2003 YMCA Mock Trial
Taylor Garrison and Alex Chavez are gifted soccer players who were both headed for bright careers in college soccer, and, perhaps, beyond. They have been competing against each other for years in the Washington youth soccer system. Chavez is a skilled, clever goal-scoring machine for his/her club team, FC Red Dog, and Garrison is the tough, masterful defender for FC Ignition. They both play together on the Washington Olympic Development team, but they are fierce competitors who do not care for one another.
In the U-18 state championship game between FC Red Dog and FC Ignition, Chavez and Garrison went at each other relentlessly. Everyone in attendance knew the game would be decided by one of these players. The experienced referee, Kyle Dennis, had a difficult time keeping the two under control. In the first half, both players are verbally warned repeatedly, and both are cautioned (shown the yellow card) for aggressive play. In the second half, Chavez and Garrison settled down a bit and the game is a nail-biter. Witnesses have said that Chavez was clearly the better of the two that day, beating Garrison repeatedly with quick, artistic dribbling moves. But the game remained scoreless in the 80th minute.
In the 81st minute, Chavez received a pass out on the left flank from teammate Jordan James and eluded Garrison's slide tackle with yet another skillful move. Chavez had only the sweeper, Kelly Quoc, to beat. Chavez "megged" Quoc at the top of the penalty area and took a hard, low, right-footed shot toward the left corner of the goal. The last thing s/he remembers is seeing the ball roll wide of the left post. The next thing s/he remembers is being struck from behind on the outside of the left knee with such force that s/he felt his/her knee "explode." The pain was excruciating.
Chavez suffered a very severe injury that will prevent him/her from ever playing soccer at a competitive level. The injury, known by orthopedic surgeons as the "terrible triad," consists of a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament (the ACL), a ruptured medial collateral ligament (the MCL), and lacerated meniscus. In addition, s/he suffered a fracture of the tibial plateau. When healed, the fracture surface will be out of contour, which will cause Chavez's left knee to function abnormally, causing a limp or hitch in his/her gait.
According to Garrison, the injury was just an unfortunate accident. S/he claims that when s/he recovered after missing the slide tackle and caught up with Chavez just outside the penalty area, s/he believed Chavez was going to take a shot toward the far post. So s/he launched his/her body, feet first, toward the spot where s/he thought s/he could intercept the ball after Chavez struck it. Unfortunately, according to Garrison, Chavez cut back to his/her left and took the shot toward the near post. This miscalculation by Garrison, s/he says, put them on a collision course that resulted in the injury.
Witnesses seem to differ on whether the foul was reckless and/or intentional. A visiting college coach (Sidney Lee) and a visiting referee (Jessie St. Laurent) both reluctantly concede that the foul was at least reckless, and, perhaps, intentional. But both witnesses are clearly uncomfortable with providing testimony that could cause Garrison to be convicted of a crime. On the other hand, Garrison's coach (Andy Jacobs) and the match referee (Kyle Dennis) will firmly believe that, while the foul was very bad, it was not intentional and was, in any case, appropriately dealt with under the rules of the game. Chavez's teammate, Jordan James, and Garrison's teammate, Kelly Quoc, each supports his/her teammate.
After reviewing game films (which have been lost) and interviewing many witnesses, the Maradona County Prosecutor decided to file charges against Garrison for Second Degree Assault and the lesser included offense of Reckless Endangerment. The case is expected to go to trial in early 2003.
One piece of evidence that could break the case, if admissible, is Garrison's personal journal. FC Ignition Coach Andy Jacobs required of every FC Ignition player to keep a journal for personal motivation and accountability. The journals were not for public consumption, and few players knew what each other wrote in their journals. But Quinn Carpenter, the newest member of FC Ignition, knew what Garrison had written in his/her journal during the week prior to the championship game, and it could be damaging to the defense case.
Quinn's father, Jerry Carpenter, is a sergeant for the Maradona County Police Department. After the police started its investigation, Quinn mentioned the journal entries, which could be construed as threats against Chavez, to Sgt. Carpenter. At the persistent urging of his/her father, Quinn surreptitiously removed the journal from Garrison's locked trunk and copied five pages, which s/he then gave to his/her father.
The journal pages were disclosed to the defense team during the discovery process, and Garrison's attorneys have filed a motion to suppress the statements made in the journal on the basis that the journal was obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure conducted by the Maradona County Police Department. According to the motion to suppress, Quinn Carpenter was acting under the direction of his/her father, Sgt. Carpenter, and the Police Department when s/he removed the journal from Garrison's locked trunk and had it copied at a local 7 Eleven store.
The prosecutor believes the journal is admissible because the exclusionary rule does not apply to evidence obtained by private citizens acting on their own initiative. The motion will be heard on the day of trial.