There was a lot going on in February.

On February 5th I attended the Legal Aid Foundation’s luncheon, celebrating its 55th anniversary and the recent retirement of its Executive Director, Ellen Goodstein. I was staggered to learn the numbers of people served by Legal Aid, and the breadth of the services provided. It is easy to forget that almost 20% of our local citizens are living at or below the poverty line and that they, just as the rest of us, face the whole spectrum of legal issues. Legal Aid is doing a great job for that population, but the work is endless and as attorneys, we should do what we can to help the Legal Aid Foundation continue its mission.

On February 21 State Bar President Luis Rodriguez stopped in Santa Barbara for a luncheon organized by Judge Herman. President Rodriguez’ remarks covered a wide range of topics of interest to all California attorneys, not the least of which was court funding.

In the months to come the SBCBA will again be doing all it can to encourage the governor and the legislature to restore and preserve sufficient court funding so that the citizens of our state can continue to have access to the judicial system.

As a mock trial coach and addict, I am compelled to write a few words about this year’s Santa Barbara County High School Mock Trial Championship competition. The teams in this year’s competition, particularly the teams that reached the semi finals, Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez, San Marcos and Dos Pueblos, would have been competitive anywhere in the state. The finals once again featured an absolutely epic battle between two superb teams, arch rivals Dos Pueblos and San Marcos.

Of the tens of thousands of total points awarded to the teams by the scorers of the county competition in the final rounds between Dos Pueblos and San Marcos over the past 6 years, I would guess that less than 100 points separates them. This year, for example, out of 2813 total points awarded in the finals, DP topped San Marcos by only 20. In two recent years, the teams tied in total points awarded.

All the Mock Trial coaches in the county deserve praise. I won’t abuse this space by lauding coaches I’ve worked with [and in any case the DP coaches have listened to quite enough of my emotional end-of-season speeches]. Rather, I want to praise San Marcos’ coaches, Eric Burrows and Luke Ohrn. For many years, Eric and Luke have been working with the kids at San Marcos to create a very popular and successful program. Each year, no matter what students they have to start with, they come to the county tournament with a team that could win state. Eric and Luke never let down, and the students they coach will forever be better off for having had the experience of competing in mock trial with them as coaches. San Marcos raises the bar for all the teams in the county. Their consistent hard work and devotion to making the San Marcos team the best a team can be, means that the rest of the high schools in the county have to work as hard or harder to have a chance against their team. That’s great for the county because it means more students become poised, polished and articulate as they prepare for college and careers. Congratulations to Eric and Luke for maintaining such an incredible and beneficial program at San Marcos for so many years.

First published in the April 2014 edition of Santa Barbara Lawyers Magazine

 

- Scott B. Campbell
  Rogers Sheffield & Campbell, LLP
  2014 SBCBA President

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