Students at California High School in San Ramon have once again defended their school's title as champions during Contra Costa County's 40th annual Mock Trial competition, demonstrating their superior legal prowess by winning the title for a fourth consecutive year.
Led by coach Brian Barr, Cal High will now represent Contra Costa County at the California State Mock Trial competition set to be held March 18-22. Whoever wins that competition will then move on to compete in the National Mock Trial Competition held May 13-15.
"As like numerous other counties in California, this was a challenging year for our High School Mock Trial program," Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Lynn Mackey said in a statement. "This year's Mock Trial success was because of a group effort between our volunteer judges and attorneys and our staff, as well as the patient and dedicated team coaches and their determined students. Congratulations to all of you!"
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, this was the first time in 40 years that the competition was not held at one of the county courthouses in Martinez; competitors instead met on Zoom for competitive hearings against other schools.
Coordinated by the Contra Costa County Office of Education and sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the annual contest features high schools from throughout the county competing against one another in an effort to demonstrate their understanding of the law.
County officials say the program offers a hands-on opportunity for students to acquire a working knowledge of the judicial system, with each competing team alternating serving as a prosecuting or defense team on a specific case. Students assumed the roles of trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, bailiffs, artists and court journalists.
This year's case, People v. Croddy, featured the trial of Lee Croddy who hosts a popular YouTube channel called The Right Choice of News (RCN), according to county officials. For the case Croddy 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. The case also featured a pre-trial argument on the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and as set forth in Miranda v. Arizona.
Judged by Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton along with five Bay Area attorneys who served as Mock Trial scorers, in the final round the Cal High team defeated Acalanes High (Lafayette).
"Congratulations to all of the students, teachers, and coaches for a wonderful competition. I'm so pleased that we didn't let COVID-19 get in the way of our historic and annual tradition. We are so proud of our longstanding partnership with the Mock Trial program. Here at the county's Superior Court, Mock Trials is one of our favorite times of the year," guest speaker Judge Rebecca Hardie told the audience.
"And, I heard so many wonderful stories from this year's volunteering judges. They all agreed about how seamless the trials went this year, especially adapting the competition from our physical courtrooms to virtual courtrooms. The students did not miss a beat," Hardie added.
Approximately 60 Bay Area practicing and retired attorneys and sworn judges volunteered their time and expertise to serve as Mock Trial attorney scorers and judges.
Individual winners recognized at Contra Costa County's 40th annual Mock Trial competition include Cal High's Nicholas Harvey who won the Outstanding Journalist award and Michelle Nguyen who won the Outstanding Artist award.
For all the team and individual results, interested residents visit the Contra Costa County Office of Education's Mock Trial results webpage.