Students to Match Wits During Mock Trials

RIVERSIDE (CNS) - More than 500 students from 26 high schools will take on the roles of prosecutors and defense attorneys today in the first round of the 35th annual Riverside County Mock Trial Competition.

The event will begin about 6 p.m. at courthouses in Indio, Murrieta and Riverside. A total of four rounds are planned this month, followed in March by the semifinal and final rounds, according to the county Office of Education, which is sponsoring the contest along with the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Riverside County Bar Association and the Superior Court.

The county began holding student-level mock trials in 1983. More than 13,500 youths have participated since then, according to organizers.

This year's contest will challenge participants to successfully argue the fictitious case of People v. Davidson, involving a man accused of killing a member of an extremist group.

Student teams consisting of 8-25 youths will 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 will 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 School in Riverside.

After the final round on March 3 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 16-18 in Orange County.

More information is available at

Photo: Getty Images

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