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LIGHTS, CAMERA, GAVEL: MOCK TRIAL COMPETITION SET TO START What “Spellbound” did for spelling bees, a forthcoming documentary may do for mock trial championships. San Francisco personal injury lawyer Mark Webb and TV director Jim Charleston are producing a film about students competing in the National High School Mock Trial Championship in Orlando, Fla., next month. Charleston, whose directing credits include “Nash Bridges,” “The District” and “The X-Files,” began shooting on April 4 at the California state finals. In addition to San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, which won the California title, he is following teams from Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida to the May 6-9 championships. Charleston planned to do the documentary before the critically acclaimed spelling bee movie debuted. He met Webb through a mutual friend and told him about the project. Webb, who coaches his daughter’s high school mock trial team in Marin, agreed to co-produce the film, which is titled “Raise the Bar.” While they haven’t gotten Hollywood backing yet, they have talked with PBS about broadcasting the film, and actor Peter Coyote has agreed to do the narration. “We hope it will be a thrilling documentary,” Webb said. “I’d like the public to see what goes into the preparation and presentation of a case.” Webb said he also hopes that people from the legal community will provide summer internships to outstanding students and contribute college scholarships for the winning teams. In an interview from the road earlier this month, Charleston said he had gotten great footage of the California students. They put on a great trial in the state finals, he said. And in the awards ceremony afterwards, the students from Hillsdale High School in San Mateo were very gracious when they heard they had lost to the Santa Barbara team. “Their reaction was commendable,” Charleston said. “They started clapping, although, of course, they were disappointed. Those are the moments of great sportsmanship.” – Brenda Sandburg THE SYSTEM What do you do when the mayor won’t let you hire someone? If you’re District Attorney Kamala Harris, you continue the dance of negotiations. If you’re Public Defender Jeff Adachi, you go around the mayor and try your luck with the Board of Supervisors. Since Mayor Gavin Newsom took office in January, both offices have seen him give the thumbs up, and the thumbs down, to their requests for “requisitions” — the mayoral approval to fill a new job, or a vacancy after someone resigns, retires or is fired. After Newsom told Adachi he couldn’t replace a misdemeanor lawyer who had resigned, the public defender turned to the supervisors, who sided with him Tuesday. The 10-1 vote suggests he’s got enough support to override even a mayoral veto, should Newsom attempt one. Adachi got support from two former deputy public defenders, Supervisors Matt Gonzalez and Gerardo Sandoval. “Both Matt and Gerardo understand the important role that our office must play � and that helps,” Adachi acknowledged. “But clearly the support that we received was much deeper,” he added, noting his wide margin of victory Tuesday. Gonzalez wrote the language that passed, arguing that Adachi’s budget includes the money for the position and that it would be more costly to farm out the departing attorney’s cases to private counsel. But Adachi’s appeal may have risked some goodwill with the mayor, who, along with the supervisors, will hammer out a city budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. “He couldn’t wait two months to see if we could work something out?” Newsom asked, according to a Wednesday story in the San Francisco Chronicle. Apparently not. “I have clients that need representation,” Adachi said Wednesday. “It’s really an emergency situation.” Since Harris became DA in January, her office has seen 12 requisitions approved and 12 rejected, but the DA has no plans yet to go around Newsom, said Teresa Serata, the DA’s chief financial officer. For now, her office is sticking with persuasion, trying to show the mayor and controller that there’s enough money in the DA’s budget to pay for those jobs, said Serata. Noting that she used to be former Mayor Art Agnos’ budget director, Serata added, “Maybe had I not been involved on the other side, I would take a different approach.” — Pam Smith

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