Deer Valley High Mock Trial team members honored during annual county competition

Team makes it to third round of competition

By Allen Payton

Six members of the Deer Valley High School Mock Trial Team led by Coach Brian Kofford from the Law and Justice Academy, received awards during this year’s Contra Costa County competition. The team made it to round three before being eliminated. (See the complete Mock Trial competition results).

The annual competition was won by San Ramon’s California High School Mock Trial Team for the third year in a row. The Grizzlies bested Acalanes, who took second place in the final round, and third place Miramonte beat Monte Vista which took fourth place in the Consolation round.

The Cal High team will represent county at the 39th Annual California State Mock Trial Finals on March 20-22 in Los Angeles, CA.

The Wolverines lost to Dougherty Valley High of San Ramon in the first round of competition on Tuesday, Jan. 28 but came back to beat De Anza High of Richmond in the second round on Wednesday, Jan. 30. Then, in the third round Monte Vista bested Deer Valley to move on to the next round of competition.

Four members of the Deer Valley team received a Judges’ Choice Honorable Mention: Janae Burks, Katherine Muster, Caitlin Todd and Savannah Turnage.

A Feb. 20th post on the Deer Valley High School Facebook page reads, “Congratulations to the DV Mock Trial Team and Coach Brian Kofford from the Law and Justice Academy. Tonight the team won several awards including Savannah Turnage, 2nd place for Best Closing Argument and 2nd for Best Cross-Examination as well as a Judge’s Choice Award, Courtney Johnson came in 1st place being a witness for the prosecution, Caitlin Todd won 2nd place for a different prosecution witness and a Judge’s Choice Award, Emma Crandell also won a prosecution witness award, Katherine Mustar won a Judge’s Choice Award as a defense witness and finally Janae Burks won a Judge’s Choice Award as an expert prosecution witness. Six students won nine awards total.”

Mock Trial Overview

The Mock Trial Program is sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF). Each year CRF creates a mock trial that addresses serious matters facing young people today.

Each team works with teacher and attorney coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, both from the prosecution and defense perspective. Students assume the roles of trial attorneys, pretrial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, and bailiffs. Through these role-playing techniques, students learn about the content and processes of law in an exciting and vibrant way. Also, by studying the case and preparing strategies and arguments for trial, students increase their public speaking skills, analytical ability and team cooperation.

Some high schools offer the Mock Trial Program as a class rather than an extra-curricular activity.

At the State Finals, the winning teams from 36 counties will present People v. Matsumoto, the trial of Bailey Matsumoto. Bailey is the founder of a technology start-up that develops autonomous (self-driving) trucks. Bailey is charged with murder, which is the unlawful killing of another human being with malice afterthought. The pretrial issue involves the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Courtroom Art Contest

Students also had the opportunity to compete as courtroom artists by participating in the Courtroom Art Contest, a companion program to Mock Trials. As courtroom artists, students accompany their Mock Trial teams and sketch courtroom scenes that are later judged by a team of art judges. Download artist rules and registration information. The winner, Reese Whipple of Miramonte High, will represent Contra Costa County at the state finals.

Courtroom Journalism Contest

Students were given an opportunity to report on a Mock Trial from the perspective of a journalist. As courtroom reporters, students will accompany their school’s Mock Trial teams to the preliminary rounds of the competition. Courtroom reporters will then write and submit one 500-word news article on the trial they attended. Articles were judged by a panel of specialists. The winner, Christine Oh of California High, will represent Contra Costa County at the state finals.

See the list of all 2020 award winners here.

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