were called forward: a security officer, director of campus security, detective and lead investigator, fraud examiner, forensic document examiner, captain of the track team, a friend of Hayes and Hayes himself.
The days that led up to the unpredictable verdict had some students dreaming about the case in their sleep; the hard work, constant research and engagement was evident throughout. Adrenaline fired while the trial unfolded. Fingers were crossed, anticipation and hope manifested powerfully as the judge announced the verdict: Hayes was found guilty of manslaughter. The deeply rooted emotion within the students was captivating.
The electrifying performance came to a borderline tie breaker between the two high schools. With over 500 points measured in the competition, the award was given to Carmel who won by two points. Certificates were handed out, special thanks were given and the audience was cheering with excited care and support for all of those who participated.
It was truly rewarding to witness the students' dedication. Thank you very much to all of those who were involved, and special thanks to Michael Wilden, Peter Funt, Commander Mihu, and the Monterey County Courthouse for making this program the truly special event that it is. We look forward to next year!