Truckee leverages resources with Sierra College’s ‘Mock Trial’ | SierraSun.com

Truckee leverages resources with Sierra College’s ‘Mock Trial’

Nicole Cheslock
Special to the Sun

Community submitted photo

Editor’s note: The mock trial is based on a fiticious case, it is not representative of actual court proceedings.

During a class break one student was in the bathroom when she heard two loud shots. She returned to the classroom and saw a man lying on the floor and another holding a gun, standing over the dead body. Chairs were turned over, a cell phone was in the victim’s hand and another lay on the floor. The defendant was being tried for first degree murder.

This scene unraveled in Truckee High School’s theater during a mock trial performed by Sierra College’s Administration of Justice students Thursday, May 13. Some college students wore formal business suits and others – the witnesses – were dressed in casual attire. The college students chose to perform a mock trial based on a fictitious murder in lieu of writing two term papers for their culminating project in Sierra College’s Evidence course taught by Instructor Michael Fox. The mock trial depicted the ins and outs of police work, challenges of examination and cross-examination and unveiled the hands-on learning opportunities available right in Truckee.

Jerry and Judy Gillmore, parents of Truckee High School senior and Sierra College student Tracey Gillmore arrived early to see their daughter in action. Her father told Fox, “She’s never been as excited about a course as she is about this one,” and later explained Tracey has taken Sierra College classes since she was in 10th grade. Her commitment has paid off. She plans to enter the Merchant Marine Academy in New York after high school graduation. She’ll have completed 24 college units in addition to having her high school degree.

The audience of the mock trial was made up of approximately 50 high school students including a special education course, AP English, science and career and technical education course. As the students walked into the Theater, Fox asked a dozen to step aside – these students formed the jury. Prosecutor Nick Tomasello and defense attorneys Jeanette Gonzalez and Tracey Gillmore presented their opening statements and the stories unfolded.

The defense took the floor with an opening statement outling the shoddy evidence that would be presented. The jury and audience heard testimonies from a variety of witnesses including students, the first police officer to arrive on the scene, detectives, character witnesses and a medical examiner. Witnesses were questioned and cross examined. In Tomasello’s closing statement he said, “There is enough evidence and with all this evidence there is no doubt, no possibility that the defendant is innocent.” The defense addressed the jury with confidence and passion, “There is not enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt…” The jury is instructed to pick a foreman and deliberate.

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Hands in the audience shot up while the jury deliberated. Students were engaged and interested in asking questions.

Find out more about Sierra College, Tahoe – Truckee’s offerings at http://www.sierracollege.edu. Registration is open for summer and fall courses. Summer classes begin June 28 and fall classes begin the week of Aug. 23.

– Nicole Cheslock is Sierra College Tahoe-Truckee’s Career Education Liaison. Contact her at

nicolecheslock@gmail.com.