Ju­ries split in mock trail ex­cer­cises

Ripon Bulletin - - Front Page - By VINCE REMBULAT

Michael Cano is a lo­cal Army re­cruiter.

On Fri­day, he had a chance to serve as a guest ju­ror in the Peo­ple vs. Shan­non J. Ja­cob­son mock trial held in Joe Waller’s Ca­reers in Law En­force­ment class.

The class­room in the Man­teca Uni­fied dis­trict of­fice com­plex was once again trans­formed to a court­room equipped this time with an elab­o­rate sound sys­tem thank to Karl Knut­sen, the re­tired JROTC in­struc­tor.

Waller re­called that when he started do­ing the mock tri­als some 20 years ago the setup was mod­est, lim­ited to a few chairs.

“We had stu­dents from Ripon at the time. They’re the ones who came up with the de­sign for the (class­room) court­room,” he said, hold­ing up some of those orig­i­nal plans.

As for Cano, he ap­peared to have en­joyed his morn­ing in the jury box of the mock trial in­volv­ing stu­dents from Waller’s We­ston Ranch High


“In my opin­ion, the trial is make or break, based on the clos­ing ar­gu­ments,” he said.

In this case, Amaya Fin­ley was back as the act­ing de­fense at­tor­ney. She was teamed up with Jonathan Valle – the two were out to prove via ma­jor­ity de­ci­sion (due to time con­straints) that their client Ja­cob­son a.k.a. Shaky, as played by WRHS ju­nior Chris Ivan Or-pill, acted in self de­fense for shoot­ing death of Jerry Lee Perkins bet­ter known as Sneaky Pete.

Waller pointed out to the jury – along with Cano, Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Joann Beat­tie from the Man­teca Cham­ber of Com­merce was a guest ju­ror – that the mock trial was a fol­low-up to the Star Bar shoot­ing in­ci­dent held prior to the win­ter break in his class­room.

Ja­cob­son gunned down the much-big­ger Perkins af­ter be­ing struck in the head by a cue stick in an ear­lier meet­ing in­volv­ing his girl­friend. Or-pill, in the spirit of

his char­ac­ter, even sported an eye patch as a re­sult of that beat­ing.

“I think I’m not guilty,” he said prior to the ver­dict. “If not, I’ll be in jail for a long time.”

Fin­ley was out to prove oth­er­wise. She played that same char­ac­ter a year ago, with her client be­ing found not guilty of first de­gree mur­der.

Cheyenne Yod-ong and Ti­mothy Duong rep­re­sented the pros­e­cu­tion.

“We think he’s guilty – he ex­ited the bar and came back with a gun,” Duong said.

Yo-dong, in her clos­ing ar­gu­ment, said that Ja­cob­son “was gone for about an hour, which would have given him plenty of time for a cool­ing pe­riod.”

Fin­ley, who con­vinc­ingly slammed a cue stick to the ta­ble to make her point, said that her client had a “right to de­fend him­self.”

Beat­tie, for one, found that ac­tion, in this case, to be con­vinc­ing enough. “The bur­den of proof wasn’t all there (for the pros­e­cu­tion),” she said.

Oth­ers on the jury were WRHS coun­selors and stu­dents. In the end, Ja­cob­son was found not guilty by an 11-1 count. He clapped his hand to cel­e­brate the ver­dict.

In Waller’s ear­lier mock trial in­volv­ing Lathrop High and Sierra High stu­dents, the ver­dict was also an 11-1 count, find­ing Ja­cob­son guilty of first de­gree mur­der.

“I voted guilty,” said sopho­more Rob­bie He­witt. “(Ja­cob­son) had a whole hour to think about his ac­tions – it doesn’t take emp­ty­ing out six shots (into the vic­tim).”

Waller, mean­while, was baf­fled by the de­ci­sion of the last mock trial that fol­lowed – the ex­er­cise con­sist­ing of Man­teca High and East Union High stu­dents re­sulted in a hung jury.

In prior years, his classes have been con­sis­tent in cast­ing votes on ver­dict. “All three would usu­ally vote way or the other, across the board,” he said.

No word yet on Waller pos­si­bly chang­ing up the script for next year.

VINCE REMBULAT / The Bul­letin

The de­fense team of Jonathan Valle and Amaya Fin­ley await the ver­dict for their client, Shan­non J. Ja­cob­son, who was played by Chris Ivan Or­pill, in the mock trial Fri­day at Man­teca Uni­fied’s Ca­reers in Law En­force­ment class.

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