A man accused of trying to blow up a ferry carrying hundreds of people was on trial Monday night in a small, tense room at the King County Courthouse.
Hutaree Jones’ lawyers faced a crack prosecution team, and the case was hard-fought in the courtroom of Superior Court Judge William Downing.
It was the 24th YMCA High School Mock Trial Competition. Downing, the presiding judge, said it was a close match, but the prosecution, made up of Seattle Prep students, came out on top.
The fictional Jones was suspected of plotting a terrorist act facilitated in part by federal agents who had hired an undercover informant.
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Though that type of investigation is thought to be effective terrorism prevention by some, it also can be deemed entrapment when it goes too far, Downing said.
The defense lawyers, from University Prep, argued that it did go too far. They showed thatboth an undercover agent who had financial problems and another witness were paid to testify against Jones. They painted the fictional federal investigator, Sam Stone, as someone looking for a trophy conviction.
“Agent Stone wanted a big win,” said defense lawyer Kally Patz. “A conviction of Hutaree Jones would be the highlight of his career.”
The prosecution, made up of lawyers from Seattle Prep, fought back, showing that the federal investigator and undercover informant were simply facilitating actions Jones was predisposed to do.
The defendant was modeled after Hutaree militia members in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana who have been suspected of trying to overthrow the government through violent means.
Though Judge Downing said he hopes never to see any of the students during a similar trial in real life, he does hope to see them again — as the sharp bar members they were role-playing.
Downing, who’s organized the county mock-trial competition since 1989, recently swore in Washington state’s new solicitor general, Noah Purcell, whom he first met when Purcell was a Franklin High School mock-trial lawyer.
Seattle Prep’s team includes Molly McCarthy, David Mallick, Molly Miller, Michael Goodwin, Chase Robinett, Casey Schmidt and Shannon McRae.
Teams from Seattle Prep, University Prep, Franklin High School, Seattle Academy and International Community School all will compete in the state mock-trial championships in Olympia later this month.
Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @AlexaVaughn