Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial seeks legal professionals to volunteer their expertise

Bay Area soon-to-be, practicing, and retired law professionals are needed to provide assistance to their future brethren at the upcoming 35th 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, 150 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 trial: People v. Hayes – a murder case, and features a pretrial argument on the Fifth Amendment.

“I encourage all my fellow law professionals to join us in serving as volunteer Mock Trial judges and attorney scorers,” said Contra Costa County Presiding Judge Steve Austin. “Not only is it a wonderful service to our county’s high school students, but you will really enjoy watching them in action. You will be impressed with the skill these young men and women demonstrate in our courtrooms. Every year I volunteer, I am continually amazed at the obvious time each student has invested to participate in this challenging academic event.”

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 16 Contra Costa County high school Mock Trial teams competing.

Volunteers will score two competing schools that argue the cases 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.

Teams from the following 16 Contra Costa County high schools will be competing: Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), Acalanes (Lafayette), Alhambra (Martinez), California (San Ramon), Campolindo (Moraga), Clayton Valley Charter (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), El Cerrito (El Cerrito), Hercules Middle/High (Hercules), Heritage (Brentwood), Kennedy (Richmond), Miramonte (Orinda), Monte Vista (Danville), Northgate (Walnut Creek), Pinole Valley (Pinole), and Richmond (Richmond).

Schedule for 2016 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials:

Preliminaries: February 2, 4, 9, 11, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Eight competitions each night)

Quarterfinals: February 16, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Four competitions)

Semifinals: February 18, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Two competitions)

Final and Consolation: February 23, 5:00-7:30 p.m. (Two competitions)

Mock Trial will be headquartered at the A.F. Bray Courthouse, 1020 Ward Street, in Martinez.

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