Each year, the District Attorney’s Office partners with the Superintendent of Schools to give our students a unique understanding of our Constitution, our justice system, and what it’s really like to be a lawyer. Our prosecutors volunteer to coach the mock trial teams, score and critique the students’ performance, and preside over the trials. We also help administer the competition and recruit other lawyers and judges to participate. District Attorney Michael Ramos is a strong supporter of the Mock Trial Competition.
Here’s how Mock Trial works: Each high school fields a team of up to 18 students. They are provided with a mock police report that contains a police investigation, crime scene diagram, and statements from four prosecution and four defense witnesses. The students assume the roles of prosecution attorney, defense attorney, witness, bailiff, and clerk and present an entire criminal trial in about two hours. The student attorneys make opening statements, conduct direct and cross-examination of the witnesses, and make closing arguments. They use the actual California rules of trial procedure, evidence, and objections. How do they learn all this? A volunteer attorney coach (many are Deputy District Attorneys) helps teach them the law, our Constitutional principles of justice, and how to present a case. Teams practice an average three nights a week from September through December.
The competition takes place in 14 courtrooms in our three major courthouses (San Bernardino, Rancho, and Victorville) on four consecutive Tuesday nights in November and December. Presiding over each trial is a volunteer superior court judge. Two volunteer scoring attorneys (primarily Deputy District Attorneys) score the performance of each student. Each night the courthouses are filled with over 200 students, teachers, family, and friends.
The spirit of volunteerism and public service is alive and well in the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. The Mock Trial Program is but one example.