By Kathy Chouteau
The Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) is seeking Bay Area legal professionals to volunteer for the “40th Annual Contra Costa High School Mock Trial Program” that will be held live and virtually over several weekday evenings in January and February. The program aims to help high school students gain real-world knowledge of the judicial system while developing analytical, communication and other pertinent skills as engaged members of the community.
Teachers and volunteer coaches will help teams of high school students prepare their version of this year’s case, People v. Croddy, from both the prosecution and defense viewpoints. Lee Croddy, who hosts a popular YouTube channel called “The Right Choice of News” (RCN), has been charged with two counts: (1) aiding and abetting in the commission of first-degree burglary by another and (2) accessory after the fact. A pre-trial argument on the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and as set forth in Miranda v. Arizona will also be part of the case.
As part of the Mock Trial, students will assume the roles of pre-trial and trial attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists and court journalists, per CCCOE, while judges and attorneys score their performance and offer feedback via Zoom.
With 18 Mock Trial teams competing this year from high schools throughout the county, winners will proceed through seven rounds of competition. The champion will represent the county at the state finals’ California State Mock Trial, currently slated for March 18-22, 2021 in Los Angeles. From there, California’s winning team will compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, tentatively scheduled for May 13-15 in Evansville, IN.
The schedule for 2021 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials is: Preliminaries: Jan. 26, 28; Feb. 2, 4 from 5-8 p.m. (eight competitions each night); Quarterfinals: Feb 9, from 5-8 p.m. (four competitions);
Semifinals: Feb. 11 from 5-8 p.m. (two competitions); and Final and Consolation: Feb. 16, 5-8 p.m. (two competitions).
“It is always so impressive to see the students prosecute and defend so professionally in the courtroom,” said Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey, who added that “the attorneys and judges serving as volunteers are always in awe of what they have witnessed in the Mock Trial courtroom.”