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Episode

2

2. Breathe. Think. Relax.

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Air date: 

June 7, 2022

It's boot camp graduation day at St. Mary's, and the nervous 2L’s must pass one final test before they can make the team: Cross-examine their coach in an actual courtroom. AJ is a former Marine. One by one, they march down Mosquito Alley in their suits. AJ is ready. “Some who you thought were going to do great are gonna fall flat on their face. Some who struggled, had a light bulb go off last night and are going to do fantastic. Everyone else is going to be in the middle.” Tears will be shed.

Learn more about the schools, programs and special guests:

St. Mary's University Law School

Follow us on Twitter @ClassActionPod and Instagram @ClassActionPod

Visit our show page for transcripts and more details about the series at ClassActionPod.com.

Follow host Katie Phang on Twitter @KatiePhang and Instagram @KatiePhang.

 

Transcript


Katie Phang (narration): Class Action is a production of iHeartRadio and Sound Argument.

Kevin Huffman:

All right, where are we going?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

So we are heading over to the courtroom. The only way to get through it is through this special door, with the special key. And you have to go through mosquito alley to get there, but it doesn't matter because we're going to get there. Justice prevails.

Katie Phang:

Coach AJ Bellido de Luna is preparing the mock courtroom on campus for today’s exam.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I don't remember which key it is. Not that one. Okay, that's weird. It does look like they did something to the lock. Well, that is clearly a problem. Just relax, take a deep breath. Plan B, find the key.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

So apparently at some point, someone decided to change the lock to the back door of the courtroom, and nobody has a key. I want to give the kids the courtroom experience. They've earned it. I want them to have the majesty of the court, the judge sitting perched on her chair and the witness in the box and the jury in the room. I want to give them that. I think they've earned it.

Katie Phang:

Today is the final day of boot camp for the second-year law students trying out for the St Mary's University mock trial team. By 8:00 AM, the students are climbing out of their trucks and family cars. They're dressed for action. Hair is cut, nails are done. It's 100 degrees outside, but it's even hotter inside the black and gray suits of the law courts.

This is class action, and I'm Katie Phang.

[music; mid-temp hip-hop positive triumphant groove; series intro theme]

Katie Phang: In just an hour or so, these students will speak for their very first time in a courtroom. They're going to address the judge, conduct a cross examination, refresh a witness, enter evidence. But for now, they pace, they mutter their lines, they look up to the heavens.

Karen Crawford:

I pray and I ask the Lord to help me prayer bring back to remember the things that I've studied.

Katie Phang:

Episode two, Breathe, Think, Relax.

Karen Crawford:

That's why I asked him to do because you can't ask him to bring stuff that you never studied because it's just not going to drop out the sky.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

We're going to find out today whether or not we pushed them too hard and too far. Did I do too much with them? That's on me. So, they're in their final exam. I'm in my final exam. Did I push them too hard? Are they going to be able to do all the things that we tried to instill in them for this year?

Christian Ramon:

Good afternoon. How are you doing today?

3L Coach:

Don't ask how they're doing. No one wants to be in court. So just “Good morning,” or “Good afternoon.”

Christian Ramon:

Cool. Good looking out. Well, quick question. Would you do that with your own witness.

3L Coach:

I never ask how someone's doing. No one wants to be in court.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Look, the imposter syndrome is alive and well in this group. Isn't it? We've seen it all week long that they're continually second guessing themselves. And it's inherent in our profession to begin with. Do I belong? Should I be here? Should I be on this team? Is it right for me?

Cody Kent:

I think for me it's projecting my voice more. But I think once I'm in there, I'll be okay with that. I drew a blank yesterday when we were practicing. So, I just hope it doesn't happen today.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

None of them have done this before. This is the first week. It's the culmination of the first week. Nerves are going to get to a bunch of them. So, some of them who you thought were going to do great are going to fall flat on their face. Some people who had struggled had a light bulb go off last night and are going to do fantastic. Everyone else is going to be in the middle.

Cole Davila:

Bobby C, on that credit card, your name is listed as Bobby C.

Katie Phang:

Cole Davila is a third-year law student trying out for the first time. He's a serious young man. He wants to be a JAG lawyer for the Air Force. Cole has a certain kind of earnestness that comes across in a good way. He competed on the moot court team last year, arguing case law only, but now he hopes to find a new home with the trial team.

Cole Davila:

So, it's something you got to suck up and go through, nothing's easy. So, do your duty to your team and go forward. Just knowing it's something I have to get done to not only get a grade, but cement myself as part of the team and show everybody what I'm capable of doing. Unfortunately, I've had the equivalent to about 15 hours of classes plus some work on the side as well, all summer. So, I haven't really had a break. Very busy.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Any questions?

Genesis Salinas:

Aside from objections, if we miss any question or if we forget to approach a post and counsel or something, are you guys going to say no, like when we were practicing?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

You'll probably get called out for it.

Genesis Salinas:

Okay.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Counsel will probably say, "Your Honor, I haven't seen that document."

Genesis Salinas:

Okay.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Just stop and think. Breathe, stop, and think. Breathe, stop, and think.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

No, I will definitely be tough on them. You'll see I won't be smiling. That isn't going to happen. It's going to be very, very serious and see how they react to that. That's part of it as well. But at the end, you're also going to see that fatherly love of telling them they belong.

Cody Kent:

Sometimes going into a nerve-wracking situation, I'll listen to music. Obviously right now it's been a little difficult to do that. I'm a big Andrea Bocelli fan, so I'd like to go to any one of his songs to calm me down and relax me in the event that it’s not available to, I also pray. And so that helps calm me down a lot too. So I will usually recite a Hail Mary or two.

Dean Patricia Roberts:

Look at me, a Dean with real students.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Look, Dean Roberts is here!

Dean Patricia Roberts:

Congratulations. I'm so excited. You guys look so professional. You're ready, right?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Will you take a picture with them?

Dean Patricia Roberts:

Oh wait, do you want to get in middle? Oh wait, wait, wait. You want to stay in the middle? You can stand up there.

Student:

I don't know what to do.

Dean Patricia Roberts:

Say objection. Yay, congratulations.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

That’s great. Thank you.

Dean Patricia Roberts:

I am Patricia Roberts. I am the Dean and Charles E. Cantu Distinguished Professor of law at St. Mary's University school of law. At St. Mary's, because our advocacy program is so successful, it plays a very significant role in the law school in that, the students who take part in it devote tremendous time to it. But it is a marvelous compliment to what they're learning in the classroom and what they're learning from the written advocacy portion of their legal education curriculum. We attract people who are drawn to providing justice, to increasing access to justice. And we're also increasing access to the profession for underrepresented individuals. We're a Hispanic serving institution. Majority of our students are of Hispanic or Latina descent. We also have a tremendous population of first-generation students. We are proud to be breaking ground in many of the graduates we have in their families and in their communities in providing additional access to the profession, to those who will then pay it forward to those they represent.

<background noise of lawn mower and industrial equipment>

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Breathe, think, relax. We have been together all week. None of us fight. We don't scream. We might be stern, but we don't scream. You're going to mess up, I promise you. You're going to make a mistake. It's what you do when you make that mistake. Do you stop, breathe, think, and then speak? Or do you give up? None of you will give up. None of you will. You will make a mistake. Relax, breathe, think, speak. You're going to try to get a piece of evidence in, if you don't get it in right, you know what's going to happen, it's going to be an objection, improper foundation. What does that tell you?

2L Student:

We did it wrong.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

You didn't follow the steps right. You're going to keep going. We're not going to lie. We're not going to hide the ball. We're not going to say, 'Oh my God, you're wonderful." We're not going to do that. Our job is to correct you constantly to make sure that we get it right. And when you get it right, we're going to get it better. And when you get it better, we're going to get it mo’ better. That's my Marine Corps talking there. Have fun with this. Have fun with this. It's a great day. It's graduation day. It's graduation from boot camp day.

Dani Jimenez:

At the end of the day, this is still practice. You want to do well because it's affirming all the work that you've put in all week. But at the same time, for many of us, all of us really, this is the first time we've ever done this. And so, I've put in the work all week long. I'm confident in my ability to at least go out there. And so that's just what I'm hoping is going to carry me through this. There are surprises in there. So, it's really just the, I keep telling myself the whole keep calm, carry on. Because if I don't then, you know, just might crumble.

John Sydow:

Ready?

Dani Jimenez:

Yeah.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

All right. Thank you. 3L's. Can I see the 3L's please? Oh my God. You could see their faces right.

Brooke:

They're nervous.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Oh my God. They're so nervous. Get them to calm down. Remember, people that go through it first, have it easier than the people that go last.

Brooke:

Yeah.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Check them, make sure that they look right and say something, "You look great," and then send them out. Encourage them. We want them to succeed.

<walking foosteps>

John Sydow:

You ready? My words of advice is just stay calm, breathe, think things through. You know that you'll get a passing grade as long as you think, refresh, enter a piece of evidence. So just breathe. Be yourself.

Karen Crawford:

Awesome.

John Sydow:

You're here for a reason.

<door closes, inside courtroom>

Misty Deatherage:

Okay, can you state your name?

Karen Crawford:

My name is Karen Crawford.

Misty Deatherage:

Okay. And you may begin your cross whenever you're ready.

Karen Crawford:

Good afternoon.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Hi.

Karen Crawford:

Today on direct testimony, you testified that you could recognize the suspect that robbed you.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

That guy right over there robbed me and Veronica J of our stuff. I was very afraid.

Karen Crawford:

And you're sure about that?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

There's no doubt in my mind. Just as clear as it was that night.

Karen Crawford:

Your Honor, may I approach the witness?

Misty Deatherage:

You may.

Karen Crawford:

This has just been marked as defense exhibit one for identification purposes. I am going to read the fifth row and you can just listen and look at it silently.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

This has not been admitted into evidence, you can't read that.

Karen Crawford:

I'm sorry. Okay. Earlier we reviewed this document together and you read your name on the bottom.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Bobby C.

Karen Crawford:

Bobby C.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

That's my name.

Karen Crawford:

The document from the government says your name is not Bobby C. It says it's an alias. You were not truthful when conducting business with the police.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I was very truthful. My name is Bobby C. Immediately after that incident, I had my name officially changed. Bobby C is my correct name as of August 15th, 2018.

Karen Crawford:

In a court of law, we can only go by the evidence that's admitted in the record. So I'll stick with the evidence that's admitted on the government document it's an alias.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I'm going to stop you. I'm going to stop you.

Karen Crawford:

Okay.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

You're on a fishing expedition to nowhere.

Karen Crawford:

Oh, okay.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Enter the evidence.

Karen Crawford:

Okay.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

This is something that you are going to have to understand. We are going to help you to stay away from things that are called rabbit holes.

Karen Crawford:

Okay.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I take it you know what a rabbit hole looks like?

Karen Crawford:

Yes, you can never get out.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

And what's in the bottom of there?

Karen Crawford:

Nothing.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Poop. Right? <laughter> Rabbits live in their rabbit hole and they poop. When you go down to the rabbit hole, you're going down to a barrel of poop. You keep trying to do it a different way and that's going to just put you behind. I need you to trust me. So as much as work, and I could tell how much work you put into this, thank you for the effort, but you didn't do what I asked you to do.

Karen Crawford:

Okay.

Katie Phang:

Over the next eight hours, a line of nervous law students walks down mosquito alley to court, only to run into a buzz saw in the witness chair.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Relax for a second, take a deep breath. Your questions are imperfect. It allows me to run around on you. You know what you want to do, and you want me to do it, but you didn't ask your questions that way. You took too many leaps in between. One other thing I want to cover with you. You're standing in the wrong place. There's a juror way over there. There's a juror there and there and there and there and all of them had your back to them. Don't turn your back to the jury ever again. That's the last time you're going to do that.

Abby Efron:

Definitely.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

It is in some cultures, the most disrespectful thing you can do.

Abby Efron:

I agree. Yep.

[time passed]

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I don't know why you're crying because you did great by the way.

Dani Jimenez:

I think it was the final...

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Ah, the relief, right?

Dani Jimenez:

Yeah. My feet hurt. It's hot.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

And then I have one other, and this comment you're going to hate, you can't stand like that anymore.

Dani Jimenez:

I know, my shoe is broken.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I don't care.

Dani Jimenez:

I know.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

That stuff happens. You cannot cross your legs like that. You are sending a message to the jury that everything you're saying is not worth listening to. You cannot do that. You have a broken shoe, fight through it. You have a bunion, fight through it. You were fighting through the other stuff, but your non-verbal was saying don't listen to me. Does that make sense?

Dani Jimenez:

It does, yes.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

So I'm going to caution you about overacting. So there was a little over the top. I think that's the nervousness. And when you're as smart as you are, when you pay attention to detail like you do, you don't have to act as much as I do. You were testifying through your actions and your words. The phrasing of those little statements that were coming out and go along with the body movement, what you were saying was, "I'm a liar." Yeah, no one believes you. Shut up, liar.

[music; slow acoustic guitar, Americana]

Katie Phang:

This is Jared Hall.

Jared Hall:

A statement means an oral assertion, written assertion or any other nonverbal conduct if you intend it as an insertion.

Katie Phang:

He was called out by AJ for talking like a farmer during the early days of boot camp. A team member said Jared's voice reminded him of cornbread.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I have no idea what you just said. Everything that you just said is over my head. I'm not a lawyer.

Jared Hall:

Let's take a step back.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Okay.

Jared Hall:

Mr. C, you called 911 on August 19th, 2019?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I did.

Jared Hall:

And you gave 911 statements as part of you calling them?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

No, I'm not going to call that statements. I made a phone call. They asked me some questions. I answered them.

Jared Hall:

Mr. C, this is a copy of your 911 call.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Okay.

Jared Hall:

Please read silently as I read aloud line 13 and 14.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

All right.

Jared Hall:

911 operator, "What did they take?" Caller, "My wallet, my friend’s purse. They have all our credit cards and cash. They also have her phone."

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Okay. Isn't that what I said?

Jared Hall:

Mr. C did I read that correctly?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

You're a good reader, sir.

[time passed]

Jared Hall:

No further questions, Your Honor.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

The more I you off, the better you get. Now, you're going on some fishing... Look, you're on such a fishing expedition, I drew a fishing rod with a real. Soon as we fixed your fishing expeditions, you're going to be all right, man. I do at everything I could to just screw you up and I screwed you up a little bit, but not that much. That impeachment, when you didn't ask that one more question, when you walked away with the police report, you got what you needed. So that was perfect. What was the problem?

Jared Hall:

With the police report?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

You kept trying to impeach me on your guy doing it, right?

Jared Hall:

Yes, sir.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

So what did I keep doing?

Jared Hall:

Kept giving me a hard time of that.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

And I also appreciate that you tried to change your presence in the room. Now, we still got a little bit of that thing going on, but I'm okay with it. Don't kill yourself when you're doing good. Make sense?

Jared Hall:

Yes, sir.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

All right. Good job.

<applause>

Jared Hall:

Sounds great. Thank you.

Katie Phang:

And is this done in a group setting, AJ? Is this the entire group together? It's an open constructively critical situation?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

It is, Katie, and it has to be. And the reason why is that a lesson for one is a lesson for all. If I have to teach this, if I have to go through that with every single person, I don't want everybody crying. I don't want anybody crying.

Katie Phang:

There's no crying in trial ad, is that what you're saying?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

There’s no crying in trial team. Come on. Can you imagine when the judge admonishes you in a court and you start crying? I've been admonished by judges, I'm sure you've been admonished by judges. I don't think there's a lawyer alive who isn't admonished by a judge at some point in their career. The last thing you could start doing is crying. So you might as well get admonished right now so that you get used to being admonished when you do something that you shouldn't be doing.

John Sydow:

Good Luck.

<walking footsteps>

Vanessa Skillman:

Hello.

Misty Deatherage:

Turn in your stuff to AJ. Please state your name.

Vanessa Skillman:

Vanessa Skillman.

Misty Deatherage:

Okay. And you may begin cross whenever you're ready.

Vanessa Skillman:

Perfect, Mr. C, I am showing you what has been previously marked as defense exhibit one for identification purposes. Do you recognize this exhibit?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Vanessa Skillman:

This is your credit card.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Vanessa Skillman:

You're able to identify this as your credit card because of your name on the bottom left?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Vanessa Skillman:

This credit card is the same or substantially similar to the last time you saw this credit card?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Vanessa Skillman:

Thank you very much. From the police report, from what was stated on the evidence collected.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

From the one officer.

Vanessa Skillman:

Yes, sir.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Right.

Vanessa Skillman:

The only item that was obtained was a credit card.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Two credit cards.

Vanessa Skillman:

Two credit cards.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Right.

[time passed]

Vanessa Skillman:

No further questions.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

All right, stop. I need you to pass. You didn't enter the evidence.

Vanessa Skillman:

Oh my God.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Stay in character.

Vanessa Skillman:

Okay.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

You've done great. Go through the process of entering in a piece of evidence.

Vanessa Skillman:

Okay. Your Honor, may I approach the clerk.

Misty Deatherage:

You may.

Vanessa Skillman:

I would like to have this preliminary marked as defense exhibit one for identification purposes. Your Honor, I request that the evidence previously marked as defense exhibit one for identification purposes, be entered into evidence as defense exhibit one.

Misty Deatherage:

Any objections?

Vanessa Skillman:

No objection.

Misty Deatherage:

We'll admit it.

Vanessa Skillman:

Your Honor, may I publish to the jury?

Misty Deatherage:

You may.

<applause>

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Hey Vanessa. I learned something about you today.

Vanessa Skillman:

I'm so stressed.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I learned something about you today that I didn't know.

Vanessa Skillman:

What?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

You've been perfect all week.

Vanessa Skillman:

I know.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

So I was always going to be difficult with you. I wanted to see how far I could push you. You are so focused on just getting done that you're not listening. In the first half, I had said to a bunch of questions, what's on the record?

Vanessa Skillman:

Nothing.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Then on the second half, I said, "mm-hmm (affirmative)" to about five questions. It was four or five, I don't remember.

Vanessa Skillman:

I even told Karen, I was like, "He's going to say, "mm-hmm (affirmative)" and I need to go, "Is that a yes?" And I didn't do it.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

So the record's not clear there, right? Listen, Vanessa, I think it's clear that every single coach and every single 3L sees a potential superstar in you. If you don't stop and listen, and if you don't believe that you need help to get great, we'll never get there with you. You need to hear us do what we ask, pay attention to what you are doing when you are doing it. When you go to the army.

Vanessa Skillman:

Air Force.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Air Force, forgive me.

Vanessa Skillman:

I'm paying attention to what you're saying now.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Forgive me. You will one day go back and remember this statement that I just gave to you. It's going to serve you well. And the fact that you cried tells me that you care.

Andy Vizcarra:

Normally I would say generally my rule in life is, "You don't practice until you get it perfect. You practice until you don't get it wrong."

Katie Phang:

Andy Vizcarra is a third-year law student and the trial team captain.

Andy Vizcarra:

So you can do it in your sleep. But I think at the stage that they're at, yes, you can over practice because then they're just thinking about what's next step and making sure they don't mix the next step and they're not listening to the witness. And that's a mistake we all made when we started training for this. Because you're doing you your own show, which is fine. But if you're not listening to the witness, it's never going to work. You practice until you can't get it wrong, until it's impossible. But yeah, at their stage, there's definitely over practicing. Confidence is everything.

[music; percussive mid-tempo vibraphone groove]

Katie Phang:

After a long wait, which incidentally gave her enough time to drive home and walk her dog, Genesis Salinas is a bundle of nerves.

Genesis Salinas:

I'm a Pisces. I cry a lot. We're very emotional. I'm sensitive.

Emily Parker:

I've cried so many times about this trial, it gets really nerve wracking. It's okay though.

Genesis Salinas:

I'm excited, but I'm overthinking everything that they could bring up that I don't feel prepared for.

Will Hayes:

And honestly, you probably going taking your dogs out was a great mental break to step away. These people have been here all day overthinking and replaying it. So that you had that time to get some air, it's good.

Genesis Salinas:

Oh, you're going to tell me where to stand and everything?

John Sydow:

Yeah, I'm going to tell you where to go and what to do.

Genesis Salinas:

Okay. Thanks guys. Thank you.

<footsteps, walking>

John Sydow:

So do you have the documents that you need to add to your leader? Can't really tell you what to expect other than be calm, be confident. You know the packet. Breathe. If something unexpected comes up, take a minute and think on your feet. Andy's also your court reporter.

Genesis Salinas:

Okay.

<door closes, inside courtroom>

Misty Deatherage:

You're going to stand where you feel comfortable, but you should be closer to your witness. Whenever you're ready, state your name.

Genesis Salinas:

Okay. I am Genesis Salinas.

Misty Deatherage:

Okay. And you may begin your cross whenever you're ready.

Genesis Salinas:

Thank you. Mr. C, on August 15th, 2019, you went out for drinks?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I can't remember if it was the 15th. It might have been the 30th. I don't remember. I was drinking.

Genesis Salinas:

Would seeing a copy of the 9111 transcript help refresh your memory?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

If it has the date on it, it probably would.

Genesis Salinas:

<laugh> I am showing opposing counsel... I am showing opposing counsel the 911 transcript. Your Honor, may I approach the witness?

Misty Deatherage:

You may.

Genesis Salinas:

I am handing the witness the 911 transcript specifically referencing the very top header. Please look over the document carefully and look up at me when your memory's been refreshed. I am handing the witness defense exhibit one for identification purposes. You recognize this document?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

No.

Genesis Salinas:

<laugh> I just handed you the city of San Antonio rap sheet report.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Your Honor, I'm a little, I don't know why she's here, I'm a little freaked out.

Genesis Salinas:

<laugh> Did you look at the sheet?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

What? I'm sorry, what do you want me to do?

Genesis Salinas:

<laugh> If you could please look at the rap sheet.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Okay.

Genesis Salinas:

You recognize this sheet?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

No, I've never seen this before in my life.

Genesis Salinas:

I'm retrieving the document from the witness. Mr. C?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Yes. Ma'am.

Genesis Salinas:

This credit card was retrieved from the defendants.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I'm assuming that's true. You have to ask Officer Santalopo.

Genesis Salinas:

This is your credit card?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

It is my credit card.

[time passed]

Genesis Salinas:

No further questions Your Honor.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I think right about now the people that went first are thinking, 'Boy, I'm glad I went first and not last because we will continually make it harder and harder for you." So you tried to impeach me on a rap sheet that has somebody else's name on it. That goes back to yesterday with me saying, "Don't do the hard stuff."

Genesis Salinas:

Okay.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

You're not ready yet.

Genesis Salinas:

I thought it would be admissible under 609.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I told you not to do 609.

Genesis Salinas:

I know.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

We specifically said that.

Genesis Salinas:

It's okay. I had the credit card backup plan. I practiced both. <laugh>

AJ Bellido de Luna:

You did have the credit card backup plan. And I want to really applaud you for that. I didn't like the laughing.

Genesis Salinas:

I'm sorry.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Because it's out of the moment. I was doing stuff to take you out of the moment, but I wanted you to stay in the moment. If you want to be able to compete and then go be a good trial lawyer, we're going to need to get rid of that. You got to think that every single time you're directing or crossing or opening or closing, it's real. Let’s be serious. However, having said that you have an incredible presence, Genesis.

Genesis Salinas:

Thank you.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I think all week long, everyone's been saying the same thing, that your presence is pretty amazing. So let's just work on that little thing so that you can keep the room exactly where you want them.

Genesis Salinas:

I want to cry. Okay.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Which is eating out of the palm of your hand because of your presence. Okay?

Genesis Salinas:

Everyone started to cry from stress. It's not stress.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Not everyone cried. Not everyone cried.

Katie Phang:

We caught up with Genesis later.

Genesis Salinas:

I did feel prepared going in. I did know what I was doing, but I didn't feel as confident as I did going in that Monday. By Friday, I was trying to stay afloat. I was trying to get everything out and I did do everything correctly, except that I was laughing. I was very nervous. I wasn't as confident and as assertive as I should have been. And I think that's just because I was overwhelmed, and I did start crying. AJ told me I needed to be more assertive. And I think that's one thing I struggled with. I wasn't being the advocate that I needed to be for Professor AJ or for our coaches. So I didn't realize that I was, I guess, not meeting the expectations that they had wanted because I wasn't being assertive. So I don't know if maybe they thought, "Oh, she doesn't have what it takes. She doesn't get angry." And I know that I have what it takes, I just wasn't showing it.

Cole Davila:

All right.

Court Judge:

Are you ready?

Cole Davila:

Yes, ma'am. Yes, Your Honor.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Order.

Court Judge:

Can you state your name please?

Cole Davila:

My name is Cole Davila, Your Honor.

Court Judge:

Okay. And when you're ready to begin your cross, you may begin.

Cole Davila:

Thanks Your Honor. Bobby C, on the night of August 15th, you went out with a friend?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I met a friend.

Cole Davila:

You met a friend? And that friend was Veronica J.?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

She's just a friend. There's nothing going on. We're just friends.

Cole Davila:

And you two went out to a bar that night. Do you recall making a 911 call that night?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I definitely did when your guy robbed me.

Cole Davila:

Would seeing a transcript of that 911 call refresh your memory.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Maybe not. No.

Cole Davila:

May I approach witness, Your Honor?

Court Judge:

You may.

Cole Davila:

If you can read that. And once you're done refreshing your memory, can you look back at me? You two were robbed.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

We were, by that guy over there.

Cole Davila:

And these two individuals, when they robbed you, they brandished a gun.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I'm sorry. Say that again?

Cole Davila:

The two individuals who robbed you, one of them brandished a gun.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Oh, they both had guns.

Cole Davila:

Both had guns?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Yes, sir.

Cole Davila:

Is your testimony today that both the individuals had guns?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Yes.

Cole Davila:

May I approach the witness, Your Honor.

Court Judge:

You may.

Cole Davila:

Bobby C, this is a transcript of your 911 call from the night of August 15th. I direct your attention to line number 10.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Right.

Cole Davila:

If you can read along silently, as I read aloud. No, they pointed a gun, took our stuff and ran away. Did I read that correctly?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

You did.

Cole Davila:

So they pointed a gun at you that night.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

They pointed a gun. Each one of them had a gun. They, them, two people had a gun each. Each of them pointed a gun at me and Veronica. Two guns. They, gun.

Cole Davila:

Bobby C, if I may continue. When you saw them, you weren't able to get a good look at either of them?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

That's a fair statement. They did have a gun in our face.

Cole Davila:

It all happened so fast.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

It was really quick.

Cole Davila:

Now, on direct examination, you said that you got a good look at one of their faces. You never saw the police report?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

No.

Cole Davila:

Now, at the gas station you saw the police officers arrest two individuals.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Yeah, I think that's right.

Cole Davila:

And at that moment of the arrest, you did not identify either of the defendants as the man arrested.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I did not.

Cole Davila:

No further questions, Your Honor.

<applause and cheers>

Katie Phang:

Mariela Encinas was the first to arrive this morning.

Mariela Encinas:

Okay.

<footsteps, walking>

John Sydow:

Take a deep breath.

Mariela Encinas:

I can open my binder and have things out?

Katie Phang:

In fact, she was the first to arrive every morning during the week quietly taking copious notes and working with the 3L's on her strategy.

John Sydow:

So yeah, all eyes are on you, but they're all eyes on you because you're the boss, right?

Emily Parker:

Yeah, you're the boss.

Katie Phang:

Mariela's goal is to become a prosecutor to try cases in a special victim unit.

Judge:

Okay. Please state your name.

Mariela Encinas:

Mariela Encinas.

Judge:

Okay. And as soon as you're ready, you may begin your cross.

Mariela Encinas:

Thank you. Good afternoon, Mr. C.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Hey.

Mariela Encinas:

On August 15th, 2019, you were at Barbaro restaurant.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I was at a restaurant, it was named after a horse, but I can't remember if Barbaro was a horse or not. I don't know, I don't remember.

Mariela Encinas:

Okay. If I show you a copy of your 911 call transcript, would you be able to maybe refresh your memory with that?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

If it's in there, yeah, I think it might.

Mariela Encinas:

And on that night after you were getting some dinner and a drink with your friend, Veronica, you decided the best decision was probably to walk her home?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I didn't want her to walk home... Oh, I'm sorry.

Court:

Objection, relevance.

Judge:

What is relevance?

Mariela Encinas:

Evidence is relevant if it A, has any tendency to make effect more or less probable than it would be without the evidence and B, the fact is of consequence in determining the action.

Judge:

Okay. And how is this relevant?

Mariela Encinas:

This is relevant because it establishes the night and his ability to recall the events of that night.

Judge:

Okay. Overruled. Go ahead.

Mariela Encinas:

So when the guns were pointed at you, it was frightening.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Terrifying.

Mariela Encinas:

It was hard to focus.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I thought I was going to die.

Mariela Encinas:

All you could really focus on was that gun.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I looked right down that barrel and was just waiting for the blast.

Mariela Encinas:

So you couldn't really focus on anything other than that gun?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

No. I was also focused on Veronica Jay because I was walking her home to protect her and I couldn't against that animal.

Mariela Encinas:

And you were held at gunpoint?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Yeah.

Mariela Encinas:

And being held at gunpoint made it difficult to be able to focus on anything but your safety.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

And Veronica's safety. I was there for Veronica the whole time.

Mariela Encinas:

But it was hard to focus on anything other than that gun being held at gunpoint?

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Yes.

[time passed]

Mariela Encinas:

No further questions, Your Honor.

<applause>

Judge:

You didn't let it deter you, her objection. You know what you need to get in, you know that you need it. And so you're going to find a way to make it happen. So, that was pretty good.

Coach Jason Goss:

I'll say that your voice is awesome. I love it. I love the way that you projected it. You fill up this room and it takes a lot to do that because you're self-conscious about your voice when you start out. Just remember that, keep it, never let that go. Never let the way that you walk up the back up to his face and put it in. All that, you're owning the courtroom. That's exactly what you have to do.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

I asked them to comment, because I don't like gushing over first-year trial team members too much. The reason why I think I'm so impressed is because I remember you from Monday, afraid to death from the very first assignment. I would not have predicted on Monday what you did today. You had an amazing day. Thank you.

<applause>

Mariela Encinas:

Thank you.

<footsteps, walking>

Kevin Huffman:

How'd it go in there?

Mariela Encinas:

I feel it went well. It was definitely a little intimidating. I enjoyed it. There were a few hiccups, definitely things that you can't really plan for. I didn't rehearse and rehearse to point of memorization because I knew that Dean AJ was going to throw some things in there that there's no way to rehearse. So to rehearse, to the point of memorization really wasn't worth it for me. Having the 3L's to be able to listen to me over at least enough to tell me what I'm technically doing wrong without knowing what's coming.

Kevin Huffman:

What do you want to do?

Mariela Encinas:

I want to work for a while prosecuting. And eventually after I spend a while prosecuting, work in appeals for wrongful conviction. The worst thing a person can do is knowingly put someone away the wrong way.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

Now, Monday we came together and we started from scratch. I want you to think in just the little bit of time that we've been together, where you were, who you were and where you are right now? And I want to ask you this question and I want you to just have this introspection. I like where I'm going. I like where I am. I look forward to the next challenge. If you say “Yes” to all three of those, we have work to do starting on Saturday. If you didn't say “Yes” to all three of those, you need to come see me because this isn't for you. We are going to work you harder than you did this week. Some of you, several of you, cried, happy, sad tears. Either today or yesterday or this week, you're going to cry more. You're going to be upset at me. You're going to be upset at yourselves. You're going to be upset at each other. You know you better than any of us. Can you take that kind of criticism? Can you be upset with your partner and still be respectful of them? If you can, we're your home. If you can't, I need you to come see me. And I want you to ask yourself if you like where you are? And if you are, then we're in a good place.

<crowd gathers at a bar, ordering food>

Katie Phang:

The next day, the entire team gets together at a local bar in San Antonio. The 2L's are burned out, but they're happy. The 3L's spot the rookies drink and pat them on the back. Welcome to the team, rookies.

Genesis Salinas:

Okay never mind, I'll get nachos. You can have some, you want to try them? Taste them, they're different.

Katie Phang:

Everyone is anxious to find out who's going to be assigned to the upcoming trial competitions that are being held around the country.

Leigh Ann Greenberg:

It was the hardest thing I've ever died. He was being extra. We'll put it that way. He was being extra as the witness.

Dani Jimenez:

It was a lot. I cried, but it was a good cry. And about two minutes before I went in the courtroom, my high heel broke and I had to walk back and forth in the courtroom and it was dreadful every single time. Next time I'll go bare foot or with super glue.

Marina Encinas:

The 3L's prepared us. The 3L's helped us. We probably would not have been as confident if we didn't have them right before like, "You got this. It's fine." I think we're a solid group. I'm really excited to work with my fellow 2L's. But I think just combine us with the 3L's and the support that they've shown us and we're going to be solid.

Karen Crawford:

Yesterday was a lot. I didn't cry in the room. I was crying before I got in the room. I was reflecting. I was raised by my grandparents and they didn't go past third grade. They were born in the south, raised in the south. They didn't even go past elementary school and I'm standing in a law school and people are saying that you should be on a trial team. I felt like a weight of, you got to do your best. I just felt a weight of my family history. I just felt a weight like, if you get a chance to sneak in the room, you got to try to do your best because you don't always get a chance to even get in the room because a lot of times they slam the door. So this is new for me because I don't like to not know things. I don't like to be not on top of my game. I don't like to not do stuff right. So this is stressful when I don't get it right the first time. I can't give up.

Vanessa Skillman:

Vanessa Skillman. Oh, I cried. There was no, I was on the verge of tears. I cried. There's a lot of pressure whenever you're doing it. There's pressure on yourself because you want to be a good advocate. And then there's pressure, I guess for all the external things, because I want to do well. I want to do well in this course. I want to show that I'm good. But looking back, I wouldn't have changed anything. So I think it's important to mess up because it's important to mess up now in something that doesn't matter or affect anyone, that way you can be a better advocate and attorney later on when your client is actually relying on you.

<applause and cheers>

AJ Bellido de Luna:

We know how hard you work. Kind of a little bit of a hell. Thanks everybody for coming out. We went to seven competitions last year. Our team, this year, we're going to go to eight competitions in the fall. I truly believe that our time is now. I know that Jason believes it. Maritza and Deb and all the coaches. We believe that our time is now. To our 2L's, before I tell the 3L's where they're going, every single 3L will tell you the same thing. They sacrificed a ton for their personal development and for their team, for themselves and for each other. You have to be able to do the same thing if you want to be great. And we start working Monday. So for the National Trial League, representing us there are going to be Kenneth, Robin, Steadhill, Will, Stephanie, and John.

AJ Bellido de Luna:

The Battle of the Experts is the next competition that starts up. We're going to be represented by Andy V, Jasmin. And we're going to do something special. We're going to add Cole to that list, to witness for us, he's only got one year, but you all saw him yesterday. He's earned that right. We were waiting for yesterday to make this final call. I really want to win. I want to win all of these. Those are our competitions. 2L's, I'm really proud of you. I'm happy to be your director, your coach. I want you to work really hard. These 3L’s have set, they set a stage for you. So let's get to work. Let's work hard. Let's work smart. This last week is nothing like what I'm about to put you through. This was like hell preparation week. Work. Stay with me, stay with us. Congratulations to all of you. Let's have a great year.

<applause>

[music; mid-tempo positive, moving, affirmative, strings and ambient pads]

Students:

Congratulations.

Students:

I'm really excited everyone.

[music; mid-tempo hip-hop positive triumphant groove; series intro theme]

Elie Honig:

That is a great murder scenario for a mock trial, because it’s not your obvious premediated murder. That was not supposed to happen. When they’re done beating him to death, I think the De Niro character says to the Pesci character, “What’d you do?”

Katie Phang (host):

That’s next time on Class Action.

Class Action is a production of Sound Argument and iHeartRadio. Created, produced, written and edited by Kevin Huffman and Lisa Gray.

Sound design, editing and mixing by Lisa Gray, Evan Tyor and Taylor Chicoine

This episode had additional field production by Kristen Cabrera.

Executive producers are Taylor Chicoine and Katrina Norvell.

For more podcasts from iHeartRadio, visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your favorite shows.

[END]