By Nick Domenici
SACRAMENTO/SAN FRANCISCO – It was “only” a mock trial, using fictional names and characters. On the other hand, it was important to those involved.
For the first time in each of the counties’ histories, the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office and the Sacramento Public Defender’s Office squared off in a mock trial of the “Peter Paul Seeger v. The People of the State of Lone Star” case.
To say the least, each participant, whether current law school student, a college student, or a young high school student, came fully prepared and exceeded expectations.
In the morning mock trial, we had Sacramento County acting as the prosecutors for the People of the State of Lone Star and the San Francisco Office played the roles as defense counsel. And in the afternoon, roles were switched, where the San Francisco Office played prosecutors for the People and Sacramento defended their client, Peter Paul Seeger.
Each team articulated its points thoroughly, made very compelling arguments, and followed procedures flawlessly for their respective sides. If this were a jury trial with a final verdict, it would be a toss-up.
A brief synopsis of highlights of the experience will be noted below.
To understand the background information of this case, let’s discuss the facts between “Peter Paul Seeger v. The People of the State of Lone Star.” Allegedly, on June 14, 2014, Peter Seeger had assaulted his girlfriend Adrianna Testa with a deadly weapon, a hammer. He is suspected of causing great bodily injury to the victim over a domestic dispute. He was brought up on the following charges:
Count 1: Assault in the First Degree; and Count 2: Domestic Violence. During the entirety of the trial, witnesses took the stand. For the prosecution were witnesses Adrianna Testa, the girlfriend of the defendant, and Dr. Derrick Sheppard, the expert doctor who treated Adrianna Testa at Lone Star Memorial Hospital.
For defense counsel, we have Peter Paul Seeger, the defendant, and Jordan Kravitz, the neighbor who witnessed the events on the night of June 14, 2014. An exhibit list was presented by both sides during trial: map of the French Quarter Trailer Park, satellite view of the French Quarter Trailer Park, photos of the defendant, hammer, picture hangers, an Elvis painting, and a boat. Additionally, there was a 911 transcript, a transcript of the defendant’s audiotaped statement, a handwritten victim impact statement, and medical records. All items mentioned above are needed to understand the gist of the legal proceedings conducted during our mock trial.
In the morning mock trial, we had the Sacramento Office fill the shoes of the prosecution, while San Francisco played defense counsel. The prosecution team led off with opening statements, arguing a whirlwind romance gone bad between Adrianna Testa and Peter Paul Seeger.
A picture was painted by the prosecution where Miss Testa bolts out of her trailer, where she and Peter Seeger reside. She is shaken up, aimlessly running away from the defendant, screaming, “Stop hitting me, stop hitting me, you are hurting me,” declared Prosecutor Schwyzer, promising the truth will come out with the testimony from Adrianna Testa. She concluded that Mr. Seeger should be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of first degree assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence.
Next, we hear from the defense presented by Public Defender Suzani. Suzani defended the character of her client, stating in her first sentence, “We form a snap decision of people, locking them inside of a box that we have stuck in our heads.”
She further explains Mr. Seeger’s rough upbringing, where he wasn’t raised by his biological parents but by his alcoholic grandfather, who faced his own issues. He was forced to drop out of high school at the age of 16 years, where he was forced to find a job to financially support the household. Mr. Seeger was a reputable human being, someone who had a steady source of income, a friendly neighbor who was known to lend a helping hand. He had been three years sober, and had a child on the way.
She stresses Mr. Seeger is innocent because Adrianna Testa didn’t want to prosecute her boyfriend after the incident, the fractures line up with a concussion from a fall, the defendant Peter Seeger was cordial with police by waiving his right to remain silent, and Adrianna Testa had diagnosed herself with being bipolar.
Moving forward, we have the examinations and cross-examinations of our various witnesses as listed above. Adrianna Testa, Dr. Sheppard, Jordan Kravitz, and Peter Paul Seeger. First called to the stand was the girlfriend Adrianna Testa. She is compliant with both sides, and is presented with the picture of the object that could have been used during the alleged crimes, which was the hammer. Judge Iyama accepts the hammer into evidence for the jury.
Exhibit 2, the satellite view of the French Quarter Trailer Park, is determined to be the residence. This is also accepted into evidence. Public Defender Endicott, does a cross-examination of Adrianna Testa, and she had a routine of having an alcoholic drink before her shift. On top of this, Testa is prescribed Xanax for her bipolar disorder. During her testimony, she suggests that she can’t recall how she received injuries throughout her body.
Expert witness Dr. Sheppard is called to the stand. He was responsible for treating Miss Testa’s injuries when she arrived at Lone Star Memorial Hospital. Prosecution establishes Adrianna Testa’s fractures were a result from blows to the head with an object. Dr. Sheppard confirms these injuries are consistent with a hammer. On the contrary, during the cross-examination by the defense, Public Defender Endicott questions whether the injuries sustained by Adrianna Testa line up with a serious fall, and Dr. Sheppard confirms.
Then, Public Defender Endicott attempts to impeach Dr. Sheppard based on no fractures seen on the CAT scan. Public Defender Endicott isn’t successful with his attempts. At this point the prosecution team has no further witnesses.
Defense counsel calls both of their witnesses. The first witness called by defense is Jordan Kravitz, a neighbor who resides in the trailer park alongside Adrianna Testa and Peter Paul Seeger. Kravitz is known as the “peacekeeper” among his neighbors. He’s depicted by Attorney Hamilton as a friendly neighbor, who enjoys lending a helping hand to nearby friends.
He is then cross-examined by prosecutors, where they try to discredit him of his accounts to that night, questioning if he had visibility of the chase between Miss Testa and Peter Seeger. Mr. Kravitz is excused from the defense by Public Defender Hamilton.
At this point, defense calls its final witness, Defendant Peter Paul Seeger. Peter Paul Seeger had a very tough upbringing, with his parents not being present during his childhood. He was raised by his alcoholic grandfather. His poor upbringing caused him to make some bad decisions early on, incarcerated at an early age.
However, in prison, he was able to attain his GED, which would be proven to be beneficial because he has found a lucrative career in carpentry. Adrianna and the defendant had a very loving relationship, with a newborn on the way. Prosecutor Shywzerr cross-examines the defendant, noting he is very cautious with the wording of his responses.
On the redirect, Peter Seager tells the audience he did not hit her with the hammer. He waited for Adrianna Testa to get the proper medical attention. He showed cooperation with law enforcement once they arrived. He spoke with them at length of what had occurred that evening. Mr. Seeger allowed law enforcement to search his trailer. No further witnesses were called to testify during trial portion.
In conclusion of the mock trial, the closing statements are presented by each side.
Prosecutors starts off. They believe after months of abuse, Mr. Seeger had snapped out of frustration and intended to cause great bodily harm to Adrianna Testa. Yet, the defense claims the relationship between the defendant and victim was “love at first sight.” Indeed, Mr. Seeger choose the wrong summer night to hang his beloved Elvis painting, using his hammer.
The final verdict, from my perspective would be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9