Students Countywide to Participate in Mock Trials

RIVERSIDE – More than 500 students from 26 high schools in Riverside County will take on the roles of prosecutors and defense attorneys Wednesday for the start of the 30th annual county Mock Trial Competition.

The event will begin around 6 p.m. at courthouses in Indio, Murrieta and Riverside. A total of five rounds, plus the semifinal and final rounds, are planned this month and March, according to the county Office of Education, which is sponsoring the effort along with the Riverside County Bar Association and the Superior Court.

The county began holding student-level mock trials in 1983, and over that span, more than 10,000 youths have participated, organizers said.

This year’s contest will challenge students to successfully argue the case of People v. Vega, based on a non-fatal hit-and-run in which a bicyclist was struck by a motorist allegedly texting while driving.

There are issues surrounding the reliability of witnesses and whether the defendant was properly Mirandized, according to a pseudo trial brief.

Practicing attorneys and judges will assess students’ performance and award points according to criteria established for the competition.

After the final round on March 2 at the Riverside Historic Courthouse, the winning team will go on to represent the county at the State Mock Trial Competition in Sacramento on March 22.

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