RIVERSIDE (CNS) - More than 450 students from 24 high schools will
take on the roles of prosecutors and defense attorneys today in the first round
of the 37th annual Riverside County Mock Trial Competition.
The event will begin about 6 p.m. at courthouses in Indio, Murrieta
and Riverside. A total of five rounds are planned this month, followed in early
March by the semifinal and final rounds, according to the county Office of
Education, which is sponsoring the contest along with the Constitutional Rights
Foundation, the Riverside County Bar Association and the Superior Court.
The county began holding student-level mock trials in 1983. Roughly
14,000 youths have participated since then, according to organizers.
This year's contest will challenge participants to successfully argue
the fictitious case of People v. Klein, involving a ``swatting'' incident in
which a disgruntled ex-employee of a restaurant allegedly makes a false report
of a crime-in-progress to send first responders to a former co-worker's
residence in a retaliatory act.
Student teams consisting of 8-25 youths will play the parts of deputy
district attorneys, defense attorneys, bailiffs, witnesses, clerks and
Contestants are given an allotted time, generally four to six minutes,
at each stage of a proceeding, including opening and closing statements and
Practicing attorneys and judges will assess students' performance and
award points in accordance with criteria established for the competition.
Students from public and private high schools are permitted to take
part. Last year's winning team was MLK High School in Riverside.
After the final round on March 2 at the Riverside Historic Courthouse,
the highest-scoring team will go on to represent the county at the State
Mock Trial Competition, slated for March 22-24 in Sacramento.
More information is available at www.rcoe.us/student-events/mock-trial.