T.O. Trinity Pacific wins mock trial competition

Don’t call it beginner’s luck: The mock trial team from Trinity Pacific High won high marks on its way to first place at the 2018 Ventura County Mock Trial held in early March in Oxnard.

Trinity Pacific, a small, private Christian School in Thousand Oaks, will progress to the state competition for the first time in the team’s history, this being the 36th iteration of the Mock Trial competition. The team also won the San Francisco mock trial tournament and the Empire world championship in New York in 2014.

The Ventura County Office of Education hosts the annual tournament that pits dozens of teams from Ventura County high schools against each other in a mock trial featuring a fictitious case. This year’s case pitted teams in combat over People v. Davidson, a case involving Casey Davidson, charged with the murder of a member of an extremist nationalist group.

Trinity Pacific will represent Ventura County at the state mock trial competition held from Friday, March 16 to Sunday, March 18 in Orange County.

County names temporary ag commissioner

Susan Johnson has been named Acting County Agricultural Commissioner by recommendation of County Executive Officer Mike Powers and approval of the Board of Supervisors, replacing retiring Commissioner Henry Gonzalez until a permanent commissioner is recruited.

Johnson was appointed Deputy Agricultural Commissioner in 1999 and the served as Chief Deputy Agricultural Commissioner until her retirement in 2011.

“We’re fortunate to have someone of Sue’s caliber to draw on as we begin our recruitment for a new agricultural commissioner,” said Powers. “Sue brings a store of institutional knowledge with her and her ties with the agricultural community will serve the department well as we begin the transition process.”

Gonzalez served as commissioner for nine years and is leaving to fill the same position in Monterey County.

Ninth Circuit sides with Fish and Wildlife Service over “no-otter zone”

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to end its so-called “no-otter zones” in 2012, rejecting a challenge by commercial fishing organizations that called the decision harmful to the industry.

In 1987, the no-otter zone was created, stretching from the waters off Santa Barbara County to the border of Mexico. Otters were to be transported to San Nicholas Island in order to establish a population there and to prevent harm to commercial fisheries. Of the 140 otters transported, however, only 11 survived.

The Environmental Defense Center and The Otter Project filed a lawsuit challenging the practice, and in 2012 the Fish and Wildlife Service terminated the no-otter zone. The otter species, which historically ranged from 12,000 to 16,000 from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border, has dwindled to 3,186, and the species is listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

“The fishing groups were insisting on an unnatural, unhealthy system serving their own narrow commercial interests,” said Steve Shimek, executive director of The Otter Project. “With the Court’s ruling, otters will slowly return and change the system back to the healthier and more complete ecosystem it once was, with bigger kelp forests and more fin fish.”