Mock Trial Program Set to Begin 43rd Season

Contra Costa County Mock Trial Program Set to Begin 43rd Season
Posted on 01/19/2024
PLEASANT HILL, Calif., — The 43rd Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program commences on Tuesday, January 23, 2024. The program is held on seven weekday evenings during January and February in Martinez Courtrooms. Dozens of practicing and retired attorneys, judges, paralegals, and law students are set to volunteer their time to judge and score the trials. With volunteer spots still available, program organizers are hopeful last-minute volunteer legal professionals will come through to fill the remaining gaps. Volunteering requires only three hours of time for one or more evenings during the competition.

“Watching a Mock Trial in action is truly a thrilling experience, and the lessons students learn will stick with them and could quite possibly influence their future careers,” Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said. “I am grateful we can facilitate this academic program and offer it to all high schools within our county. I hope more schools will be able to participate in the future.”

The Mock Trial program is coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) and is an academic event hosted yearly for high school students. Designed to be hands-on, analytical, and mimic a real courtroom experience, the program was created to give students a working knowledge of the courts system as they build on their communication skills and better understand the judicial process. This year’s case, People vs. Clark, is the trial of Tobie Clark who works as in-house counsel for Sunshine Medical Components, Inc. (“SMC”), a billion-dollar medical technology company. Clark is charged with the homicide of SMC’s chief executive officer Kieran Sunshine. The prosecution argues that Clark should be convicted of first-degree murder.

Teams of high school students have worked with teachers and volunteer trial coaches to prepare their version of the criminal case, from both the prosecution and defense perspectives. During the competition, students assume the roles of trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists, and courtroom journalists. Mock Trial judges and attorneys score performances and provide immediate feedback. The winning teams advance through seven rounds of competition. The county’s champion advances to the State finals. This year, there will be 17 Mock Trial teams competing, representing high schools throughout Contra Costa County.

Volunteer legal professionals score a Mock Trial with two competing schools arguing the case in an assigned courtroom. Mock Trial evenings begin with rules and regulations training, then the volunteers enter real courtrooms to serve as presiding judges and scorers. The Mock Trials’ scorers are made up of prosecuting attorneys and public defenders, as well as public-sector, private-practice, corporate lawyers, paralegals, law professors, and former Mock Trial participants. A practicing or retired judge, commissioner or seasoned attorney presides over each trial and serves as one of the scorers.

Teams from the following 17 Contra Costa County high schools will be competing:

Acalanes High (Lafayette), Alhambra High (Martinez), California High (San Ramon), Campolindo High (Moraga), Carondelet High (Concord), Clayton Valley High (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), Deer Valley High (Antioch), Dougherty Valley High (San Ramon), El Cerrito High (El Cerrito), Hercules High (Hercules), Heritage High (Brentwood), Las Lomas High (Walnut Creek), Miramonte High (Orinda), Monte Vista High (Danville), Richmond High (Richmond), and San Ramon Valley High (San Ramon). Mock Trial will be headquartered at the A.F. Bray Courthouse at 1020 Ward Street, in Martinez.

Schedule for 2024 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials:

Preliminaries: January 23, 25, 30; February 1, – 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Nine trials each night)
Quarterfinals: February 6, 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Four trials)
Semifinals: February 8, 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Two trials)
Finals & Consolation Round: February 13, 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Two trials)
Mock Trial Awards: February 15, 5:00 p.m. (Recognition at Pleasant Hill Community Center, located at 320 Civic Drive, Pleasant Hill, CA.)

Interested volunteers can learn more by visiting the CCCOE’s Mock Trial webpage, or contacting the CCCOE Communications Department at [email protected] or (925) 942-3325.

The two highest-scoring teams will advance to the finals, held on Tuesday, February 13.

The finals winning team will then represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial competition in March, held in Los Angeles, Calif. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition.

In 1977, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) introduced the concept of mock trials to Los Angeles schools. In 1980, the program expanded to the state level. The California Mock Trial Program currently involves more than 36 counties and over 8,000 student participants.


About Contra Costa County Office of Education
One of 58 counties in California, Contra Costa County (CCCOE) has the 11th largest public-school student population in the state (approximately 169,225 students). Officially established in 1932, CCCOE has a long history of providing direct services to some of our county's most vulnerable students, including young people who are incarcerated, homeless, or in foster care, as well as students who have severe physical or emotional challenges.

CCCOE also provides support services to schools and school districts in Contra Costa County; services that can be handled most effectively and economically on a regional basis rather than by each of the county's 286 schools or 18 school districts. These services range from budget approval and fiscal support to technology infrastructure, communication support, and high-level professional development opportunities for educators. CCCOE maintains a website at
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