Contra Costa County is in need of legal professionals to volunteer for its 40th annual High School Mock Trial Program, to judge the competition and help local students learn about the inner workings of the U.S. legal system.
Held live and virtually on seven weekday early evenings starting Jan. 26, the program is recruiting practicing, retired or soon-to-be law professionals -- including students, lawyers and judges -- to help judge high-schoolers who will be competing while working to gain knowledge of the judicial system.
Last year, county officials say that nearly 80 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges, as well as third-year law students, volunteered their time with the mock trial competitions
"It is always so impressive to see the students prosecute and defend so professionally in the courtroom," Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said in a statement. "It is even more impressive that these students are still excited to compete in a virtual courtroom. No doubt, a lot of time has been spent preparing for their time in court. In addition, the attorneys and judges serving as volunteers are always in awe of what they have witnessed in the Mock Trial courtroom."
Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education, volunteers will view and score two competing schools via Zoom, watching students argue their cases in court. Each night will begin with a 15-minute rules and regulations training, then the volunteers will go into their assigned Zoom "courtrooms" to serve as mock trial judges and scorers.
The annual mock trial competition is a hands-on educational program created to help high school 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 members of society.
"This year's case, People v. Croddy, is the trial of Lee Croddy, the host of a popular YouTube channel called The Right Choice of News (RCN), who 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. This case will also feature a pre-trial argument on the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and as set forth in Miranda v. Arizona," county officials said.
The schedule for 2021 Contra Costa County High School Mock Trials includes:
* Preliminaries: Jan. 26, 28; Feb. 2, 4. 5 to 8 p.m. (Eight competitions each night)
* Quarterfinals: Feb. 9. 5 to 8 p... (Four competitions)
* Semifinals: Feb. 11. 5 to 8 p.m (Two competitions)
* Final and Consolation: Feb. 16. 5 to 8 p.m. (Two competitions)
The finals winning team will then represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock in Los Angeles on March 18-22.
California High School in San Ramon has proven to be dominant in the county competition, having won the past three consecutive contests.
Interested volunteers can learn more by visiting the Contra Costa County's Mock Trial volunteer webpage, or contacting Jonathan Lance at 942-3429.