Class attends Augustine trial |

Class attends Augustine trial

by Maggie O'Neill
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Carson High School Advanced Placement government students listen during the Senate impeachment trial of Nevada Controller Kathy Augustine at the Legislature on Wednesday afternoon.

Among the reporters, photographers, attorneys and witnesses at Controller Kathy Augustine’s impeachment trial Wednesday were students from a Carson High School government class.

And for several of them, including senior Matthew Miller, who sat in the middle of 30 or so classmates, their minds were not made up about whether Augustine should be impeached.

“I feel like I’m kind of neutral,” he said. “I’m open to both sides, but the evidence has definitely stacked up.”

Augustine, who is the first state officer in Nevada’s history to be impeached, is charged with forcing her employees to work on her 2002 re-election campaign.

She is now standing trial in the Senate to determine whether she will be removed from office.

Although, Miller said, the opening arguments from Augustine’s defense team were more convincing than the opening statements from the prosecutors, he leaned toward the prosecutor’s side after hearing some of their witnesses.

“I wish I could come back down to watch a little more,” he said. “I will be following it in the papers.”

Advanced Placement government teacher Michael Longero allowed his students to attend the trial on Wednesday on a voluntary basis.

Students said they always discuss current events in his class and talked about the Augustine hearing some.

“This is my first time ever experiencing anything like this,” said senior Melissa Saavedra, right before prosecutors called Susan Kennedy, an employee of Augustine’s to testify. “I didn’t realize how many senators there were.”

She had listened to testimony from the prosecution since the trial opened that morning and said she’d need to hear from the defense team before making up her mind about whether Augustine should be impeached.

“I don’t have an opinion yet,” she said. “I haven’t heard from the other side.”

Seniors Jeremy Grunert and Patty Capistrant, who purchased snacks during a short recess, planned to remain at the trial until early afternoon.

“It’s pretty clear there was some violation of ethics,” Grunert said. “Both sides made pretty convincing opening arguments.”

Capistrant was thrilled to be able to attend the hearing.

“I’ve lived here all my life and here’s something that’s historical,” she said. “To come here and be here is kind of amazing.”

Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at mo’ or 881-1219.