The eight teams still standing in the 38th annual Riverside County Mock Trials Competition will confront each other in the “elite round” Thursday, and the top competitors in that contest will move on to the semifinal and final rounds this weekend.
After four rounds of competition this month, Riverside’s Arlington, MLK, North, Notre Dame, Poly and Ramona high schools landed in the elite round, along with Murrieta Valley High School and Valley View High in Moreno Valley.
The teams will meet at the Riverside Hall of Justice to complete the remaining rounds.
More than 200 students from 26 high schools started out in the mock trials, squaring off at the Riverside courthouse, as well as those in Indio and Murrieta.
The county Office of Education, in partnership with the Constitutional Rights Foundation, Riverside County Bar Association and the Superior Court, sponsor the competition annually. The county began holding student-level mock trials in 1983. More than 14,000 youths have participated since then, according to organizers.
This year’s contest has challenged participants to successfully argue the fictitious case of People v. Matsumoto, involving a spousal murder, allegedly perpetrated by the founder of a technology company, Bailey Matsumoto.
Teams consisting of 8-25 students 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 Poly High.
After the final round on Saturday 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 20-22 in Los Angeles.
More information is available at www.rcoe.us/student-events/mock-trial.
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