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Mock Trial

An innovative, hands-on experience in the law for high school students of all ages and abilities.

Rye, New Mexico, is a city of approximately half a million people. The city has experienced serious economic problems ever since a big computer chip manufacturer that employed thousands relocated to California in 2000. Since then, the city has experienced an increase in unemployment, business failures, crime and racial tension.

On November 13, 2001, Leon Johnson, an African American, his White girlfriend, Marilyn Overton, and one of their friends, all residents of the City of Rye, drove to Johnson's house from a party they had all attended. Frankie Sherwood, the driver of the vehicle, stopped the car in front of Johnson's home. Johnson and Overton exited the vehicle but remained near the car, chatting with Sherwood.

Earlier that same evening, Teri/Terry Brewster, president of East Side White Pride ("ESWP"), a local Skinhead group, and some members of ESWP drove to a Skinhead club in downtown Rye to distribute White supremacy literature provided by Andie/Andy Barrett, a member of the White Aryan Separatist Party ("WASP"), who was visiting from Colorado. Both ESWP and WASP are dedicated to the supremacy of the White race, and membership is limited to White persons of non-Jewish ancestry.

As Brewster, Barrett and the other members of ESWP left the club, they headed back to their own neighborhood on the east side of the river. After stopping at a mini-mart to pick up some beer, they headed down Belmont Street to drop Barrett at the motel where s/he was staying. After they let her/him out of the car, they continued cruising on Belmont, and after turning onto on a side street, came upon Johnson, Overton and Sherwood. Harsh words were exchanged and an altercation ensued. As a result of the incident, Johnson died; Overton remains in a coma and is unable to testify. Brewster pled guilty to second-degree murder and received a sentence of 15 years in prison. The other persons in the car with Brewster that night have fled the jurisdiction and are not available to testify.

Martha Johnson, Leon's mother and the personal representative of his estate, has brought this wrongful death civil action seeking compensatory and punitive damages against Brewster, WASP and its president, Michael Miller. The matter has been bifurcated for trial; only issues of liability will be tried in this first phase.   REQUEST THIS CASE 

Adapted by Michelle Giger and Karl Johnson, Esq.

From an Original Case Written by David Berlin, Esq., Michelle Giger, Karl Johnson, Esq., and H.N. Schamban, Esq.

Thanks to The Anti-Defamation League, Southern Poverty Law Center, Morris Dees, Esq., Partners Against Hate, Teaching Tolerance, Nizkor Project, and Turn it Down.

The City of Sedelia in Cory County is the largest city in New Mexico and reported to be one of the fastest growing in the United States. Sedelia thrives with commerce and industry, new parks and museums, schools, courthouses, shopping centers and institutions of higher education. It boasts a population base of more than 500,000.

On November 25, 2004, at 6:45 PM, the Cory County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call from Jean/Gene Smith who reported that s/he thought s/he heard gunshots at 2512 Evergreen Road in The Forest Estates, an exclusive residential area of very expensive homes on expansive properties in Sedelia. Officers and paramedics were dispatched. The Sheriff, Carrie/Kerry Gates, heard the dispatch on the scanner in her/his police unit and drove to the scene. Gates recognized the address as belonging to the well-known local restaurateur, JR Simsen, and his wife, Emma Nussbaum.

Upon her/his arrival, Gates was met by Smith who confirmed that s/he thought s/he heard gunshots. Smith also told Gates that s/he believed both Simsen and his wife were in the house, because both their vehicles were visible in the garage. After being questioned, Smith was allowed to return to her/his home with an instruction that s/he go to the Sheriff's Office the following day to make a statement. When Emma Nussbaum exited the house, Gates questioned her. Based upon that questioning, the Sheriff arrested her for the murder of JR Simsen and placed her in the county jail, while other officers secured the scene and began evidence collection,

On November 26, 2004, Nussbaum was arraigned before The Honorable Jane Webster. An Order Setting Conditions of Release was entered, upon there being deposited with the Court an Appearance Bond in the amount of $250,000, at 10% cash.

On November 12, 2005, Nussbaum was indicted by the Cory County Grand Jury. She was charged by the District Attorney with First Degree Murder, and she was arrested at her place of employment, the design firm of Korbooshier, Right and Jonson, on November 13, 2005. An Order Continuing Bond and Condition of Release was issued by Judge Webster, who also signed an Order of Release, directing the Cory County Detention Center to release Nussbaum.

Both the prosecution and the defense are ready to proceed.  REQUEST THIS CASE

Written by Michelle Giger and Debra Ramirez, Esq.
Thanks to Sgt. Jerry Bates,  BCSD, The Hon. Charles W. Daniels, Ann Follin Badway, Esq., Jeffrey Huser, MD, Karl Johnson, Esq., Barbara McAneny, MD, H. Nicole Werkmeister, Esq. and

Joe Wheeler, PhD, JD

 

 

Center for Civic Values

Albuquerque, New Mexico

 

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