Teams from eight Riverside County high schools will square off Wednesday in the “elite eight” round of the 37th annual Riverside County Mock Trial Competition, vying for an opportunity to represent the county in the statewide event.
Hundreds of students from 24 area high schools entered the county contest, but after four rounds held over the last three weeks, only eight teams remain, seeking to advance to the semifinals on Saturday, according to the Office of Education.
Wednesday’s elite eight playoff will be held at the Robert Presley Hall of Justice, beginning at about 6 p.m. The following schools will be represented:
— Notre Dame High School, Riverside;
— Great Oak High School, Temecula;
— Valley View High School, Moreno Valley;
— Martin Luther King High School, Riverside;
— Xavier College Preparatory, Palm Desert;
— John W. North High School, Riverside;
— Poly High School, Riverside; and
— Murrieta Valley High School, Murrieta.
The event is sponsored by the Office of Education, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Riverside County Bar Association and the Superior Court.
The county began holding student-level mock trials in 1983, and more than 13,000 youths have participated since then, according to organizers. This year’s contest challenges participants to successfully argue the fictitious case of People v. Klein, involving a young adult accused of “swatting,” a harassment tactic that involves fraudulently sending police or emergency services to another person’s address.
Teams consisting of anywhere between eight and 25 youths play the parts of deputy district attorneys, defense attorneys, bailiffs, witnesses, clerks and investigators. Contestants are given an allotted time, generally four to six minutes, at each stage of a proceeding, including opening and closing statements and cross-examinations.
Practicing attorneys and judges 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 Martin Luther King High School.
The highest-scoring team this year will go on to represent the county at the State Mock Trial Competition, slated for March 22-24 in Sacramento.
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