Soon-to-be, practicing, and retired law professionals are encouraged to volunteer their time for the 38th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program.
The program is 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 for the Mock Trials.
The hands-on educational program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of the judicial system, develop analytical and communication skills, and more. It is coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE).
This year’s case, People v. Klein, involves a young adult 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. 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 become 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, with the county’s champion advancing to the State finals.
Seventeen Mock Trial teams this year will represent high schools throughout Contra Costa County, including Richmond schools.
“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,” said Contra Costa County Presiding Judge Barry Baskin, a longtime volunteer.