MARTINEZ, Calif. – Bay Area soon-to-be, practicing, and retired law professionals are needed to provide assistance to their future brethren at the upcoming 36th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program, held in the early evenings throughout the month of February, at the Martinez Court Rooms. Last year, 120 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 grabbed-from-the-local-and-national-headlines case, the People v. Awbrey, is a trial about human trafficking and false imprisonment. The pretrial issue involves the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, namely protection against illegal search and seizure and against self-incrimination.
“I encourage all my fellow law professionals to join us in serving as Mock Trial judges and attorney scorers,” said Contra Costa County Presiding Judge Jill Fannin. “I have been volunteering with this program for over 15 years. I’m continually impressed with the dedication demonstrated by all the teams that participate in this challenging academic event. Every volunteer will tell you that the professionalism and skill these high school students demonstrate in our courtrooms during Mock Trial, rival those they witnessed earlier in the day with the professionals.”
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 18 Contra Costa County high school Mock Trial teams competing, including Alhambra High School.
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 serve as one of the trial’s scorers.
Schedule for 2017 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials: Preliminaries: Feb. 7, 9, 14, 16, 5-7:30 p.m. (eight competitions each night); Quarterfinals: Feb. 21, 5-7:30 p.m. (four competitions); Semifinals: Feb. 23, 5-7:30 p.m. (two competitions); Final and Consolation: Feb. 28, 5-7:30 p.m. (two competitions).
Mock Trial will be headquartered at the A.F. Bray Courthouse, 1020 Ward St., Martinez. Interested volunteers can learn more by visiting www.cocoschools.org or contacting Jonathan Lance at (925) 942-3429.