Educational Services Division
2009 Santa Cruz County Mock Trial Competition
Engaging students in law and justice education for 20 years
Santa Cruz High School students, teacher and attorney coaches pose with Honorable Judge Marigonda in celebration of their
2009 Mock Trial Competition victory.
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the Santa Cruz County Mock Trial Competition. Since 1989, Santa Cruz County has provided students throughout the county with an opportunity to engage in law and justice education through the Mock Trial Competition which is coordinated by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, Student Support Services Department, Law Related Programs in collaboration with the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF), Santa Cruz County Bar Association, Superior Court of California Santa Cruz, and the Santa Cruz Trial Lawyers Association. This popular local program enables students to acquire a working knowledge of our judicial system; develop their analytical abilities and communication skills; and gain an understanding of their obligations and responsibilities as participating members of our society.
Illustration by Mock Trial student artist.
The Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) coordinates the California State Mock Trial Competitions. After establishing a large following in Los Angeles County, the Constitutional Rights Foundation introduced the program to other counties in 1980. Thirty-six of the fifty-eight counties in California currently participate.
Each year, CRF creates and produces a new set of Mock Trial materials. The materials include a currently relevant, hypothetical criminal case (including summaries of case law, witness statements, official exhibits, and simplified rules of evidence), lesson plans on the central issues in the case, and the competition rules and guidelines. The 2009 case is People v. Lane. A spiritual movement called the New Believers bought land and settled in Woodville. Leslie Lane, a resident in the town of Woodville, is charged with arson and incitement of others to riot; specifically to burn or destroy New Believers’ property. The pretrial issue involves the First Amendment freedom of speech and expression relating to Leslie’s performance at the rally.
Participating this year are teams from Aptos High, Harbor High, Santa Cruz High, Scotts Valley High, Soquel High, St. Francis High, and Watsonville High Schools.
Over twenty local attorney volunteers score the competition based on specific criteria. Students earn scores for team sportsmanship, presentation skills, analytic ability, and team cooperation. Each team has one or two local attorney volunteers to assist students with their trial preparation. Approximately ten local volunteer judges and commissioners preside over the competition, making decisions regarding the running of the trial; ruling on pretrial arguments and competition violations; and announce the verdict.
The 20th annual Santa Cruz competition will be held at the new Watsonville Courthouse located at 1 Second Street, Watsonville. The mock trials proceed over the course of three days. All teams compete in two rounds on February 9th and 12th beginning at 5:00 pm. On February 16th, the top four teams compete in the semi-finals at 10:00 a.m. The top two highest scoring teams compete at 1:00 p.m. to vie for the opportunity to go to the State competition. The team and individual awards ceremony immediately follows the finals at 3:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend all phases of the competition and celebrate our 20th anniversary with us.
Winning teams from participating counties will participate in the 2009 California State competition on March 20-22nd in Riverside County. Forty-four states, U.S. territories, and South Korea participate in a two-day National competition which will be held in Atlanta, Georgia May 6-10, 2009.
For additional information and to lend support to the Mock Trial Program, please call the Santa Cruz County Office of Education at 466-5705.