The remaining four teams in the 38th annual Riverside County Mock Trials Competition will lock horns in the semifinal and final rounds Saturday, and the top team will be named champion of the monthlong contest
After five rounds of competition, teams from Riverside, Moreno Valley and Murrieta made it to the last lap, and they will match wits at the Riverside Hall of Justice to complete the exercise.
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’ performances 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 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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