Bay Area soon-to-be, practicing, and retired law professionals are needed to provide assistance to their future brethren at the upcoming 38th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program, held on seven early weekday evenings during late January and early February, in the Martinez Court Rooms. Last year, close to 100 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges, as well as third-year law students volunteered their time with the Mock Trials.
Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), Mock Trial is an academic event provided for high school students. The hands-on educational program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. This year’s case, People v. Klein: A young adult is charged with two felony counts: making a false report of an emergency (in this case, commonly referred to as “swatting”) and making a criminal threat.
“This program is a great tool to ensure that our students understand the workings of the trial courts and thus the importance of an independent judiciary, says,” says Contra Costa County Presiding Judge Barry Baskin. Judge Baskin, a long-time Mock Trial volunteer, encourages all of his local fellow law professional to join him in assisting with this year’s Mock Trial Competition.
Teams of high school students work with teachers and volunteer coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, from both the prosecution and defense perspectives. Students assume the roles of trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists, and court journalists. Mock Trial judges and attorneys score their performance and provide immediate feedback. Winning teams advance through seven rounds of competition. The county’s champion advances to the State finals. This year, there will be 17 Mock Trial teams competing, representing high schools throughout all of Contra Costa County.
Volunteers will score two competing schools that argue the case in their assigned court. Each night, will begin with a 15-minute rules and regulations training, then the volunteers will go into their scheduled courtrooms to serve as Mock Trial judge and scorers. The Mock Trials’ scorers are made up of Bay Area deputy district attorneys and deputy public defenders, as well as public-sector, private-practice, and corporate lawyers. In addition, seasoned law students are also welcome to participate. A practicing or retired judge or commissioner will preside over each trial, and also serves as one of the trial’s scorers.
“We applaud the hard work and time our students and their coaches put in to prepare for our Mock Trial program,” said Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey. “In addition, we are grateful for the continued generous volunteer support we receive from our county’s Judicial, District Attorney, and Public Defender offices, as well as so many of our current and retired public- and private-practice attorneys. This successful program would never come together without so much support from the community.”
Teams from the following 17 Contra Costa County high schools will be competing:
Acalanes (Lafayette), Alhambra (Martinez), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Carondelet High (Concord), Clayton Valley Charter (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), Dougherty Valley (San Ramon), El Cerrito (El Cerrito), Hercules Middle/High (Hercules), Heritage (Brentwood), Kennedy (Richmond), Las Lomas (Walnut Creek), Miramonte (Orinda), Monte Vista (Danville), and Richmond (Richmond).
Schedule for 2019 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials:
Preliminaries: January 29 and 31; February 5 and 7, – 5:00-8:30 p.m. (Nine competitions each night)
Quarterfinals: February 12, 5:00-8:00 p.m. (Four competitions)
Semifinals: February 14, 5:00-8:00 p.m. (Two competitions)
Final and Consolation: February 19, 5:00-8:00 p.m. (Two competitions)
Mock Trial will be headquartered at the A.F. Bray Courthouse, 1020 Ward Street, in Martinez.
The two highest-scoring teams will advance to the finals on Tuesday, February 19. The winning team will then represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial Competition, held in Sacramento, Calif., March 22-23. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held May 16-18, Athens, Georgia.
In 1977, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) introduced the concept of mock trials to the Los Angeles schools. In 1980, the program expanded to the state level. The California Mock Trial Program currently involves more than 36 counties and over 8,000 student participants from more than 400 teams. Approximately 1,500 attorney volunteers serve as team coaches and scorers, and 500 Municipal, Superior, and Appellate Court judges preside over the trials.