California High School’s Mock Trial Team Named County Champions for the Third Straight Year

California High School’s Mock Trial Team Named County Champions for the Third Straight Year
Posted on 02/21/2020
PLEASANT HILL, Calif., February 21, 2020 — The 39th Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials Awards Ceremony was held last night at the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), in Pleasant Hill. After Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey and Contra Costa County Board of Education President Vicki Chavez welcomed the crowd, followed by remarks made by Contra Costa County Superior Court Presiding Judge Barry Baskin, the Mock Trial coaches presented individual awards to their exceptional-performing students. This was followed by the individual awards that were recorded by the volunteer judges and attorney scorers during the four opening preliminary rounds. The exciting event concluded with naming of this year’s championship team: California High School (San Ramon). 

“Mock Trial supports, educates, and empowers students to engage in hands-on learning opportunities to become future leaders in our community and the world,” said County Superintendent of Schools, Lynn Mackey. “Congratulations to the 16 high schools and hundreds of students in our county who participated in this wonderful program.”

The California High team beat Acalanes High (Lafayette), this past Tuesday night in the final round of Mock Trials, inside the Bray Courthouse, in Martinez. The final match was judged and scored by recently retired First District Court of Appeal, Division Five, Justice Terence Bruiniers, along with six Bay Area attorneys, serving as Mock Trial scorers. 

Also, noteworthy, Miramonte High (Orinda) defeated Monte Vista High (Danville) during the same evening’s consolation match. This match-up was judged and scored by Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge Steve Austin, along with nine attorney scorers.

This year’s top four teams were ranked in this order: 1) California High, 2) Acalanes High, 3) Miramonte High, 4) Monte Vista High. California High has now won three consecutive championships.

The honored guest speaker, Judge Barry Baskin, was on hand to address the large crowd with his accounts of this year’s Mock Trials: “I and my fellow judges really enjoy participating in this program, because we are so impressed with all of your skills, and the law community’s support. This just energizes us judges and gives us hope about the future of our courts. It’s obvious that you all worked very hard on this case, and I know you received plenty direction assistance from your coaches, and support from your families.”

After Judge Baskin was appointed to the Contra Costa County Superior Court bench by California Governor Grey Davis, in 2002, he has served continuously throughout the years as a volunteer judge for numerous high school Mock Trial and Moot Court competitions. 
For the past four weeks (seven evenings), California High School and the 15 other Contra Costa County high school Mock Trial teams have been battling it out with each other inside the superior courthouse courtrooms of Martinez. Each school alternates, providing a prosecution or defense team. 

As like their fellow Mock Trial Teams throughout the nation, the teams presented the fictitious case: People v. Matsumoto. It featured the trial of Bailey Matsumoto, the founder of a technology start-up that develops autonomous (self-driving) trucks. Bailey is charged with the murder of Bailey’s spouse, Taylor Matsumoto. The prosecution claims Bailey intended to murder Taylor and make Taylor’s death look like an accidental drowning. The defense argued that Taylor’s death was not a murder but was instead an unfortunate accident.

Most of the Mock Trial teams begin their Mock Trial training when their new school year commences – which makes Mock Trials one of the longest seasons of all the participating schools’ sports and academic activities. This year, there were more than 300 participating students.

Lead by teacher coach Brian Barr and attorney coaches Ken Mifsud and Larry Lowe, California High School’s Mock Trial team will now represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial competition, held in Los Angeles, Calif., March 20-22. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held May 7-10, in Evansville, Indiana.

Teams from the following 16 Contra Costa County high schools competed this year:
Acalanes High (Lafayette), Alhambra High (Martinez), California High (San Ramon), Campolindo High (Moraga), Carondelet High (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), Deer Valley Law Academy (Antioch), Dougherty Valley High (San Ramon), El Cerrito High (El Cerrito), Hercules High (Hercules), Heritage High (Brentwood), Kennedy High (Richmond), Las Lomas High (Walnut Creek), Miramonte High (Orinda), Monte Vista High (Danville), Richmond High (Richmond).  

This year, approximately 65 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges volunteered their time to serve as Mock Trial Attorney Scorers and Judges. These volunteers represented judges from Bay Area Superior Courts, the California Bankruptcy Court, the California Supreme Court, and the California Appellate Court. Attorney Scorers included Bay Area attorneys from county District Attorney and Public Defender offices, the State Attorney General’s Office, and the California Department of Justice. Also serving as attorney scorers, were non-profit, public, private, and corporate attorneys. In addition, senior students from two Bay Area law schools also lent a hand in scoring.

** For all the team and individual results, visit the Contra Costa County Office of Education's Mock Trial results Web page. Mock Trial is an academic event for high school students coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation.  The purpose of this program is to teach students about the law and the workings of the legal system. To prepare, the students conducted legal research and received guidance on courtroom procedures from their school teachers, volunteer attorneys, and judges, to acquire a working knowledge of the judicial system.
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