Riverside’s Poly High School took the top honors at the 38th annual Riverside County Mock Trials competition Saturday.
Poly High defeated Valley View High School in the final round at the Riverside Hall of Justice to claim their second title in a row and 19th overall.
Third place was shared by Martin Luther King and Notre Dame high schools, both in Riverside.
The Poly High team will go on to represent the county at the California Mock Trial competition in Los Angeles beginning on March 20.
The winner of that contest will represent the state in the National Mock Trial competition in May in Evansville, Indiana.
More than 200 students from 26 high schools started out in the county’s 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 eight to 25 students played the parts of deputy district attorneys, defense attorneys, bailiffs, witnesses, clerks and investigators. Contestants were 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 assessed students’ performance and awarded points in accordance with criteria established for the competition.
Students from public and private high schools are permitted to take part.
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