2017-2018 San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition 

Welcome to the San Diego County High School Mock Trial Program and Competition.  For information about the 2017-2018 Competition, click on the links on the left. 

2018 State High School Mock Trial Finals 

The State Finals of the California High School Mock Trial Competition will be held in Santa Ana, California on March 16-18, 2018.  For more information, click here

Team Rosters and Award Nomination Forms

Please remember to bring Team Rosters and Award Nomination Forms to the competition and provide copies to the judges, attorney scorers, and opposing team.   Please review Rule 1.3F, which requires a team to submit Team Rosters to the judge, attorney scorers, and the opposing team.  Each team is also required to submit Award Nomination Forms.  Your compliance with these requirements is important. 

Logistics for the Mock Trial Competition

The Mock Trial Committee is delighted that we are able to use the new Superior Courthouse at 1100 Union Street.  Since there is a change in the facility from previous years, we have a few tips regarding logistics:

  1. Allow for extra time to get to the courthouse. Downtown traffic on weeknights is often congested and there is much construction occurring in the immediate vicinity of the courthouse which blocks or limits access to the surrounding streets.
     
  2. Participants, Coaches, Teachers, Family and Friends may only enter and exit through the main lobby at 1100 Union Street. Security considerations, and limited availability of security and mock trial personnel, require that you enter and exit only through the main lobby and that you remain on only the floors to which you are directed. Please note that the best place for drop off is B Street between Union and State streets.
                     

     

  3. Be prepared to go through security screening. Do not bring weapons or anything that can be construed to be a weapon. Pepper spray or mace, aerosol cans and glass bottles, metal hair picks and hand cuff keys are also prohibited.
      
  4. Students, coaches, teachers, friends and family may only bring and drink water while in courthouse facilities. Water will be provided for the participants. If you need a caffeine fix, please take care of that before you arrive.
      
  5. We know that it is common for teams to bring lunch or snacks for the final day of competition, February 24th. Food can only be consumed in the area of the jury lounge on the 3rd floor, and each team will be provided a table in the jury lounge. Please do not bring any food in glass containers. You will be asked to ensure that trash is place in receptacles and any leftover food is removed or discarded.
      
  6. Teams may only take video/audio/still photography at a trial involving their own team with the permission of the opposing team and the judicial officer, and only in a manner that does not distract the participants. Any team has the option to refuse participation and the taking of video/audio/still photography. Video/audio/still photography is for training purposes only and may not be posted on the internet or via social media. Video/audio/still photography may not be shared with any other team before the state finals without the permission of both teams.
      
  7.  There is no smoking in the courthouse.  

The Superior Court looks forward to hosting the San Diego High School Mock Trial Competition at our new facility. Please be respectful of our new facility and adhere to these rules.

Attorney Scorers Needed

The 12th Annual San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition is scheduled for February 15, 20 and 22, 2018 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and February 24, 2018 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the new downtown San Diego Courthouse.

Attorney Scorers sit in the jury box and score the Mock Trial Competition while high school teams present their case.   All schools will have the opportunity to compete in four trials. The two schools with the highest overall scores will compete in the championship round and the winner will represent San Diego County at the state competition.  
 
Approximately 200 attorneys will be needed during the competition to volunteer to spend a few hours scoring the mock trials.  We hope you can assist in this very worthwhile effort.  
 
Click on the SignUpGenius button to volunteer.   Thank you!
 
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Questions and Answers 

We have received a number of inquiries from individual teachers and attorney coaches.  To ensure transparency, below is a summary of the questions and the responses provided.  The most recent questions/answers are posted at the top.
 
Question: Our team is concerned about cross-examination of the expert witness on whether they examined the victim’s body, but the stipulated facts indicate that the expert had access to pictures of the body and details and reports available to the other expert. What would be the proper objection, in light of the stipulation.

Answer: We decline to provide guidance on the propriety of any specific objection. It will be up to the judge to determine whether an objection is applicable to the facts and whether it should be overruled or sustained. Most importantly, it is part of the learning process for the students to analyze the bases for objections and make strategic decisions.

Question: Our team had intended to use three defense attorneys, but one is no longer able to participate. Will the rules permit use of two attorneys for the trial?

Answer: Assuming you intended to use three defense trial attorneys and now only have two available to perform the tasks of questioning witnesses, conducting cross examination of prosecution witnesses and make opening statement and closing argument, that is permitted by the CRF Rules. You are referred to Rule 2.2 D. Please note that the pretrial attorney many not serve as a trial attorney during the same round. See Rule 2.2C.

 Question:  Is there a penalty for not using all exhibits during trial?
 
Answer: Whether a team introduces, uses, and moves the physical evidence into evidence is entirely optional, but all physical evidence must be available at trial for either side to use.  Please review Rule 3.2 in its entirety. 
 
Question: What is the maximum number of guests each school may bring to a round of competition?

Answer: Seating in the courtroom is limited by fire code and by the physical configuration of the room. We must insure seating for student team members, witnesses, coaches and teachers first. Family members and guests may sit in any remaining seats, as space permits. Standing is not permitted. Thus, the number of family members and guests that may be accommodated varies depending on team size, number of coaches, etc. We cannot supply a precise number. We know this can be frustrating for schools with many team members and lots of supporters, but as with “real” high interest trials, there is limited seating.

Question: At the beginning of the mock trial season, we were told both prosecution and defense teams will perform twice. However, Rule 5.5 suggests it is possible one side will go three times and the other side once. Does this apply to our San Diego competition?

Answer: It does not. Both prosecution and defense teams will participate in two rounds.

Question: Does the defense have to put the defendant, Casey Davidson, on the stand?

Answer: Yes. All four witnesses must testify. Please review Rule 3.4.

We have received a few questions related to the size of teams and if students may perform more than one role in the competition. All teams are urged to review Rule 2.2 as well as the Evaluation criteria contained contained in the Team Rulebook at pages 17-20. The recent questions received are as follows:

Question: Can one student serve as both the pre-trial attorney for a school’s prosecution and defense teams?

Answer: Yes. A team can have one or two students play the role of the pretrial attorney. Each school’s prosecution and defense teams present on different days, so one student may serve on both a school’s prosecution and defense team.

Question: How does a team of 8 or slightly more than 8 fill all of the roles in the competition? Do the four witnesses in one round, represent the opposing side in another round?

Answer: They may. Rule 2.2 outlines the rules regarding the prohibitions for performing multiple tasks at one competition.

Question: I had planned on having one attorney for each team make the opening statement, a different attorney conduct all direct and cross-examination and another make the closing argument. However, Rule 2.2D suggests that is it recommended that the attorneys who present the opening statements and closing arguments for both the prosecution and the defense should also conduct at least one direct examination and one cross-examination. Is that correct?

Answer: Yes, you have correctly read the rule as a recommendation and not a requirement. However, coaches and teachers should familiarize themselves with the evaluation criteria located in the Team Rulebook at pages 17-20.

Question: Where is the broken fitness tracker? Was the victim wearing it and if so, did the expert witness see it? Was the expert witness allowed to examine the body, and if so, is it reasonable to assume the witness would have seen the tracker at that time?

Answer: The fitness tracker is not one of the trial exhibits. Rule 3.2.C states: All physical evidence and witnesses found in this case, but not made physically available for trial, are unavailable and their availability may not be questioned. This question did not specifically identify "the expert witness" and there are two in the case materials. Medical Examiner Devon Morrison's statement states that the victim was wearing a fitness tracker at the time of death, and that he performed the autopsy which included examination of the body. It is reasonable to conclude that the Medical Examiner would have seen the tracker during his examination. If this question is related to defense forensic expert witness, Tory Lee, and whether he saw the tracker or was allowed to examine the body, the same assumption cannot be made. Lee's statement states that he reviewed all police and medical reports including photographs of wounds and physical evidence with the exception of the victim's body. The facts do not address whether he was allowed to examine the body.

Question: What is the proper objection for handling of evidence if the attorney has not moved an exhibit into evidence before the witness testifying has used it? Is it an irregularity? How should the opposing attorney respond?

Answer: A witness and an attorney may very likely handle and refer to an exhibit in laying an appropriate foundation to move the exhibit into evidence. If an attorney or a witness uses an exhibit before it is admitted in evidence and it is not for the purpose of laying a foundation, the appropriate objection would be lack of foundation, which is an allowable objection in the simplified rules of evidence. Attorney coaches should train students in how to lay a foundation and move exhibits into evidence.

Question:  What are the time limits for each of the following: (1) Opening Statement; (2) Cross-Examination; (3) Closing Arguments.
 
Answer:  Each side has 9 minutes for Opening Statement and Closing Argument combined and 1 minute for Rebuttal Argument.  Each side has 14 minutes total for Direct and Re-Direct Examination and 10 minutes total for Cross-Examination. There is no Re-Cross-Examination allowed, only Re-Direct Examination if desired.
 
Please  also refer to Rule 3.8 in the 2017-2018 Mock Trial Team Rulebook (pages 11-12) by clicking here.
    
Question: Would a physical demonstration, particularly asking the expert witness to step out of the witness stand and demonstrate their theory on the manner 0f and direction of the lethal blow, using another person playing the victim, be an illustrative aid? 
    
Answer: The attorney can try to demonstrate on his or her own person. Using a witness to demonstrate what happened is using a prop, which is not allowed.  
 
Question:  In rendering the verdict, will the judge be permitted to consider degrees of murder, such as second degree (which does not require premeditation and deliberation) or manslaughter?
 
Answer: This year's mock trial charge is first degree murder only.  This is the only charge that the team can ask for and for the presiding judge can render a verdict.
 
Question:  May the same person serve as both bailiff and clerk?
 
Answer:  Yes.
 
Question:  May exhibits be mounted on foamboard or cardboard to make them easier to handle?
 
Answer:  No.  As stated in the Teacher/Attorney Coach Questions published by CRF on October 25, 2017, exhibits may not be mounted on anything - not foam board, poster paper, etc. - and cannot be laminated or put in protective cover sheets. 

2017-2018 Case: People v. Davidson

People v. Davidson is the trial of Casey Davidson, a resident of the town of Acorn, California.  Davidson faces a felony count of First Degree Murder for the death of Alex Thompson, another young resident of Acorn and a member of Ultra Nats, an extremist nationalist group.  
 
IMPORTANT:  Please download the most recent, updated Case Packet for People v. Davidson, which includes all errata items. 
  • Click here for the Case Brief.
  • Click here for the Mock Trial Team Rulebook.
  • Click here for Updated Case Packet (password protected).  
  • Click here for Summary of Teacher/Attorney Coach Questions.
  • Click here for Competition Forms and Materials.
 
 

            

San Diego County High School
Mock Trial Program and Competition
E-Mail: SDMockTrial@gmail.com
 
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