• St. Mel Trial Team Coaches


    Deana La Barbera’s mock trial experience began at Pepperdine University School of Law where she was selected to participate on the school’s Honors Mock Trial Team both years of eligibility.  Ms. La Barbera competed in the ATLA and All-California Trial Competitions, and her teams took First Place in the San Diego Trial Lawyers Competition, and were Western Regional Champions in the National Trial Competition.  Ms. La Barbera was a Dean’s Scholar at Pepperdine University School of Law and was a member of the Pepperdine Law Review; she graduated magna cum laude and Order of the Barristers, among several other honors in trial advocacy, including the American Jurisprudence Award in Trial Advocacy and an award from the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).  She continued her legal education at Georgetown Law School where she earned a Master of Laws Degree, with distinction.  While living in the Washington, D.C. area, Ms. La Barbera coached mock trial teams at Georgetown Law School, and she served as an advisor and creator for Georgetown’s White Collar Crime Competition.  Upon returning to Los Angeles, Ms. La Barbera assisted with coaching Pepperdine’s mock trial teams.  She has taught business law classes at CSUN and CSULA, and she has taught several securities classes at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  Ms. La Barbera is a St. Mel and Louisville graduate, and her children currently are in 5th and 1st grades.


    Hon. Michael Jesic is a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge, handling felony trials in the San Fernando Valley.  Prior to becoming a judge, he spent close to fifteen years in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.  While a Deputy District Attorney, he spent a majority of his career assigned to the Hardcore Gang Division, prosecuting gang murders throughout Los Angeles County.  During his time in the unit, Judge Jesic prosecuted over 30 murders, including several death penalty cases.  He has done close to 100 jury trials over his career and has received recognition for his work from the State Assembly, State Senate, City and County of Los Angeles and the Governor of California.  In 2005, he received the Prosecutor of the Year Award from the organization Justice for Homicide Victims.  Judge Jesic is a graduate of the Pepperdine University School of Law, where he was active in both moot court and mock trials.  He served on the law school’s Moot Court Board, where he was in charge of the law school’s mock trial competition.


    Dr. Lara Giese Jesic brings her unique psychological perspective and expertise to every case in which she takes part.  With over twenty years of experience, Dr. Jesic specializes in mock trials, trial theme development, voir dire strategy,  juror profiling,  witness communication training and attorney persuasion strategies.  In addition to her casework, she is both a licensed psychologist and a licensed psychotherapist in the State of California.  In addition to being published, Dr. Jesic has lectured extensively to legal organizations including such organizations as the California State Bar Association, the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Los Angeles Litigation Inn of Court, the Criminal Justice Inn of Court and the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles.  Her past clients have included Apple, Sony, AEG Live, Xerox, General Motors, Ford, Toyota and the District Attorney’s Office.   In 2014, Dr. Jesic worked on, and was on the winning side of, three of the five top cases listed in the Daily Journal’s “biggest defense verdicts” in Los Angles.  Dr. Jesic has also appeared and has been quoted in a variety of national, international and local media outlets, including CNBC, Fuji Television, Nippon Television, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Los Angeles Daily Journal, Daily News, Orange County Register and Long Beach Press Telegram.