Seeking Mock Trial Volunteers

Seeking Legal Professionals to Volunteer in Contra Costa County Mock Trial Program
Posted on 01/05/2023
Seeking Volunteers for Mock Trial Program

Pleasant Hill, Calif. -- The 42nd Annual Contra Costa County High School Mock Trial Program is scheduled to begin at the end of January; and volunteer legal professionals and students are greatly needed to lend their expertise. The program is held on seven weekday evenings during January and February in Martinez Courtrooms. In prior years, nearly eighty practicing and retired attorneys, judges, law students, and pre-law students volunteered with Mock Trials.

Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE), the Mock Trial program is an academic event hosted yearly for high school students within the county. The hands-on educational program was created to help students acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system, develop analytical abilities and communication skills, and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society. This year’s case, People v. Franks, is the trial of Jordan Franks, a young actor in the Shakespeare-adaptation Macbeth at Sea on a cruise ship who is charged with robbery and battery of a fellow actor.

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 assume the roles of 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. The winning teams advance through seven rounds of competition. The county’s champion advances to the State finals. This year, there will be 18 Mock Trial teams competing, representing high schools throughout Contra Costa County.

Volunteers will score a mock trial with two competing schools arguing the case in their assigned court. Each night will begin with rules and regulations training, then the volunteers will go into their scheduled courtrooms to serve as Mock Trial presiding judges and scorers. The Mock Trials’ scorers are made up of prosecuting attorneys and public defenders, as well as public-sector, private-practice, and corporate lawyers. In addition, paralegals and seasoned law students are also welcomed to participate. A practicing or retired judge or commissioner will preside over each trial and serve as one of its scorers.

Teams from the following 18 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 (Concord), De Anza High (Richmond), Deer Valley (Antioch), De La Salle High (Concord), 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 2023 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials:
Preliminaries: January 24, 26, 31; February 2, – 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Nine competitions each night)
Quarterfinals: February 7, 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Four competitions)
Semifinals: February 9, 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Two competitions)
Finals & Consolation Round: February 13, 5:30-8:30 p.m. (Two competitions)
Mock Trial Awards: February 16, 5:00 p.m. (Recognition at Contra Costa County Office of Education)

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 18.

The finals winning team will then represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial competition, held in Los Angeles, Calif. The California state finalist team will then compete in the National Mock Trial Competition, held May 18-20 in Little Rock, Arkansas

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.

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About Contra Costa County Office of Education
One of 58 counties in the state of California, Contra Costa County has the 9th largest public-school student population in the state (approximately 158,401 students). Officially established in 1932, the 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 285 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 www.cocoschools.org.

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