2018-19 San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition

Welcome to the 2018-2019 Competition

Welcome to the 2018-2019 season of the San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition. For those of you who are new to the program, the California Mock Trial Program is a statewide academic competition in which high school students compete at the county, state, and national level.


This year, participation is expected to include almost 600 students in San Diego County and over 8,000 students statewide. The trial itself is a simulation of a criminal case, in which students portray each of the principals in the array of courtroom participants. Student teams study a hypothetical criminal case, conduct legal research, and receive guidance from volunteer attorney coaches in courtroom procedures and trial preparation. Students participate as lawyers, witnesses, court clerks, and bailiffs, thus acquiring a working knowledge of our judicial system. The Competition encourages young people to develop their analytical abilities and communication skills while gaining increased self-confidence.

The Competition also allows students to develop the skills necessary for the mastery of state standards for history, social science, and language arts. Through performance-based education, the program furthers an understanding of both the content and processes of our legal system, increases basic skills, analytical abilities, and self-confidence, and it promotes cooperation among students of various cultures and interests. Based on responses to formal surveys, teacher-sponsors report significant improvement in students’ basic skills, critical thinking skills, presentation skills, class skill, and self-esteem, as well as increases in students’ content knowledge about the law.

2018-2019 High School Teacher Orientation

To receive the case materials, it is mandatory that at least one high school teacher-sponsor  from each team attend one of the annual Teacher Orientation Meetings at the San Diego Office of Education, 6401 Linda Vista Road, San Diego, CA 92111 on either:

  •           September 20, 2018; 4:00 p.m.; Annex C;
  •           September 25, 2018; 4:00 p.m.; Annex B. 

The meeting will begin at 4:00 p.m. and last at least one hour. The case materials will be distributed at the meeting. Student team members may also attend this meeting.  After attending the orientation meeting, a teacher-sponsor or school administrator from each team’s high school must register their high school team by submitting the 2019 High School Registration Form by October 12, 2018.

A Registration Fee of $375 per team is required to participate in the 2018-2019 San Diego County Mock Trial Competition and must be received no later than November 30, 2018. Scholarships are available to participating schools and will be determined on a case-by-case basis due to financial need.  To request a school scholarship or additional information, please e-mail the Mock Trial Committee: sdmocktrial@gmail.com.                 

High School Student Team

Teams of students prepare and present the mock trial from the perspectives of both the prosecution and the defense. Team members play different roles, including trial attorneys, pre-trial motion attorneys, witnesses, clerks, and bailiffs. Some schools may offer the Program as a class or school club activity, while others offer it as a voluntary activity.  The San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition offers four rounds of trials, so that each school team competes twice as the prosecution and twice as the defense. 

Each competing high school team must have the following:

  • 8 to 25 students (from the same high school)
  • 1 defense pre-trial attorney / 1 prosecution pre-trial attorney  
    • Pre-trial attorneys cannot participate as trial attorneys during the same trial, but can participate as witnesses.
  • 3 trial attorneys for the prosecution (maximum)
  • 3 trial attorneys for the defense (maximum)
  • 4 witnesses for the prosecution
  • 4 witnesses for the defense
  • 1 clerk (participates with the prosecution team)
  • 1 bailiff (participates with the defense team)

The Teacher Sponsor

The teacher sponsor is the official Mock Trial Program contact person receiving all correspondence from the Schools Coordinator. The teacher-sponsor also acts as the team coordinator and is responsible for organizing meetings and transportation for students to and from the Mock Trial Competition. The teacher-sponsor may also coach the team in trial strategy and legal argumentation.  Each high school team must have a teacher sponsor in order to participate in the Mock Trial Program and Competition.

  • 2018-2019 Teacher-Sponsor Orientation Powerpoint 

How Does a Team Get an Attorney Coach?

Although not mandatory, most mock trial teams find it useful to have attorney coaches. Attorney coaches advise the students on general trial techniques and procedures as well as on specific strategies for the case.  Attorney coaches participate on a volunteer basis and can include parents or other relatives of high school student team members.

Once a team's registration form is submitted, the San Diego County Bar Association, if requested, will assist in finding an attorney coach/coaches for each high school team. The teacher-sponsor and the attorney coaches will be given contact information for each other so that they can coordinate a meeting and team practice schedule for each high school team.  It is up to the teacher-sponsor to work with and involve the attorney coach in team meetings and practices.  If the assigned attorney coach is not a good match for whatever reason, or if your school does not need assistance from an assigned attorney coach, please immediately notify Michelle Chavez at 619-321-4150 or at mchavez@sdcba.org.   

How Much Does It Cost?

The San Diego County registration fee per high school team is $375.  If a team has twenty students, that amount is less than $20 per student.  Some high school teams fundraise to earn the team entry fee.  Others collect portions of the fee from team members.   Most of the fee is paid to the Constitutional Rights Foundation for licensed use of the case materials.     

Scholarships are Available

Scholarships are available to Title I schools or schools with a lack of financial sponsorship or economic resources.  If your school would like to apply for a scholarship to pay for the $375 registration fee, please complete the "Application for Scholarship" form.  

  • Click here to Fill Out the Scholarship Application Form

Mock Trial Awards

At the conclusion of the Competition, awards are presented to:

  • Outstanding Pre-Trial Attorney (Prosecution)
  • Outstanding Pre-Trial Attorney (Defense)
  • Outstanding Trial Attorney (Prosecution)
  • Outstanding Trial Attorney (Defense)
  • Outstanding Witness #1, Witness #2, Witness #3, Witness #4 (Prosecution)
  • Outstanding Witness #1, Witness #2, Witness #3, Witness #4 (Defense)
  • Outstanding Bailiff 
  • Outstanding Clerk