Future legal eagles at a Riverside high school Sunday were celebrating their victory in the 37th annual Riverside County Mock Trial Competition and preparing for the statewide contest, scheduled to begin in just over two weeks.
The team from Poly High School edged out teams from three other schools to take top honors in the countywide meet.
The final rounds were held Saturday at the Riverside Hall of Justice, where an awards ceremony followed the courtroom action.
More than 450 students from 24 schools entered the competition, taking on the roles of prosecutors, defense attorneys, clerks and investigators. After four weeks, only four teams remained for the semifinal and final rounds — Poly High School, Murrieta Valley High School, Martin Luther King High School in Riverside and Valley View High School in Moreno Valley.
Poly High topped the competition in 2016 and 2017 but fell short last year when King High earned the championship title.
This year they beat King High in the final round, capturing their 18th mock trial championship.
Third place was shared by Murrieta Valley and Valley View high schools.
The county began holding student-level mock trials in 1983. Roughly 14,500 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 “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 consist of 8-25 youths, and 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 also permitted to take part.
Poly High School will be among dozens of schools participating in the California Mock Trial Competition, slated for March 16-18 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
More information is available at www.rcoe.us/student-events/mock-trial.
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